Megan and Kimberley raced this weekend in Fort Collins and both not only kept rubber to the road, they kicked butt and got a podium finish. Great job to represent the Naked ladies this early in the season.
After an exciting weekend in Moab with the Naked team, I was primed and ready for my first race of the season, which happened to be Cobb Lake Circuit Race in Fort Collins CO. I was nervous because it was my first race in the SW Open field, which meant any female of any category in the region could show up. I was nervous about getting last place and letting down the team. I was nervous because I just had my hardest week of training in 6 months and was fatigued.
However, the race ended up being a lot of fun. And there is nothing like racing to make you stronger, or to teach you how to be a better racer! Here is my recap as well as lessons learned:
- Entrants: 18 women, 6 Cat 1-2, 6 Cat 3, 6 Cat 4 registered.
- Course: 48 miles (6 x 8 mile loops with a 1/2 mile finishing climb on each one, plus ~1 mile section of dirt to boot).
- Finish: 8th. 3rd Cat 3. (Top half finisher)
Within the first lap, one girl had attacked the field, and launched a tremendous pace on the rest of us. We ended up all grouping up in the 2nd lap into smaller groups of 1-5 riders. Luckily I found a group of 5 to work with, though we were sitting 8th-12th in the field at the time. Each lap was harder but I had to concentrate on the race within the race. Rotate, eat, drink, hammer, etc. On the first race of the year, it is hard to pace, so there is always a learning opportunity! Eventually the race ahead was won by my teammate Kimberley in a sprint to the line. My group of 6 broke up in the final 2 miles (on the dirt!), so there were 4 of us going up the final climb. I tried to sit on the 3rd and 4th girls’ wheels and went around them both on the final steep section to finish. I was lucky to finish 2nd in our group the line. For once I made a “move” at the right time. It was fun! The rest of the field trickled in over the next 10-15 minutes.
- Cat 1-2 women are really strong! They all but one dropped me within 30 minutes 🙂 So proud of teammate Kimberley who won the race!
- Whatever you do, find other people to work with. Even if you are racing for 7th place! The race was over two hours long and it was extremely beneficial to have a “pack” of 4-6 riders to work with, in the wind, up the hill, etc. It helped with focus, and definitely helped with speed.
- You might like what you least expect. My favorite part of the course was the dirt! I have always hated dirt, but I powered through it quite well and used it to my advantage here. I found myself less tired than those around me when I got to the hill each lap. Which was helpful for the finish!
- Never underestimate a sprint! Going into the race I had no particular goals for finishing, except don’t come in last place 🙂 By the last lap I was thinking it would be Awesome to finish in the top 3 of my “Group” of 5-6 girls. I out-sprinted a few on the steep uphill to the line and finished 2nd in the group, which was a small victory for me. This really helped my confidence for standing uphill and for sprinting, which in turn made me more excited and confident for future races.
- Every race is a great workout, and is great recon for future races. You learn who is fit, who is climbing well, who doesn’t like to corner, who Really likes to pull into the wind, who is the best sprinter etc. It helps so next time you know who to best draft where and how they can make you a better rider. We all have strengths and weaknesses and can learn from each other.
- Hydration and nutrition is always tricky in a 2 hour + race, especially when it is during lunchtime! I was VERY hungry and thirsty by the end, and wished I hadn’t skipped lunch. Cramping hamstrings reminded me of such throughout the race.
- The best bike racers can respond to attacks. This is something I’m not great at and need to work on if I want to keep up in Cat 3. I especially have trouble going hard in the first 10-15 minutes of races, so I was hurting BAD early on, and wished I had warmed up more, or done some openers the day before!
- You never know What will happen to others (or you) in the race. In this particular race day I saw the following occur in various categories: DQ’ed riders for crossing center-line (on the dirt!), DNF riders that dropped out, DNS rider that missed race start (almost 2 miles from registration!), riders with flat tires who got behind, rider who crashed out and broke his fork. The list goes on! So even if you think you are doing poorly it can always come back to you so never give up.
I love road races and the challenges and the teamwork that is required (across teams too!), and this was a fun way to kick off the season. I encourage you all to do some road races in 2013!
Thanks to Dejan Smaic for some awesome photos: http://www.sportifimages.com/RoadRacing2013/CSU-Cobb-Lake-CR/Pro-12