Saturday, June 1, 2013

Hard Work, But Not Scary

Stages 1 and 2 of the Capital Stage Race are complete, and I have lived to tell the tale (or post the blog)! 

Stage 1 was a short Time Trial along Deschutes Parkway. It was just 4 miles. My biggest goal was to NOT miss my start time (ala the Icebreaker TT)! Soooo, Debbie and I were in line 20 minutes early (our start times were 9:24:30 for me and 9:25:00 for Debbie). I finally got to experience the bike-holder start where the guy holds you upright so you can be clipped in and ready to shoot off the start when they give you the go ahead. Let's just say that is much nicer than careening up to the line 20 seconds late, and just having to take off like a mad woman!

Since this was such a short Time Trial, the plan was to go all out. However, fellow teammate, Adam, said to make sure and save a bit for the last part as it seems to go on forever. Well, I've determined that I don't really know how to do that. I just go full-bore. When I get tired, I go slower, but I'm still putting out a full-effort. But, Adam was right in that the last bit did seem to go on and on. In the end, I managed a 6th place finish with a time of 9:02. There were 18 Cat 4 Women. Just to give you an idea how close the times were, my teammate, Maria, came in just 7 seconds after me and got 12th place.

After the TT, we had a long time to wait. The Cat 4 Women's Crit was not scheduled until 4:05. We killed some time by watching some of the other TT finishes. Then we walked up to the Crit Course at the Capital to lend a hand in setting up. Debbie and I were posted on corners to keep cars from turning onto the streets as they were blocking them off. All the cars were pretty compliant except this one guy. He turns onto the road I'm blocking. I told him he couldn't go that way. He informed me that he worked in the building behind me (the General Administration Building) and that he needed to plan a funeral for a police officer. I told him he couldn't get through anyway as it was already blocked off at the other end of the street. He told me he would figure something out, and proceeded to drive down the blocked street. Not long after, one of the State Patrol Officers came driving by. He saw the guy's car parked at the end of the street. He drove down to the car. I walked down and told the officer the guy was in the GA Building, and that I had told him he couldn't go there. The officer said that was interesting. He waited for the dude to come out, then told him to move his car. I glared at him as he drove by.

Once we finished our corner duties, we went to Subway and had lunch. We spent the rest of the time, before getting ready for our Crit, watching the Cat 4/5 guys and the Masters. They also had a Junior race. Those boys (and, I think, 2 girls) are so tiny, but they can go pretty fast! They appeared to be 9-11 year olds, maybe a bit younger. If the small women (like Jean) are Mosquitos, these little ones are GNATS!

At 3:00, Debbie and I headed back to the car to change back into our kits and do some warm-up. I didn't feel like dragging out my trainer in the sun, so Debbie and I just rode the TT course for a warm-up. We got back to the Crit course with plenty of time to spare. Nolan and Tim had arrived to watch my race. Nolan came over while we were waiting in line to use the potty shacks (on my potty shack rating scale, these actually achieved a top score of 10--in the shade, fully stocked--including hand sanitizer, handle on the inside of the door, and not stinky!).

The waiting is the hardest part, but, finally, it was our turn. We got to take a warm-up lap. Some of us remarked how nice it would be if the whole race was like the warm-up lap. Ahhhh....that was not to be...

We lined up at the start and got our instructions about prime laps, how long you had to race to continue on to the the road race tomorrow--10 minutes, and a few other directions. They blew the whistle, and we were off! 

In the very first corner, a gal squealed on her breaks. I made it around, and vowed to stay away from her! On the third or fourth lap, I got to the front. I managed to stay in the lead for a little over one lap, then a bunch passed me. That was the last of my being anywhere near the front. Those gals poured on the gas and it was all I could do to hang on. On the uphill from the last corner, past the start/finish, and to Corner 1, I would fall behind. But, after Corner 1, I would catch back up to the group. I was able to do that for a few laps, but then it became harder and harder to catch back on. At some point, about halfway or so, I could not catch the main group. I was not alone though. There was one other gal. We kept trading places on the laps. Both Debbie and Jean got pulled from the race (or, were allowed to stop). I could hear them yelling as I would go by the start/finish. I had passed Maria, and I thought she had been pulled too, but she wasn't. 

We kept going around and around. The course was .7 miles, and we had to ride for approximately 30 minutes. I lost track of how many laps we did, but I'm guessing in was in the neighborhood of 13-15. Every time I would come around the last corner, I would hope to hear the bell for the last lap. Nope, we would still be going and I could see the peleton up ahead (it is the longest straight stretch of the course--all uphill). I was still going pretty fast, just not as fast as the others. Early on, coming out of one of the corners, I looked at my speedometer and saw I was going 27mph!

Finally, the announcer guy said we had two laps to go. Thank God! My mouth was bone dry and my hands were killing me from hanging on so tight in the drops (the back side of the course was pretty bumpy--I did finally find the least bumpy line through that section). 

As we came around on the last lap, I was able to get ahead of the gal I had been with and, at least, beat her at the line. As we crossed the finish, we heard the announcer say, "And we have one more racer coming in". Susan, the gal I was with, and I looked at each other and both said how we thought we were the last ones! It was Maria, of course (remember how I said she wasn't pulled?). 

Susan and I took one last lap to cool down and catch our breath. Susan thought she was going to throw up. I told her we must try not to do that!

I ended up with 10th place and a time of 30:24. With my Time Trial, I am at 10th overall and 1:25 off the leader time. Tomorrow's road race time will be added. We'll see if I can maintain my 10th place.

This was my first Criterium. It was very hard, but not scary like I thought it would be. The corners were pretty easy, and I felt confident taking them at speed. I'm not sure that I would say the Crit was fun, but it was not terrible. I'll probably do it again sometime.

Here is a photo Tim took when I was in the lead.


John Saunders said...
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John Saunders said...
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