The Lady Luck of Racing

Race #1 Grand Rapids Criterium (Women’s 3/4) – BAD Luck.

This weekend I decided to go up and race the Grand Rapids Criterium (Women’s 3-4) on Saturday.  Not much in miles this year, haven’t done a crit in 3 or 4 years I think, but what the heck, the Michigan Women’s Racing Forum was encouraging 3’s and 4’s to come out and race as the promoter made a separate race this year for the 3/4’s.  Three days before the race, I renewed my USA Cycling road license and registered for the race.  Two days before the race, some aggressive bouldering at the local climbing gym tweaked my hip out.  As Danny, Devin and Brett can attest to, I was a whiny bundle of nerves during the drive and before the race.  I squeezed into the skinsuit and warmed up on the rollers of which I gracelessly slid (ok, fell) off 5 minutes later – maybe the beginning of the brake issue?  Warming up on the course (there were delays in starting our race), I just felt tired and sluggish – thinking, yeah a bit out of shape, but must be nerves.  Race started with 15 of us, not too bad a pace on a great 8 corner course – and I felt awful.  I was up where I needed to be, but after a few laps I was so utterly exhausted, I  just slid off the back and finished the race by myself, not quite dead last, but almost.  Very heartbroken, thinking the Wednesday ride is faster, maybe I can no longer do this, I sat next to the car for a bit then as I lifted my bike to the rack, I noticed the back wheel was immobile….come to find out, my brake had shifted and was rubbing quite nicely against my wheel.  I laughed.  Frustrating, but laughing was all I could do.  Bummer!

Race #2  Milford State Criterium Championships (Women 4) – GOOD Luck (and darn lucky!)

Saturday night, I couldn’t stop thinking about racing, about maybe more structured training next year…and thinking about the Milford Crit.  But our house has been in construction mode for a while and really needs to be done.  I promised I would work on it this weekend.  But the race….  Couldn’t sleep, woke up at 6 am, debating, what time do I have to leave, but the house…  Paced the house, finally Brett grabs me and says go, I’ll load your bike, you can still make it over for the 10:45 am start (it was 7:25 am).  Some slight exceeding the speed limit, I didn’t tell anyone from the team in case a repeat of performance of Saturday (minus the brake – just my lack of endurance).  Made it, walked into Devin around a corner and to my nervous delight, was thrilled to see him.  He helped pin my number on a smelly skinsuit (sort of forgot to wash it..) and got me set up before heading out for church. 

13 strong Cat 4 women (I was the 13th) for 35 minutes plus 2 laps on the great, technical, bit hilly Milford course.  Off the get go I was out front for a lap to test the corners and then tucked myself in the top 5.  One gal decided she didn’t want me to have the 4th spot and kept trying (quite unsucessfully) to ‘push’ me back.  I politely declined her advances, took the spot, then when she made a small verbal complaint, I very gently guided her tighter into the corner than I think she preferred (I did not and would not intentionally ever put someone in a ditch or off course, but if you are going to actually bump shoulders with me over a spot, I will happily let you know that I could put you in a ditch if you persist).  It was all good btw, we chatted afterward.  A good race, several of us led some strong laps.  My cornering was stronger, but my low endurance wouldn’t allow me to stray far from the pack without risking a blowup.  The last left hand corner is just wicked and requires a lot of handling skill at high speeds.  I was testing the corner, trying to tighten my line to gain spots.  Final lap, and one of the stronger, better cornering gals, Shannon, attacked the field, and with a quick jump, I tucked in right behind her, ready for the final sprint.  We hit that corner fast and hard and Shannon went down right in front of me and slid slightly right.  Never touching my brakes, I actually tightened my line into the turn and flew right by her.  My sprint needs some serious work, I forgot I was on the hoods, but sprint I did, not knowing who else was right behind me.  Almost to the finish, I risked a look back and they were far enough back (they told me they got caught behind Shannon – took their corner too wide), I was able to do a victory salute….except, I wasn’t over the line yet!!  They have a banner over a section of bricks – looks like the finish, but the tiny white line is 20 feet more forward.  After looking at the finish picture, I was really, really darn lucky I didn’t get passed at the actual line (with my hands in the air)!!  Thank you Lady Luck for that one – I owe you!! 

Thanks to Devin and to Jack for making the day fun!