Monday, April 20, 2015

Race Reports and Some Love for my Colorado People.

This post is part race recap, and part a story about the awesomeness that exists in the Colorado cycling community. 

I’m already about eight races into the season, and feeling generally good. I’m definitely racing better than I was at this time last year, and I am having more fun, too. 

Racing and training take a lot of time, and I have two kids and a business. Sometimes, the opportunity costs of being on the bike seem more significant than other times, and it’s easy to get frustrated when you are leaving your family or training twenty hours a week and still sucking. I went into the 2015 season really questioning my commitment to racing. I was weighing it all out on one particularly frustrating day when a good friend and fellow bike racer, Cesar Grajales, looked at me, sighed in exasperation and rolled his eyes and said, Oh my God, Becky. Just race your bike. You like to race, so go do it. Stop worrying about what bike you have or what components you need or what kit you are wearing and just go race your bike. Shut up and race.

Sometimes, when I am having bad days, I repeat those words to myself: Shut up and race. 

Moments before my day ended.
And I realized how much I really do care about racing earlier this season when, at a small collegiate crit, an official on a moto made a mistake. I was in a chase pack with a group of girls when we overtook the group up ahead. They responded a half lap later with an attack, and we broke off again. Despite still being in contention, and with more than 30 minutes of racing left, we were pulled as “lapped riders.” It’s early. Everyone is figuring it out, including the officials. Some of the girls were busy ranting at them, which isn’t so much my style. (Mistakes happen and, really, another piece of good advice comes from my friend Meg Hendricks - who has the best attitude in the peloton - in the form of the following question: Is losing a bike race the worst thing that’s ever happened to you?) I was, however, really disappointed. Had I been in the lead pack, it wouldn’t have even been an issue, so I was really focusing on everything I should have done differently. It was good, though, because I was disappointed enough to recognize how much I really do care, and how much my head is still in racing.

I am now squarely focused on doing this because I love it. I am more focused, less stressed, and I am having a ton of fun. Shut and race your bike is working. And I am sharing that fun with some other girls who have also found themselves caught in the same head spin that was my 2014 season. 

Two weeks ago, I raced Boulder Roubaix. My friend, Emily, had pegged this as one of her top races for the season. She’s definitely good at riding dirt, and has the fitness to rock a race based on pure power. The night before, we made a race plan and I was totally willing to work for her. We got to the race with what should have been plenty of time, but because of a huge parking debacle, we found ourselves scrambling to get to the start. When we got there, we found four portable toilets for 900 racers. Emily finally made her way to the front, only to unzip her jersey and realize that I had pinned her numbers to her base layer and bibs, thus hopelessly trapping her in her kit. We frantically tried to free her before the start of the race or before she peed down her leg. 
Emily gets into position!

The field was together for most of the race. We reigned in a bunch of early attacks from Naked Women’s Racing and Stages Cycling. The race broke apart on a late climb, where we found ourselves in a small group of six chasing the lead group, who had a 30 second lead on us. Two of the girls couldn’t hold the pace, so we whittled down to four. The four of us worked really well together for a lot of miles. We joked that we should do a composite team time trial. When we turned on the last set of climbs, I saw Emily go for it. I knew she was going to break away from the group and try to get in position for the finish. I followed her, and she and I worked together to build a minute lead on the other girls, and to try and narrow the gap from the first group. We never did catch them, but Emily was 12th, and I was 13th. More importantly, we had such a fun race. It was one of the best times I have had in a bike race in a long, long time. At the end, Emily looked over and said, Thanks for reminding me how much I love to race my bike. I know. I so know. We all need reminded once in a while.

In case you are wondering how much fun was had, Mary Topping captured it on camera:
I swear. Emily is HAVING FUN.

I was looking forward to doing it all over again last weekend. I was ready for a 60 mile road race with a long dirt section until the weather failed to cooperate. The forecast in Colorado often changes with little notice, and it went from warm and sunny to snow and rain in a day. The dirt sections were turned to mud, and the course was deemed “unrideable.” I decided to just register for a crit the next day instead of taking the whole weekend off. By mid-day Saturday, I was totally regretting dropping that $40. 

I had awful stomach cramping, nausea, fatigue. I was lightheaded and felt simply terrible. I tried to head out for some openers in case I decided to race the next day, only to ride an easy 45 minutes before throwing up on some unsuspecting homeowners lawn while my cycling partner mechanically ate a Clif bar and tried to look away. I headed home, and went to bed. I slept from 4:00 Saturday afternoon until 7:00 Sunday morning, at which point I tried to rally and make one last attempt to race. Dennis was airing my tires while I made drink mix and found my kit. I sat down and tried to eat a handful of crackers and get some water in my system. It didn’t happen.

At that point, I called it and went back to bed. It was a bummer. But then, a few hours later, my friend Peg called to check on me and to tell me how well she had raced, and then I saw that my teammate had come in seventh in his race. I was too happy for them to feel badly about missing one afternoon of crit racing.

I have a two week training block now before doing my next race, which is one of my favorites: Boulder’s Koppenberg. I love that race! Last year, I skipped it to do Gila. This year, I weighed the options, and decided I would rather be home to do the race I love than spend a lot of cash and suffer five days in the New Mexico heat. I think my head is where it needs to be, and I am looking forward to an awesome 2015.

My favorite Colorado race:!koppenberg/c81z