After taunting the thunderstorms last week (and winning...) I think the storms are coming back to get me. Only this time, they were targeting the entire Pro/Cat 1 field at Ascent Cycling Race #3.... With the Cat 2 racers still finishing up, Andy started the roll call of the entire field - everyone. He started in the normal order - pro men, SS men and so on down the line. Odd. Normally there is a well defined gap between all the fields. And then, after the last cat 2 racer finished, he rolled the entire group out to the starting line. I was in the back with Andrea and Julie and missed the announcement of "everyone - go!" But it became pretty clear that everyone was moving - sprinting away from the line and jockeying for position. Yikes! Haven't had to fight for the entrance into the singletrack ever at an Ascent Race! Time to mix it up with the guys and see what I can do...
Of course, that meant sprinting up the hill, trying to pass as many of the men as I could. I knew it wouldn't last - but might as well give it a go, right? As we started the first singletrack climb, I was right in the middle of the 50+ men and feeling pretty good. I'd made the rock switchback before the traverse along the road on both warm up laps, so was pretty confident that I would make it easily during the race. Alas - my confidence was my weakness and I managed to play the fool and completely bungle the entrance into the rock notch. With three guys right on my tail. Oh crap - now I was being "that girl" and just getting in the way, Apologized profusely as we all got back on our bikes. The three guys behind me all passed in the next few minutes, leaving me alone and chasing. So chase I did. I fixed my sights on Kelly McGrew's white jersey, with the sole goal of closing down the gap between us. That and keeping Cameron from lapping me if at all possible.
Slowly, oh so slowly, I was bringing Kelly back. I knew we would have a shorter race then usual - the clouds were covering the mountains and sprinkles of rain teasing the heat into humidity. To the north and west, sheets of rain obsucred the city. And it was heading our way. At the start of the third lap, he was only halfway up the hill instead of making the turn. A glimmer of hope and incentive to keep chasing hard. I knew I was closing the gap, especially on the technical sections. Not saying I was smooth or that I was able to ride everything - I screwed up the tight right hand switchback with the rock notch on every single bloody lap (yet I'd had no issues during my warm up. Go figure...) The thought of cyclocrossing and running up flitted through my mind every lap but pride didn't allow it. So I took the chance and ended up unclipping on every lap. All the while, I kept focused on the white jersey in front of me, getting closer each corner.
But so was the orange jersey behind me. I came through the start/finish with the placard reading 2 laps to go to start my fourth lap. But I knew it wasn't really 2 to go. The boys were coming and they were coming hard. I was starting to feel the effects of my maniac start, with the little rocks getting harder to maneuver up and over. I could hear the officials ringing the bell as I headed back into the singletrack - if they were done, then this was my last lap. My last chance to make a move. Digging deep and trying to attack the trail - but the only moves that were being made was me sliding to the side of the trail when Cameron caught me. And then he was gone again. JJ wouldn't be to far behind. At the road crossing, JJ caught me. He didn't gain much time through the next singletrack section, providing me the brilliant idea of trying to keep up for the rest of my lap - see his lines and see how he was riding through some of the technical sections. Yeah. Right. He's lapped you for a reason, Tracy... Instead of keeping up, I went head over bike as I entered the drop off the blacktop a little hot. Okay, very hot. And to the chagrin of the photographer there, just after he took a photo I was sprawled in the dust. No - not your fault. Mine for once again being an idiot! Palmer Park seems to bring it out of me.... I had to wait for Graham to go by before hopping back on my bike, rendering the chase completely over. Oh well.
Despite the tendency towards insanity, (mass start = super fun but wow did it make the rest of the race hard!) It was a great day on the bike. My fast has come back from the 24 Hours in Enchanted Forest. Now I just need my Go Long to wake up again after the recovery weeks in time for the 50 Mile (or so) race at Cheyenne Mountain State Park. That's going to be a long day in the office. A fun day, but a long day....