Monday, May 4, 2009

May 4, Sonora Road Race squish squish squish

Well I'm just chalking up all kinds of "inaugural" races here lately. This race seems to have been put together in fairly quick order but was very well done. If only the weather had cooperated. The course was HILLY. Let me say that again. It was a course full of hills. Everytime I went up a hill, I went down a hill then went up another hill. It was like 55 miles of unrelenting hill intervals. In the rain. Yay.

There was no masters cat 5 so I raced with the children again (and for the 108th time wondered why did I cat down all the way to a 5 again???). We had four laps to do. Sadly, only 17 of us toed the line. This was a well run race on good roads and probably the hardest course I've ever done in California. When I say the course was just one hill after another, I'm not kidding. Most of the climbs were the stay-in-the-big-ring-grunt-it-out variety. But there were also a couple of slightly longer hills where the small ring was called into action. Not a sprinter's course, not a climbers course, more of a short stocky strong guy kind of a course.

Anyhoo. We rode out into the rain, all 17 of us. After two climbs I did a quick head count and we were down to 12 guys already. A couple of more climbs and I was really starting to worry about my survivability. Between the humid rainy air and my lack of power, I was going asthmatic and seriously draggin on the hills and not necessarily recovering well on the descents. A couple of hills later, I did another head count and we were down to nine of us. Then it was my turn to get dropped. Luckily, getting dropped made me just angry enough to catch back on. We hit the longest descent of the course (hit 45 mph there in the rain!) with a bridge and a 90 degree right hander at the bottom. MAJOR brake fade had me panicking but friction and heat yielded sticktion and gription so I managed to bind things up enough to corner safely - unlike the first guy through the turn who ended up on his lid all tied up in a knot with his bike. After that guy crashed and even more hills came, the pace seemed to relent and I stopped worrying about surviving. Oops. At the end of the first lap, we hit the finishing stairstep climb and the pace went back up again. Poop, out the back I went.

As I watched the "pack" disappear I did an inventory that I've unfortunately had to do in probably hundreds of races (okay, dozens, I haven't spent THAT much time shat out the back in my racing life)...
-will continuing kill me? - no
-is someone who can affect my paygrade telling me to quit? - no
-is my bike unreparable? - no
-am I a little girl? - no

Damn, gotta keep going. So I continued on into the rain going up and down hills at something less than the pace of the first lap but not exactly touring either. Halfway through the second lap, another cat 5 caught me and passed me. For the next FIFTEEN MILES, we did a silly rubberband maneuver. He would slow on the climbs, I would catch up then he would sprint over the top of the hills. I'd then hold the gap on the descent and he would hit the bottom of the next climb fast, slow way down, I'd start to catch up and we'd do it all over again. Everytime I'd catch up to him I'd try to reason with him that we should maybe help each other out. He'd suck my wheel until the next hill summit and then launch himself and build up that infernal 20 second gap again. Cat 5's. What are you going to do?

Finally on the fourth lap I caught up to him and for about 15 minutes, just glued myself to his wheel. Then I gave him a taste of what it feels like to drag someone up a hill and then have them launch away from you (rather than gently coming and taking their pull). That did it. He must have blown up like a can of coke left in your car on an August afternoon. The only problem was that three hours of going up and down hills had finally began to take its toll on me, too. I started to get quad cramps. I sat on the nose of the saddle for awhile and stretched on the downhills and that seemed to help me recover. When I finally reached the finish climb, I was so happy I could have wet myself. Only I didn't need to wet myself since I was already carrying an extra five pounds of water in my chamois.

So that was one hard-ass course. To make matters worse, I rode past the finish line and down another hill and had to do an extra six miles of hills since I lost track of how to get back to the staging area in Jamestown (ouch!). I drove home sitting funny and worrying that I threw my back out but, happily, my back feels great today and my legs aren't too trashed either. Bonus. I can recover. I certainly can't complain about my endurance right now. I just need to get some speed and power going.

Oh. And my balls started hurting about 30 miles in. Damn you vasectomy scar tissue!

Results haven't appeared on the net, yet so nothing to report. I think I was maybe 7th or 8th or 9th?

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