Saturday, I finally got to race the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic RR. Last year, it had been 4 days since I fractured my pelvis, and then they canceled the race due to snow anyway. I drove up to Durango on Thursday and drove the course to Silverton, so that I could visualize the hills. I had my Garmin clocking the mileage,and I actually had a business card that I wrote down the mileage where there was an uphill, a bump, a hard uphill, and a descent. This way, I at least knew the end of the pain when I did the race. I also knew that it was pretty easy going until mile 27.5, except for the 12.8 mile kicker. I stayed the first night with my triathlete and pharmacist friend Randy, and his roommate, recently retired pro cyclist Matt Shriver. I started *carb loading* 2 nights before the race with a wonderful ahi tuna dinner at Mutu’s, followed by a chocolate brownie with marscapone and a glass of port. Self-induced food coma assured a good night’s rest on an inflatable bed.
The next day, I rode the TT course, which was wet, wet, wet….and beautiful. I probably ended up riding too long, in retrospect, cuz I was tired that evening. I am finishing my stay with my teammate Rob and his wife and kiddo, and John in a beautiful one-BR condo with a loft right on Main Ave at the final corner for the crit course. I can see the course from here right now actually. Rob and Kathy made a yummy pesto pasta dinner, and against my original intents, I had a beer to help me sleep. Of course, I had to change my tires and lube my chain, and didn’t get to bed as early as I had hoped. I was T.E.N.S.E. trying to get everything put together and ready.
Woke up at 4:51 am, exactly 3 hours before my start time. I had my usual oatmeal with almond butter and coffee, packed my jersey up with extra tube (no support), wind jacket, 2 flasks of gel and a third bottle with one scoop of Heed, and on my bike I had one plain water and one with 2 scoops of Heed. **I mention this for good reason, to setup my illustration of *NUTRITION FAIL*.
Milled around at the start, checking out the chatter of the girls, seeing the general mood. We (Sr. Women 35-44) set off at 7:50 at a very moderate pace, about 16-20 mph. Some chick in the back said, “this is a might EASY pace!” to which I replied, “Good! Let her set the pace!” I wanted to tell her to get up and pull if she had such a problem with it. John warned me about *that girl*, and she piped up right away. First off, the girls set off single file, which drove me freaking nuts. There was no chance of a break, nor of really seeing one coming. The front 4-5 girls (me included) ended up rotating, mainly because (and I pointed this out to one girl complaining about noone pulling through), because we didn’t want to give up our advantage, so we pushed back into the front of the line when we pulled off. It was such an easy pace, that it didn’t really matter, so I thought. There didn’t need to be a break. We hit the first hill at 12.8 miles, and it was like sliding backward on the hill. All the girls that had been riding my wheel, whom I hadn’t seen before, suddenly tore ahead. I exaggerate, but that’s what it felt like. I popped into my low gears and tried to keep up to some extent, but I knew that I had the real test ahead of me, I descend better than many of them, and I was hoping they would blow up before the next hill.
I had started sipping my Heed before the race. I was determined NOT to screw up my fueling. I was easily halfway through a bottle by 45 minutes into the race, and I had started on my gel by the first hour. The race was long, and details are already leaving my brain. I think alot of the middle portion had left my brain, mainly because I was hurting, but still feeling strong as I passed all the Tour folks. Granted, I was racing and they weren’t, but it makes one feel good to pass rider, after rider, after rider. On the first descent, I made up some distance on the girls out front, but by the real climb at mile 27.5 I had lost them. I did tear past a girl named Meredith, I think, who had a fan club all along the course. She had been in the front group and fell off as well. She didn’t like that, and did her best to catch up to me on the climb. For quite some time on the climb, I was riding right next to her. I told her that I wasn’t being cutesy by riding next to her, that I wasn’t fast enough to be cutesy. I realized after saying that I was essentially calling her slow. Oops. I eventually lost her on the first climb. I again made up time on the descent. I was surprised at how many men were uncomfortable on the descents. I passed quite a few, tearing through the corners and hoping to God that they held their line. I was not prepared for the next climb (Molas Pass). I think I thought it would be shorter.Well, I was hurting on that last climb, which started at 36.8 miles in, if I remember correctly. I had been feeling like I was fueling pretty well. At this point, I was sure I had finished both flasks, plus both my Heed bottles, and couldn’t figure out why I felt so weak. (so thinking I had taken in about 1300 calories at this point.) I didn’t want to take in too much and get sick. I had done a few 6000 ft climbs in a similar time frame to prep and didn’t feel this bad. I was in my last ring, on my TRIPLE, for most of the climb. My legs were hurting and just didn’t have a lot of oomph. I felt undernourished, with a pit in my stomach, but I was sure I had taken in plenty of calories. I knew I was in deep doo doo when I saw El Diablo. That was actually a nice touch and nearly elicited a smile from me. My hips were sore and tired, and I felt like I was going to cramp up a few times. I looked at some of the guys who had pulled off and were stretching and refused to do that unless I actually cramped so bad I couldn’t spin. I was passed by a few women, some of whom I passed again, some of whom rode away. As I crested before the final descent, I saw a photographer. Why do they always take pics at the top of the nasty climbs, when we are tired and hurting, and people can see the gearing we are using?!
Turns out, I was so giddy from lack of oxygen, that I looked like I was Freaking HAPPY!!
The descent was FUN!! Some of the turns were a bit tight, so I braked into them, but I still got up to 47.7 mph at some point in the ride, and passed rider after rider. After the final sharp turn, it descends to the main road into Silverton, where you turn left and then ride the slight (but long) incline to the finish line. Some asshole decided to pass me right after the corner and then sit in front of me on the yellow line. I was not getting DQ’d at this point, so I screamed “ON YOUR LEEEFFFTTT!” as I tore past him. EAT MY DUST! HA! I felt pretty good heading into town, but couldn’t see the finish line. I was starting to go cross-eyed, wondering when the finish line would show up, and determined not to shift out of my big ring. I tore past a few people, but truly could not see straight at the finish. I did see John on the way in, which was so nice. :0) I saw my teammate Dave Kerr and Sarah Sturm at the finish, but I only really wanted to see John and get some food in me. I finally found him, and it felt so good to lean into him. I realized very quickly that my butt muscles, right at the top of my hammies, but scarily close to my groin, were really, really sore. I climbed onto my bike, and I coasted down to John’s car while he held my neck and guided me. It sounds odd, but it was a great way to guide me. When I got to the car, I couldn’t really bend over, sit down, get up….those muscles were shot. It took me probably 10 minutes to change clothes in John’s front seat, while I slammed down a recovery drink he had made. I was loopy, sore, giddy to have finished…. but mainly loopy. I just have to say that John was a godsend. Not only a great coach, but a super boyfriend.
We ate at Brown Bear Cafe, where I had a very mediocre BLT.
I felt really sick, whoozy, and drained on the way back. When we got back to the room, I had to pee sooooo bad, and we had to wait at the door because Kathy was sleeping with Quinny. All I wanted to do was pee and lay down. I honestly didn’t have the energy to sit upright at that point. When we got inside, I peed, climbed up to the loft, dropped my bag, grabbed John’s shirt and cuddled up with it and my pillow. HEAVEN.
John and I made dinner that night for several team members, so I ate well and had a couple beers. I was really worried about recovering, but my crit wasn’t until 1:30 the next day, so turned off the alarm clock and slept in as much as we could until Quinny decided it was time to greet the day. He is a cutie!
OH! The whole illustration of NUTRITION FAIL…. when I finally arose from the dead, I went to empty my jersey and thought it was awfully heavy. I dumped out my jacket, my tube (no support on the course), an empty flask, and a FULL FLASK. I only *thought* I had taken in both flasks, and I only took in 4 ozs of the first. That means I did 6650 feet of climbing, much of it above 10,000 feet, with 50 miles total…on 700 calories. No wonder I felt like I had been run over!
FIRST LESSON LEARNED: Plan on utter stupidity, especially if climbing at high altitudes, and separate nutrition into different pockets. I probably could have shaved off 10 minutes of that race with proper nutrition.
FINAL RR RESULTS***** I ended up 19th in my group