2014 continues to be the “road season that surprises me.” I’ve never made any qualms about my lack of roadie-ness and that I’m just not strong on the pavement. So hesitantly I signed up for the CSU Cobb Lake Circuit Race. One option for me – women’s open (which is every category, including pro) at 46.8 miles. I rarely ride more than 20-30 miles when I road ride. In fact, I’m pretty sure I can count the number of 40 mile plus rides I’ve done on any type of bike on two hands. So I didn’t even know how to approach this race in any other manner but survival.
My friend Gretchen just bought a new road bike and eagerly said she’d join me for this race. She’s never raced before. To use my beloved term “cray cray,”… well, Gretchen is cray cray. I would’ve never chose this for my first road race, no way. So cray cray Gretchen and I loaded up my car and turned south for the race. Luckily gorgeous weather had settled in for the weekend, which meant I turned my attention to adding to my tan lines above anything else!
32 ladies came out to race, which I do believe is the biggest women’s field this particular race has seen. Three professional gals came out, including Amanda Miller, along with a host of other cat 1/2’s. Which is not the best thing being a bottom of the pack cat 4 type of racer. I think mountain biking may be the only time I can get excited about lining up next to a pro. For a road race it just makes me feel that much worse. I joked with Gretchen and Deb and a few others about how we’ll all hang out in the back and have our own race. But ugh… you know me. Race mode cannot be turned off so when the whistle went, I went. Lead pack. Woo woo… for 5 miles that is. At least I can say I hung with Amanda Miller for 5 miles, right?
So then begun my 41 mile ride by myself. Which is fine. I ride/train/race by myself 99% of the time. I know how to handle wind by myself. What’s new? But this time it felt different and I actually managed to… well, race the race. The circuit consisted of a curvy road through a gated community, and then a speedy downhill and straight away with a tailwind, onto 2 miles of washboard gravel, and up a climb back to the start. Half bad, half good/fast. It was a good combination! I managed to pick off one other racer, so I never lost a position once the lead pack dropped me. Little victories matter, I tell you!
I felt strong right up until the last (6th) lap begun. Then my legs said WTF very loudly. That final climb to the finish was killer… Also didn’t help the Men 4/5 had swarmed the finish/start line and wouldn’t move out of my damn way. Which wasn’t as bad as getting lapped by the Men’s Pro/1/2 field (um, hi… knocking me off my bike and killing me is in no way going to make you win faster. Collegiate race in Colorado is not the Tour de France, chill with the sketchy passing!), but still frustrating as I was trying to “sprint” to my solo finish, haha.
But yeah, I finished all 6 laps. And I wasn’t last place (I finished 23rd thank you very much!). I didn’t think I could hold that pace for as long as I did, so I’m amazed. Hence the road season that keeps surprising. Not like I’m good, I’m still bottom of the pack, but I’m not doing as badly as I think I would! And as soon as it began, it’s pretty much over. Mountain bike season start in 3 weeks, so that’s what will fill my weekends until August. Not to mention that crits pretty much take over the road race calendar, and after today’s CSU Oval Crit, I have no desire to ever toe the lines for one of those again (at least now I have proof mountain bike racing is far saner and safer than crit racing, I’m not just talking out my butt on this one!). Maybe the Koppenberg and Superior Mogul will make an appearance, but otherwise I’m sure it’s over. It’s been fun, road racing, but time for the dirt!
(Gretchen had a good race, too! She got pulled after 5 laps, but she was smiling and eager to do more races! Go Gretchen!)
Oh, the CSU Oval Crit you say? Sure, another bad idea brought to you by yours truly, Heidi. Second lap all I see are bikes going through the air and girls everywhere. I managed to avoid that by pure luck I believe. So I decided to just drop myself and ride by myself wayyyyy off in the back (plus I was too slow to keep up, haha). Until Tim our Friendly USAC Official made us all regroup. Ugh, back in the pack. So we start doing neutral laps just to stay warm, and another girl gets taken out by a girl who decided to ride straight when everyone else was turning. Seriously?! So we FINALLY regroup for the second time to start the last 5 laps. And like 3 near misses occur. My conclusion? That was my first and last crit. End of story. I survived, no crashes, but I don’t need that experience again because I really want that MTB Cat 1 upgrade this summer above racing crits. Priorities, yo. At least it was 70 degrees and gorgeous out and I got to meet up with some old teammates and friends. Not all was lost!
(Apparently some are appalled about my hatred of crits and my negativity towards them. Like I said, I have my racing priorities and goals, and they’re too important to be sacrificed by something inherently more risky for really little reward for me in the over all scheme. Yes, I get that I could be injured in a mountain bike race between now and Nationals/Cat 1 upgrade time, or in a training road ride, but I can handle that risk as it’s directly doing something that is a step to get to the final goal. Props to the racers that go back out weekend after weekend to crits. Scary stuff, but it’s just not for me. Much like mountain bike racing isn’t for most of them. Got mad respect, but a strong personal dislike of crits… just how I see it!)
On a final note, I really am loving my SRAM Force 22 group set! Definitely helps having harder gears to push, and the shifting is so smooth! Definitely worth the upgrade me thinks!