Sunday, March 15, 2009

40 Degrees, 30 Dollars and a 100% Chance of a Weather Related Temper Tantrum

"I can't believe I payed $30 for this."

"Me neither, but I suppose it's too late to ask for my money back."

"You're probably right. I just keep thinking that $30 would have bought at least 4 Bloody Mary's."

"Or a bottle of whiskey."

"To drink or just to break the bottle over my own head?"

"Both."

This is what is going on during the staging of the Cat 4 women's race at Banana Belt #2 at about 9:25 this morning. It's torrentially raining out at Hagg Lake and I am in a less-than-snappy mood about it. I'm cold, thirsty and totally discombobulated after breaking the zipper on my favorite shoecovers, dropping my gloves in the restroom toilet and spilling most of the powder contents of my standby water bottle into my gym bag. I look like a sopping wet coke fiend by the time I get to the start line.

The race was the first in the 2009 Cat 4 Women's Series, so we were expecting a big turnout, but the field was still bigger than I'd expected, given the weather. As Christy and I drove west out of Portland, the sky kep getting darker and darker. The windshield wipers were on high and I still didn't have a clear view of the road. The phrase "Are you fucking kidding me?" was uttered every two or three minutes. We barely have the energy to make fun of the buffalo...still chillin' under the "Burgers for Sale" sign on highway 47.

But my team has shown up seven strong and I'm considering the race as a sort of self-punishment for Friday night's shenanigans. If I wanted to take the nicest day of the year thus far and turn it into a goddamned hooligan-fest, better damn well show up and race in the monsoon on Sunday. And LIKE it.

Lap 1: Much slower first lap than last week. The crowd is pretty much the same, with the addition of some of the Sorrella ladies, Margi and some collegiate riders. Someone from Ironclad goes off the front almost immediately. I look at Alice and Mindy and shake my head. I don't think it'll stick and its too early in the race to expend a whole lot of energy chasing people down. The middle part of the first lap is pratically a tea party. I don't make a whole lot of conversation, instead concentrating on my wheel and keeping myself from getting boxed in. If someone makes a serious jump, I want to go with her.

(Damp Descent. Credit: Oregon Cycling Action.)

I've promised myself that I'd be patient and sit in, but if the pace keeps like this, going to need to talk to Alice about doing her Alice thing to shock the field into picking up the pace.

Lap 2: Sallyanne takes her turn near the front, driving the pace up a few steep hills. This shocks the field a bit, and shortly after that, Rhonda Morin from Sorella jumps. This is where the chess game of bike racing kicks in, and it a part that I'm learning to really like. Rhonda is a very strong rider, one capable of making a break stick. But she's also racing masters. If she goes, it doesn't affect the Cat 4 race. We decide to let her go for the time being.

At this point, my legs are comfortable. My eyes...a different story. I had to stash my glasses on the first lap because of fogging and have started to blink compulsively to keep the road spray from getting underneath my contact lenses. I'm also constantly making zurbert noises with my lips to get the grit out of my mouth. I look and sound like a fruit loop crazy person.

[Remember>>>> I PAID THIRTY DOLLARS to do this. When you're cold and wet and covered in cancer-causing road grit, its hard not to think about what else you could have done with that thirty dollars. 12 pints of happy hour beer. A steak dinner at the Heathman. Season 4 of Lost in DVD. At least ten minutes in a peep show booth on 82nd...or so I've heard. ]


Lap 3: Pace is still gradually picking up, but Alice, Mindy and I are having no problems responding to the attacks the Sorellas are throwing off the front.

(HV up front and on the move...from L to r: Anna, Alice, LK and Mindy over my shoulder. Credit: Jon Gornick)

But they are the least of our worries. The other Lindsay, Lindsay Fox, the one that climbs like a mountain goat (I'm the Lindsay that climbs like a Bradley Armored Fighting Vehicle), has attacked at the start of the third lap and is steadily moving further away. We catch her on the neutral, and when she gets her head start on a downhill (and with an extra few seconds from the lead car), she's gone. And we're not organized. And we stay disorganized. There are a few moves by the Sorellas to bridge, but none sticks. HV makes the mistake by not trying to do it ourselves.

Fox has the race won by the time we hit Lee Hill. It's now a fight for second. I'm up front, working hard as I can and hoping the red jersey out of the corner of my eye is Alice, Anna or Mindy. I need a wheel. Badly. The woman that passes me is not a teammate and I let her go, having watched her climb the whole race and thinking that I can make up any gap on the final incline or on the sprint.

But I'm wrong. It becomes a race for third in the final 200 meters. Dawn Riddle moves up from my left and I grab her wheel and hold on for dear life all of the way to the finish line. Fourth, but only by a hair. Someone was charging hard off to my left and I didn't have another ten meters left in my legs.

(Final Sprint. Edged TAI's Elena Larson for fourth.... by inches. Okay, maybe an inch. Credit: Jon Gornick)

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Hammer Velo had a great day. Our two (!!!-what a bunch of pussies) men finished 2nd and 4th in their races. But it was really our day. Results aren't official yet, but we think we had 4 racers in the top 10 and 5 in the top 20.

It bascially comes down to this. My teammates were superwomen today. They were fearless competitors and worked their asses off. And they managed not to kill me during my pre-race temper tantrum. For that alone, I am grateful. But I also feel very lucky to have these women as my friends and am pretty stoked to see how we develop as a team in the next few months.

2 comments:

mikey said...

Great race (and story) Linds - but you would've been third if you sprinted in the drops!!

Lindsay said...

I KNOW-its on my list of things to drill into my head. I get so tired that I forget I can make it easier on myself.