Thursday, March 3, 2011

Stage Race #2 - Callville Bay- Race Reort

Settle in, get some hot cocoa, and enjoy- Here's the recap from last weekends stage race...  (I rarely write blogs this long, but people have been asking about what happened- so here you have it)
I made a last minute decision last week to travel to another bike race. I had been sick most of the week, and my stress levels were through the roof. The thing about bike racing (I learned this quick since I've only done one), is that your mind doesn't wander. You stare at the wheels in front of you, work hard, and play smart! Unlike an ironman, there isn't time to think about anything - you simply live in that moment.
I drove out to Vegas Friday morning, and much to my dismay only arrived with an hour to spare before my TT start time. Yet again, I rolled over to the line feeling rushed, unprepared and anxious. The starter blew the whistle, and just like that I was off...or so I thought. Turns out in the rush to make it to the line I didn't have time for details- you know, which gear I was in. Ooops, this cost me a solid 10-15 seconds (deadly in a 3.5mi tt). The TT wasn't too exciting. I didn't feel great but was happy to see my HR soar. In the end I learned that details are detrimental- pay attention to them or don't show up! (and never rely on people who could care less about getting you there on time for your start).
I started day two, the road race 1 minute back from our Cat 3 leader. My goal for the road race was to hang on with the lead group through mile 30. At that point the long climb would start and it would be my time to attack. It was rainy, freezing and very windy! I figured the group would break apart by then.
Ok...deep breath! This section of the blog is tough to write about....

The race director gave us our "intro" and then sent us on our way. We rolled out without a lead moto (I guess us Cat3/4 girls weren't worthy?!?!) and the only reason we had a follow wheel vehicle was because a girl volunteered her car and a driver at the last minute. We were told our turn around would be marked by 3 American flags followed by 3 cones 100 yards further down the road. Like a scavenger hunt we were sent off to explore...
The rain and wind made for a decently miserable start. I honestly didn't think about that though. All I thought about was the wheel ahead of me, staying in the top 1/3 and keeping my effort low. This meant taking the rooster tail of water from the bike in front of me right in the face. Yummy ;-)  The group broke apart pretty good during the first climb. We hammered up faster than most people's tt speed. I was riding strong, hiding as well as I could from the wind, and staying out of trouble. The pace was much faster than Valley of the Sun, which honestly made me happy...I did come to race after all!
Then things took a turn...
The lead group was down to about 15 girls. I didn't dare look back, but that is what I was told. We approached 3 American flags, and saw 3 large turn around cones ahead. Everyone in the front started questioning whether that was the turn around. We thought it was further, but no one seemed to know. The course was a bit different from previous years, so even those that have raced there in the past were unsure. We slowed and everyone started talking.  It was a rushed and quick conversation as we slowed and rolled past the turn cones. Not wanting to get dropped, I wanted to go whatever way the group went. I looked over my left shoulder to see if anyone behind me was turning. Just then I saw a truck on the other side of the road (over the 2x yellow line!), trying to pass the group. A girl about 4 bike lengths back moved into the middle of the road and started to cross the road to turn around. And yes, you guess it...the truck hit her. HARD! It was the worst noise I have ever heard. The truck tried to take off, so a few girls and another car chased him down.
I turned back to find my friend Shannon. I didn't know what else to do, but I knew she would...she's an E.R. surgeon. She ran to the girls side and took over. Seriously, I can't say enough abut how she handled the situation. She brought so much comfort to the rest of us- we didn't have to wonder what to do..she knew. Girls were crying and well by now, freezing. It was an awful scene. Glass and bikes everywhere and girls wishing/wanting to do something to undo what just happened. As we waited for the officials to come I got a group of girls together and we said a quick prayer. It was all I could think to do...and she needed our prayers NOW!

The official canceled our race for the day, and together we rolled back to the start. A few of us went out and rode the course- with a very heavy heart. I got back to our car and took off for a run. I hammered it. Let's just say a rough weekend just got way worse! But my Newton's provided a bit of security as I ran around the lake. Freezing temps or not, my body was numb.
Honestly, I wanted to leave. The road race was my only chance to move up in the standings, and I have no doubt I would of moved dramatically. And well, a 44 mile race is better for me than a 3.5mi or 30min sprint. But, there was one day of racing left, and I was stuck there anyways, so why not race :) The morning was frigid, but at least it wasn't raining anymore. The mountains were covered in snow, making for spectacular views.
 Our race was 30mins. We nailed it from the line, and kept the pace up from the beginning. I again stayed amongst the front 6girls, and just felt much safer there than trailing in the middle or back. Various girls took turns at the front, and together we kept things moving right along.
With 4 laps (i think) to go people started moving around a bit more. I noticed that whenever one team moved to the front they slowed the pace dramatically. I guess they had a solid sprinter and wanted to keep it under control for her until the finish. They moved up and right when the pace slowed I took the opportunity to jump. I got out ahead and tried my darnedest to stay out. The announcer was commentating that "Caroline from team Nytro" had moved ahead and built a gap on the group. I wasn't sure if I could hold on, but I also knew my chances of winning a sprint out of the final turn were unlikely.  I just didn't look back...but eventually I heard them closing on me.
I was swept up, and back amongst the masses. I didn't feel like I totally killed myself, but I had blown a crap load of power/energy with the attempt. There was little time to recover before everyone was jockeying for position on the final lap.
This was the final turn before the finish. I tried to get out of the middle, and back to the inside of the turn.
The sprinters took over, and little old me rolled in with the group in 10th. I took a risk, and well, it was fun! It may have been a stupid move, but again- it was fun. My 9mile run after the crit also proved that bike racing takes its toll. My legs were t.o.a.s.t!

My feelings on the weekend are a bit clouded! It's hard to really even write about racing knowing that one of our fellow riders is fighting hard to recover from an accident that never should of happened! I ask that you keep her in your prayers and send her all the warm/healthy/healing thoughts you've got. Last I heard she had a broken pelvis, fractured skull, loss of hearing, and various fractures throughout her body. She's lucky to be alive, and we can only hope serious changes will be made to make sure this doesn't happen again. No, we can't control a wacko dead beat driver, but if we had a lead out moto-like every other race- this never would of happened. Just sayin'...
To those that raced with me last weekend- great job chicas. Thanks for teaching me the ropes, and Raegan- nice win girl!! You deserved it.
That was a LONG one- thanks for reading.
And if you've made it this far, stay tuned because I have some super exciting announcements to make very soon!
Keep Smiling :)