Iron Horse– TT, overall, and Lessons Learned

Now that it has been nearly a week since the finish of Iron Horse, I am finally finishing up my blogs. I think part of it is because I am disgusted with myself. Here’s how the TT went….

Got to Bread off of Florida quite early. (BTW- this is THE BEST Bread I have ever had, and the fresh mozzarella sandwich is made on REAL focaccia, which somehow oozes with olive oil, but is still somewhat crispy and firm… the Sow Your Oats cookies are to die for as well, and I always buy bread for people at home when I am in Durango)

I drove because I wouldn’t have an apartment to go back to, and I didn’t want to ride uphill to the TT. I figured a good trainer ride would help me get into a steady rhythm as well. Well, I milled around for a bit, talked to Steve Owens of Colorado Premier Training, fussed with my trainer, which I couldn’t get onto a level spot. I rode the trainer for a pretty short time, then realized I should go check the start. I had on my new skinsuit, my TT helmet, which I had never worn on the bike before, my camo booties, arm warmers. I was set…. jetted down, trying out my new aerobars a bit…slowed behind this long-legged waif in a see-through baby blue…Garmin skinsuit. I could see her underwear through it…kinda cute. Turns out she is only 13, did quite well, and both of her brothers kicked butt in the Pro,1,2 and the Cat 3 crits.

I got there with about 4 minutes to go, and I realized I had forgotten my gloves. I was worried about my hands freezing, which is silly really, and I headed back…. nearly there, I changed my mind, turned around and jetted back. When I got to the line, I saw Shantelle Pierce, who was the next person in line, so I figured I was okay for start time. The official barked out “Amy BA-KER!” to which I replied, and he grumbled “You missed your start time. …Just GO!”   F*#k! and I was off.

I had no idea at that time how much time I had missed, but I was trying not to be mad at myself and just give it all I had. I felt alright actually, and was good pushing the big gears, except for a couple of the small hills, right at the end, I moved down a couple, but always in the big ring. I had ridden the course on Friday and knew that the second half was deceiving…seems flat but is a bit rough and has enough incline to slow you down and freak you out…. like, “why the hell am I going 3 mph slower than I should?!” I was a bit uncomfortable in a couple of 90 degree turns in the aerobars, but had a solid effort…WOW, did I underestimate that final climb! I had started breathing hard enough that I was grunting, or something…. I wasn’t quiet about my pain. I really couldn’t help it, and I didn’t give a damn what anyone thought. A TT is about giving it everything you have, right? If I don’t feel like puking, falling over, cramping up, etc when I finish, then I didn’t put out enough. Sooooo… I couldn’t pull any more oomph out of my legs and just tried to spin up.  The people on the course were great, and despite my snot and drool and grunting, they were very encouraging and saved any jokes for after I had passed. Well, when I thought I had maxed out… I saw two guys, one on each side of the road, and a girl ahead of me. …a carrot to chase down… I was determined to pass her, thinking in my haze that had to be the finish line…well, I passed her, but I had only made it halfway.  I had burned up my finishing match with that little spurt….The last 400m seemed endless. I plopped down into my small ring, but thinking back, I might have saved some oxygen by digging deep and pushing my middle ring, just slower. I was certainly not standing up. I was probably all over the place… and then Shantelle passes me. Damnit! I wanted to keep that gap as short as possible, so I got into my aerobars again for the final 100+ meters…eeked over the finish line and stopped about 12 feet past the tent and nearly fell over my handlebars. ..Hung over my bars for awhile, then plopped my ass down on the ground, huffing and puffing for several minutes. Finally, I gathered myself together,  grabbed my TT helmet and bike, and waddled over to the tent to see how bad the damage was. Part of it was I wanted to see how badly Shantelle had beat me. I asked my start time, and the official looked at me like I was crazy, then said, “OooHHHH, did you miss your start time? You would have won with that time if you had started on time, you know.”  NO SHIT SHERLOCK…RUB IT IN!

Turns out I had beat first place by a minute, but started about 2 minutes late, so ended up 4th in the TT. I ended up 4th in the omnium and would have been 3rd, if not 2nd overall. I started the ride back, which was a fast, rolling, fun ride along 550 that I had done before. My legs felt awesome, and the aerobars felt so normal…in fact, after the TT, my handlebars felt as wide as a ship..weird. I was sizzling going back, and even though I was taking it easy and going into a headwind, I averaged the same speed as in the TT. Crazy. On the way back, realizing I was still strong after 3 days of racing, I thought of how I missed the opportunity for a possible 2nd in the omnium. I doubt I could have gotten 1st, but you never know.  I also realized that I might have caused problems for the officials with my irresponsibility, so I was determined to stop by the start line and apologize. I wanted to leave a good impression and genuinely was sorry. They were packing everything up, but I found one nice lady, and I told her that I was sorry. She seemed quite surprised, and was very understanding. I said, “well, I am sorry for me and for any extra work I caused you.” as I laughed and slowly rolled away, ready to grab a dark coffee with lots of sugar, take a *bike racer’s shower* in my car, and go have lunch with my BF, who was the bomb. .. The rock I needed at that point. I can’t remember the last time I beat myself up for so long. I still get mad when I think about it… until I have a chance to actually win a TT. :0)

Lesson 1: Fuel better on the road race, get out of the saddle more, but definitely fuel better and don’t pull at all in the beginning

Lesson 2: Never underestimate the final sprint in a crit, and give it 200% until you cross the line, no matter how far someone may seem

Lesson 3: NEVER EVER miss your TT start time.

I am determined to do better next time. I am really happy with how I did, because if it weren ‘t for little mistakes, I put myself in a winning position twice. I didn’t give in on the road race, although I did underestimate it a bit.

If you learn the lesson, you didn’t lose the game. So, for next year, it is GAME ON!

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