Well, I completed my first 3's road race! The good news is that I felt like I belonged in my new category. The bad news is, I have no good results to show for my nearly 70 mile effort today! I can't even report on exciting sprint finishes, or how anyone else did, because I don't know! So before I go into this, I'll report on what I do know about the race.
I believe there were 19 starters...300-319 they said at the start. This was a 3's only race, a rarity in the so-cal scene. However, this race seemed to be mostly nor-cal racers, as I recognized some of them from Kern, and met some from the blogosphere!
Metromint had at least 2, as did VeloBella, and EMC2 had 3 or 4! There were also a few other teams with at least 2 each. I felt mighty lonely all by myself. Right from the start one rider kept playing around at the front. We tried rotating a bit, and as luck would have it (I'm screaming at myself for this one...both times it happened--making newbie mistakes...like getting stuck out in front), the rotating paceline would miraculously end when I pulled through and started to softpedal, no one would pull through. Then I was left out in front. I think I must have had a sign on me that said 'first time cat 3,' and maybe people thought they could make me work without me realizing it? Anyway, I wasn't sure I even had the gas for a 70 mile race, so i did NOT want to be up front, especially when I wasn't even warmed up! So I started to ease up on the pace. I pulled off and slowed, and slowed, and still no one would go around me. Someone actually SAID to me "You have to make this a race!" and I was like "if you want a race then go around me...I'm not pulling this whole peoloton for very long...this is lap 1!" I was rather irate about the whole matter. There were lots of comments like that going back and forth, which is different from the 4s. Anyway, finally someone attacked, and we all sped up and got back into some form of organization. No one seemed to want to organize for very long. There were a lot of half-hearted attacks at the front, but nothing stuck. I mostly sat in, and rotated through as necessary. I was warmed up by the end of lap 1 and settling in. My lower back was feeling a bit sore going into lap 2, but other than that, I felt pretty fresh. The hammer gel flask was awesome...I'll definitely keep that in mind for future long races!
On lap 3 (I THINK it was lap 3...they all ran together at some point), speedy girl attacked right before the feed zone. I'm not sure if she considered it an attack or not, it could be as we were slowing down and preparing for the feed she just kept going...but she got a gap. It got to be pretty large at one point, and we discussed what to do about it. We didn't really do a great job of organizing through the rollers on the backside, and gained some ground but didn't catch. Finally someone went and attacked to try and bridge. I felt strong so I followed. I caught that girl, and the two of us brought speedy girl back. The three of us worked pretty good together for awhile, and we were caught by one other, so the 4 of us kept rotating through and worked hard. However, we started to tire, and again (need to ride smarter, I tell myself) I got stuck out in the front doing too much work. Eventually we slowed and were caught by the chasers. Then we were all together again...at this point about 15 miles to go. Actually some people had been dropped off by this point. I'm guessing we were 12 strong or so. All was going well....on the one little hill on the flat part of the course I felt really strong. I spun up in the big ring and never had to stand. My legs were hanging in there. I powered over the climb strong, and then settled back in. The course was pretty flat in this section, and I was feeling like i was going to be in it at the finish!
When....I hear that familiar sound of a flat tire. Bummer!!!! I kept riding, as the leak was a sort of slow one...as if I was going to will it away or something, but it was not to be. Pretty soon it was fully flat. "Flat" I call out, as I pull off and watch the lead group ride away. Bummer, says the metromint girl next to me. I'm sure I said a few choice words I probably should have kept to myself at that point. Thankfully I had put my CO2 and spare tube in my jersey, so I quickly changed the flat and chased. However, chasing in the last 10 miles of a long RR when you are 1 and they are 10 is just not really very fun or productive. I rode in strong, but very frustrated. I have no idea how I did...I was not realy in the mood to stay for results. I congratulated the girls around that I saw, and told them I had fun riding with them, but that was as much as I know about how the race ended. I don't even know who won!
So...another day, another bike race. I feel good about my race today, even though I'm sure I don't have a good finish to show for it. I rode strong, my fitness felt good, I learned some valuable lessons, I didn't crash or crash anyone else (although I think I did scare someone in the feed zone when someone cut me off and I subsequently did NOT hold my line--sorry!!!!).
Anyway, I think that was my last RR of the year...so I have to wait till next year to redeem myself. But I'll be there, ready to go as always!
It was really great to meet fellow bloggers today! Cyclistrick and Ms. Chatterbox...you were awesome when I was nervous getting ready. Alicat, it was fun to race with you--maybe you know how things ended up because if I recall you were right in the thick of it all. Aufderbach...hope your race went well..was good to meet you in the port-a-potty line... Hope you all had a good time today!!
Till next time!