Monday, April 6, 2009

Cherry Blossom: Pre-Race and Stage One Report

I survived my first stage race. Actually, I more than survived. I made podium in two stages and in general classification. Here is how it went down.

Thursday, Ground Zero: I didn't get any laundry/bike prep/packing done on Wednesday night due to an informal memorial for Natasha, so I decided to take the morning off from work. Spent an hour on the trainer at TAI in the early AM. First debacle of the day came when I stood up to do an opener and tipped right out of my trainer. It took three people to get me back upright again.

Second debacle occurred after I had unloaded my gear at our Hood River base camp. My plan was to head down to Full Sail for some afternoon beer, reading and sunshine. However, I ended up high centering the Subaru on a curb trying to back out of the steep driveway. Settled for a nap in the sun instead.

Dinner was beers and pizza at Double Mountain with Jeff as we talked our way through the race bible. The rest of the crew (Mindy, Jon, Alice and her hysterical husband Bill) arrived after dinner.

I didn't sleep very well...strange dreams and was constantly waking up to pee. Perhaps a bit overzealous with the post-beer hydration.

Stage One: Columbia Hills Road Race. Despite the rough night of up and down, I managed to sleep in until almost 8. It felt wonderful. No butterflies in the stomach and was able to eat a full breakfast.

My final debacle of the weekend came right before the start of our race. I decided to sneak in a final bathroom break and when I came back, everyone was staged and it looked like the whistle was going to blow at any second. I got my extra clothes off, and helmet back on, in time for the start, but had to ride most of the first lap from the back as a result. Boo.

Lap one was lots of "Slowing" and "Hold Your Line." There is one particular rider that I have raced with five times now who is showing no indication that the fact that someone has to say something to her IN EVERY RACE is actually changing her riding habits. I more or less spent the first 30 minutes of the race trying to move up and away from her.

All of the climbing in this race took place into a mega-headwind. When we hit the wind for the first time, the peloton literally slowed to 12 miles an hour. My goal for the first lap was to stay out of the wind and do as little work as possible. I was sitting about 8 wheels back and it was comical to watch the leaders all look at each other and try and find someone fit (or stupid) enough to set the pace into the headwind.

No one volunteered, so we climbed at the speed of paint drying. I'm surprised that someone didn't come to a complete stop and get blown over. Mindy and I took a few turns at the front, but never made a move to set a higher pace.

When we hit the downhill for the first time, Alice had apparently had enough and shot off of the front. Mindy and I looked at each other, clearly communicating "What the HELL is she doing?" and "Awesome." No one made an attempt to bridge and Alice built a 20 second gap and kept it there--by herself--for almost 30 minutes. People would ask me "Can she hold that?" which I would reply..."Even if I know, I'm not going to tell you."

But in truth, Mindy and I both thought that if she could make it halfway up the hill with a gap, she was stubborn enough to make it stick. Unfortunately, someone at the front finally had enough and we caught Alice before the climbing started.

Then it was time to wait for someone to jump. And someone did, about three minutes into the climb. I was up at the front, but didn't really feel like burning my legs up so early in the weekend. But I could sense that Mindy waiting for me to do something. What I did do was yell at her to go. She and a few other gals bridged quickly and the break was on.

Which left Alice and I to do something I hadn't done before and which turned out to be a lot of trouble-making fun: blocking and slowing the chase group. It took the other members of the chase a bit to figure out that when we would pull (which was not often), everything was slowing down about 1-2 MPH. After about ten minutes, we had given Mindy some room to work and we started racing again.

Because I am a competitive jackass, I contested, and won, the sprint for the chase group, even though it meant ZILCH in terms of time gain. And, once again, NOT in my drops. I thought Beth was going to tear my hands off.

Results: Seventh Cat 4, 10th-ish overall, 1:11 down overall. Alice, same time. Mindy finished fourth.

Highlights: Horses running with the peloton. FINALLY meeting the Ironclad gals. No crashes.

Could've Done Withouts: Climbing into a headwind. The rider with the rattling power tap. Forgetting to bring any post-race beer.

Dinner was more Double Mountain Pizza and beer. We then watched Top Gun and counted 15 popped collars. Bill also mentioned that Kelly McGillis looks like Tim Curry in "Rocky Horror Picture Show." I think it is a spot-on comparison, but it really changes the tone of the movie when you picture Maverick swapping spit with Dr. Frank-N-Furter.


Kristin said...

Glad to have finally met you, too, Lindsay...and Mindy at the Crit and Alice at Double Mountain!

Serena said...
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Serena said...

Lindsay.....great to race with you this weekend, you are so strong, and raced really smart! Hello to the whole Hammer Velo team - Serena