Another day in the Big Ring Chronicles. Really, I've raced about 10 hours in the past four days, and probably only a combined 15 minutes have been in the small ring! Crazy.
(I'm just not convinced that rollers are a good idea in the rain....)
Upon discovering cloud cover and rain in the morning, the thought crossed my mind that I should roll over and go back to sleep and call this a rest day. But what fun would that be!?!? Besides, frankly, I need to win some cash to pay for gas for the drive home!
Most of us felt cold before the race, so along with others, I opted for arm warmers. Better to have them and be able to remove them than be cold for 3 hours. I also decided to use CTodd's Spinergys instead of my Zipps (a decision that would have future consequences for me...). Those plastic spokes make them feel a bit softer, and yesterday's bumpy pavement convinced me to give them a try.
We started late, mostly due to a nasty crash at the finish of the men's fields, which unfortunately happened right in front of me. I hate seeing a crash right before I race.
I staged at the front today (as if it mattered for a 70-mile road race with a neutral .5 mile start). The rain fell harder and continued for the first couple of laps, making visibility quite difficult. When we got the first corner after the neutral start, I got out of the saddle to get over the rolling climb, and felt my legs like concrete. I couldn't believe how bad my legs felt. It was like being in the big ring when you think you're not. I thought, Damn! I'm not going to finish. This is definitely going to be a rest day!
Then I looked down at my rear wheel.
Lodged against the rear chainstay, sapping my forward momentum, the wheel gave me the problem, not my legs. A bit relieved to know my legs weren't the problem, but frustrated since I was using my lucky skewer and could no longer trust it, I dismounted and Campy support man jumped out to help. I had used these wheels and this skewer with no problems when I won Auburn, but today it didn't hold.
With the pack gone up the road, I was forced to chase in the opening kilometers. Thankfully, Campy Man paced me back... and I caught them, huffing and puffing, right at the base of the climb - oh joy! So I dangled at the bottom of the food chain (oh, I mean, back of the pack) for a few kilometers to rest. But my wheel still felt like it was rubbing a little damn! maybe it really is my legs! and when I looked down, it seemed I only had a milimeter of clearance on the left side. So the wheel wasn't really centered, or at least I didn't think it was, so I felt a little hesitant, not really trusting my equipment, and with sore legs I kept imagining it was rubbing for laps to come.
On the second lap, in almost the same location, I ended up in a little crash and ended up kind of going over my bars into the grass on the side of the road. Unhurt but amazed at my bad luck in the soaking rain today, I remounted and chased. Why did this happen before the hill both laps!? I caught them and tried to move up a little bit to catch my breath and not be in danger of being dropped dangling at the back.
Several attacks went today, and several people got away for various lengths of time. One of the first to attack, Dotsie Cowden made an awesome attack and then countered herself when caught! She was so powerful it was inspiring to watch.
After my earlier luck, and not feeling awesome, I decided to really just hang out in the pack today. I wouldn't be dropped, but I didn't feel awesome enough, well, or motivated enough to work much. So I watched things happen. I just enjoyed being there.
The onslaught began around 5 miles to go. Attack after attack, the peloton stretched into single file in the strong wind. It was all I could do to hold on to Dotsie's wheel, and I could tell she was working super hard, too, along with the rest of us. (I notice her a lot because of her sheer size! She is like 8 feet tall or something!) This was the point when I think people started getting shed off the back.
We only slowed up for a couple of moments, and basically all hell broke loose in the last mile. Attacks went and the road took several corners in very close succession. Some riders went into the gravel. If you didn't know how the finish went (like me) you were pretty much either just hanging on or in danger of causing a crash! When we hit the track, the sprint began. Already cracked, I simply gave all I could until I hit the line, at the back of the lead group. It was enough for 20th place. And after I spun down a little, I headed right over to the massage therapist's tent and got my first massage from a professional and someone I wasn't dating. :)
(And really, CTodd, I prefer yours!!)
So, it turns out that yesterday, I finished 22nd... I had thought almost everyone passed me when I cracked in the sprint. If I hadn't sat up just before the line, I might have grabbed some cash! Oh well, live and learn. I think I'm still top 20 in the overall, for what that's worth.
I got home late after visiting with my great uncle who lives in the town where the race was held today. More on that in another entry...
I didn't sleep well last night. I'm figuring out that when my body is physically stressed and tired, I don't sleep well. I have strange, vivid dreams and wake frequently during the night. So I took 2 Tylenol PM's tonight in hopes of knocking myself out, 'cause I need the sleep!!! Tomorrow's race isn't far away, and the start isn't until 4:20 pm!