Monday, February 14, 2011

That's Bike Racing

Like I mentioned in my last post, this past weekend was the Valley of the Sun stage race in Phoenix. Last year it treated me very well but this year it wasn't as nice. Friday was the time trial. I'm satisfied with the effort but know that I can go much faster. Saturday was the road race and Sunday was the crit.

The road race started at high noon, like an old west duel. I felt good, I'd recovered well from the TT the day before and I was ready for the first road race of the season. The course was a 16 mile triangle with a 3500-4000m climb on one side. It was sunny, warm and windy. Allison had raced earlier in the morning and made girls cry. My race however was less successful. Approximately 5 miles into the 57 mile race- about a kilometer after turning into the crosswind section of the course- there was a crash. I got tangled up in it and, miraculously didn't flat, damage my bike, and other than some thistles and thorns in my hip I was uninjured. The bodies and sand in the ditch below me cushioned my fall. It took a while to untangle everything and check myself and bike over before I got started again. At that point, chasing solo in the wind was looking like it would be fruitless. And believe me, I chased with the fury of 1000 warriors yet made no progress. After chasing for a lap with another girl, I decided to cut my losses and save it for the crit. If nothing else, it was good to get a solid ride in in the sun. The tan lines need work!

Each year the crit is held on a figure eight course- it did not actually cross itself, just touched in the middle- and it’s one of my favorites. It’s technical enough that it separates some people out but it’s open enough to still be fast. After a disappointing road race, I really wanted to do well in the crit and redeem myself a bit. The whistle blew and the race started. It was fast right from the start. The Primal/MapMyRide team kept the pace high and kept anything from getting away. It was too fast for me to try to go on my own that early. My plan was to just hang out in the pack and then with two laps to go try to take a last minute flyer. My plan was going perfectly and with three to go I was sitting in about 10th wheel and moving up. Then, while going through the rodeo section on the back side of the course -I call it the “rodeo section” because the pavement is quite bumpy and you have to just hold on and hope for the best- my wheel was knocked out of alignment and into my frame. Immediately it was as if I’d pulled the E-Brake or, like on aircraft carriers, the plane catching cable grabbed me and was dragging me backwards. And that was that! Because it was within three laps of the finish I was awarded pack time for the day.

This bike-racing thing is frustrating. I’m sorry if this sounds like something an ex high school quarterback would say at his ten-year reunion- “The game would’ve been totally different if coach had let me do ______ and then we would’ve won state. It could’ve been great, I’m telling you.” In no way do I mean I would’ve won, but, I am saying that I wanted to take a chance and if I couldn’t win at least go out in a blaze of glory- or something like that. Like I said, this can be a very frustrating profession, but at the same time, it’s the most gratifying. When things work out, it’s a phenomenal feeling. Highs come with lows and it’s nice to get the lows out of the way before the season gets going in earnest.

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