Still bundled up while riding our trainers.
Julian doing his warmup.
I have been packing a long sleeve base layer for every race, but have yet to wear it. Today I did. I'm so glad I did!
Seventeen brave souls lined up at the start for the usual 2 laps around the 12 mile course. Jean came out today, so I wasn't the only OOA gal. Starbucks, again, fielded a large group, although not as large as yesterday. I wondered who they would be working for today (a closely guarded secret, but one you can deduce by watching who is being protected). I actually hoped the race would be faster than last week, because otherwise we would turn into popsicles! As we were waiting to start, I was having trouble getting my Garmin to start. It kept stalling out on one part, then shutting down. I never did get it to properly start.
The official let us go after suggesting we ride the first lap as a group ride, practicing a rotating pace line. Then we could race it out on the second lap. That didn't really happen. As we were riding along, we all just got progressively wetter and colder. I went up the first hill on the front, and finally drifted back just to get a little protection from the cold wind. Although the wind wasn't as strong as last week, the rain compounded the coldness. I kept waiting for my hands to warm up, but they just got colder. There were a couple of attempts to ramp up the pace, but then the leaders would get caught, and we'd slow down again. At the end of the first lap, the gal on the front got a flat. Selfishly, my thought was, well, that's one strong rider out.
I spent the majority of lap 2 as an interloper at a Starbucks party. Four of the Starbucks gals stayed together on the front for probably 90% of lap 2. Occasionally, a different team person would insert herself into the Starbucks party. I still wasn't clear who they were working for. I just stayed with them. On the rollers, a Hagens Berman gal kept trying to steal the wheel I was on by inching ever closer to me but, I refused to give up the wheel. It was, however, a little nerve wracking!
Not long into that second lap, I realized my hands were so cold I couldn't tell if I was shifting. I'd have to glance down at my shifter to shift into a harder gear. I could no longer feel my hands on the handlebar either. I just hung on.
As we were riding the last couple of miles (me still at the Starbucks party), I heard Emily say a couple of times, "A fast finish is a safe finish". Good advice! And, the pace picked up quite a bit just after the 1km. I thought maybe they were working for Karen as she took off on the last downhill. I stayed glued to her wheel. But, at the 200m, Karen started to fade. I went around her. I couldn't get out of the saddle because my hands were so frozen, I was afraid I'd lose my grip if I tried to sprint. Like yesterday, I just hunkered down and pedaled my guts out (literally, I almost barfed after the finish). I came in 5th. Jasmine finished right behind me in 6th. Jean came in 8th. So, another top 10 showing for us OOA Women! Woo Hoo!
The results. Turns out the Starbucks gals were working for Emily.
I headed straight for the car to change. I was so cold I couldn't grasp my gloves to take them off. I had to use my teeth (disgusting when the gloves are full of road grime). I finally got bundled up in warm dry clothes (so thankful for my down skirt). I was still shivering uncontrollably, but it was just a matter of time before I'd start to warm up. Jasmine and I were sitting in the car when Jean came over and asked if we wanted to go get something hot at the Community Center. Yes, yes we did! We all got some hot cocoa. As we were warming our hands around our steaming cups, we noticed something going on over in the corner. Someone was huddled under a blanket with a couple of gals rubbing her back. Emily came over and said it was Alicia (the Hagens Berman gal). She had won, but was hypothermic. They had called the medics. Not possessing much body fat, she also hadn't worn enough clothing. I told them to get something warm into her. They said they were trying. As Jasmine, her mom, and I were walking back to the car, we saw the medics pull up. I hope she was okay.
This was, by far, the coldest I've ever been in a race. I've been cold on rides before, but never in a race. I'm usually toasty warm. I'm so glad it was Mason Lake and not Sequim. I don't think I could have managed another 12 miles. As it was, 5 gals were DNF (we assume they must have quit after the first lap). They even shortened the Men's 50+ race from 4 laps to 3!
Im hoping for better weather next week!