The short version:
“I missed the turn for the second loop on the 100k. I was going back and forth with a woman who was better on the dirt, but I was a better climber. When I didn’t catch back up after three nice steep climbs, I knew something was wrong. She ended up in 7th. I suspect that is where I would have finished as her pace dropped substantially after the 1st lap. I don’t think this race is for me, too many close calls with either crashing myself or being taken out by someone crashing near me.”
When I crossed the finish line, I was absolutely frantic, where did I miss it, how could I make such a mistake… and here is my answer: I was paying such close attention to the road to prevent myself from crashing that I just didn’t have any attention to spare.
Let’s be honest:
Did I want to be finished? Yes.
Did I want to give up? Absolutely not.
Was I having fun? No.
Was I scared of another loop? Absolutely.
Did I contemplate DNFing during the race? Yes
What did I say when I thought about DNFing? I thought about my uncle Joe who never gave up on his fight to stay alive.
Could I give up because this race was hard? I just couldn’t.
How did I feel when it appears that I did? Like I am weak.
We were in the second wave with the 40+ men. I had lots of cycling buddies in the crowd, the women from Bicycle Hub and the guys from Stark Velo. I worked a little bit with one of the Stark Velo guys, but I can’t recall if I couldn’t keep up or if I passed him.
The race started pretty fast, I have the first mile over 24 mph, not bad on knobby tires. I stayed with the lead pack for the first couple of miles, but I got dropped on a set of three nice short steep climbs. I knew it was a race of attrition: the women who could hang with the men for as long as possible would win.
I saw EP crash and started to panic a little bit: she’s an amazing cross racer, if she crashed, what is going to happen to me?
This course was scary! If there wasn’t ice on the road, then there were frozen muddy ruts. The combination of those two conditions lent itself to the additional obstacles of fallen cyclists and many more ejected water bottles (a fact I had forgotten until reading someone else’s race report).
I ended up settling in with a group of guys, but I just couldn’t keep up on the dirt/snow/frozen mud. When we had longer sections of paved roads, I tended to pass people. I had this brilliant idea of pre-opening all of my shot bloks as I knew that it would be too hard to get at them with my lobster gloves. I figured that if I had already opened them, that I would be more inclined to eat them rather than risk it and end up bonking. I had a pretty hard time even getting to my food with my 2 pairs of gloves on so I tried to hold the wrapper with my teeth, which worked as long as I wasn’t climbing or on dirt and needed to breath. I think a few photographers scrambled to get photos of this freak with a thing of shot bloks hanging from her mouth, but I haven’t had much desire to look. When someone crashed right in front of me, I dropped them, glad to look like an idiot for no reason!
I should also mention that my water bottle was frozen. I intentionally started with 2, one insulated, one not. I started with the un-insulated so that I would still have water for the second half the race. Good plan, would have worked too.
I ended up catching up to another woman on a long false flat. Some guy commented on the ensuing catfight and said he was impressed by how strong we both were, but apparently, seeing me gave her enough adrenaline to pick it up a little bit. We chatted for a while, but I couldn’t get enough distance on her on the climbs that she couldn’t make up on the descents, and she ended up dropping me on the dirt.
After getting dropped by her, the long and the short courses converged. It’s in that mess that I went off course, or more to the point, went onto the short course. There were a few pretty nasty climbs and when I didn’t see “Tori” I knew something was wrong…I couldn’t imagine that she dropped me by that much or that she had that much left in the tank.
I started seeing signs for the finish line and knew I was not in the right place. I crossed the finish line and asked someone about the turn off to which he responded that he had intentionally gone to cut the race short.
I went back to the car and called my coach, left a voicemail, then called someone else who actually did a good job consoling me until my coach called me back. He sounded about as bummed as me and basically affirmed what we both had thought: I was riding well, would like to see how it would have shaken out, disappointing that I probably would have placed in the short race, but time to move on to the rest of the season.
Interestingly enough, I told the coach I wanted to ride long the following day to which he begged against. When I went out to ride, it turned out that my legs and my sit bones were both rather sore. Two hours was all I could muster.
I had a great time on Friday caravanning with some guys from Spin and a couple Snakebite teammates. We had a nice dinner, and we had fun crashing with the Bicycle Hub folks. Many people were fascinated by my British/Australian breakfast. I wish I could be proud of myself for racing well for the part of the race I finished and not crashing while still riding aggressively, but it’s the score at the end of the game that counts, and I didn’t have one.