Last weekend I put away my triathlete shoes for a couple days and played the part of a bike racer. With the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in town there were several 'ancillary events' and as I was swept up in the excitement, I signed up for two of them.
Saturday, August 21 - Race #1: A Criterium. (Crit HR/GPS data) What the heck was I thinking? I'm essentially trained as a time trial specialist. That means I just go, solo, for quite a while. My previous race was that half ironman - so 56 miles trying to stay 3-4 bike lengths behind any other rider. Now put me in a group of other riders and go around corners....and this course had three, yes, three 180 degree turns. Oy. So a week before the event, my coach and another client of his (they were out in Colorado getting in some altitude training) hit up some corners in the downtown neighborhood. I also spent time in a couple parking lots on some separate occasions. Race day comes around and I'm ready as I'll ever be, not training to race crits.
I got to the race site. I warmed up. They called my group (cat 4 women) and three of us showed up. Well, so much for worrying about riding in a group. With the shortage of cat 4 women, the officials made the race 20 minutes. All right, I can go hard for 20 minutes. It was the first crit race for all of us so we decided to take the first few laps easy, each taking a turn up front. I was 3rd to go and I picked up the pace a bit. Then they rang the bell for the prime lap (a massage) and one girl took off like shot. I didn't think I would catch her on that lap, but I didn't want her to get too far ahead. So I turned on the gas. She won the prime, but after the next lap right after the 180 degree turn hitting a short hill near the start/finish, I caught her and passed her. Then her coach/supporter or whoever yelled at the two girls - "you can catch her - she's got like 30 pounds on you!" Wow. To note and to be candid...I'm 5'6" and weigh about 135. 20% body fat. So I'm not sure if he motivated them or me more!
At this point we were 7 minutes into a 20 minute race. Go fast for 13 minutes - sure! And I just raced as hard as I could - after all, I am a TT specialist! I worked on taking the 180 degree corners as efficiently as possible, and working on getting the right gear, as we had to climb out of two of them. Three laps to go...they haven't caught me yet. Two laps - I think I'm widening the gap....Last lap all out and Wheeee! I won! Got one for Team Stomach of Anger! We took a few recovery laps together and chatted. They were Air Force Academy freshmen - just barely 18. One asked if I was a college student. I guess with a helmet and sunglasses, it's hard to guess age... Big thanks to Michele and Greg for coming out and cheering for me and taking some sweeeeeet photos!
|Coach and I while I warm up|
|Early in the race we're still all together|
|having fun, are we?|
Sunday, August 22 - Race #2 -The Cheyenne Canyon Time Trial. (TT HR/GPS data) 3.2 miles and 1200ish feet of gain. Yep. Hell. Time Trial or not - this is a tough climb. I rode up it a few times last year, my best time being 24:08ish (not chip timed). This was a chip timed race. Tom Danielson, a pro with Garmin-Cervelo) holds the record of 13:34. They offer $1000 for anyone who can beat his time. I'm not exactly going to chop 10 minutes off a 3 mile climb, but I at least wanted to beat my previous time. I parked a couple miles away and used that as some of my warm-up. Once I got to the race site I got my chip and race number and went riding around for a few more minutes. My start time was 9:00 on the dot.
About 5 minutes before, they start staging the next riders so I headed to the start. Time to collect myself. 24 minutes or less of all out pain. I got on the start mat, the guy held my saddle for me, I started my computer, and then it was GO TIME. First mile is "less steep" spin, spin, spin. Don't wear yourself out. I was hoping for 220W and of course I had taken off like a shot so it took a while for my average power to settle in. I was close to target and breathing as hard as I could. Go, go. One mile down...1.5. OK it gets steep here....mile 2-2.5 has some gnarly switchbacks. I don't know what the steepest short section is, but it's pretty dang steep. Alright - 2.5 it settles in and then a steady grind up some switchbacks past Helen Hunt falls. There were spectators cheering with cowbells! Yeah! MORE COWBELL!! And then I saw it - the finish... out of the saddle and hammer. and Phew! I was SPENT! The ride down was fun and a nice recovery back to the car. Then I drove downtown to get in a run on the Santa Fe Trail before the awards ceremony at 12:30. I didn't know my actual time since I started my timer before the actual start and didn't stop it until afterwards. So I found out at the awards ceremony that I won...