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Race report from new Cat 4 Amanda Bye. Going into her first season competing in cycling, she’s managed to race crits, TT’s and cyclocross–all within a few months of each other! Read on to see how addictive the sport can be….
“Are you nervous?” A resounding yes echoes in my head but I am unable to speak, so I politely smile and nod. But why? The newness of it all, the possibility of getting hurt or worse yet causing someone else to get hurt, not finishing, spectators noticing how many times I have been lapped. Then once my wheels begin to roll, I realize nothing else matters but doing the best that I can and the nervousness goes away.
People cycle for all kinds of reasons. Fitness, competition, the freedom of going fast, to build endurance, for great looking legs, pushing yourself to your limits, the camaraderie, learning a new skill, beer gardens, as an excuse to wear spandex and for men to shave their legs and the list goes on.
July was my first cycling race. Being new to racing, I did not have awareness that a late-season road race was not the best introduction to cycling. I lined up at the start; heart pounding and then I heard someone say “You have just as much right as anyone else to be here. Feel free to move forward.” I looked around and noticed that the race official was speaking to me. It gave me reassurance and calmed my heart. The countdown to the start then began. I was pleasantly surprised when I immediately stepped into my pedals and was able to get in the middle of the group. It took approximately one and a half laps into the race until I dropped off the back of the pack. I then spent the remainder of the race trying to catch the pelaton and hearing people from the sidelines cheer me on. I heard my good friend and fellow racer, Ryan, cheer “You can still catch them” as I was lapped a second time. I then heard a bell, which signified a prime lap, my only thought was to keep pedaling and hope to not get disqualified for being too far behind, not about winning a prize. However, I did win that prime lap. The other ladies who were racing that day were encouraging as were the race officials, I think it was their kind words that allowed me to return and the fact that I was no longer afraid of the unknown. I completed two subsequent road races that season and noticed improvements with each one.
My first Time Trial (TT) was daunting. I arrived early in order to leave time to warm up, get my number pinned on and make sure that I was not late to my dedicated start time. I kept remembering how Rachel, a seasoned cyclist and teammate, had informed me, from her past experience, to not be late. Time Trials have a held start, then a countdown and you are off. All I could hear is my own breathing and the tires on the road. These races were addicting for me as each week I would obsessively go over the course in my head and what I could do to improve my time. It also helped that Rachel took much of her time to provide pointers on how to race a TT and what helps a racer go fast. Additionally, TTs are less intimidating than other road races for me because I am not in a pack and there is no lapping.
Next for me was cyclocross. There were 34 women in the “First Timer” field that afternoon at Queens of Cross. I tried to stop my psyche from telling me how likely it was that I would fall that day and to focus on riding. This course had a large hill to run up, 2 obstacles to jump over and a log to traverse. My saving grace that day was that with the support of more experienced rider, I had practiced dismounts and remounts so much in the prior weeks that they were fluid. Training for this type of race includes off-road riding, dismounting and remounting in motion and running while carrying the bike. During the final lap, I was slowly coming around an arched turn when I fell. This was quite possibly the slowest fall that anyone had witnessed that day. I can clearly remember thinking that I was falling multiple times before actually hitting the ground. My rear derailleur then slipped and someone had to help me get my chain back on in order to finish the race. There are many things that can go wrong in cyclocross- mechanical failures, tripping, sliding out, someone falling in front of me, not being able to get out of or back into pedals, dropping my bike, pinch flat, cold weather- but that is what makes cross so much fun. People are always encouraging, regardless if you are in first or last place. The cheering and cowbells makes it hard to not smile while enduring this sport.
Now when I race, I am not nearly as nervous and I feel more confident at most things that I do. I appreciate all the support and guidance from TriBella both the shop and the cycling team. This community made racing an attainable goal and did not make me feel uncomfortable about asking newbie questions. The support in cycling from teammates, friends and fans is unbelievable.
So only one question remains: “What are you waiting for?”
This Sunday, 11/6 is Primalpalooza Cross Race at 10:55 AM there is a “Beginner” category. This is a low-key way to begin racing. Hope to see you there.
City Park Criterium
SW 1/2, 3- 3rd place
I love this crit. It’s not because I have ever done remarkably well at this race, but I just love all the twists and turns and I know that if I’m feeling good, I do have a potential for doing well.
Lately, my legs have been feeling very heavy and they hurt even when I’m trying to just spin them out. I think it’s the fact that at the end of the Cherry Creek Time Trial series I was racing twice a week, plus with the weather improving and the track opening, I have been putting in a lot of hours on my bike and maybe my body just isn’t overly happy with me!
For perfect race preparation, I drank too much on Friday night. It was nice out and my friend wanted to meet for drinks and the drinks were good and then the wine was good, too (along with the fried poached egg and frisee salad and the leg of lamb!) I then went to the track on Saturday afternoon where my coach had me do very fast laps on very little gears. This means, I was spinning my legs very fast and on sore legs and a little dehydration, that’s not what I felt I needed (although I think coach knew best.) I did sleep pretty well after my dinner at Stueban’s and the Pink Martini concert Saturday night and got up to have a nice egg and spinach breakfast. I guess I was trying to right some of the pre-race wrongs.
I was very excited to know that both Rachel and Joan were going to be in the race and I had my best friend from law school in town to cheer as well! The field wasn’t overly small, but not as big as I had hoped. We had about 20. The race started out pretty fast with Cat Johnson (Big Ring) driving the pace. Cari Higgins (gold medalist from Pan Americans, world cup track racer, general bad ass) was also in the race, but she had helped with the 4’s race, raced the 35+, helped in the kid’s race and was now racing with us. I know that all of this doesn’t slow Cari down, but I figured she probably didn’t feel like taking a flyer, either.
After about 4-5 laps of a few trying to get off the front and driving the pace between 24 and 29 mph, Gwen from the Primal Map My Ride team went off the front and no one really went with her. Also Whitney Schultz was taking flyers and mixing it all up. With enough primes we caught back to Gwen and someone else who had caught her at about 20 minutes to go. So now we were back to one group or so (although we had dropped about 5-6 off the back.)
With about four laps to go and taking in a vanilla power gel in there, I realized that I was feeling pretty good and had a quick meeting with Joan and Rachel (one at a time). I told them that if I could be on Cari’s wheel in the last turn, I could get 2nd or 3rd place. At this time, being on a team became very important and awesome. Rachel took a flyer to push the pace and string things out with 3 laps to go. She went so hard; I thought I might get dropped! Back together, Rachel and Joan moved to the front and allowed me to position better. With a lap to go, Joan got on the front and pushed the pace. I grabbed Cari’s wheel. In the last 270 degree turn, I was right on Cari and Joan had pulled off. Out of the turn, I tried to jump a split second before Cari so I could stay on her wheel. I jumped with her, stayed as best I could and then Whitney came around me. I got 3rd as we were lapping the riders into the finish, but I was so very happy as that was one of the best results I have received in a crit in a long while. I guess my legs were feeling quite good!
Rachel ended up winning the 3’s and getting a few primes along the way. Joan was in the final sprint mix as well. I love this course and I just adore my team!
In addition, to the team racing with me, Cristienne and Erika were also cheering from the side along with Joan’s husband and Cristienne’s husband. It was an awesome Sunday in the park! Pictures and video provided by Cristienne’s smart phone!
Race Report from Rachel Scott
Superior Morgul Classic Crit and Road Race
5/28/11 and 5/29/11
SW 3- 1st place and SW3-2nd place
CRIT-Let me preface this post by saying this: I have the most selfless teammates ever. From Vera giving me her gloves in the snow for the Cherry Creek Time Trial to all our ladies coming together for our Ride for Reading event to this epic race-which I’ll go into detail later about Joan saving my race-our women are top-notch on or off the bike. I truly mean that and am so thankful to be on this team…
So for those reading this post that aren’t aware of this course or have yet to see American Flyers, here’s the synopsis from the website:
The Superior Morgul Classic is two days of bike racing culminating with the historic Morgul-Bismarck road race. The Morgul-Bismarck is a well known 13 mile loop that was originally featured as part of the Red Zinger and then the Coors Classic in the seventies and eighties. This well loved and respected course is a favorite of local riders and will be featured in the Omnium for regional, national and international riders to experience.
This was a must on my calendar to earn some upgrade points since scoring the women separately, not to mention getting a discounted entry via the Handlebargains deal the month prior. Beginning with Saturday’s crit, I had no idea how many(or few) Cat 3 women would show up. As usual, our field was combined with the SW1/2 women with several big players including Cari Higgins of PB & Co.Twenty12, the MapMyRide.com/Primal pro team and several other strong staples in the CO racing scene-which is pretty much everyone. I wasn’t feeling the greatest having had only 3 or so spotty hours of sleep the night before and general fatigue from an insanely busy work/social week. Rolled up two hours prior and completed my typical race prep routine: get registered, grab safety pins and hunt out an innocent bystander to pin my skinsuit, eat a banana, and pee at least 5 times prior to my warm up. I found Berta and Kat of RockyMounts and warmed up with them, moaning incessantly about my prerace nerves and asking myself rhetorical questions as to why I race each and every weekend if I get such anxiety. I’m sure I was pretty annoying but they seemed to tolerate me.
Determined to get a great spot considering I’ve started 3rd row in each of my 123 crits, and of course, missed the group coming around and lined up in the 3rd row…again. Starting on a hill, this would be interesting to see how quickly the ladies in front would clip in to give me a halfway decent start. Not the best, but I grabbed a good wheel and slowly navigated up near the front. Clearly not soon enough because before I could even catch my breath from the first few laps, a break had formed off the front of 3 never to be seen again. WTF?
So instead of chasing using (wo)manpower from the bigger teams present, with the exception of a few good attacks thrown in there, the pace didn’t pick up as much as the previous week’s Sonic Boom. I know this to be true because I actually spent some time up front instead of sucking wheel. I also didn’t burst any blood vessels in my eyes this week or suffer from incredible ‘track hack’ as Vera puts it.
The course started you on an uphill, which is the same one we finished on, and through a series of what appeared to be a giant S of driveways and alleyways through a neighborhood into a bombing descent out of a right-hand turn into a right-hand turn up the hill to the finish. Fun course, not too technical, nor too flat either. A little bit for every strength. There were some sprint, QOM points and cash thrown in for primes, which I didn’t focus on due to the fact I wanted to podium to get my upgrade(which I didn’t get points for my USAC races dadgumit!).
So when it came down to the final three laps, I made sure I conserved and moved up on the downhill and in the corners where I felt comfortable. Coming into the last sprint, I really just needed to make sure I was the first Cat 3, so I went for a l-o-n-g sprint and came out 9th overall of the 23 starters and 1st Cat 3. I was happy with my placing considering all the 1’s and 2’s in my field. Joan also helped by keeping me out of the wind and surfing through the crowd to get me a good placing.
Place: 1st in my cat(9th overall)
Starters: 23(4 in my category)
Winnings: $65, 5 extra sprint points for the omnium and the race leader’s pink jersey
Points: BIG FAT ZERO considering we were one girl shy of having a large enough field to earn some points.
ROAD RACE-I’m still unsure whether to be happy or upset with my performance. But the focus for this race shouldn’t be on my performance, rather my teammate’s incredible knack for putting other’s first. Joan and I lined up together since they were starting our group of six Cat 3’s with the 1/2’s again. Some girls came out with fresh legs, but all in all, it was the same key women who dominated the day prior.
The 13.3 mile loop has 750 vertical feet of elevation gain with significant grades and the finish at the top of the ‘Wall’(which we actually did 5 times) for 4 laps. This was the first warm day of the year, and I paid dearly for it despite my southern blood. The day before, I was exhausted from the effort and lack of sleep, not to mention running a few errands post race. I didn’t really rehydrate at all nor eat anything significant for dinner-just wasn’t hungry and simply too tired to eat. NEVER again. It’s much better to force something, anything down than to experience the pain of leg cramps.
We started out and I wanted to stay near the front for the wall. I made it up with the first group with all of us still together. I pulled probably a little too much and the sun started to burn the clouds away. After feeling pretty comfortable on that first lap, we hit the hump and then came up to the wall again. This time, things started to shake up a bit. Three girls broke off the front and a chase group comprised of some super strong 1/2’s and me the lone 3. Joan wasn’t there, and I was shocked. She’s a helluva better climber than I am. My group worked together but not harder than the three girls in front of us apparently because their gap grew, and we were caught by a few other stragglers on the descent before the hump. Luckily, Joan was there but so were a couple of strong girls in my category.
Lap 3-that’s when things started falling apart. My cleat was loose on my right foot and I overcompensated with my left leg to keep from pulling my shoe from my pedal. That combined with the heat and lack of hydration, my legs started to disintegrate. It started with my left calf and then spread to my left hamstring. I had hoped it would go away after the wall, which I fell back on and luckily Joan waited to pull me up to the group. I told her that I didn’t think I could finish and she would have none of it. If I just simply finished, I was in the money. I didn’t want to look like a loser, failure, or anything of the sort, especially since I’ve never had a DNF not to mention how embarrassing would that be in the freakin’ leader’s jersey!?
She kept telling me to sit in and hydrate, which I began to do and shove Powerbar gels in my mouth. The pain never went away as it usually does and eventually migrated to my right hamstring and quad. Crap. My pedal stroke was completely unpredictable and cornering was ridiculous with my quads locking up each time I put weight on a leg. But Joan was there and wouldn’t let me quit.
Round 4 up that stupid wall. I cracked. Joan saw it. And while she had the legs to keep going, she didn’t. She waited for me and PUSHED ME UP THE WALL. Literally. Not only that, once over the punchy hill, I thought the group was gone. They looked so far away and my legs were toast. Joan told me to eat and sit on her wheel. She pulled hard and I could barely hang on. We ended up catching Anne who was just off the back of the main group. They were in our sights and with Anne’s descending skills and Joan’s strong pulls, we were able to catch up to the group coming into the hump. Joan also grabbed a powerade for me in the neutral feed because I could only grab a water with my placement. Shortly after the feedzone, that’s when we dropped the other Cat 3, and I managed to stay with the group coming into the last climb. I knew I’d fall back but I was there and was nearly done. I told Joan she better go if she had the legs after hauling my lame ass around, and she made her way up the front. And then Joan did what she does best(on the road that is), and hit the wall hard. She held onto it too and got a 5th place finish in the P1/2 field!! I could see Amber, the only other Cat 3 in the field, looking back at me and realizing she had the V, so she fell back a bit too. I limped in about 1 minute behind the field and my legs immediately seized. I have ridden through cramps but never for over an hour and a half at the speeds that we did. This would NOT have been possible had Joan not been there. I would have had to pull out or finish at minimum 1 hour back assuming I could even finish.
I still am in awe with how selfless Joan was to potentially sacrifice her race to help me finish and accomplish my goals. That’s what teammates are for and I cannot wait to cat up and help her in upcoming races(assuming I’m strong enough to do so). I can think of no one else more deserving of praise than Joan that day. She had an incredible race. I on the other hand, after drinking 3 large electrolyte recovery Powerbar beverages, 3 bottles on the bike, a 32 oz nalgene, a Mix1, and three beers, I peed once following the race. Clearly dehydrated, and probably not smart drinking those beers or going for a 3 hour mountain bike ride the next day. But you live and learn. Next time, my nutrition will be much better and I’ll get that wall next year! I just hope it’s me leading Joan out for a big V!
Stats: 19.02 mph average
Distance: 53.5 miles
Place: 2nd in my cat(16th overall)
Starters: 23(6 in my category)
Winnings: $75, $90 for the omnium(if I got 1st, still not posted)
Points: 2 points towards 2 upgrade and BAR Points but unsure just how many
Race Report from Joan Orgeldinger
Sonic Boom Criterium
SW 1/2/3- 17th place
After a full day of gardening, play dates and other errands, I carpooled to Louisville with my neighbor Berta who races on the Rocky Mounts~Izze team. We arrived with plenty of time to register and find a nice shady spot for our warm up prior to our 5:40pm race start. The registration sheet for the Cat 1-2-3 women was full !
We lined up at 5:35, I proceeded to get really nervous about the somewhat sketchy pavement, fast corners and not to mention – the stacked field!
Five minutes into the race I was sure that I had read the title wrong and it was actually the Sonic “BOMB” race. I exploded and was off the back from the get go. I wasn’t alone, I had 3 women from Pro Design with me and we worked our hearts out trying to get back into the race. However, the front of the field was moving so fast that our goal had now shifted from getting back into the main field to avoiding the imminent threat of being lapped.
Sure enough at some point, we were lapped. The lead moto came by and warned us to stay to the side. It would seem easy to try and jump back in after they came by, but because we slow to a low speed and they pass us at full speed, it was impossible. I decided to chase just to see if I could get close. After making sure I didn’t take anyone with me, I did my best to attempt to bridge up to my teammate Rachel who was still in the front group to see if there was anything I could do to help her. After 15-20 minutes of my solo effort (during which time I got to within 10 feet of her rear wheel on 3 occasions), I had to give up. I sat up and was quickly swallowed up by a group of 8-12 women.
Two of the girls in my group started to attack at the bottom of the little climb and I went as hard as I could, but they both beat me to the line. I ended up in 17th place with my teammate Vera in 18th right behind me. Rachel had a fantastic ride with an 11th place finish! Great job to all the women who raced today – it was a fast, fun course with a field of over 30 starters!!!
Race Report from Rachel Scott
Hugo Road Race & Uni Hill Criterium
5/14/11 and 5/15/11
SW3-5th place & SW123-5th place
HUGO-Does the sun shine in Colorado? I’m just wondering because I am tired of racing in the wind, snow, sleet and cold temps. In the south, I’d already have a serious farmer’s tan(synonymous with cycling tan) and be sweating in 90 degree temps. But I digress…
My first road race over 55 miles-Hugo. This was to be a 78 mile sufferfest with terrible winds, lackluster scenery, and of course gloomy weather. In attempts to find a carpool with my teammates and fellow racers, all those that I contacted vowed never to do Hugo again. Ignorance is bliss I suppose. Luckily, worked something out with a Rocky Mounts SM3 rider just prior to Jenny contacting me about a carpool.
Hugo, a destination about 2 hours away and resembling Kansas landscapes, had uncharacteristically decent weather(winds only gusting to 17-20 mph and temps in the 40’s with no rain/wintery mix…yet) in comparison to years prior. Before even slipping my kit on, I was ready to be done. Since I’ve been racing most weekends, there’s been little time to get 4+ hour road rides in(with the exception of some mtb rides>4 hours), so I was a wee bit nervous wondering if my legs would cooperate for the miles and hours in the saddle. We’d soon find out!
I lined up with the SW1,2, and 3’s as well as the SW35+ women and the SM55+ men. Very weird that we could work with all of our starters, including the men. This would eventually decide our race. We had about 60 starters, 22 of which were women, for the single-looped road race.
Once the official blew the whistle, I skedaddled up to the front to avoid any mess. I should have stayed there as the pace wasn’t too bad and we had a tailwind(the only tailwind of the day and it certainly didn’t last long enough). After turning the first corner, the pace picked up significantly and then about 8 women took off-me included-and pacelined for about 6 miles until the rest of the field caught us again. I stayed as close to the front as possible but tried to avoid the wind-well, because there were about 40 miles to go. We formed echelons all the way across the road, so clearly the strictly-enforced yellow line rule was tossed out the window.
So I jockeyed near the front and wasted some energy in an attempt not to miss a break. We turned another corner into an intense headwind, and I was sick of working so much. I casually moved to the back after some guys neglected to inform us of some cones coming up (one of which I crunched and the other I had to bunny hop, but kept upright and calm) and that’s of course when it happened. A break went of the front, and I was boxed in. Sh*!. I tried to talk some folks into going with me because some a-holes would get to the front and stop pedaling causing the break to ride off into the wind. I got sick of it, went to the front with another girl, and she and I PULLED about 40 other men into the wind to try to catch this break. Again, stupid mistake because the guys FINALLY decided to pick up the pace and I was maxed out from trying to chase. I was in no-(wo)man’s land-I hate that feeling; however, I managed to get with a good group of the riders that got either spit out the back or came up from behind.
We had about 7 girls who shared very equally in pulls and only 2 guys out of about 7 who would pull with us. I did my fair share of making them feel like wusses for hitching a free ride and not pulling through, especially since we carried them to the line for the last 30+ miles. Who cares if you hurt-we all hurt! Pull or fall off the back until you get a group you can match the pace with. AND DON’T YOU DARE TRY TO OUTSPRINT AT THE 1K MARK IF YOU HAVEN’T DONE A LICK OF WORK! No one likes a wheelsucker. We aren’t even in your category or gender for that matter. I thought this was a gentlemanly sport? I guess you can tell I’m still a little upset about that one.
I cramped at miles 50 and again at 73 or so. I rode through it and lucked out that it didn’t keep me from turning the pedals. Once we got close to the line, I went for the sprint but was in a bad place and couldn’t come around Susan from ProDesign. She had a great sprint considering all the miles we had just pulled together chasing the lead group.
So my first, and more than likely last Hugo experience. Oh well, you have to do it at least once. I nabbed 5th for the day and managed to not get race gut-a small victory in and of itself.
Stats: 20 mph average
Distance: 78 miles
Starters: 58(11 in my category)
Winnings: no race gut
Points: 2 points towards 2 upgrade and BAR Points but unsure just how many.
UNI HILL-Rain. Dad-blasted rain and near-freezing temps. I’ve raced several crits in the rain, but I’d prefer temps and conditions to be pristine, especially on a technical course simply for safety reasons. Though I’ve never gone down in the rain(only on a pristine day actually), I’ve seen countless others wipe out.
I carpooled out there with our talented photographer Chris Case-who placed 9th in the P1/2 race. I met Joan and Vera and promptly registered, pinned and set up the trainers. Talked strategy briefly, but with the strong field present, it would make for an interesting day of racing regardless of plans. Plus the course was still a little damp, had nearly 8% grades for half of it and bombing downhills into some corners filled with man holes. We prerode a couple laps and despite not being able to get my heartrate up on the trainer, it spiked just doing 1 lap on the crit course. Good gravy.
So lined up behind the 2 pro Map My Ride girls and again just hoped more for safety than a placing. With the whistle, I clipped in quickly and took off hard for the hill. I was sitting 5th or 6th wheel and hung there until the 2 Map My Ride girls rode off into the sunset never to be seen again. I pulled a little too much in the first 10 minutes trying futilely to chase. It hurt like hell, but I always want to die in the first 20 minutes of a crit.
Finally settling in, Therese of ProDesign was in between the 2 leaders and our chase group. She eventually got in with our group of 4 girls and we took turns through the corners and hills. Amber from GS/Boulder caught on too and I have no idea how she pulled through by herself. Man, I wish I could TT like that.
Anyways, continued in the same manner until a rotting, massive tree branch hit the course almost crushing Vera! Very weird hearing it crash and watching it splinter. A few of us girls managed a nervous laugh through gritting teeth. It must have been an omen because Therese hit the deck along with two riders in front of me shortly after in a corner after a descent. I skid around narrowly missing the crash with Vera screaming at me to “Go, Go, GO-move Rachel!” Which helped considering I had to chase my arse off to catch the 3 girls in front of me up that stupid hill with images of that crash burned into my brain.
Finally caught up after a couple of laps and sure enough, as soon as I did, another girl in front of me who I had been trading leading the descents with nailed a curb (not sure what happened because she seemed more technically sound than most), and I could hear nothing but bloodcurdling screams for the next 3 laps. Her kit was ripped from her body, she was holding her arm as if she broke her clavicle, and her face was bloody from faceplanting into the curb. Again, very lucky to have missed that crash but it definitely affected my performance as I took the corners a little bit slower, thus making me lose the 2 other girls in our group.
Coming into the last lap, I managed to outsprint another rider for 5th place(who also did Hugo the day before) and won literally by throwing my bike at the line…barely.
It was a fun race and confirmed that while I still get uber nervous for crits, I truly love that style of racing, especially more so than road races. Celebrated post race with Vera, her BF Patrick, Jeff whom I had carpooled with the day prior and surprised me at the race, Alec of Big Ring, Illegal Pete’s baby-sized burritos and the impressive P1/2 race.
Stats: 18.04 mph average
Distance: 15 miles
Points: 2 points towards 2 upgrade and BAR Points but unsure just how many. Only 1 point away from a Cat 2 woot-woot!
Race Report from Joan Orgeldinger
Koppenberg Circuit Race
SW 35+ 2nd place
The weather in Denver has not been exactly enjoyable for the past few weeks. Lookout Mountain Hillclimb was cancelled on Saturday due to dangerous high winds and here it was, Sunday, the weather report was claiming a high of 40 degrees F and possible chance of snow or rain…. Not exactly my idea of a great time (a partially dirt (maybe mud) course) on a road bike. But I really had hoped to get out and race this weekend, so I decided I would do the SW 35+ report since the chance of rain/snow increased around noon. (I will ask myself around noon, why I even bother checking the weather report after having grown up in Colorado.)
Off to the race: after a quick stop at the gas station, I arrived in time to register and get about 30 minute warm up on the trainer. I was thrilled to see both Rachel and Cristienne show up while I was warming up. It is so nice to have teammates to talk with when you are getting ready to go out and torture yourself. I quickly rode over to the start and and proceeded to line up with the wrong group! The woman at registration had given me the wrong number and I was lined up with the SW 4 women. But I figured it out and made my way back to my SW 35+/45+/55+ group who were waiting patiently behind me (probably wondering what the heck I was doing).
The first few minutes of any race are always hard but I decided that I couldn’t let them get away and shortly after we hit the dirt, I moved up to the front so that I could see what the dirt road looked like (sort of like “pre-riding”). I felt pretty good and was excited that we got to the climb so quickly. Even more exciting was that there were multiple lines to ride up on (my only previous experience was one line that you were either forced to walk or got lucky to ride single file). I got to the top of the climb and the woman to my left moved over in front of me and after looking back I realized we had a little gap. The adrenaline was pumping and I was very excited that we had a small gap in such a short period of time, but it was only a 3 lap race, so I figured we should make the best of it. In the split second that followed I made the big mistake, I overlapped the woman’s wheel in front of me – with the intent of starting to pull through. Unfortunately she came over a tad bit and clipped my front wheel. We were just regaining our speed on the flat part at the top of the hill and I couldn’t hold my wheel. I went down hard and the woman behind me fell too. It happened so quickly. I jumped up and looked back to see the other woman already standing up. I jumped on my bike and tried to straighten out the handlebars. Then I rode off quickly determined not to DNF. After a moment, I realized I had to stop and try to fix my handlebar/shifters better and I was able to slide the shifter back into it’s normal location; however, the handlebar wouldn’t budge. I jumped back on and started to chase.
I caught up with 2 women who I rode with for about ½ a lap, but we got separated on the dirt road. Try as I might I couldn’t see who was in front of me or where they were. The remainder of the race I rode alone and forced myself to push as hard in hopes of catching someone from our field but it never happened.
All in all, it ended up to be a pretty nice day (weather) with no rain or snow. Actually I don’t even think it was windy. I was sore as heck but I ended up 2nd in the SW 35+ group. I never want to crash on a road bike again but it is bike racing and you just never know.
The unknown was not whether we had collected more than 2,000 books; the question was whether we would be able to deliver all these books to Columbine Elementary in North East Denver by bicycle and not by a caravan of cars.
Rachel and Vera left from Vera’s house in the Denver Highlands with trailers in tow. Joan, Sharon and Erika met up on the way with backpacks and trailers. Cristienne and her husband, Scott were a mixture of trailer and backpack. Scott could pull a lot particularly with his fixed gear. We all met at TriBella before 7:30 on a sunny April day in Denver and waited for the hopefully thirty plus individuals who had generously promised to provide time and pedal power for Ride for Reading.
As the time approached 8:00, more and more people started to show. Some volunteers on road bikes, others on cruiser bicycles and even others on a bizarre mixture of wheelbarrow meets bicycle. The feeling was of an early morning party fueled by coffee, donuts and excitement.
After providing directions and rules of the road, we took off down the streets of Denver towards the state Capitol building. We were receiving cheers and waves as the roughly forty of us made our way to the school. The school was less than four miles away, but it took us closer to thirty minutes to get there because of our large mass as well as the hundreds of pounds of books we were carrying.
We did arrive with no major accidents. Just one minor accident as Vera misjudged the size of her trailer and slowly took down a volunteer from Primal. He thankfully was wearing a helmet cam and caught the whole crash. Thankfully, he did not even have a bump or a bruise and his bike was fine, too.
When we got to the school, the bell rang and all children came outside and lined up around us with their classrooms. It took a little while for the school to quiet down. Rachel got them excited again by introducing Ride for Reading and Vera explained why books and reading are important. We also stressed the importance of protecting your brain while riding and that you always must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Then, we put all the books out along a raised area of the yard and each child was allotted three books.
Cristienne took time with a few students to try to determine whether they would like Pippi Longstocking. Vera pushed the “Shawn the Sheep” and Judy Blume books. Who doesn’t like “Freckle Juice”? After each child had three books, we packed up the remaining books and rode back to TriBella.
It was a fabulous day and we are very fortunate for the generosity of our community that stretches all over the US and into Europe. We are thankful for Mother Nature who gave us sunshine and for all our volunteers who helped deliver books and smiles to the kids at Columbine Elementary. We will certainly do this again!