Saturday, August 27, 2011

Winters Road Race - Robin

August 27, 2011 - Winters, CA
48M (2 x 24M loop)
Troy and I have the privilege to race together while the girls are visiting with their cousins... thanks Aunt Tracy!  This is a huge venue in cute downtown Winters!  I've never seen so many cyclists crammed into such a small space! I thank the Lord that I was able to register on race day!
Today I'm doing my 2nd road race and I feel a lot more confident than last time.  This time the roads will be smooth.  Also, my experiences hanging-on-for-dear-life in the intense local "Coffee Republic" ride has helped.  I'm riding with over 30 ladies.  I'll need to stay focused. The course is mostly flat with a nice climb half way through each loop.  I hope my climbing has improved so that I can take advantage of it! 
Troy and I pray for safely and for each of us to have a good and fun race. I see Troy's group off and then wait for a few more groups to go.  I chat with a Cal graduate, Sabrina, that is riding her first road race unattached.  She's got some good racing experience so she is a good one to learn from. 
Here we go!  We roll out of town with little fanfare.  The group is cruising along.  As we get further along, the front group seems to be jumpy or something because we have to suddenly pull on the breaks several times.  I'm not sure what's going on up front!
As we approach the climb, a group of men on their second lap come up on us with a moped in the lead.  The moped pulls ahead of us and our group slows to a crawl.  Someone asks if the moped is making our race neutral (or, for a moment, a non-race).  Having no clue we all just try to be patient.  We get going again as the moped disappears.  The group starts to scatter as we ascend.  I'm feeling strong and pass a bunch of girls and catch up to the lead girls.  As we come down the other side, I'm being cautious because I'm unfamiliar with the terrain.  Fortunately, I'm able to catch back up as the girls slow back down to cruise mode.  There are about 15 of us now.
Some of the girls try to get our group going by saying the other girls are catching us.  Some say, "let's rotate pulling".  But it doesn't seem to make a difference.  So I pull out in front in hopes of getting something started.  As I pull off, there is no interest from the pack to keep this up.  I pull back into the group and continue to look for opportunities to encourage the group to organize and work together.  Finally, 5 miles down the road a girl and I start to rotate and the group gets on board!  Thanks God.
We keep this going and get into a good rhythm.  Suddenly a girl next to me hits the wheel of the girl in front.  I'm certain she's going down, and some of us with her, but she amazingly recovers as she swerves out into the opposite lane...Praise God she stayed up right and that no cars were coming the other direction.  I tell a San Jose Bike Club rider "thank the Lord she didn't go down" and she agrees.  We chat a bit about our kids and the joy in being able to get out and do something like this.
We make it to the hill again and this time I don't feel as strong.  I pull away from some of the girls but 5 of them are ahead of me.  They get further and further away but I'm hopeful I can catch them.  As I reach the descent, I'm all alone.  At the bottom, I time trial it to catch one girl in the distance.  After a few miles, I can see a group of 3 girls catching me.  I let them bridge up to me and we work together.  Sabrina is in the group and the San Jose rider...good company.  We start the rotation again.  We are all from different teams so we know we need each other to make it to the end...and hopefully bridge the gap.   
It's clear with a mile to go that we are not going to catch the breakaway group.  Now we are biding our time and wondering when to make a move.  At 1K, nothing happens.  At 500meters, nothing.  I see Troy ahead and he's telling me something I cannot hear but I assume it's "go now".  At that moment of hesitation the girls take off.  I dig in deep and to my surprise pass 2 of the girls to take 7th place just behind Sabrina.  Wow, thanks God!  It was a fun race!  Thank you for the protection out there for all of us too!