Saturday, April 15, 2017

Copperpolis–Robin -2017

April 15th, 2017 – Milton, CA
3rd, Women's 4
Brandi Cleland
So awesome to be able to race here with Troy.  Thanks to Mike and Trixie Bradley!  They are watching the girls today…so grateful! We get a late start and the GPS says we'll only have a few minutes to spare to get ready for the race. Usually that would make things stressful for me but I feel calm trusting the Lord will work it out.  Troy has gotten little sleep lately and I knew the extra sleep could make us late. We drive winding Hwy 49.  As we get closer, Troy and I pray for our races. We finally make it with 15 min to spare for the start of Troy's group.  He jumps out of the car to get registered.  I park and then get registered/ready myself.  I see Victory Velo teammate Brandi Cleland.  Yeah, I won't be racing alone!  Troy's race is supposed to start but there are no race officials in sight.  Well, looks like we are starting late.  We had plenty of time after all!  His race finally starts 25 min late.  Looks like around 20 guys in his group. As my group waits a bit longer to go, I fill in Brandi and a few girls around us on the terrain.  I stress that the beginning and the last descent on the course are very bumpy due to the numerous potholes that have been terribly patched.  The rest of the course really is fine.  Once they know what to expect the first loop, the second will be fine.  Two girls introduce themselves to me.  One, Jennifer, has no team affiliation and the other, Jill, is on the JVelo team.  Both have on bright blue colors. Ok, we're next! The official tells is about the course and rules.  He suggests that we might take that final descent “neutral” which means don't race it because the pothole patch job is bad …it's really up to us…well, taking it easy, that's probably unlikely. Time to go!  We roll out and hit pothole city.  Jennifer pushes the pace immediately and Jill is close behind.  I'm huffing and puffing already!  I hope I can keep up on the first climb.  Brandi is doing a great job staying in the pack and I'm struggling just to stay with everyone. After the feed zone at mile 2, the climb starts.  Jennifer continues to push the pace and girls start to drop including Brandi. Darn, I want to help her but know I need keep up so I push to try to hang on.  Jennifer and Jill are pulling away.  I dig deep and catch up.  Looking back there is nobody now.  Jill asks me where the top is.  I hesitate giving her too much info because I don't want them to try to ditch me.  I try to be vague about it saying “it's coming” and getting a sarcastic response “well duh!”. We reach the top.  Top three!  I hope I can stay with them the whole way and hold at least the third spot.  I suggest we take quick turns pulling (or leading) along this mostly flat section.  It works well for a bit but soon they are riding so fast that I cannot even get up to the front to lead…I'm getting too tired. I do all I can to try to rest and stay on their wheels and not push. I don't know what these girls might be plotting so I try to stay on their good side by telling them what to expect next on the course. I stay with them the entire backside of the course and continue to try to rest.  I make sure I take turns blocking the wind to make it appear that I am helpful and an asset.  We get to the last climb before the final descent. I tell them about how there is a slight descent before the very top.  They are pushing the pace going up.  It seems as if they can climb like that all day!  At that slight decent they are flying and I'm having trouble keeping up. This is indicative that they are going to cram me on the descent…and they do.  I keep thinking about what the official said and find myself braking a lot.  As usual, my bike is vibrating violently as I roll over all the patched potholes.  Jennifer and Jill are way out there now!  It's unlikely I'll catch them.  Thanks Lord for protecting me and getting me this far.  If I can hold this position, I can still get 3rd. A girl from our group catches me.  She tells me she can handle those descents but not the climbs.  She suggests we work together as we start the second lap.  Hum, I don't really want to work together especially if she can pass me on that final decent. I feel conflicted having these thoughts, they are so selfish….and ironic considering that this entire weekend is symbolic of the greatest selfless act in all of history, Christ dying on the cross for my sins!  I choose not to verbally commit to working with her.  I'll just push the long hill here and if she can stay with me, then I'll need to work with her on the backside.  The girl jokes with me not to mind her crying as she climbs.  This is a good sign I can pull away. As I reach the top, I look back and I'm all alone. Yeah!  I just need to push any remaining hills to distance myself more from anyone else in our group.  An older guy from the Auburn area tells me I'm about 2 min behind the top girls.  I tell him thanks…doubtful I will catch them.  I actually am able to see them off in the distance. On the backside, I catch a teammate of that older guy.  He tells me that we both are not in contention for placing and that we should work together.  I tell him I'm actually in third place and that I shouldn't have any advantage.  Even if I am last, I still shouldn't break the rules. He apologized for assuming I was in the back.  We yo-yo back and forth all the way to the final climb. He's very chatty and wants to talk but I'm trying to push and want to conserve energy. For several miles I can see Jennifer and Jill in the distance.  For a time it looks like I'm catching up but by the last climb they have disappeared.  It doesn't seem like there are any girls behind me but I push the hill just in case…I would like a good cushion going into the descent! I leave that older guy behind as I climb and catch up to another guy.  I pass him and put on a gap to the top.  I'm thinking I might hold him up on the descent but he'll just have to pass me.  I get rolling faster the second time around but still get passed by that guy.  I try to match his pace and follow him down.  I still break but not as much. Hold on!! I make it to the bottom and push it.  I take a look back and it's totally clear!  Thank you Lord!  Now go! I push as hard as I can all the way through the end.  I see Troy waiting.  I point up to God as I finish.  Thank you Jesus!!