Sunday, April 29, 2007

Devil's Punchbowl yesterday morning, as I'm driving further and further from nice, temperate, sunny Santa Barbara, to go race my bike in the desert east of the middle of nowhere, I really wonder how psycho I have become! There are umpteen trillion beautiful, challenging, social bike rides I could do today, and yet I've decided to spend 5 hours in the car to race in the heat of the desert. It must be about the competition, or that I'm just crazy.

Anyway, I get to the race and as soon as I get out of the car I feel dehydrated. On my walk to registration, I see Dotsie! Wow, how cool is that. And she reminds me to keep hydrating...and I feel lame for having not brought a waterbottle on my walk to pick up my number...

The race starts, and it feels ok...but you can feel the heat radiating off the roads. My race started at 12:30, which was the hottest part of the day. As we're spinning along comfortably, someone remarks how nice it is that the women are friendly and chatty. Someone else says "just wait until the hill, I don't think we're going to feel like chatting then." And how right they were. I made it almost up the hill, but wow, the heat got to me and I got dropped! However, having adjusted my attitude recently, and reminded myself that I do this suffering for so-called "fun" outside my day job, I decided to make this my own suffer-fest, and keep motoring hard. So the WHOLE race I could still see them ahead, taunting me. There weren't all that many, and I wasn't losing ground, so I felt good about it. The coolest part was that when I made the turn after the LOOOONG amazing descent, there was Dotsie cheering for me! She actually said I looked strong, and that they were right up there, and to settle in...and it really helped! So very awesome. Anyway, I started catching stragglers from the 5s race, and that was helpful for the old ego. And then on the second lap, I only survived the hill thanks to some guy from another race who was climbing at the same pace. We talked each other throught the hill, and I actually made up ground on my group! So thanks, Simply Fit dude who saved me on the hill. Sometimes having someone to TELL you to go fast really does work! My own little voice sometimes doesn't scream loud enough!

The descent was about long, fast, and flat out awesome....I had a great time buzzing by people and my bike as always is so solid on descents that it encourages me to push the envelope.

So..that was all well and good, but I was still dropped. However, the finish is what is making me yearn for another bike race. Coming into the last turn for the finish (maybe 1.5 miles to go) this girl comes up to me. She was a triathlete I had chatted with at the start. However, it IS the last 1.5 miles of a brutal race, so there were no niceties. She passes me, and i take her wheel ont he descent...we make the turn, and I hold her wheel for a bit. She keeps looking back at me, and I was nice and eased up a bit, and a little gap formed. We passed a bunch of 5's, and she is working hard. I had looked at the mile markers before the race (thanks Steve Weixel for pointing those out.....) so I knew where I'd have to jump. She was SURE she had me because there was a big gap, but somehow I dug deep, and with 150m to go, I pretended i was field sprinting for a crit, and gave it absolutely everything. My legs didn't let me down, and I make up the gap and fly by her (thanks clean bike for being so silent), and beat her across the line. It would have been ultimatlely cool if i was sprinting for 1st...but hey, you take them where they come! I had been ahead of her the whole race, and I was NOT going to let her beat me! AFterwards, I pretty much collapsed. My heartrate went higher than it had ever been before...and I literally couldnt keep going! I had to just stop and lie on the top tube of my bike. And then i needed water, and two nice people just gave me their waters because I was so dead-looking.

One of these days I will get it all together, and not get dropped on the climb, and get to use my ability to pull all stops out to soem better use than a sprint for 7th! I called my coach to tell her about it...and she says, don't worry, we don't have you peaking I'll trust her! And I do have to remember, I've only owned the bike since last July...and had never been a cyclist I think there's time!

And I survived Devil's punchbowl! And nearly half my field didn't even finish! So I guess that's saying something.
Today I get to ride in nice cool Santa Barbara. And I won't take it for granted.