Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Purging Sea Otter

Ever have a race that you just wish you could purge from your memory and your database? Well, the Sea otter RR was one of those races. It could not be over fast enough for my liking...and now this is my final attempt to blog about it in the hopes that it will leave my mind forever!

So, as you may have heard, sea otter had the worst weather imaginable for the Womens cat 4 RR. It was raining and raining at the start line, and before we even got going, we were all soaking wet! I had 2 pairs of socks and plastic bags inside my shoes, leg warmers (debatable that they did a shred of good), base layer, windshell, jersey, etc etc... and I was still shivering!

The race started innocently enough...although the neutral section was still plenty scary with all those anxious riders and wet brakes! Ack...I think the first chain dropped before racing even officially started! However, I was feeling ok. We start the first lap, and i get back into decent position in the peloton. My teammate looks super strong, which is good, and I try to follow her lead. My legs were feeling a little sluggish--probably from the extra work I had done chasing the day before...see earlier post...but I thought i'd be ok. We're moving along at a decent clip, and then we get to the hills. There is a lot of climbing on that race, which becomes eminently clear as things move along. I am still in spinning mode, so I click down to my easy gears and spin the hills. The only problem is, after hill 3, this just isn't feeling so much like spinning. My cadence is low, and I"m wondering what the h*** is going on! Then, on the turn into the second lap of the course (very sharp turn), someone misjudges their brakng distance and drifts outward....right into my line! I know I can't brake that quickly, and im on the outside, so I just roll off the road as I'm skidding to a stop, and manage to come to a stop right in front of a barrier! The official watching the barrier goes "nice stop" and I'm like "well, better than crashing into you!" and I take off again, of course not in the right gear, which causes me to fall further back. I chase back on, and get back with the pack. However, the hills are again feeling bad on the legs. My cadences are low, and although I'm still with the pack, it just doesn't feel right. I finally decide to actually peer down and LOOK at the rear derailleur/chain...and notice that although I have clicked to what should be my lovely 26, im really sitting on my 21 (or is it 22)! No WONDER im so tired...i have 2 gears im not using! I fiddle with the cable tension and get one more gear...but I never was able to get my 26...

I get dropped after about 2.5 laps. Which left me what I thought was about 1.5 laps to ride on my own. I remember my coach's advice "if you get dropped, just keep motoring, because you never know whats happening ahead of you" and keep going. I don't have a whole lot of experience getting dropped, and its demoralizing!!!! Wow. I was thinking, why am I dropped? I trained hard, I should be strong, etc. etc. and it makes me angry. and anger makes me ride...so ride I did. I hit the descents with reckless abandon and tried hard to enjoy the pain. There was a set of switchbacks on one descent which was sublime. Thanks for a useful tip that you could do the entire stretch with no brakes...it was fun. I caught 2 people on that descent... one on each lap I was alone. They didn't quite have the gas to work with me...so I was still on my own.

So after I had completed the 4 laps, I was ready to climb the hill to the finish, but when I got to the turn off, the official said I had one more lap. ONE MORE LAP???? NOOOOOOOOOOO! WAs I delirious? Had I counted wrong?? Anyway, it was pretty demoralizing, and I know I slowed down quite a bit... but then I got my head back on and picked the pace up for hte final lap. WHen I finished I found out that there had been some confusion and that they made us do 5 laps instead of 4. So, 4200 feet of climbing and 50 miles later, I had finally completed the RR. I ended up getting 12th. And the best news when I finished was that my teammate, Susie, got 5th, and had had a really good race :-) dispite the weather! Congrats, Susie!!!! (that makes 2 podiums in 2 races at Sea Otter for her...WAY TO GO!)

Now, 2 days later, it doesn't seem so bad, and I'm looking forward to this weekend's stage race! My bike is cleaned and tweaked again...and all is well. Now just tell my legs to get stronger....

time for my hill threshold intervals....


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