OK, I've said it before, and I'll say it again. . I'm a horrible blogger. I have all of these grand ideas of topics that I want to write about and great things that I want to share, but finding the time to do so is another story altogether, and blogging gets pushed to the absolute bottom of my priority list.
That said, I'm going to try once again to resurrect this blog of mine.
I figured I'd start out by bringing some closure to the last post that I made about racing my first Men's P123 Road Race in Sealy, TX back in February, 2016.
If you read the previous post, you'll remember that I was really nervous that I wouldn't be able to "hang on", that I would be popped immediately, and that I would make a fool out of myself.
Well, I'm happy to report that NONE of these things happened!
The race started out neutral for the first 2 miles, and once the lead vehicle pulled off, it got semi-rowdy fairly quickly. I positioned myself in the top 1/2 of the field, and feel like I did a pretty good job of holding my position, floating back and forth a bit between the top 1/4 and 1/2 of the field most of the day. There were several attacks early on that were really hard to hold on to, but I managed to hang in there! I took my coach's and Kat's advice and ate and drank very frequently, and never felt like I was running low on fuel - there were a few times during particularly hard attacks that I thought I would get popped, but it was more due to simply (almost) not having the legs to lay down that power output than it was due to a lack of fueling or a bonk :-)
There were a few things that made this race particularly "interesting". Apparently they were running the race over a section of an MS150 course that was being ridden that day. . . . so there were several mile long stretches where we found ourselves dodging MS150 "land mines" for lack of better terminology! That was . .umm. . fun? (NOT!) Let's just say that situational awareness was even more necessary than usual during this race!
The second "interesting" happening was that a local sheriff's deputy tried to PULL ME OVER. Yes, ME! I can't even make this stuff up! It was shortly after we'd passed a group of MS150 riders. We'd come up on them rather quickly, and I had to ride right up against the yellow line (I DID NOT CROSS OVER IT) in order to get around them safely. I was sitting in about the front 1/4 of the peloton at this point, and the next thing I know, this sheriff's deputy is pulled up next to me, flashing his lights, "blipping" his siren, and pointing directly at ME with a bright red face motioning for me to PULL OVER. Are you KIDDING ME?!?! I had no clue what I was supposed to do. I just held my position for a few seconds, but the deputy started motioning more violently, and his face at this point was a dark burgundy. I began to slow down and fade back to the rear of the peloton to pull over, when one of the guys put his hand on my back and nudged me in front of him and said "NO - you are NOT going out like that.", and then looked over to the deputy and shook his head. . . . the deputy continued to ride alongside of the peloton for about another minute more before pulling off, at which point, I breathed a huge sigh of relief! I still don't know exactly what it was all about, as they didn't have any information or complaints from law enforcement at the finish line, but it certainly added a bit of unwanted excitement to my first M P123 race!
Other than these two anomalies, the race was fairly uneventful. It as fast, yes. The racing was in much more "close quarters" than I was used to with the Women's Peletons, yes. The guys protected their wheels and positions more aggressively, yes. And when I fell back a bit, it was DEFINITELY harder to move back up. . . but by about mile 50, I was racing along w/ a big huge grin on my face because I realized that I was actually going to successfully finish this race!
Then "IT" happened. About 74 miles into the race, I heard the guys in front of me all yell, but didn't get on my brakes quite fast enough, and ended up crossing wheels with the guy in front of me, who had slammed on his brakes to avoid **something** (still don't know exactly what). I may have saved it, but then another guy ran into me from behind, and we both went down. I watched the peleton race away as I picked my bike and my broken heart up off the ground. . . assessing the damages, I found that my handlebars and shifters were crooked/bent, and I'd hit something hard w/ my quad and had a huge hematoma developing, but other than that, I seemed to be "ok". . .. same with the other guy that went down. I decided that I was GOING to finish this race, even if I had to walk my bike the final 4 miles! Fortunately, it didn't come down to that. I was able to straighten out my handlebars enough to make my bike (awkwardly) rideable, and me and my crash buddy stumbled in together.
Placement didn't matter at all. I had successfully finished my first M P123 race, and proven (to myself, more than anything) that I was capable of hanging in there with the big boys! At the end of the day, I finished 39th in a field of 49 starters, and averaged 26.0 MPH over the first 74.4 miles before the pileup. I accomplished my goals of sitting in the top 1/2 of the field, protecting my position, and not getting "popped" in any attacks. So even w/ the little mishap at the end - I called the day a success, and it was instrumental in providing me with the confidence that I needed to line up at several USAC PRT races later in the year, knowing that I had earned the right to be there, and I belonged there just as much as any other girl standing at the start line :-)
If you're a data geek like me, feel free to check out my Strava Race Files:
First 74.4 miles (pre-crash): https://www.strava.com/activities/492859666
Final 4.1 miles (post-crash): https://www.strava.com/activities/492859574