Race Report: Chico Stage Race
Let's be honest. The "stage" part of last weekend ended after the first ten miles for me. I'd spent the week amping myself up for the gravel section, getting over my fear of slipping and sliding. How in the heavens could I have predicted that I'd move all the way from Brooklyn to flat on pothole in California.
The Road Race
I was feeling great, got into a great position ready to head into the gravel. The girl next to me goes "there are some real Wheel Eaters out here". I thought to myself, girl hush your mouth before we both catch a flat. Then it happened. Another girl says "Honey, your tire is flat". As far as I knew she was talking to a different honey, so I kept on rolling. Then I thought about it and said "who me?". She said, "yes". I threw up my hand, signaling to the girls behind me to go around due to my lovely mechanical. I yelled out "FUDGE" as to not allow my misfortune to turn me into a sailor that day.
When all the girls had gone around, my teammate Luisa had already stopped and taken off her saddle bag. Good thing she brought a saddle bag, because there was no neutral support for our field. There was a man in a white pickup truck, he stopped and yelled from his window "YOU GOT WHEELS IN THE BACK?". I said, "no". He immediately peeled off. Like literally peeled off. I bet he also said "BYE FELICIA", but he was gone so fast we just didn't hear him.
We repaired the flat relatively quickly. I tried my best not to panic, but I still put the tire back on wrong on the first try. I took a deep breath, readjusted the tire, and put my wheel back on. We started rolling, and seconds down the road we approached the gravel. I was so annoyed.
At least we were able to pick whatever lines we wanted, following in the tire tracks left behind by our abandoners (I might be a little salty about it). 4 miles of gravel later, we were back on paved road. We started to pace-line. The first ten miles of the race were so moderately paced that we honestly thought we could catch the group. We picked up a few stragglers who'd been dropped in the gravel. They didn't do much to help, but we pressed on just the two of us switching off every twenty seconds and dragging along the two girls behind us. Two became three, and eventually we caught another pack. They'd been dropped in the gravel as well, but seeing as we were only a few miles from the finish at this point, we slowed our pace and all finished together.
Luisa definitely shouldn't have stopped for me, but I'm so glad she did. I'd brought levers, a tube, and a pump with me, but i'd accidentally forgotten my CO2 cartridge in the car. There would've been a very sad brown fox crying and rapidly pumping on the side of the road. I really need to get a spare set of wheels. That's the first flat i've ever gotten in a race, and boy did it suck to have your race end ten miles in.
All the women assembled at the starting line. They blew the whistle and I took off. I needed to start the race with some oomph, because the previous days antics left me feeling empty and defeated. I wanted to sprint from the line, not in order to break away, but to set the pace and take the first round of corners however I liked. It felt nice. After the first lap I tucked back into the group. There was a lot of attacking, but for the most part it didn't feel as sketchy as most 3/4 races. About 10 minutes in, (10 was a pattern this weekend), there was a crash. I was behind it and on the inside of the turn enough to get around. Luisa wasn't.
Someone clipped her rear wheel and it sent her and her bike rolling onto the sidewalk. I saw her sit up as I passed by, so I decided to keep going and take second looks on the next lap. When we came back around, the girls still racing made the collective decision to slow it down just in case there were still girls sprawled out on the road. The marshall's hadn't indicated any danger, but we weren't sure so we slowed a bit. There were a few girls scurrying out of the way, but it appeared that everyone managed to get up. Including Luisa. I kept going. Eventually one by one, the girls all rejoined the race. It's a good day when everyone walks away from a crash. Even better when there's no crash at all, but you can't have it all right? Two laps to go, I started to get into position. In the chaos of the final lap, I didn't hold my position. I knew as soon as we were approaching the second to last turn I was too far back. I sprinted around as many as I could, and gunned it after the last corner. No one went around me, but I didn't pass anyone either. 7th Place.
LOL. That's how the time trial went. If you've ever raced a TT on a road bike, I'm going to assume you never wanted to do it again. My arms were so sore after that I thought I'd hit my elbow on something. It was really hard to maintain an aero position for that long. I'm borrowing clip-on bars for this weekend. We'll see what happens. If nothing else, it was a great opportunity to spin out my legs. I'd never done a TT before, so it was a rude awakening, but that also means there's tons of room for improvement there for me! Just like my new fixation with hills, I'm determined to learn how to boss a Time Trial.
The End. Madera this weekend. It's supposed to rain the whole time. I picked up some Velotoze for Luisa and I so at minimum we'll have dry feet! Safe fast vibes! Woot!