Yesterday was a wicked day for bike racing, but ended up being a very good one, too… in reflection. Michael picked me up at 6:45 for our trip out to Shelton and Mason Lake. Good laughs were shared as the rain picked up right as we started driving. I needed this because I’d been having a lot of anxiety over this first race of the year. By the time we arrived, the rain was full tilt and perfect for bike racing. I tried my best to keep eating so I had plenty of energy to keep myself warm later. There was a lot of green hiding under our red tent to stay out of the rain as much as possible. I must say, our kits look AWESOME! A little St. Patty’s-ish this time of year, though.
Our team had 4 starters in the Cat 5 race and we quickly moved to the front once the race rolled out. During most of the first half of that lap, all 4 of us were up near the front along with a group of Lenovo riders in red. (Their red and our green made the front of the peloton look a little Christmas-y.) I was getting soaked from all sides as the rain had picked up and the tire spray was heavy. Up in the front, though, was calmer than in the back where there was a lot of yelling. “Slooowing!”, etc. It was very calm compared to that, in fact. It was nice to be there with teammates, as well, since last year in this race and most of my road races, I was the only Valley rider in the Cat 5’s.
My job was clear (to me, anyway.) Since I haven’t had a successful pack finish yet, that’s my “Goal o’ the Year.” Still, I had delusions of being able to lead out one of my teammates at the end and be close to the front for a finish. Oh, yeah, and like I said, to be there at all in the first place would be a huge step for me. So in my mind, I was focusing on staying hidden in the pack, doing what I could to stay out of the wind from the front or the side. So far, so good.
Somewhere along the way, we hit some very bad asphalt and I thought for sure that I had a flat so made my way to safety on the side, even raised my hand, thinking I needed my wheels. But as I rolled along now behind the pack, I realized I had just been fooled my own senses. I quickly jetted back up and found a comfortable place behind the pack. Honestly, this could count as a big success for me since last year my race would have been over at this point since I wouldn’t have been able to have caught back on. After a few minutes of this, I found a lot of room on the right and found my way all the way to the top third of the peloton and into good shelter behind a very tall Lenovo rider. It was right then, though, that the front started pushing the pace and drove away from the crowd. I saw green rolling away with them (Jeff and Perry?) I started to drift back as I couldn’t keep the pace and found myself being too jerky, and feeling the pressure of people wanting to pass me. I led myself to the right and bid farewell to the group. Blah.
I wasn’t the only one, though, and soon found myself working with 2 others in a chase group that was going at a nice pace, but not nearly what we’d need to do to close the gap. We caught a glimpse of the follow car about a half mile ahead, and my heart lept up. I remembered the awesome chase group I was in during one of our team rides and thought for sure we had a chance. Unfortunately, these riding companions dropped off and I was left to ride out the rest of the race by myself. I was left with plenty of time to listen to the mental storm that happens when I get dropped. I really had to struggle yesterday to keep my thoughts positive and forward thinking. Admittedly, this is a very big part of my riding. Cycling is no place for me to be a perfectionist, but instead to take it for what it really is to me: A personal development project, physically, mentally, and emotionally. By the time I got near the end of the race, I’d come around to seeing this race for all of it’s positivity and that I would, indeed, continue bike racing in the future.
As I was just shy of the finish line after my third lap, I heard “Go Green!” from Kevin’s niece (I think). I smiled because this totally made my day. Next week, maybe I’ll stick to the group. As for this week, 22nd is a great result.