After playing in the dirt as a mountain biker the previous day at Battle the Bear, I just had to turn around and play mountain biker on a road bike at The Koppenberg, a circuit road race in the Boulder-ish area that is about half-ish dirt with an awesome, made for a mountain biker ~15% climb. I remember wanting to do this event last year, but I think it fell on the same day as Battle the Bear due to weather, plus I was a little bit more nervous about playing roadie last year. Since race timing worked out for this year, back to back it would be. I really had no idea what to expect from my body after the Battle the Bear effort, heat, probable dehydration, and not sleeping in my own bed. After picking up McDonald’s for breakfast, I kinda putzed around getting ready, not really wanting to make the effort of climbing on the bike for the fear my legs would go OH HELLLLL NO at me before the race even started. So I eavesdropped in on amusing roadie conversations about “punchy dirt climbs” and how they were suppose to ride up it, took instagram photos, and well, sat around. Finally at about 7:30am I hopped on the bike and tooled around Target parking lot. Surprise surprise, my legs were content.
Soon enough it was time to line up. Someone started in on “everyone, let’s give each other lots of room on the climb, we’ve crashed enough this year.” Hmmm… I had switched to SPD pedals and my mountain bike shoes for this reason, and the ‘cross racer was ready to come out at a moment’s notice. Which I actually love my SPD pedals on my road bike as I didn’t have to fumble with the clumsy Look Keo pedals at the start, and I clipped in without thinking, which wasn’t the same for the person in front of me. Doh. But we all got rolling, and I chose a spot on the right hand side with an easy out if needed. The course turns to gravel fairly quickly, and I was happy with my line choice as it seemed to be one of the smoother options. I stayed with the upper front of the pack until the climb, naturally. So the Koppenberg climb… well, I like it. LIKE IT. Yes, I just admitted to that. And well, it wasn’t as bad as the general opinion makes it out to be. I happily sat and spun it out, thankful I was in the middle line and wasn’t behind the girl that went down next to me. I got to the top and remembered thinking “That was it? Sheesh, the climbs yesterday were way tougher.” Then I remembered I was being the obnoxious mountain biker that I am, and not everyone mountain bikes so I needed to shut up…
The pack split, and Michelle, Amber, myself, and two other gals formed a pack for the insanely speedy pavement back to the start. This worked out nicely, and we rolled through the start to start our second lap. Once again the gravel went smoothly and we hit the climb. I took the lead on this, though everyone was right on my butt. My Favorite Cycling Photog Ever, Shawn, cheered me on which made me happy. Not as fast as my first time up it, but still decent. Once again down the speedy pavement, and back through the start.
I was struggling and kept falling off the back of the pack, but would manage to bring it back in, especially on the gravel. Michelle unfortunately flatted shortly before our final climb up the hill. This was the time my legs went “OK, we’ve had enough, b*tch.” I spat out the back on the top of the climb, and struggled to recover on the top and make my legs pick up the cadence. Luckily I had the speedy stretch of downhill to recover and soft pedal a bit. I looked over my shoulder and knew I had a large gap as long as I maintained some sort of effort. Naturally, my legs responded strongly at the end (thanks legs, could’ve used that on top of the climb…), and I rolled across the finish line in 49 minutes 33 seconds, good enough for 14th in the field of 27 in women’s cat 4. Not too shabby, eh!? I think I’m finally getting the hang of this road racing business, and Koppenberg is just about the awesomest road race ever! I wish they were all like this… but maybe all gravel/dirt and with more climbs like that… (oh wait, that’s called a mountain bike race… whoops… or a gravel grinder…) Definitely will return for this one in the years to come! And well… I think my road race “season” has finally wound down… just a lot of crits on the calendar, which we’ve established I won’t do. There’s a hill climb I’m eying, but I’m reminding myself that I can’t burn myself out by mid-June like last year. So we shall see… there’s a few local Cheyenne time trials here and there I might make an appearance at I suppose… Yay for Koppenberg!