Okay, I had to let this soak in for a few weeks before I felt I could actually post this.
I can now check off the first stage race of the year from my list. I love stages races, I don't know why, because I'm not very good at them, but I love them. I think I love the challenge of racing 2-3 days in a row. I love being pushed to go above and beyond what I believe my body can do. Walla Walla was one for the books, probably one of the most "humiliating", frustrating, demoralizing weekends of my stage racing career. I don't feel this way because of my performance, but because of the vibes in the group. Road racing isn't my forte, I don't really have a lot of confidence or aggression when I'm in a group of riders (especially when I don't know them). I prefer to stay upright, so I'm pretty cautious when I ride in a group, but when you aren't staying on the wheel in front of you, yes I will move there, and no don't yell at me for going for a wheel you can't stay on. Don't say "excuse me" in the middle of the group, don't make fun of me for being poor and not having fancy equipment, and don't try to take me out.
Sound Frustarting? It was. This was the most serious, mean, and frustrating group of ladies I have been surrounded by. I would NOT do well with big timing ladies and that's probably why I don't have ambitions of being a "pro" bike racer...on the road. I don't like being pushed around or yelled at or told where to go or what to do. Okay...now onto the race report.
Fridays race was 44 miles with a "hill top" finish. Which means a 3k climb...I LOVE finishing climbs. I didn't really know where I was going to be in the whole scheme of things so I sort of hung out mid pack, but would always find myself in the back of the pack. It's like I'm learning how to race again, or I just crawled in to the skin of a scardy cat. Which ever it was, it didn't really help me all weekend. The first real time up the climb there were some QOM points at the top, so girls where attacking left and right...really hard, so I did my best to hang on for dear life. Then at the top there was a small break, we sort of got it together, then we got caught. Then we got caught by the men and where neutralized, then the rest of the group caught us. So we toodled around until the base of the climb when everyone decided to go really hard again. I finished 6th with the main group.
Saturday at 12:25 was supposed to be the start of our Crit. After a last lap crash in the mens field we where very delayed, and it was hot. We sat at the line for quite some time...working on our farmer tans. Did I mention a black kit is hot? Eventually they let us move to the shade because we must have looked hot or something. After about 5 minutes of sitting in the shade we finally could start our race. I think there were 4 merchandise primes and 3 time primes. Our race was also only going to be 30 minutes, they cut it short becaue of the delay, so we raced for 25 minutes, and it was fast. There was a prime nearly every lap! I did not go for them. I played the scardy cat role in the pack, but on a good note I didn't get dropped like last year!! YYYAAAAA go me.
Since I was so freakin' fast on Friday (I'm such a jokester) I was the 6th to last lady to start my Time Trial. My go time was 5:59 and 30 seconds. I wasn't in the mood to TT, after all I have some pretty freakin' sweet TT equipment. Even ask the ladies who lined up behind me. I wasn't in the mood to warm up. So I sort of just pretended to warm up on my trainer in the scorching heat. Actually I was in the shade guzzeling water. All of the sudden I looked at the clock and I had approx. 1 minute until it was go time. This is when I had the best (not) convo. EVER. As I stolled up to the line the ladies mocked my "equipment". Did I ever mention I have some sweet aero bars to clip onto my bars of my road bike? They make me go fast. I clearly went fast because I finished 18th.
The next day was the "big" road race of 60 miles. I wasn't super stoked on racing when I woke up (I think that was the weekend trend) but I tried to hype myself up for it anyways. A coupe of us went out to breakfast and I ate a plate full of buttery pancakes soaked in sugary syrup. After eating that breakfast, I had no option but to race. The weather man predicted hot weather. For once in a lifetime, he was right. It was hot. The race started out kind of slow, and every time I turned around I found myself in the back of the pack (once again). When I would try to move up I would get yelled at. I got sick of it and I wanted to quit, but I knew I couldn't quit because I ate all those pancakes. So intead of quitting, I did the next best thing. About 20 miles into the race I decided it would be best to make an attack, after all I was 16th in the GC and I had nothing to lose if I burned my matches on this attack. So I pushed real hard, and when I finally took a breath to turn around no one was behind me. At first I thought SH*T I HAVE to follow through with this. But then I thought, well this is better than being bored and yelled at in the pack. There also was another rider up the road, so I decided to try to bridge up to her, and I did. Then she got tired and fell behind, and it was just me and my lonesome until about 6 or 7 miles to go when the group finally caught me and we toodled our way to the finish where I had nothing left for a sprint and I finished 13th. That finish bumped me up to 13th in the GC. IN THE MONEY! I'M RICH!!!! (not really) The whole time I was riding alone I just kept telling myself how much more fun it was to be off the front and how much stronger I would be in 2 weeks.
I think I'm a touch stronger these days?
anyways, riding in the 1/2 pack is very different than I anticipated, so we shall see what the future holds for me in this road racing business.