At Sequoia this weekend, the fields were stacked—the announcer summed it up nicely by saying “this is the strongest field we’ve seen in a long time.” With a good chunk of money at stake, many national and world champions showed up ready to throw down.
A 40k course that took us through some of the most amazing scenery in Central California. Before I get too much into how the race actually went, I’ll tell you all that the green hills/mountains, were blanketed in yellow flowers—it was absolutely amazing! We pre-rode the course so we were able to enjoy it too! Yesterday, we got there early enough to have some time to hang out and prepare for the race- after a decent warm up, my start time was at 1:22. Kristen Armstrong started 2:30 behind me… She ended up passing me after 16 minutes and absolutely killing it. She was 4 min 30 seconds ahead of 2nd place, and would have placed in the top 20 for the men’s race. It was wild, she sounded like a freight train coming up behind me—Anyhow, I rode hard and tried as hard as I could. I definitely tried to keep it positive—it was a very tough course mentally, with two substantial climbs. I finished in the ‘top 50’ (50th), which wasn’t the best; however I need to keep everything in perspective! And keep everything positive! As I mentioned earlier, it was a very strong field and this is my 2nd race of the season.
This morning, I felt pretty good. My legs weren’t really hurting, however, I could tell that I worked hard yesterday, but in a good way. I had a nice 40 min warm up on the rollers listening to the band Slightly Stupid. (As dumb as the band name sounds… it is actually pretty cool). Our race was at 1:30 just after a run/walk. We lined up and they did the call up. Needless to say… mistake #1 for me: I moved back when the race promoter asked me to— to make room for the call up. I’m so nice. Anyhow they did the call up and I would be lying if I didn’t tell you all that I was a little impressed at the line up. After that, they allow everyone else to move up towards the start line. Everyone is always crammed in like sardines. The official blew the whistle and we were off. I (and everyone around me) clipped in successfully—and we went for the first corner. Immediately within the first lap, I realized that I was in the back... right where I started. Not just in the back a little… but in the BACK. So I could hear Missy saying “move up… move up.” So I did, in the first few laps, I managed to move up about 10 places and I thought that was good… well it isn’t... mistake #2. I needed to just keep on moving up places. The next thing I knew, I was on the back again. WTF! so I move up again… and then found my self in the back again. Not to mention, I was sprinting around the corners, moving up 1-2 places and then hitting the breaks… sprint, move up 1…. hit the breaks… repeat…. sprint, sprint, move up… hit the breaks… repeat. Sprint, move up, think “I really think that this is not good,” hit the breaks around the corner, sprint out of the corner… get gapped… close the gap… sprint to catch up (no breaking around the corners anymore because I have room not to break…)… close the gap… get gapped… react to the attack that probably happened 20 seconds before…finally get gapped enough for total discouragement… next move: take a right instead of a left! Take a nice cruise through some downtown Visalia neighborhoods… answer some questions about what race is going on … in which I have to answer “the Women’s Pro-1-2” I’m still all geared up and I’m certain that they are wondering why I’m not racing… I find myself going back to see Missy. I did notice that there were 2 other women riding around that should have also been racing… sadly, that makes me feel a bit better… Get the keys. Change and watch the rest of the race. Not the best race today for me, but I will get better, and not make the same mistakes.
The rest of the race was crazy. Clare and Cari were looking very strong and working hard. They both got caught up in a huge crash with 70% of the field involved. Cari’s ran over a couple pretty big bumps and ended up having her seat come loose and point straight up to the sky—I’m positive it was knocked loose from her earlier crash—she went to get it fixed for a free lap and the official wouldn’t let her back in. Total bummer. Clare on the other hand crashed a grand total of 3 times… got back in and STILL finished with the main field (well almost). She was caught up in a massive crash on the very last corner of the last lap and didn’t end up crossing the line. Laura Van Gilder slid out in the corner when she was sitting on the 4th wheel getting ready for her sprint finis—she went down, and since the field was so strung out… it took a while, but I’d say that 25 people there ended up hitting the deck. I found some of the EMS guys to come over and clean Clare up. The guy radioed to the officials that Clare was 2% road rashed. Meaning that 2% of her body is alllll scabbed up. Her nicely healing skin from last week is now scraped up AGAIN, and she is glad that she joined the frequent bandage buyer club at the local drug store.