Saturday, April 7, 2012

Copperopolis Road Race - Women Cat 4

April 7, 2012 –  Milton, CA
2 laps, 42 Miles

2nd, Cat. 4 Women

Victory Velo Teammates:

35+ 5: Rich Hufford, Troy Soares (6th); Master 55: Bill Vaughan (31st), John Chappell (29th), Ron LeBard(18th); CAT 4 Master 45: Gary Carpenter (25th), McKay Florence (35th), Randy Floyd (11th), Randy Millard (15th); CAT 1/2/3 Master 45: Jim Blakenship (7th); CAT 3: Jay Newton; CAT 4: Lance McPeak; CAT 4 Master 35: Barton Andrew (4th); CAT 5: Aron Yevuta (2nd), Clinton Hamilton (14th), Dan Garcia (3rd),

Troy and I are back on the bumpy roads of Milton.  I don't feel the same intimidation factor this year.  Last year this was my very first road race ever.  I am still nervous.  With the Boston Marathon just a week away, a crash would not be good.  We take the time to thank the Lord and pray for His protection and His peace.  This weekend we are reminded of the ultimate sacrifice He made.  It is something I'll definitely be reflecting on, especially if I’m feeling like I've had it out there. 

I line up with a group of 11 women.  I’m the only Victory Velo racer for the girls today.  I chat with a girl Megan from the East Bay.  She's not feeling great already today and I encourage her to be hopeful that she'll feel better than expected.  You’ve got to always hope that things can turn around even when they don't look good.  So many times, I've ended up doing better than expected.  Especially when I’m focused on what counts, "competing for Christ".  I've seen Him help me time and time again when things just didn't look good.  Have to keep pressing on!

We're off!  As we make the first turn, the fun begins!  Boy, it's bumpier than ever!  For those that are new to this course it's a rude awakening and you can hear the surprise.  As we climb up to the feed zone, I feel like I'm back on my mountain bike bouncing over rocks and ruts.  This time it's just one covered pot hole after the other mixed in with some open pot holes.  A girl says she's not looking forward to doing this the whole time.  I assure her that it's only the opening and closing miles of each loop that are the worst.  After several miles, we arrive at some smoother pavement. We are well into the first main climb.  A girl in black surges and 9 of us are able to answer the call.  Last year, 3 girls took off and I found myself in a breakaway.  This time it looks like we are all well matched.  I am relieved that I'm not having to work hard early on.

The 9 of us stay together up and over the hill.  On the back side, the pace feels leisurely.  Several packs of guys catch us and we just move over and let them pass.  There is little talking.  I think we are all wondering who is going to make the next move.  Again the road turns bumpy.  I totally forgot it was rough on the backside too. 

Eventually we make it to the last climb.  A unattached rider pushes up the hill and I stay close as do the rest of the girls.  I'm 3rd coming over the top and shortly I'm passed by the rest of the group.  Descending is my weakness. Mostly out of fear.  This road doesn't help with the MANY bumps.  I hold on tight and put my weight back.  I'm flying down the hill but it's no match for the group.  They are way out there by the time I'm halfway down.  I'm praying that the Lord keep me upright.  On some sections, my bike is vibrating violently and I brake some to feel more under control.  I am thankful for the XTerra tri I did last weekend.  It really has made a difference today.

At the bottom, I get to work catching up.  I bridge up to one girl who has fallen back and I tell her to get on my wheel.  I pull her close to the group through the start of the 2nd lap.  She takes over and gets us the rest of the way. 

The 2nd lap I can clearly feel the fatigue setting in...and I know having to catch up didn't help.  I get an Uber Bar down and some Perpetum.  I have to get ahead of the pack somehow before that last descent or I'll be way back.  I'm just waiting for some opportunity to get away.  We climb through the feed zone and I grab some water.  These bumps feel like they are sapping my energy.  Ugh!  I cannot wait to get through this section.

As we start to climb, the girl in black surges once again.  I pick it up and try to stay close.  I don't know what's going on behind me.  I don't even give it much thought.  If I can just stay with her maybe we can create a breakaway that can stick.  Halfway up the climb I look back and I don't see the pack anymore...good stuff!  I cannot quite catch the girl in black but I keep pushing to keep her from getting away.  We make it to the top and she looks back and motions for me to catch up.  After a few minutes I'm able to.  I start to pull and she asks me if I need a break.  I tell her I'm okay.  I never know how long to pull so I just stay out front until she passes.  We kind of start to sense when the other needs a break and take turns pulling each other to the backside of the course.  I tell her that we need to push all the hills to stay ahead of the pack.  It works well because there is no sight of the group.

We introduce ourselves and I learn that her name is Erin.  Being honest (maybe too much so), I tell her "just get me to the hill and you can take it.  I'm a terrible descender."  She says "I am too, let's inspire each other to go faster".  Sounds good to me!  We continue to work well up to the last climb.  I still have a little left in the tank but not much.  Erin surges on the hill and I cannot keep up.  I just want to have a good cushion on the rest of the girls at the top so I continue to give what I have. 

I make it to the top.  "Lord, please help me do this one more time.  Whatever happens, I love You!"  I hold on tight once again and go.  My goal is to do little breaking.  I manage to hold to that well until the middle.  My body is shaking so hard that I can barely see where I'm going!  I have to slow down but even then the shaking is still strong.

Finally, I get to the bottom and to smoother ground.  I can see Erin in the distance.  I look back and it looks clear but I push hard anyway.  1K to go!  Yes!  200 to go!  Alright!  I surge to the finish in 2nd place, and thank Jesus!  Wow, I'm so glad it's done!  Thank you God!

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