Saturday, April 19, 2014

Copperopolis Road Race – Robin

April 19th, 2014 – Milton, CA
2 x 21m loops

5th, Cat 4


Charity Marshall

It’s a special treat today because Troy and I get to head to a race without the kids. Easter is tomorrow and they are having fun at Nana Sue & Papa Ray’s house. The cousins are there, too, so there is much fun to be had!

Off we head to Milton, a small farming & ranching community near Angels Camp. This race is well known for its very bumpy roads…pot hole upon pot hole upon pot hole! I don’t remember it being that terrible after the first 5 miles and before the last 5 miles. It’s a 2 loop course. Each lap is about 21 miles.

We get to the site and get ready to ride. The Marshalls, Charity and Shayne, are here too without kids. Charity, Troy and I go out for a warm-up. It’s a beautiful day and these off-course roads are nice and smooth!

Troy and I do some last minute prep and then head to the start. We find Shayne and pray for our races. Today, safety is key and most importantly putting Christ first. Charity and I see Shayne and Troy off. Their categories are around 20 guys, not the usual 50. As the girls line up I wonder where they all are and I say “is this it for the girls?”. Yes, it is…wow, only 8 gals!

Ready, set, go! We casually roll out and within moments turn onto the severely bumpy road. I am not very surprised and remember this well. No one is in a hurry to lead the race. We climb the first hill comfortably. Charity takes a turn at the front. We hit a patch of smooth pavement…ahhhhh, that’s nice!

On the backside of the course it’s still calm. Charity and I get a chance to chat about the Good Friday service at Elevation church we missed. The roads back here seem bumpier than I remember. Still, I feel really good and start mentally preparing for the downhill. Troy said that this downhill is the main part of my race. I’ve been descending with more confidence and skill than ever so I hope it goes well!

We are still together as we climb. I take a turn at the front and try to stay relaxed. Just before the top, there is a brief downhill and I push ahead and descend well. Charity goes by and tells me to go with her. I get on her wheel and try to stay close. We climb for a short time and then it’s time! Charity takes off and I try to stay with her. Soon, my bike is vibrating violently as my speed picks up.  I panic on a few turns and grab the brake.  It really does little to settle my nerves.  A few girls fly by and I try to keep them as close as I can.  I’m descending better here than ever but I’m still fearful.

Near the bottom I let it rip and pull back to the girls.  I’m able to make contact.  Soon all 8 of us are together again.  The road is nice and smooth here for once!

We head back to the start for loop 2.  We turn back onto the bumps.  We start the 2nd climb and I feel wiped.  It’s so weird because I didn’t feel I was pushing really hard most of the first lap. The bumps start to feel like a bunch of little hills and it is wearing on my mind and body.

One of the girls, in a Metromint kit, pulls ahead on the climb but none of us are concerned.  In my mind, she will come back eventually.  Soon another gal in black and fruit covered kit (pictures of fresh fruit which is making me hungry) takes off so I ride with her.  I don’t know where Charity is and I hope she is close.  It takes all of me to concentrate on the fruit girl.  When we get to the top, I look back and no one is in sight.  The Metromint girl is way out there and now I’m doubting we can catch her.

The fruit girl and I chat and decide to work together.  After a few miles, I feel really tired and loose contact.  When I look back I see 2 girls coming up on me.  I decide to let them catch me and hope that I can hang on.  I still don’t see Charity and I hope she’s got some of the other girls to work with.  She’s strong and will persevere for sure!

I do okay working with these girls but I feel really tired again and fall off.  I realize that I’m making a terrible mistake letting up because I need help to get to the finish.  I push to catch up again but it appears I missed my chance.  They make a turn up ahead.  As I make the turn, I see a huge trailer intentionally pulling out in front of them.  I am angry for the nerve of the guy doing that when all he could have done was waited 20 more seconds…but at the same time relieved that I get to catch up.  Thanks God for a break!

Together again, we ride towards the last climb.  The Metromint gal is a small dot and the fruit girl is getting smaller too.  Probably won’t catch either of them now.  This means I have a shot for 3rd to 5th place.  Knowing my weaker descending skills and sprint skills, it’s going to be tough to get 3rd.

Up the last hill, we stay together.  Once at the false top I try to pull ahead but they are right on me.  Up again to the real top and now it’s time to descend.  Help me Lord!  I get there first and hang on tight.  I brake again on a sharp turn and the girls go by.  I manage to keep contact going down. Again, violent shaking…a few shout outs to Jesus and I make it down…and still close to the girls!  Yeah!  I pull in close and wait for a chance to go.  The finish is near!

We climb a short hill and go down the backside.   I know gravity is a friend that I don’t want to neglect so I push it even though I have 500 meters to go.  It’s a short climb to the finish and I dig as deep as I can.  The girls fly by and I cannot keep up. They finish 3rd and 4th at the line.  I come across in 5th with a smile and happy to be done.  Thank you Lord for the protection and good ride! 

Charity comes soon after.  Unfortunately the gals she was working with quit and turned back.  I knew she would stay strong and finish strong.  Great job Charity!