more than just another bike blog

Sunday, February 11, 2007

if you have to lose to anyone, it had better be a teammate!

what a day! what a race!

today was the first central coast mountain bike race of the season. Velo Girls plan to have a big presence at this series this year, and there were four of us racing today.

my goal was to win. that's always my goal, until something in my experience tells me that's an unreasonable goal. and since it's a new season and I feel good, I decided I would win today.

but it's been a crazy week and I haven't been on the bike and I can't remember the last time I was on the mountain bike and somehow I totally screwed up the schedule this morning and I arrived at ft. ord way too late and I didn't get a warm-up or a pre-ride and I don't have a lot of oomph in my legs because of my weight-loss nutrition and I can think of a hundred other excuses for poor performance. but instead, I just decided I would win!

at the line there are eight women and as many junior girls. the only familiar face I see is Ayshe Tuncer, who beat me in the series last year. I felt a little better racing beginner knowing that she had finished 2nd in the series and was racing beginner again too. heck, I've only done eight mtn bike races since July 2005, so I'm still a beginner. and I wanted to have a good season. after racing up a cat in cyclocross, I wanted the fulfillment that comes with placing well.

I've perfected the race start and I was off at the gun, first up the hill until the very top where my teammate Lesley rode up next to me and said "is it okay to pass the coach?" "of course, silly!" so Lesley takes off and Erin (my other teammate) follows her onto the single track. I think I was third wheel at this point, not completely deflated but not too happy either. at some point about mid-way through the first lap, another girl in a yellow jacket passes me so I'm now 4th wheel, but gapped from the other three. I decided it was now or never, so I hammered and caught up with the three racers riding in a line. Lesley is sitting on the leader's wheel when the girl attacks and passes some men. Lesley doesn't respond, so I say something to her but the gap gets bigger and bigger and there are three middle-aged beginner men between us and yellow-jacket girl. I decide this won't do, so I decide to make a move and pass Erin, then Lesley, and then sit on yellow-jacket girl's wheel. unbeknownst to me, I had pulled Lesley up too, but that's cool.

I sit quietly behind yellow-jacket girl, waiting to make my move. when the moment is right, I jump hard to the left, and just before I'm in her sight I hear "go, Lorri, good move!" from behind me. WTF? what happened to "speed, surprise, and separation?" as Lesley pulls up beside me, I tell her why we don't cheer when someone is attacking (she's a triathlete; they cheer). telling her this would have a crucial implication later in the race (of course, I didn't know that at the time).

we enter the last miles of the first lap with me in the lead. it's the first time in a race I've been able to yell "leader" as I was passing people -- cool! I led coming into the finish area and it was cool to hear my name announced as leader of the women's race. I hear Lesley (who weighs all of 90 pounds) pass me on the right on the big climb out of the finish area. I work hard to stay on her wheel but she gaps me a bit by the top. I'm able to catch her again but then she passes a couple of junior boys and they just sit in the middle of the track as I watch Lesley open her gap bigger and bigger. she remains in sight for most of the second lap, motivating me to push harder and harder. I sneak glances behind me and yellow jacket-girl is nowhere to be found, nor is any other woman racer.

beginning lap three, I'm still in 2nd, but feeling the effects of my low-calorie diet lately. my legs are starting to feel empty even though I've had a few hits of GU and been drinking as much as the course would allow. I catch myself slowing down and pick up the pace, but the motivation of chasing Lesley is gone. I remind myself that the rest of the field is still behind me and push as much as possible. I also remind myself that anything could happen to Lesley -- she could flat, crash, go off course, pull over to smoke a cigarette -- the race wasn't won until she crossed the line.

a mile from the finish, I glance at my computer and think to myself "I'm going to get second." half a mile from the finish, yellow-jacket girl comes flying by me on the left. I say "oh shit" and feel dejected for just an instant and then I hammer to get back on her wheel. I know that the only way to beat her is to pass her before the hairpins that will slow us both down. digging into my bag of tricks, I see a tight left turn, dive into it, and it slows her down just enough that I'm able to blow by her. I put my head down and motored for the last 200 meters, half expecting her to blow by me again before the finish line. I hear her family cheering for her and know she's not far behind. but as I approach the line, I don't see her and I know the battle for 2nd place has been won!

I wait at the finish for yellow-jacket girl and congratulate her on her race and her sly move passing me at the end. she says "I didn't realize how important the element of surprise is until I heard you tell your teammate." that's not the first time in my racing career that advice given to a teammate (within earshot of competitors) has come back to haunt me! I guess lessons are better left to the post-race discussion.

I sit down at the finish waiting for my teammate Erin to finish. Lesley is nowhere to be found. Erin comes in just a few minutes later in a solid 4th place -- in her first mountain bike race ever. Lesley then rides up and I congratulate her -- she didn't know she'd won!

It was a great day and I'm very happy with my fitness (especially since I'm primarily running and lifting right now). my technical skills were solid and my climbing is amazing! I think this was the hilliest CCCX course I've done, but my average speed was as fast as most of my flatter races last season. yeah, I still want to win one of these races, but if I have to lose to anyone, I'd rather it be a teammate!

I wore my shiny 2nd place medal home because medals are cool! I got home just in time to do a bike fit I had scheduled at 2:00 (stupid me). I was tempted to keep it on during the fit but decided that was a bit over the edge.

I don't care about prizes. but medals will remind you forever that you had a special day on the bike!

You can see the other photos of the race here -- photo gallery


At 2/11/2007 9:10 PM, Blogger lauren said...

yay! good job!

did you braid your own hair?

At 2/11/2007 9:16 PM, Blogger velogirl said...

I did braid my own hair (julie doesn't have the patience to do it)!

And they actually didn't look too bad as long as I kept my helmet or a hat on!!!

At 2/11/2007 10:38 PM, Blogger Jackie said...

Holy mackerel - you did all that and came back to do a fit by 2:00? I'm so impressed! Congratulations on the win-win for Velo Girls. Yay team!

At 2/12/2007 9:20 AM, Blogger Flandria said...

you look cute! like a new person, dang!

At 2/12/2007 12:52 PM, Blogger bbElf (a.k.a. panda) said...

Right on!

At 2/12/2007 2:34 PM, Blogger Ippoc Amic said...

looking good and looking fast

At 2/12/2007 7:52 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Good job Velogirl

At 2/12/2007 8:47 PM, Blogger marscat said...

Congrats. An you look fab.

At 2/13/2007 10:35 AM, Blogger Brent Chapman said...

darn and to think I was gonna race mtb this year a little... have to rethink getting passed by a bunch of Velo Girls. :)

At 2/15/2007 5:47 PM, Blogger velogirl said...

dear Anon! your negativity doesn't belong on my blog. you don't have a fukking clue what you're talking about.


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