My mountain bike race for today was postponed to save the trails from the tires of several hundred racers, so I randomly registered for the Weld County Road Race. Not too positive about how it would go, I figured it would at least be a forced 25 mile training ride that I probably otherwise would not do. I haven’t touched my road bike in weeks in favor of riding on dirt, so I was worried. All I can say is…
I HAD A FREAKING BLAST!
Seriously, I was giddy for hours afterwards! It was seriously that fun!
The start was a neutral roll out, and it had me frazzled. I can’t stand riding in large groups, let alone sketchy large groups with 41+ gals just going where ever. I tried to stick with my teammate Shareen, but figured it would be better to hang back. The course included a 1-mile long stretch of gravel road, and the neutral roll out included this. OK, no offense roadies, but dirt, mud, and washboard is NOT going to hurt you! This was the most stressful part for me, as the mountain biker in me just wanted to peg it and have fun, and there were girls slamming on the brakes over tiny washboard holes and swerving around mud. Sigh.
Once we made it through the dirt the course turned 90 degrees right and the race started. The lead peloton took off like crazy and I did my best for about 20 seconds and then just dropped back. Oh well! I was feeling going, and easily cruising fast. Literally maybe a mile or so up the road was a massive wreck that occurred in said lead peloton that I couldn’t hang with, and I let out a huge sigh of a relief that I wasn’t part of it. My biggest fear is crashing on pavement, which is why I will never do a crit, so I’m glad I got to avoid the whole mess. Some gals were able to hop back on their bike, but one girl was pretty bloodied up and crying in the middle of the road. The nurse inside of me wanted to stop, but I knew the race had to go on and race officials were there at her side and EMS was on the way.
In the drops I went, and I started playing cat and mouse with two other girls. One finally asked if I wanted to work together with them, and I agreed though I quite didn’t know how it was all suppose to work – such as how long we would each pull and what not (I’m not up to par with roadie sign language, so I had no idea shaking your left elbow means you wanna stop leading, haha). What I quickly discovered is I could out climb them on hills, so on every climb would I have to jump out of the line to keep up my momentum, and then usually could lead on the downhills a bit too. This put a huge smile on my face as I always feel I struggle with climbing but yet it was my shining skill today at the race!
When working together you definitely feel the difference in effort, so I was pleased I could “team” up with some fellow riders and have fun! I continued to surprise myself by taking some corners at a decent speed (over 20mph… hey, it’s a big deal for me!), and hanging quite well with the pack. We would pick up and drop off occasional riders. We picked up another girl with a few miles left on the first lap.
First lap over, we flew down the pavement (I managed to drink from my bottle and return it to its cage unharmed) and turned again onto the dirt. Finally without a pack of crazed roadies who are scared of dirt (seriously people, this is where you wanna fall, if you must crash!), I had the time of my life! I looked down once and saw I was doing about 26mph on the bumpy, muddy gravel road and my smile just got that much bigger. One girl rode on the left side of the road, which I thought we weren’t suppose to do (and I wasn’t about to try it and get DQ’d), so I was kinda “stuck” behind one of the other girls I was with. We turned on the asphalt again got up to speed.
One girl that was with us dropped us on dirt section (the one riding on the left), and soon two of us dropped another girl. There was a super fast chick that the girl I was with encouraged me to catch and stick to her wheel. I offered to pull her for a bit, and she said to go ahead and try to catch that girl, and worse comes to worse she’d just catch up to me. So with that I zoomed off, and did the rest of the race alone. I never did catch the super fast girl, but I did pass one or two other racers from other classes, so that made me pretty happy! I’m pretty sure I had a smile on my face (which I turned into a pissed off serious look around photographers, haha), and even yelled a big thank you to the highway patrolman controlling traffic at an intersection. Weirdly enough I caught me singing “Better Dig Two” by The Band Perry… I have NO idea why I get random country songs stuck in my head during races, but it cracks me up!
The last few miles my legs began to protest and I protested right back with a solid “SHUT UP LEGS!” My speeds were not as high as the first lap, but I was keeping ahead of the girls I dropped. Finally the last hill was in sight, and I powered up it, which left me thinking that it wasn’t the last hill as it wasn’t as bad as I remember the first time, and then I saw the finish line and mustered up the energy to put forth a good finish effort.
WHEW, finished! 25 miles done, with an average speed of nearly 18mph. First road race in the books! I survived, with a great big smile, and without getting crashed into! The girl who dropped me on the dirt section and I cruised back to the parking/registration area, and had a nice chat. I love meeting fellow girl cyclists, it’s awesome! It was her first road race as well, and I think she only had me by maybe 20 seconds at the most!
I finished in 28th Place out of 39, so I’m super happy! I set a goal of Top 30, not really knowing where it would play out, and look at that, I met it! I am feeling super confident about my climbing abilities now, which I know comes in part of the mountain biking. Shareen was laughing at how giddy I was, and that made me even happier. After a terrible race last weekend, finishing last, and some ensuing drama later ons, I need this more than anything to get me motivated to continue racing! I’m still not a fan of peloton riding (definitely prefer smaller groups of 4 or so), and that still worries me about future road races, but I am looking forward to next weekend’s Deer Trail Road Race, which will be a much longer effort (38 miles). 25 miles is my sweet spot, as it’s my usual road ride length, so we’ll see!
I wanna give a shout out to McDonald’s… see, I love Egg McMuffins and that meal is my typical pre ride meal. However, I hate the yellow powdery yoke. Well wouldn’t you know when I rode through the drive thru this morning there was the answer to my breakfast cycling racing prayers – an egg white-only sandwich called the Egg White Delight McMuffin! It’s a new offering, and I sure hope it’s permanent as it kicked butt and I definitely felt adequately fueled. Heck, it has protein, sodium, and carbs – what more can you need?! Say what you want, I know it’s disgusting fast food, but it definitely set off my day in the right way!
My 2012 Specialized Ruby Apex Compact performed marvelously, and I got some compliments on the pinkness of it! Miss Ruby told me that she thinks she needs to be ridden on gravel more often, and she sees why Serenity the Mountain Bike like dirt! 😛 Big thanks to Wendy at the Bicycle Station for the endless fits we’ve done with the bike – I think it’s finally feeling good!
Hopefully more photos will come as photographers upload them… I just was so excited to write this race report I had to do it right this second. !!!!! *bounces around* Coming up is the postponed Ridgeline Rampage on April 27th, followed by the Deer Trail Road Race on the 28th. Double-header next weekend!
I ❤ road racing.