Sunday, February 21, 2016

William & Mary Tidewater Classic

The first start . . . the one before the thunderstorm
Next Saturday, I'm doing my first bike race in four years. The last road race I did (I think it was in 2012, but it might have been 2011) was . . . unpleasant. I didn't write a race report for it, at least not one that I could find. But it involved me swerving a little in the pack (of 7 female riders) because I wasn't paying close enough attention and a snotty girl in K-State kit tattling about it to one of the officials while the race was stopped for lightning. Oh yeah, there was a thunderstorm, too. And then when I tried to talk to her about it and apologize she basically said, "F you, you did it on purpose, learn to hold your line." Not that I'm bitter about it or anything. In addition to the you-know-what from K-State, my teammate's ex-girlfriend entered the race with the sole intention of trying to show her up (which was stupid; last I heard, my teammate was the state road champion in Arkansas and The Ex . . . was not champion of anything). The Ex tried to sprint and break away, it opened up an attack for another group, The Ex got dropped, four women got up the road (K-State got fourth out of them, so suck it, K-State) and I finished fifth in no-man's land. And did I mention there was a thunderstorm? And the official pulled me aside to tell me that people had been complaining about me? Yeah, it was a bad race.
"I hate you and I wish you would die."
As a result, I'm slightly nervous about doing my first road race in five years. Actually, I'm extremely nervous about it. I've been having stress dreams about bike racing. I'm worried that I'm going to get into the pack and suck: that I will either not be able to hold a line and a bunch of people will shout at me (or tattle to the officials about it); or that I will get dropped on the one big hill; or that I . . . actually, I don't have any other rational fears. I'm generally afraid and stressed about it.
That girl in the green overlapped my rear wheel in a turn and went down. She probably took most of the skin off her leg . She was out of the race. But I didn't go down. That's how good my handling skills were, thank you very much.
My handling on team rides is solid. I know I shouldn't be worried about that. I'm good riding in close quarters. I'm not a squirrely triathlete. But I have that conversation with the official at my last race stuck in my head, and it makes me doubt myself. What if I blow up early and get too tired to handle my bike properly? What if some snotty wanna-be from K-State decides to make herself feel better about her sub-standard riding by shouting at me to hold my line?

You know what? I'm looking at this the wrong way. This race is my chance for redemption. I'm stronger, and I handle my bike better now than I did then. I think riding tons on my own last summer improved my handling skills, ironically; there's no substitute for saddle time when it comes to being comfortable on your bike. Commuting on my bike has helped, too. Lots of cornering, and it's good practice at being hyper-aware of your surroundings.

The race is 20 miles--2 big loops, 1 short, punchy hill--for swag, upgrade points, and pride. I (along with at least one other woman from Veloworks-Spokes Etc) will be supporting one of my teammates for the win; we're hoping to help her cat up from 4 to 3 by the end of the season. I think she's going to drop us both on the hill, because I think an attack is likely to go there. But I'll hang with her and help her as long as I can. Maybe it'll come down to a bunch sprint, and we'll get to do the lead-out we've been practicing. We'll see if I can hold my line at 1200 watts!

Look for my race report next week.

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