It all started innocent enough! A road trip for a road race. What was supposed to be a Mid-Atlantic Velo Bella Team first race of the season turned out to be a solo affair for me! With one teammate jumping ship, and another in the middle of a last-minute move, I headed down to Charlottesville, VA on my own.
Once there, I met with a gal named Denise, whom fellow Bella Melanie and I had met a few weeks earlier at the Quicksilver training race. Denise, her friend Dave and I met up for a fantastic dinner in historic downtown C'ville. The weather was fabulous--a wonderfully warm early spring evening, reminiscent of a mid-summer San Diego night! Dave and I loaded up on carbs, while Denise went for the fiber and protein. After a quick trip to the grocery store (no thanks to the poor directions of the very rude convience store clerk), we were back in the hotel and off to bed early.
Being all too familiar with the early mornings of Triathlon race day, it was a wonderful treat to sleep in until almost 8:30, as my race wasn't to start until 12:30! I cleaned my bike, packed my things, and headed down for my usual pre-race meal of oatmeal, coffee, banana, and toast. It was cool outside, but not a cloud in the sky. A beautiful day for a ride!
I arrived at the race base camp with plenty of time to spare, registered for the Women's Cat 4 race, and met back up with Denise, who'd gotten up early to watch Dave race at 9am. We sat around and by 11 were starting to get ansy. We met another gal named Julia, who was also unattached to a team, and the three of us headed out for a 25 minute warm-up ride. By this time, the weatherman should have been hiding in shame--it was not going to be a high of 68 like he predicted. It was well over 75 degrees and it wasn't even noon! Poor Julia had a long-sleeved Under Armor jersey on and was melting. After much convincing, Julia changed into an extra jersey I had, and between me, Denise and Julia, we were quite the VB Pink site!
High noon, and 100 women were lined up on the shadeless asphalt, waiting for direction. 12:30, well past race start time, and we still had no idea. by 12:45, the nutrition I'd taken was wasted, we were all starting to run out of liquids, and the porta-potties were calling. But we didn't want to miss the 3 mile "roll out" to the start, so noone dared leave their ride. Finally at 1:15, the race director made her appearance, and we headed for the start. Once we arrived, we had 7 more minutes to wait between waves. I looked around and the girls were dropping like flies! No, not like you think--noone fainted, but there were no porta potties, and well, when you gotta go, you gotta go! Everywhere around me girls were just squatting and taking care of business! There were cops, mothers, fathers, kids, everyone around, but wow, I had never seen anything like it! It was hillarious! About this time I decided that I could no longer ignore nature's call, and so I dropped trou' with the best of them! Ahh, relief! I was now ready to race!
Or so I thought. Man, these biker chicks are FAST! We averaged 25 mpr for the first 10 mile loop. Right before the race I was told "no matter what, no matter how much it hurts, stay with the pack!" And I tried. I hung on for 1.5 loops, about 15 miles, but my heartrate was over 180 the entire time, I just couldn't hang with these monster women! So, I fell off the front pack, but we had left the rest of the field so far back, I suddenly found myself in familiar "time trial" territory, and finished the remainder of the course alone.
That is, until the last 200m of the race. I knew they were there, I could feel them creeping up on me, but I siimply had nothing left. There was no way I could fend off a pack of 5 working together when I'd done 15 miles of solo rolling hills, headwinds, and one monster hill. With less than 20 feet to the finish, 3 of the 5 passed me and I squeaked in at #18.
Top 20 was my goal, I will now have a USA Cycling rank, but wow, road races are HARD!
Complete race results here