Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Monday, March 19, 2012
It was time to get down to Southern California, away from rainy San Francisco, I jumped on a plane Wednesday afternoon to Ontario airport. Original plans were to take the Amtrack train to San Dimas, but with a 12 hour train ride, and a 1 hour shuttle to get there, it seemed like a much easier decision to hop on a one hour flight.
I had never been to LA before, either than driving through at 3am coming from Tucson, and to be honest, I wasn’t looking forwards to it overly much. I got outside, and my first question to the shuttle driver was “Is that smog or fog?” I thought I was supposed to be submerged in the middle of the mountains wasn’t I? I couldn’t see anything but smog in the air.
I headed out for an easy spin that evening to clear out my ‘flight legs’ and to grab some groceries. I got lost, frustrated and confused with eight streets in a row starting with a ‘C’, and everyone around only spoke Spanish. Riding around with 40lbs of groceries on my back was not ideal, but I eventually found my way back to our host housing. Headed off to sleep in Dora the explorer sheets and princess pillow, I was sure to have a good sleep.
Thursday the rest of FCS Rouse p/b Mr. Restore team arrived periodically throughout the day, but I headed over to the tt course/climb to pre-ride- about the same time as every other team. I had a fabulous morning pre-riding the course, which got me a little bit excited for the race- me excited for a hill climb tt- I know- hard to believe!
Friday came fast, and I was one of the last Pro 1/2/3 Women to go. I started right behind Kristin Armstrong. I knew this stage was going to be mostly a leg opener, but wanted to put in a decent time as well. I was feeling great warming up on the trainer before my race, and looking forwards to seeing what I could do.
The first half a kilometer was false flat, and then kicked up for the rest of the 3 miles. Of course I sprinted off the start- and blew up about 1km in, almost maxing out my heart rate. It was 3.8 miles long, and about 15-20 minutes total- of pure climbing suffering. I didn’t feel great in the mental sense during the climb- but it was the first time trial of the year- and I have lots to learn/train and focus on to improve my strength with events like this one.
Back at the house Friday evening, after a good dinner and lots of recovery, The Weather Network was the most visited site on everyone’s laptops. There was 100% chance of heavy rain and strong winds for Saturday’s road race. Everyone was nervous, but I couldn’t have been more excited. Harsh conditions are my favorite- work to my advantage!
It was a lot earlier of a morning Saturday, with our road race start time at 10:10am. The rain was already heavy in the morning, and the winds fairly strong. All my rain gear packed up, we were headed over to the race course at 7:30am after our Starbucks coffee run. I didn’t get dressed until about half an hour before my start, trying to stay relaxed, warm and dry inside the van. I thought- today was my day- rain, wind, a great technical road race course with a 1km climb, and a long drag flat sprint finish. I was riding on a strong team with lots of talent, FCS Rouse p/b Mr. Restore, and had a rider sitting in 3rd in GC we were out to help protect and move up.
The race started out fairly fast, and an attack went on the first climb. I was sitting comfortably in the group, always at the front trying to escape any trouble. The legs and mind were feeling fantastic today. The group slowly started losing riders one by one, with the wind, rain and on the first climb. The rain was coming down so heavy, I couldn’t see anything. Glasses fogged up, water pouring down from my hair and helmet into my eyes and sand and water spraying up everywhere made it impossible to see. I could barely see the wheels that surrounded me, and I must have hit ten major potholes, almost losing my grip. I was able to de-fog my glasses with my gloves every now and then, which helped periodically, but other times it was like looking through a plastic milk jug.
Onto the second lap, after the feed zone hill, there was a small descent and a sharp, narrow right hand turn at the bottom. Paint covered the roads, and the rain made it worse. A Tibco girl locked up her brakes, and slammed right into the side of my bike, taking me down, as well as about four others. It happened so quick, but I was up before I had time to think. I had shooting pains through my ribs, what felt like a torn calf, and no skin left on my bum, but I grabbed two random water bottles that were the closest to me, stuck them into my bottle cage, straightened out my bars, tried to pull my ripped shorts down, and started to hammer as hard as I could to catch back up to the group. I was by myself, mashing my gears as fast as I could up the climb and down the descent on the other side. The group was back in sight, and for a moment I had a slight sigh of relief...until I noticed my wheel was rubbing. I had done a good number to my front wheel in the crash- and my rear derailleur- I had about 3 cogs to use for the rest of the race. I tried to open up my front break, but the piece had broken off- then BANG- flat tire. Just my luck...and the Sram wheel pit was still behind at the crash scene with the stragglers lying on the ground. They eventually rolled up, and I quickly got a wheel change.
I had lost minutes at this point, at one point over 4.5, but at no time I had ever wanted to stop chasing. Joanie and Ally, involved in the crash too came up behind me and we chased as hard as we could...for 40 miles. 60km/hr winds, sideways torrential down pour rains and an all out suffer fest describes this part of the race best. We were all pulling through, killing ourselves to stay within time cut. We whizzed passed many women who had been popped off the back of the group in hopes of gaining time. Within the last 4km to go, we saw a group crest the top of a hill- “Are those the Women??” We all yelled at the same time. Hammering through the follow cars and neutral wheel car, with 3km to go, at the base of the final climb, we finally (miracle) made it back onto the group. I pushed as hard as I could up the climb, knowing I had to be at the front in hopes of any chance of a good finish.
Us girls who crashed didn’t know what was going on in the race, and were told there were 11 girls up the road in the break- who we after found out was only four- but everyone had rain jackets and vests on, so it was difficult to see who was who for the officials.
I was right up at the front, sitting in top three with 1 km to go...500m to go...top 2 with 300m to go...it was so perfect- and then I jumped- well- tried- This was the first time that I tried to jump, and sat right back down. I was spent- the 40 mile time trial off the back and after crashing took everything out of me. I ended up in 14th- not the result I was aiming for going into the stage- but a good result none the less after a breakaway ahead, a crash and flat in such horrible conditions.
After all the adrenaline passed me, and I changed into some dry clothes- I tried to put it in the back of my mind crashing and start to focus on tomorrow- but I ended up with two cracked ribs and some road rash. An epic day on the bike- but all I can hope for is that my ‘one race crash, crash’ is out of the way for the season.
I wasn’t able to start the crit today due to my ribs and some smart decision making, which was hard for me- especially being my favorite discipline- but now it is time to focus on Redlands.
I want to thank FCS Rouse p/b Mr. Restore team for letting me guest ride with your guys- was great to ride with all you talented girls. Looking forwards to a great weekend coming up in Redlands with you guys!
We have a TT prologue first up on Thursday!