race report: WI State Road Race Championships

oops, late on the report as the past two weeks have been a little crazy!  It took longer than I expected to recover from the heat and all of the driving from to and from Texas, and I’ve been busy catching up with sleep, work and riding a lot.

Last Sunday I had an odd opportunity to enter the local road race, which happened to be the state championships.  It was my second road race ever and I was excited to ride hard, have fun and learn with the cat 1-2-3 ladies!  After a great Saturday spending time at the farmer’s market, getting a massage and doing some yoga, I got up way too early and drove to the venue with my friend Alyssa.  It was her first bike race ever, so I wanted to give her as much encouragement and support as possible.  I think I was more excited about her race than my own!

Once she was off I watched as much of the race as I could and returned to the car to change and warm up.  A few of the top contenders were away at Tulsa Tough, but I recognized several very accomplished Cat 1 and 2 women.  I didn’t really know what to expect, but I had confidence as I was really lucky to test out a demo Felt ZW2 for the race.  Here she is in all of her glory:

Halfway through my warm-up I had a few adjustments to make on the bike as I had never really ridden it before.  I was pretty relaxed..maybe a bit too relaxed, and as I looked up, I was shocked to see my race taking off!!!  I absolutely could not believe I missed the start as I had stayed close to it on purpose!  But away they went.  For a second I wondered if I should just let them go, but I knew I couldn’t get that close and not race…not pro at all.

Fortunately I had just taken my bike off the trainer so I grabbed my jug of water to top off my bottles, closed the car doors and just barely got my helmet on as I took off.  The women were cresting the top of the 18% grade finishing straight when I finally caught them.  Thank goodness for the neutral roll-out, but that hill was a little rough to sprint up before the race even began!  As we settled into position I felt like a huge fool and only felt worse after I dropped my bottle and almost caused a crash.  I began to doubt that I even belonged in that race.

It did get better as we kept on, though, and I started to get more comfortable riding close to others in the peleton and positioning myself in echelons.  Almost everyone had a teammate and I felt like I rode as smart as I could.  I felt really good on the bike and had no trouble staying with the lead group.  I was probably a bit too conservative because I didn’t want to make any more mistakes and had never ridden with these people, but I got a lot out of riding with them.  The mountain bike races tend to get pretty spread out, so I appreciated actually being and interacting with people in the race the entire time.

The course was not the most exciting; a pretty straightforward square loop, starting up a gradual false flat with a couple of short punchy climbs and then descending until the very steep finishing climb.  The winds picked up with the approaching storm and we got a great tailwind down the descent, so that was fun!  There were a few attacks, but those didn’t last and no one seemed to want to work very hard.  We were all together again for the finish, so that made things more interesting.  The hill didn’t bother me at all until the last lap (when it actually mattered), when my quads cramped up for the first time EVER…I was right where I wanted to be but for those few uncomfortable seconds I lost a few spots, ended up 5th overall and got the bronze for WI riders.  I didn’t dig hard enough to contest the win, but I was happy with the result and enjoyed riding fast on the road!

The bike was just awesome–everything on it was perfect; the fit was spot-on and the new Dura-Ace is so impressive!  I enjoyed it so much that I almost considered converting to road…

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