Saturday, August 25, 2012

Winters Road Race (Robin)

August 25, 2012 – Winters, CA
2 laps = 48 miles
7th out of 18

Troy and I dropped the kids off at my friend Karen’s house bright and early this morning…thanks Karen! We are off to Winters, just outside of Davis, for a road race. I feel pretty good going into the race with some half Ironman training compared to last year when I was only doing Sprint triathlons.  Still, road racing is different from tri's.  Especially its danger factors!

Troy and I pull in earlier than expected. After picking up our bib numbers, we run into Victory Velo Teammate, Kevin Miller.  He and a bunch of teammates are racing the 1-3 Masters categories. Those guys have come a long way in a few years and they sure are becoming a force to be reckoned with! It’s so nice to warm-up with Troy! It’s kind of like a date…for 20 minutes…I’ll take any time I can get with him(=  He reminds me to focus on pulling the pedal all the way around up the hills to get more power.

Back at the car we run into Randy, Fred, Lance Loveday and Todd Allington. It’s fun to chat a bit until go time. Troy notices my bar plug is missing. Bummer, I forgot about that! The last two rides I’ve meant to take care of that. I ask the race folks and Kevin but they don’t have any. On a whim, I ask a cyclist friend, Nabil, known as the "Bicycle Lawyer". He has one and notes that he found it yesterday and kept it around for some reason. Thanks God and thanks Nabil!

Troy takes off with the CAT 5 guys. It’s a huge group! I take a video of him on the way out. There’s some guys in that group from Utah. Wow, I guess there’s something special about this race. “Go Troy!” It’s another ½ hour before I go. I run into Megan from the Copperopolis race. It’s nice to see a familiar face.

Our group, Womens 4, is the last group to roll out and we actually start with the Junior Boys. Once out of town, the race starts and we must ride separately from the boys. Right away, the girls take it out strong. A single pace line forms and I’m out there to the left exposed. I try to move closer to get the draft. Soon a UC Davis girl goes ahead of me and I get on her wheel. She makes desperate attempts to break into the pace line but these girls refuse to let her in. Some of the girls tell her to back off in fear that she’s going to cause a crash. She drops back and I’m still alone outside of the pace line until another girl in a blue jersey gets in front and attempts to break into the line the same way. Eventually she drops back and the UCD girl comes back. This time she finally breaks into the pace line, along with the girl in blue. I’m left out there again but now we make a turn and the road rolls. The pace line is broken. The pace line picks it up again but the group becomes erratic - slowing down for no reason and then taking off. I opt to drop back in the pack for a time.

Once I can see the big hill starting, I move up to the front. Within a few moments after, I hear a crash right behind me. Some girl near me tells us to keep going. I want to stop but there was a support vehicle back there so there’s not much I can do. Megan catches up and tells us that two girls rubbed wheels. She escaped by riding on the dirt.

I stay with this small group of girls up the climb. I see teammate Jay Garrard at the “feed zone” supporting the riders and say hi. I forget how long this climb is but I’m thinking it’s pretty much over…wrong! It keeps going! The road narrows significantly and gets steep! I stay with this group well all the way up. At the top, I realize I have not prepared myself for this steep downhill. The group takes off while I make my way down too cautiously. At the bottom, I am alone! I think I can catch the group. I catch up to a straggler. I attempt to get her to work with me to catch them. For a time, it seems to be working but she doesn’t seem to have the interest to keep up the effort. I decide to time trial it alone and try to catch them.

They move further and further ahead and it’s hard not to let up. I look back and there is no one. Lord, I will keep trying and will not lose hope…and most importantly I will keep a good attitude. I think back to the triathlon last week and am reminded that I can push hard on my own…especially with the Lord on my side. 120825_winters_rr_robinI make my way back to the start of the second loop and some guys pass and let me know that there is a group of women coming from the back. I’m relieved especially since I’ve lost sight of these girls. I continue to keep up a good effort until they are near and then I back off a bit. It’s a small group of girls and they ask me how many are ahead. “I think 6 or 8. They are several minutes ahead.”

We do a rotating pace line in hopes of making ground on those girls. It works well until we start the climb again. Back at the feed zone I ask Jay how far ahead the girls are. He says “not far”. Alright, maybe I can catch them. I take off and don’t look back. I need all the distance I can get on this current group of girls so that I won’t get left behind at the descent. This year I have the endurance to push this hill so I take advantage. I keep scanning the road ahead hoping I will catch a glimpse of the lead pack. By the time I reach the super steep part, I don’t see them but I continue to press to the top.

At the top, I prepare myself to push the descent. This time I actually do a better job and get some good speed. At the bottom, I look back and see that I’m alone. It’s like 6 more miles to the finish so I decide I’m going to time trial it again. I see a girl ahead and wonder if she’s in my group. A group of guys pass me and I am hoping that I might feel their draft for a moment so I can catch the girl. It doesn’t really help. I can see her latch on them for a moment and go around! Okay, she must be a CAT 3.

I continue to push hard anyway and keep smiling. The miles click off and I know I’m getting close. I turn a corner and see another girl and recognize her from our group. Awesome! Should I try to work with her or keep up the effort? Lord, what should I do? I feel Him letting me know it’s okay to forge ahead alone. I pass her and tell her good job. I put my head down and push hard. It’s getting tiring but soon I see the “1K to Go” sign. Yes! I dig down deeper and push hard to the finish. I point up to God and thank Him for getting me through this ride safely and in a good position. My average was 19.6 with help compared to 19.9 last week on my own. This cycling is tough and seems tougher than tris! I’m in awe of all those that can do this so well and so often!