Saturday, April 4, 2015

2015 Copperopolis Road Race–Robin

April 4th, 2015 – Milton, CA
2 x 21 mile loops

Women’s Cat 4, 1st

Troy and I drop the kids off at Nana Sue's house and head to our race. Feeling tired from the late night and early morning. We were supposed to stay the night but delayed our trip to fix up a 1940's trailer we bought to haul all our FCA and camping gear to races. I slept on the way to Nana's and Troy is now sleeping on the way to the race. We've done this race for at least 3 years now. It's the bumpiest course I've every been on!

Not regretting getting up early to spend time in the Bible and with God. My good friend Karen Nickel has recently inspired me to do that before workouts and races. I haven't always made the time but when I do, it feels good and starts the day right!

We get to Milton which is in the middle of nowhere off of Hwy 4. The hills and fields are green and full of wildflowers...beautiful! After registering we run into a teammate, Chris DeMattei. Troy will be working with him in the Masters 45+ 4s. He kindly gives us some water since we forgot to bring extra.

I see Troy off and line up for my group. There are about 10 of us. I notice a girl smiling with her blond hair looking a bit disheveled under her helmet...great to see genuine smiles at the start! She looks inexperienced but you never know.

Ready, set, go! We roll off the line and turn onto the "cobblestone" street. I remember what the official told us at the start..."there are no gaping holes but a lot of patches". It's quite a ride.

Right away the blond (Sarah) takes off! At first the pack just sits back, but a few girls get antsy and take off to catch her. Then the rest of the pack goes. This goes on for the next few miles. I look at my heart rate and I'm in the high 160s. Wow, didn't expect to be going this fast. At this rate I'm going to blow up!

The hill keeps going and is getting steeper. Sarah keeps forging ahead and catches up to a group of guys. The rest of our pack falls back but myself and another girl work to catch her.

Heart rate continues to stay high but I figure I'd risk it to be able to go off the front on the backside. Soon the guys take off and it's just Sarah and I. I find out that this is her first race! She's very nice. We agree to work together and take turns pulling... she takes off a bit fast when it's her turn to pull so the benefit is minimal. I'm getting tired!

Eventually we are caught by 2 girls at mile we are 4. Shortly after, I go to switch gears/cogs in the back and I hear a loud click. I try shifting again but the shifter won't budge...I realize the shifter cable broke. I look down and see I'm in my smallest and hardest cog in the back! Oh dear, that will make climbing very difficult...and i might not be able to climb at all! I'm glad I can still shift the front chainrings!

Lord, what do I do? Maybe I should stop when I finish the first loop? I have a full iron distance aqua-bike next weekend and that's 112 miles on the bike. I don't want to mess that up. I ride on with the girls and just before the hill begins I stop to try to manually move the chain over. It immediately goes right back to the small cog. Well, that settles it, cannot change my circumstances.

I get going again and the girls are gone. Lord, this is going to be a tough and long climb! How am I going to do this? I'm actually surprised how strong I feel.

Just when I'm still wondering what to do, I've made it to the top of the hill...and I'm feeling great! Okay, Lord, You're telling me to keep going. I don't know how I'll be able to do another loop ... And go up that big hill at the beginning.

I'm cautious and a little slow descending the backside of the hill. The road is so bumpy that when you pick up speed your whole body rattles and it's hard to even see.

I can see the girls in the distance. Maybe I can catch them. I feel the Lord telling me to go for it. The second loop begins! I slowly make ground on the girls. I pass the water station on an uphill and a guy says "way to go...muscling your way up!". I tell him that I'm stuck in this gear and he says "oh, no!". It is an "oh, no" but I'm not mad or upset because I know the Lord is allowing this for a reason.

The climb continues to go on and gets steeper. A race official in a van comes up behind me. He is taking his time behind myself and some other riders. He's sweeping the course to check on things.

Just when I've caught the girls, I get to a really steep part of the hill. I'm unable to muscle through it without having to possibly fall over and without holding up the van. I pull over and ask the official if he can possibly help me as he slowly drives by. He pulls over and I explain my issue. He says, "I can probably lock into another gear". I tell him great. He slowly gets out of the car and slowly makes his way around the van. I'm not upset or angry that he's not hurrying. I know that God has a plan here.

The man kindly works on the bike. He is concerned that locking it might mess up my shifting. I assure him it's okay. We work together to shift the chain and derailer up 4 cogs. I tell him it's perfect and thank him for the help. I get on my bike at least 3 minutes after and attempt to catch the girls.

It is so much easier to climb and I'm glad I stopped and asked for help! Thanks Lord for your perfect timing back there! I have this amazing amount of energy! I fly up the rest of the hill and feel fresh at the top. I can see the girls on the road way across a field...they are out there! I get in my drops and hammer.

I feel so amazing. I am in awe at how the distance between the girls and I is fading. I seem to be getting stronger as I go. This makes no sense! I was exhausted at the beginning of the race chasing Sarah. Then I've climbed 2 sets of hills with the last going for miles and getting steeper as it goes. This IS all Jesus! I have no doubt in my mind. I should be tired and fading!

I've almost caught them. They can look back and see me now and take off if they want to. They don't seem to be looking back and they don't seem to be picking up the pace. I start to think, I could be on the podium...whoa, is that even possible? Here I was thinking I couldn't finish the race and now I'm thinking I can be on the podium. Only with Jesus is something like this possible! there is no one in sight behind me. I'll be 4th at least.

I catch up to the girls almost in the same spot where my cable broke! Praise Jesus! We continue on together and they are surprised I made it back. The last hill is approaching and I decide to push it and see what happens. As I hit the hill, I start pushing. I am still feeling fresh and strong...this continues to blow me away! I soon sense that I am alone but I don't look back. I feel the Lord saying to look back at the top but not before or after that. So that is what I do though it is so tempting to see what's going on behind me! It's great to have the cog moved over because I can actually spin my legs. The top is near and I'm wondering if I'll have the guts to fly down it this time.

At the top I look back and there is nobody! Wow, could I actually win this race? Seems inconceivable but anything is possible with Christ (Philippians 4:13). I start down the hill and I'm not scared! The descent actually appears to be less steep than all the times and years I've done it. The bumps are shaking the bike violently but I'm calm. There is a few spots I brake briefly but mostly I'm pedaling hard and bombing down. This is crazy! I start crying tears of amazement and joy. Thank you Lord!

The road levels out and I get into my drops and hammer. I have no idea what is going on behind me. Am I going to get caught? I'm competing as hard as I can and pushing with all I have! I don't look back at all and leave the outcome up to Jesus. I pass the 1K to go sign, still in first. I see the finish line. I have to go uphill to get there and I'm digging deep, still in first. I push hard not knowing if I've got it. I cross the finish line in first and in shock! Lord, can this really be happening? This is a gift! Thank you so very much! 15 secs later, the others are finishing.

As people come up and congratulate me, including the 3 girls, I have to tell them it's the Lord who did it. Some look at me like I'm crazy...I guess you can say I'm crazy for Jesus. There is no way I can take the credit for this win. The circumstances and the energy I had was supernatural. The lesson is you never know what the Lord is going to do even when the outlook looks poor. Keep focusing on Him and see what He does.