I hadn’t even considered doing the Bariani RR until Jen got a hold of me and asked me to join her on the long haul to Zamora, CA. If she hadn’t gotten a hold of me, I would have come out to do CCCX. However, since I like to travel, especially to new places, I was easily convinced.
The Cat 4 Women’s field was exceptionally large on Sunday. 56 racers and I new quite a few of them from the Early Birds. It was going to be a tough race–the 2 Tibco girls (including my friend Diana) were there too which meant I had to be careful to save up energy since they only show up for the finish. The sun and heat added to the challenge of the race. During the warm-up I became acquainted with some of the potholes and gravel I was bound to encounter on the roads, as well as the swarms of bees racing us for the perfect draft. Fortunately, the race course didn’t take us past any beehives, though I did have to swerve, close my eyes, and hold my breath during my warm-up a couple of times as I passed a lively aggregation of hives.
The whistle sounded and off we went. For the first 100m it was just an easy roll out to the course and then the first left basically was the true starting point. I lost my freedom of positioning right from the start since I only showed up 5 minutes before the start. I was surprised there was a short announcement beforehand, but I must have missed the memo to come to the start 10 minutes prior race time. In any case, I was stuck right in the middle and couldn’t move one bit. After the first small downhill I managed to slide a little bit closer to the front, but as everyone was trying to re-position themselves, elbows started to rub and people instinctively reached for their breaks. I was squished between two girls once and that was pretty scary. We all managed to hold our pace and line and luckily no one caused a crash.
The first lap saw a few attacks right out of the turns, but nothing too serious. As we approached the second lap, I made my way to the very front and pushed the tempo a wee bit more (only for a little bit though). Three of us started to work the front by rotating every 10-30 seconds and I think these efforts led to the field breaking up into two groups. On the short incline towards the final miles of the course, one girl dropped her chain. I told the girl in the front, “go now, let’s attack”…she made a bit of an effort and I followed but I had no intention of actually going for an attack. No way José! I’m not one of those crazies yet. By speeding up the tempo even more, the field stretched out but as we turned onto the finishing stretch of road (center line was no longer in effect), I could hear the buzzing swarm of anxious riders coming up on us two front riders from both sides. I kept sweeping my head left and right, expecting an attack into the final sprint any moment. Suddenly, I noticed the two Tibco girls to my left. They kept glancing at each other, so all my senses were tuned in to what was bound to happen. When someone did start their sprint prematurely, it wasn’t the Tibco girls, but one of the Fremont riders. She just leaped out of her saddle and started pumping her legs…goodness, we had about 800m until the finish line!!! I had to catch her wheel, because who knows, maybe she would keep accelerating. With 200m to go she started to slow. That’s when I realized I had to give it all I had left since once I start a sprint I can’t just stop.
Out of my peripheral I saw the big stocky girl closing in on me. In the final 4 pedal strokes I put it all out there, leaned and knew I was either 1st or 2nd. Dehydrated, and exhausted it was time to get off the bike ASAP and collapse on the shoulder of the road. Better get off the bike voluntarily, than fall off while blacking out. Next time there’s a race in 85 degree weather with no tailwind but a long finish into the headwind, I’ll need to hydrate even more on the drive. I was surprised by how dead I felt–I did drink 2 full bottles of water, 1 homemade coffee with choco-soy milk, 1 Starbucks latte, and 1 double shot iced latte before the race. 1 bottle during the race must not be sufficient. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to gauge what is needed to stay hydrated during the race?
It took a while for the results to appear on the board, and though it said I had won, I wasn’t going to celebrate yet. I had talked to the girl who was listed as the 2nd place finisher. She mentioned she thought she got 1st and would contest the results. The officials did end up reviewing the top 6 finishes, but because two other racers were not content with their placing. I luckily still ended up in 1st place at the end of the day, so I’m very relieved and happy that the hard work paid off (and I got some more upgrade points 🙂 Yay!).