Tuesday was my third legit bike race. I had done a road race and one crit before this, so I shouldn’t be nervous, I knew what to expect. Except I was. Adrenaline and cortisol seeped into my limbs and I was super jittery beforehand. So I decided to get the energy out by riding to the race at the fairgrounds. Riding helps me calm down more than driving does, plus I’d get a thorough warm up in before racing. Win win!
I got ready, was feeling good, have all my stuff together, I head out. Then I biffed it right in front of my house. Broke my saddle, my side-butt, and scraped up my leg. Thankfully we have oodles of spare gear lying about the basement, so I put on a new saddle. Do I decide to drive now?! No silly, I need to make sure my bike works correctly and nothing else got messed up in my little spill. At mile 5 on my way to the fairgrounds I decide I'm warmed up enough, everything on the bike is fine, and I really should have driven. Four more miles to go.
Nothing like showing up to a race tired. But I have 20 minutes of recovery time, so I tell myself it's OK. Some cat 1/2/3 guy tries to convince me to do both women's races. I just nervous laugh at him. No one comments on my bloody leg. My mom pins my number on wrong, but I can't see it. I don't know anyone else at the race. Thank goodness Mom is there to support me. After a few "warm up" laps around the course, I remember where the potholes are and I line up with the 6 other women in the field (one turns out to be the sole junior). And we're off.
The whole first lap I keep up with the field. I'm drafting off the back, but I'm still there. First turn on the second lap, they lose me up the little hill. I'm surprised I lasted that long, I think they were being nice, but I'll take it because it's more fun to race with others. Just keep going, fast fast fast. I really need to learn how to snot rocket. My mom is cheering for me. There are so many people taking pictures! The race officials told us to keep an eye out for the field to lap us, so I spy them behind me on the backstretch of lap 8ish. I move to the outside to let them pass. I thought it was a 6 woman field, including me. Five women lapped me, so I'm last. Then the race is over, I do a cool down lap and drink some water. I come back to my mom and she tells me I wasn't last. I don't understand. She says there was another woman behind me the whole time, I'm shocked.
It's tough doing a race without anyone you know around, but I'm really glad I did it. I'm glad my mom was there so I didn't have to have a stranger pin my number on. The tiny beginner women's field makes me think that's how women’s races are normally. There was pretty good turnout for the first two races of this series. If we show up with half our team at a race, we increase the number of women by so much. Then the excitement and fun of the race increase exponentially. These races have helped me understand what the competition is like, where I stack up and what sort of work I need to put in. Right now, it’s a lot of work, but I’m trying really hard and showing up