Returning to Oak Ridge was bittersweet. For one, we had a smaller team showing due to just life. Last year Oak Ridge was my first race. It was the first time I wore a scenic city velo kit and the first time I attempted to race against other riders while riding with a team. I had my good friend Kelly by my side hanging out with Melanie, Susie from Knoxville, Becca, Sus B, Krystal, and Sally. (Sally is starting up big things in Huntsville, AL next year – I will miss her!) I remember Kelly and I driving to Oak Ridge listening to my crazy playlist and just talking about how scary/fun/hard/ the omnium was going to be.
Fast forward to this year… Jeff and I drove to Oak Ridge with the kids. The first day was the road race and time trial. Jeff went off first, and I cannot remember what happened to him in the race (I will ask and update this!) but he ended up 20 out of 25. Philippe with VW got 7th and Tim and John raced as well. Our race was later in the day, and the temperature didn’t fail to disappoint climbing to a high of 96F. I expect this race to be hot because it was hot in ’16, too.
Right before the race, our Taco Mamacita coach, Steve, decided to grab my beloved, trustworthy, dependable Garmin and zip it into my back pocket. I no longer had my trusty compass to guide the way, and immediately starting learning a lesson I needed to learn. I did not enjoy learning it particularly in that way because I use it to gauge how hard I am going, but he said, “Race your bike.” He also reminded me not to be on the front.
Why do I like the front?
- There are no shenanigans. No slowing down of wheels. No braking of those you don’t “trust” yet.
- You control the pace, though I will admit for the most part I am going too hard.
- I can see the road better. I can see potholes and gravel and all that fun stuff that most roadies will brake and handle differently than me. I tend to just roll over it as though I was riding a 29er.
I was on the front almost immediately. The pack of 16 ladies filed in behind me. My teammate, Ali reminded me that I didn’t need to be going too hard by just one word in a certain tone, “Beeeth!”
Right. So I settled into a zone 1/2 pace. I remember looking around at the houses around me and eyeing a swimming pool thinking how great it would be to go swimming. It was hot.
I knew the action would start once we made the right turn that led into a climb. That’s where the action happened last year.
And just as I suspected, near mid to 2/3 into the climb, the two Nashville Local Cycling ladies, Jeanie and Michaela, took off. The rest is a blur as far as was anyone else with them. I surged ahead to stay in it and found myself chasing down the descent almost immediately. There were several ladies around me. I was in the chasing group again. Dang it. And, I can’t go back and analyze because my Garmin was zipped up in my pocket. I think once we reached the bottom of the descent, there was a lady named Nikki and me with a couple of others that didn’t stay with us very long. Nikki and I worked together to catch the Nashville Locals. I was doing my bridging the gap TT thing with a light climber working our way up. Finally, we reached them and the four of us worked together for the remainder of the race until Jeanie decided to go off on her own somewhere near 2-5 miles to go leaving the three of us racing for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. It ends in a climb, and so I ended up 4th. Ali and Jodie raced as well, and it was fun having two other teammates there to suffer with for the day. I wished they were staying for Sunday!
Did I quit? Likely. I go back and think back to the ending a lot. I can suffer on the flats. I can suffer on a descent, but there is a special kind of suffering in the road race and climbing and it was something that I knew I would need to work on. I think the best way would be to drop weight in the offseason, which is my plan. I didn’t do it last year, but I cleaned up my diet tremendously, and now it’s time to remove the limiter in the climb. Weight. I only want to lose 9-10 lbs at the most.
Later in the day was the TT. Only 10 of us raced in cat 4/5 women, the course was familiar to me. I decided to use my Garmin but only would have the map showing just in case. The course was a 7.6 miler with some climbing in there, but a good course for me. Not a lot of climbing. I ended up finishing 19:05.86 which gave me a 1st place result and 2nd overall women when you add in the cat 1/2/3 women’s field.
I think I like TT because I get results.
The next day was the crit, and I ended up doing two of them. First was the cat 4/5 women with a field of 10 women. I love this particular course even with the 180-degree turn at the bottom right after the start/finish area. I didn’t have teammates in the field with me, but had a couple of my kids in a tree (ha!). When it was said and done was in a breakaway with the Nashville Local Cycling ladies again where they kept attacking me over and over. Finally finished with a respectable 3rd place. Did I give up? I think there was some giving up in that one. I felt as though there was a chance I would be dropped and the rest of the field would catch me. Training those moments when you are in the red and need to give more is hard to do alone, and I do a lot of training alone. It’s something I’d like to change – simulating that situation and giving more.
Leg speed was better. Hopped into the field of 3 master’s women and finished 2nd behind my friend Arden.
It was a good weekend with a 3rd overall omnium finish.
Most photos except the TT podium picture photo credit Tony Falin