Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Bit of a Strange Race...But Goal Achieved...(and no lungs left on the side of the road)!

Independence Valley Road Race. Don't let the name fool you into thinking this is a flat race. Yes, there is a valley. The problem is, there are two valleys. What happens when you have two valleys? A ridge in between...a rather tall ridge. In addition to that, this is the longest race I do, at 41 miles. 

After last Sunday's race, I ended up with a cold (two nights of not great sleep didn't help). I registered for IVRR anyway, thinking I had a week to ditch this bug. I just did easy rides all week keeping my heart rate low, just to keep the legs spinning. Plus, I firmly believe that fresh air does a body good. It went into my chest a bit, but I was still sleeping okay; not coughing through the night. This morning, I felt a little better. 

Two years ago, when I last did IVRR, I got dropped on the first hill (Michigan Hill Rd.). It was supposed to be a neutral roll out to the top of Michigan (they just wanted us Cat 4s to get to the top together). I got dropped about 3/4 of the way up. So, basically, I got dropped from the neutral roll out! Consequently, my one and only goal for this year was to make it to the top of Michigan without falling behind the follow car (for the first go up--we had to do it twice). 

I rode to the race with Jasmine and Julian. On the way there, I told Jasmine this was her race to lose. She is very strong up the hills. The only issue she would have was the descents. She has junior gearing on her bike (a safety thing for junior racers), which means, if they hammer down the hill, she can't pedal fast enough to keep up. I told her it would be important for her to stay near the front to get a jump on the hill. Jean and I would just do the best we could. 
Me and Jas warming up.

We had 24 racers today; another good turnout for Cat 4 Women! Jonesie was back (the hypothermic gal from Mason Lake), but Emily from Starbucks was not racing today. Group Health staffed this race, so there were a number of them (actually only 5, but still the most for one team). Jasmine wasn't the only junior. There was another little thing who was only 12 (dressed in the most amount of white kit I've ever seen)! Kudos to this girl though, as she is diabetic. 

This time, the neutral roll out would only be to the turn onto Michigan Hill Rd. Still, that's a 2 mile roll out. We made the turn onto Michigan. Beep went the horn, and we were racing. Michigan keeps to a gentle grade for awhile, but then you come around a curve, and see what is waiting for you. The steep part is .6 miles (seems like much longer). Shift down, and keep pedaling--that's all you can do. I passed a couple, but got passed by several. Near the top, I was feeling a little dizzy, but I knew the top was not far. The tiny junior girl made it to the top before me, but I was able to pass her before the major downhill. When I started down the hill, I couldn't see the pack (the road has some curves). I love this hill, and when the road is dry (as it was today), I can fly! I got up to 44.7mph! I caught up to the pack before the turn onto Lincoln Creek. Yes, goal achieved!

The several miles along Lincoln Creek were kind of...messy. There was a lot of abrupt slowing going on. I was sitting near the back (I really don't like it back there). I was keeping an eye on Jasmine to make sure she stayed where she needed to. At one point, she was more middle of the pack instead of near the front. I told her, when she had a chance, to work her way back toward the front, which she did. Then, she was on the front. I had a clear line up to her, so I rode up the left to get in front of her. I knew Manners Hill was coming soon. Plus, it was to my advantage to be at the front as I would surely be slower up the hill. 

We came around onto Manners. As we started up, Jasmine came up beside me. I told her to go and do what she is good at. She took off up the hill (so envious of that ability). I drifted further and further back. Still, I made it to the top before the follow car went around! Turns out, Jasmine got to the top 20 seconds before everyone else! And, she didn't get dropped on the descent (but they, of course, caught up to her)!

I tried to catch up on this downhill, but it's not as steep as Michigan. Slowly, I caught up to a couple of gals (Brynn from Bike Sale, and Stephanie from Starbucks). On Independence Valley we took turns pulling. I thought we might catch up to the next bunch in front of us, but we never seemed to gain enough ground. 

We came back for the second go up Michigan. I told the gals if I fell behind on the hill, I would try and catch them on the downhill. Funny thing, they said the same! We stayed mostly together until the last bit of the steep part when I fell behind several bike lengths. Still, I caught up before the downhill. I did my usual fast descent, which turned out to be quite a bit faster than the other two. By then, it was obvious I couldn't catch the next group, so I slowed up to wait for Brynn and Stephanie. Brynn caught up first, then we waited for Stephanie. She was back soon, and we returned to taking turns pulling. We could see another person ahead. We weren't sure if it was a gal, or one of the dropped guys. We decided if it was a gal, she could join us, as long as she could keep up. We had a good thing going, and we didn't want to slow down if we didn't need to. Turns out, it was a Group Health gal (named Sarah, and this was her first race...ever). We told her to hop on. She was tired, but managed, with some recovery, to stay with us. So now we were four, one from each of the major teams! 

As we turned to go up Manners again, we saw the race was stopped. All the women ahead of us were there. I could see Jasmine was still with the lead pack. I waved, and gave her the thumbs up. The official for our race told us there had been a crash at the finish in the Cat 4 men's race. They had to call the medics. A couple of the gals in our race were worried because their husbands were in that race. The official didn't have any details as to who had been involved. 

We waited for a number of minutes. Everyone who had been dropped caught up. However, the official said, when we started again, that the lead pack would go first to regain the gap they had, then the next group, and so on. We got the go ahead to resume racing. The legs were on fire going up Manners as they had had sufficient time to cool down (fortunately, it was a pretty nice day, so I didn't get cold). At the bottom of Manners I looked to see that my same group was still together, and we hadn't added anyone. We went back to rotating. 

We came up a rise with me on the front. I could see the race was stopped again. Apparently, the guy's race in front of us (the Masters 40+ Cat 4) had not been started again (faulty radio--the official got a phone call). We had to stop and wait for them to get further ahead. 

Once we started again, it was the same thing. Let the leaders go, then put some space between the next group, and us four, then space between us, and those behind us. We finally reached the 1km mark. We were still rotating. As we came up to the 200m, Brynn said, "Shall we race it out?" I said we might as well. So, Brynn and I took off sprinting. Fortunately, neither of us were very fast, and I managed to cross the line ahead of her. 

Brynn, Sarah and I had a nice ride back to the parking lot (Stephanie had to stop to make sure the officials got her jersey number, since she didn't have a number on her bike). I was most excited to see how Jasmine had done. She got 3rd! That was a great job! I ended up 14th, which I am quite happy with. And, my cold is no worse than before the race. From a breathing standpoint, I did better than I thought I would going up the hills.
Jasmine on the podium! Jonesie won (she'll be upgrading to Cat 3 soon).

Notice no finishing times. That got messed up by the crash. My Garmin says 2:23:32 with an average of 19mph.

Now I have two weeks until the next race at Vance Creek. I'm going to ditch this cold!

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