Friday was a tough day.
I hadn’t ridden all week because of my adductor pain, so Ryan and I went for a quick spin on Friday morning so I could see how my legs felt. It was bad- not injury pain bad- just “you haven’t ridden in a week” bad. I tried a leg-opening effort and was barely able to sustain normal wattage without searing lactic acid that felt as if it was being drawn from my legs into my lungs. I tried a couple of attacks… worse. I had no “snap” to speak of. It was exactly the type of ride that you don’t want to have before a state championship race.
After getting home & packing up, we hit the road. To add to the crappy ride I’d had earlier, my leg got more sore as the day went on, and, by the time we went to dinner that night, I was in enough pain to be limping. I kept watching out for other competitors… I didn’t want them to see that I was that injured. I told Ryan that I needed some sort of miraculous healing process to occur by the time I woke up in the morning and went to bed feeling both mentally and physically broken.
Determined to do what I could with what I had, I woke up, ate some breakfast, and pinned my number. Strangely enough, after a couple of ibuprofen, I couldn’t feel my injury. Once I arrived at the staging area for the race, I changed and rolled around a little. A lot of women were showing up and registering. We lined up with a nice sized field. While we were waiting to start, Ryan rolled up from his race. He was grinning-Ã‚ turns out he’d won the cat 3 state championship in a 2-man breakaway on the last lap. I was so excited that I laid my bike down and hugged him. He’s been working so hard this season… it’s awesome to see it finally pay off.
Soon after, my race started. Two laps on a course with a couple of big hills and a lot of rollers. When we came to the first hill, I tried an attack. I don’t think it registered as an attack to any of the other racers. Fail. A few miles later, we hit the next hill. The riders behind me stuck me out in the wind.
Fine. You want me in front? Well, then you’d better hold the eff on.
Figuring that my attacking legs were non-existent, I took my week of frustrations out in a barely-sustainable tempo up the hill. It was a bit of a stair-step climb… I never let off during the reprieves, and, just as we passed the feed zone and I was feeling like puking, we passed a church’s sign that said “PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD.” I took that as a cue to continue the punishment. I looked back and saw that the peloton had exploded behind me with a few riders hanging on and others sprinkled down the road. The crest of the hill came soon after, and, being pissed off at gravity from my wreck exactly one week before, I stood up and let loose upon the descent. It was technical in a couple of spots, but the roads were well-banked, so I never touched the brakes. I wanted to show the descent who was boss.
Once we hit the flat/rolling section after all of these shenanigans, I pulled through, flicked an elbow, and surveyed the damage- five riders and myself had a good gap on a shattered group of chasers. We started working together to stay away. It was a great ride from there. We finished the remaining lap & a half mostly cooperating until we left the race course loop. I took that as a cue to get on a wheel and prepare to sprint. When we hit 1k to go, one rider took the inititive to lead the field out. We rounded the corner to the finish and Mary Mayhew jumped. I followed and went to her left just as Jennifer Schuble did the same to me. It seemed like the world’s longest sprint, but I managed to hold her off and take it by a wheel. I nearly cried on the way back to the staging area. I couldn’t believe that I’d been able to ride that hard. I couldn’t believe that I’d been able to match Mary’s jump into the sprint. I couldn’t believe that I’d actually been able to sprint so hard against some really good sprinters. I was almost overwhelmed.
As soon as I rolled in from my race, I told Ryan the good news and we headed back to the hotel. I had to immediately eat and get my bike ready for the 8 mile time trial just three hours later. I’m finding longer time trials to be “easier” as far pacing goes now that I’ve got a powermeter. I used to start too hard then fade at the end. Now I know what type of wattage I should see for the duration, and it helps me hold back a little at the beginning and finish with barely anything left by the end. This strategy paid off- I rolled a 19:35, which was more than enough for 1st place. With the omnium weighted heavily towards the time trial and criterium, this was good, but I’d still need to place in the top 3 on Sunday or risk losing the #1 spot.
FYI- in Oak Ridge, State Champions drink for free. I was glad that my Sunday race wasn’t until late in the day!
I was feeling pretty good warming up on the trainer. Ryan raced both the masters 30+ and cat 3 crits, so we were at the race course pretty early. I didn’t mind watching a few other categories, because the finish of the race was a little bit tricky. It was a short, sharp uphill followed by a left turn and a long drag to the finish… with an intermittent tailwind. It seemed that whoever was able to get around the corner first was holding on for the win, but not all of the races played out that way, so I was slightly worried about making sure that I nailed it and kept my top omnium placing.
When our race started, I did what a normally do and attacked off the line. I like setting the “mood” for the race before anyone starts to get too comfortable. My attack strung the group out, but no one was really caught off gaurd, so I tucked back in line to catch my breath and wait for an opportunity to try again. I really wanted to thin the group out early in the race then rest up a bit for the sprint.
A couple of laps later, my strategy would be unnecessary.
Someone pulled for a lap then tried to pull through along the start/finish stretch. Whoever was behind her didn’t let her pull through. The pace bogged down to 16 or 17 mph and everyone in front of me started looking at each other and swerving around trying to make one another pull. I can’t stand that crap, so, of course, I attacked the bejesus out of them for it. It was about 7 minutes in to the 50 minute criterium.
I got a gap. They chased. For several laps, I was wavering at about a 10-15 second lead. A couple of times I’d look back and wonder if I should sit up, get caught, and try to conserve energy.
I’ve tried this solo break thing enough to know that at some point, you either give up and try to recover, or you go “all in,” meaning that you commit enough of your energy that you’re either staying away and winning or getting caught and not have anything left to get you to the finish line.
I went all in.
The gap grew to close to 30 seconds and continued to waiver. I knew that if I could get far enough away far enough into the race that the morale of the chasers would be broken and they’d let me stay out. Twenty minutes remained on the clock, and Ryan gave me a time check of 37 seconds… next lap, 54 seconds. As I’d hoped, the chasers began to fear being too tired to be able to sprint well, sat up, and resolved themselves to racing for 2nd place. I continued to fight the wind with all I had left, and the gap continued to grow. As I passed the start/finish with 5 laps to go, Barb Rigby, the official, announced on the loudspeaker that she wanted me to lap the field.
yeah… you get out here and lap the field. With the times I’m turning and the time remaining, I should have had 5 to go on the previous lap…
Such is you inner monologue when you’re swimming in a cesspool of lactic acid. I got within 20 seconds or so of lapping them. 53 minutes after the first attack (told you she made me do an extra lap!), I crossed the finish line… totally exhausted of both my physical and mental capacities, but very, very happy.
The pack sprint was handily won by Jennifer Schuble. I’m glad I wasn’t there…
And so, my road season comes to a close.
I spent most of the ride home in total disbelief of the past 8 days. I had an insane MTB wreck, managed to ride 30 more miles thinking I’d broken some bones, held on to second place, then spent all week limping around and going nutsÃ‚ with a torn hip adductor. Between the pain and the horrible morning ride, if you’d told me Friday night that I’d sweep the omnium, I would have called you a fool. I still can’t figure out how I manage to do these things. Luck? Genes? Physiology? Your guess is as good as mine. All I do know is that I can’t wait for the next challenge. Ok, enough cheese. Time to get some real lunch.
Oh yeah, and here’s a link to Ryan’s photos… Roadcx.net