Monday, September 27, 2010

Class of '90 Together Again

How times have changed . . .1990 Prom, 2010 Class Reunion.

I had great ideas about this entry on Saturday night . . . of course I don't know how many of them would have actually been coherent had I sat down to write then. Not that I overindulged to the point of non-coherity, more that I had so much running through my mind that I don't think I could have followed a made it all flow smoothly.

I thought about starting several ways:

My name is Suzanne and I am a chubby. I've been thin for four years.
There is a sixth dimension beyond which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the sunlight of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area that might be called the Reunion Zone.
It's something unpredictable but in the end it's right. I hope you had the time of your life.
Digging up my senior yearbook and looking at the superlatives and see how accurate our naive predictions were.

In the light of Monday, none of those seem quite right though. I didn't know if I could hold the theme of any of them through the entire post. And my level of snarkiness has definitely receded. What I do know though, was that Saturday night we brought together over a third of the class of 1990, something that hasn't been done in 20 years. There were lots of laughs, lot of memories shared, and lots of missing those who didn't attend.
We had a five year reunion in the city park. I didn't attend. At the time, high school was too fresh, too close. While I had great times in high school, I won't ever tell you those were the best years of my life. Like I've said before, I was a big girl. I believe my prom dress was a 12 or 14. I was 20-25lbs heavier than I am now. And I was probably an inch shorter. My freshman year was horrific because I had a crush on a senior boy. His girlfriend and her friends bullied and terrorized me. My sophomore, junior, and senior years each got better, but I didn't enjoy life then nearly as much as I do now.
Since 1995, to my knowledge, no one has tried to put a reunion together for whatever reason. Last fall we went to Klucker's 20th reunion and it spurred me into action. I wasn't letting another year go by. I emailed, Facebooked, called, surveyed and tried to spur my class into action. I struggled to get people on board. All in all, I think we had six people, including me, attend our planning meetings. In the end, it was three of us who did the work. We graduated around 64, and had about 69 total in our class including those who dropped out or stayed an extra semester. We found all but four of them.
My prediction early on was that we would have 20 classmates attend, with guests, so a total of 40 people. I got worried when our RSVPs were slow to trickle in. The Friday before our deadline, we had four people attending. A few emails and Facebook posts spurred people to action. By Friday night, we knew there should be 24 alumnus attending.

Saturday night arrived and as I got to Tiny's, Kerri, Shelly, and Rob were walking up. I haven't seen Shelly and Rob since graduation. Shelly was glowing, she's in such a better spirit than I ever remembered seeing her. We got settled and set up and other started to arrive.

My beautiful besties . . . thankfully some things never change!

By evening's end, I believe there were 27 members of the class of 1990 in the room. I recognized most of them at first site, but for a few I needed to hear their voices. Time (and expensive skin creams, gyms and plastic surgery) has been kind to some of my classmates, and others have fought it tooth and nail. Regardless, the people in the room had, at one time, played a major role in my life.

The CHS Class of 1990. My how we've conquered the world!
It was interesting to see, as we sat down for dinner, how quickly old cliques reformed. Columbia has always been a cliquish community and even 20 years later, that had not changed. That being said, throughout the evening I think everyone spoke to everyone. Old grudges were pushed aside as we got reacquainted.
I was amazed as reminsced. There were so many memories I had forgotten and perceptions of events that were very different from mine. I realized many things to which I had apparently been oblivious. I pondered the effect time has on our minds.
This morning we sent out a feedback form to see what others though of the event. I am interested to see if my perception of the evening matches other's. The question that most intrigues me is why people chose to attend or not to attend. Twenty years out from high schoo, things have changed for many of us. We've started and ended relationships and carrers, have families and lives outside of what consumed us at CHS. One of my co-conspirators for the event remarked that he thought a good number of people would attend to "show-off" what they had become, and others would not attend because of where they are in the lives. He's probably on track there. I think there is a bit of curiousity involved as well--like eavesdropping on a conversation. People came to see what happened to their classmates. Is his life still a train wreck? Did she gain weight? I'm surprised he graduated, much less got a job. Ah, human nature.
I can say there were no huge surprises for me. It was fascinating to see how time had cemented personality traits. Those quirks that were there at 16 because full blown qualities at 26 (ok, 37 you caught my math). In high school, the circumstances of being stuck together in a small school forced friendships. Many of them developed because of the situation, I was amazed to see how many of those relationships had withstood the test of time.
I don't miss high school. I don't want to go back and do it all over again knowing what I know now. I don't regret high school either. High school and all of the fun, traumatic, goofy, gory, amazing things that went with it gave me a set of experiences and skills that set events in motion that got me where I am now. High school gave me some amazing friends who are still vital parts of my life. As S.E. Hinton (one of my favorite authors from that era in my life) said, "If you have two friends in your lifetime, you're lucky. If you have one good friend, you're more than lucky." Saturday night reminded me I'm much more than lucky.

PICX #2: 09/25/2010

The 2010 Edition of PICX #2 returned to the same venue as 2009, Glazebrook Park. The course is on a soccer field, so there is little level variation--it's flat. Instead of having the challenge of hills and trees, the designers must want you to puke by making it maze-like. Multiple times during the race, I swore I was going to run into someone, only to find they were in the next lane of the course.

Instead of warming up on course or in an adjacent area, I warmed up on the trainer Saturday. The kids had come with us and Sam was racing, so it was my only option. It got my legs warm enough, but I probably should have pushed my heart rate a little higher.
We had seven (four Big Shark) women line up: Amy, Teresa, Stephanie, Sunny, Liz, and Cory. Amazingly, while we were lining up, it was announced that the previous races' results were posted. Yeah for great officiating! Aaro gave us instructions and we were off, hot and fast. I held with the group until the first barrier. I was even fine going over that first barrier. It was the remounting that gapped me. Cory passed me on her remount and there I was, last on the course. Curses!!!

I continue to struggle with getting back on the bike.
It is what it is and I was out there for a great workout so I went after it like that. I stayed focused and concentrated on cornering. After all, that's what this course was all about. Somewhere in the second lap, I was able to catch Cory. She would make up some ground on me during the corners, but in the few straights, I was able to regain it. Sunny schooled us all. That woman is incredibly quick and I can't wait to watch she and Carrie square off. Stephanie took second, Teresa third, Liz fourth, Amy fifth, sixth for me and Cory seventh.

I had a disheartening few minutes during this race. Because the course is flat and on a soccer field, you could see everyone at all times. During my last lap, somewhere in the dizzying maze, I looked up and saw Amy hitting the pavement to head to the finish. I looked around and it was only Cory and me left on the course. I didn't like that feeling. I didn't like everyone else seeing how poorly I was finishing. The competitive part of me had real difficulties in swallowing that. It makes me more and more determined to be well-trained and ready for the '11 road season. I will be racing Women's Open, a much stronger field. I want to perform well and hang. My off-season training needs to be on target for this and will be. I won't let it happen again.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Weekend to CX-Over

The weekend was to be filled with all things cx. Clinic, racing, more racing, mud if got lucky. It was the official transition away from crits, road races, and time trials onto the laidback off-road fun.

Saturday kicked it off with the Team Rev Co-Ed (yes! co-ed) CX Clinic. What a success! 40 participants hit the grass and woods at Concordia to learn and practice cyclocross skills. It was well-organized, well-attended and well-executed. Even though I raced cross last season, I still consider myself quite a novice. My dismounts are passable, but remounting and mud wreak havoc on my results. We didn't have any mud in which to play, but Carrie had us on and off the bike over and over and over again. It was exactly what I needed. I learned hand placement for carrying my bike over barriers and drills I can practice on my own.

Next, it was off to Hermann to practice those newly honed skills. I got to the race in plenty of time so I could get a lap in before the first race went off. The course had a little bit of everything: off camber, stairs, barriers, technical turns, and sand. (No mud though!) I did my warm up on the roads while the beginners raced and got a couple more laps in after their race, before mine. I have to give a shout out to the beginners--the women's and men's podium was full of CX clinic participants.

We had ten women in the Open race. We got instructions and the siren and went off fast. Stephanie, Allison, and Pam were out in front. I jumped right in with them. It's the first time I've been that aggressive at the start of a race. We hit the grass down hill and the off camber 180 behind the baseball field and headed through the thick grass to the first barrier. Gina and Amy went around me somewhere in here. I lost ground on the barrier but kept them in sight. We hit the stairs and I was still with them. I lost ground again remounting and when I chose to run the sand the first lap. Cory went by me after the sand. I talked myself through and just focused on racing the best race I could, working on my remounting. The second lap, I rode the sand and stayed upright, which was a big accomplishment for me. Somewhere during the third lap, I caught and passed Cory. By that time though, the leaders were out of sight. I could still see Gina during the long stretch to the first barrier in the grass, but couldn't catch her. I finished 5th. (Pam ended up DNFing).

I felt good physically during the race. My heart rate ran high, but nothing I couldn't handle. I focused on holding onto the hood when I jumped the barriers to make remounting easier. I think I was about 90% on that. I still need to work on shouldering the bike and reaching through to grab the bars. I carried it on my back instead. I was pleased with my jump off the start line, and need to work on staying up there. My bike handling, especially cornering, was good. Most of all, I had fun.

I grabbed a quick shower and went over to watch Klucker race. I snapped a few shots of him, but my camera skills, like my remounting, need work. He finished up and we headed back to the RV for dinner. We had the set up! Klucker's parents brought their RV and my children to the race. Pops smoked ribs and fixed dinner for all of us. It was heaven at a cx race.

After dinner it was time to watch more racing, in the distance it was clouding up and beginning to lightning. We had our pop up next to the RV and asked Cleeland if he wanted to put his tent under there. He moved it under just as the rain started. This turned out to be a good move for everyone. It caused us to clean up the campsite; bikes and tool box were put in the truck, other things put away.

The A race was called after two laps due to the storm rolling in. We sat out under awning for a while longer, watching it rain. We called it a night around 10 when the smoke from ever getting wetter fire drove us inside. For the next several hours, I don't know if I slept. If I did, it was brief snippets. The rain belted the RV, the wind shook it and hail dinged. I kept waiting for Cleeland and his son to come in out of the storm.
A little after one there was a knock on the door. I assumed Cleeland had come to his sense, not so. It was the sheriff telling us the creek was rising. The Klucker men stood outside for a few minutes assessing the situation as men do and then got to work. Coolers were thrown in the trucks. The smoker was put away. Inside we folded up the couch and stowed loose gear. I got shoes on the kids. Klucker brought me my pit boots so I could get to the car. The water was over my ankles by that points.

Within 20 minutes of the knock, we were heading out of town. Before leaving the campground, I looked over and saw that the water had risen to the top of a small car parked behind where Cleeland had been earlier. It was insane. Never have I seen a flash flood and water rising so quickly. The drive home was scary. Dark, narrow, windy roads were difficult to see as the rain continued to drown us and lightning lit the sky.
*Photo cred to Dan Singer. See Team Rev's Facebook page and for more pics.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The MS150 Redux

The MSRide and I have some history. We have an on-again/off-again relationship that is tenuous at best. I rode my first MS150 in 2004. That year, it was a fairly last minute decision and my team was made up of Klucker and me. I remember struggling through the hills on the second day, not knowing if I could make it. I rode again in 2005, in better shape, but seven weeks pregnant with my angel baby. On day two that year, I puked at the first three rest stops and cried at one as well. I persevered and made it. 2006 saw me seven months pregnant and making PBJ sandwiches at a rest stop. I definitely preferred riding. I returned to riding it in 2007, with little training. I wrenched my knee 40 miles in and sagged back to the start. Since 2007, I scoffed at any suggestion I attempt such foolishness. First, I hate asking people for money. Oh, I typically donate to everyone who asks, but I'm not asking. And second, I really never got into the whole party on a bike atmosphere with thousands of people I don't know.

This biking season arrived and so did the talk of the MSRides. My compadre Steph was leading a group of women to the Memphis edition of the ride. Liz was recruiting for the Gateway MS. I wondered if they had lost their minds. I was racing PICX and E'ville that weekend. To heck with their silliness.

Then July stretched into August and the state crit was a disappointment to me. Racing was wearing me ragged. I need something fun to do. And we ordered a few too many pitchers of gatorade at TQs one night. Never say never because I registered for the Gateway MSRide and sent requests for money out to folks. The salted glass gets me every time. At least I didn't agree to camp.

I won't give a blow by blow of the weekend and the riding like I do in most of my race reports, but I will share my insights about my riding.

I am a group ride snob. There are certain pieces of etiquette one must follow when riding with more than one other person. Communication being the most important one. Let me know where you're going if you're not going to ride in a straight line parallel to the side of the road. And don't ride more than two abreast...that doesn't mean one at the white and one at the yellow. Oh, and if you're stopping suddenly, please tell me. The other one is take your turn at the front. The wind is a b!+ch, don't make me fight it the whole day. I love my Saturday Big Shark and Hub rides, these are never issues there. It's organized, everyone knows what to expect and what to do. It's full of peace, harmony, and hand signals.

As a new cyclist, I hated hills. I would see one looming before me and feel the panic attack start. I had an innate fear of not being able to turn over the pedals. I thought I would get part way up, freeze, and fall over. I've learned how to appreciate hills. I have the skills to attack them and the outlook that I will conquer them. My next loathing became the wind. At least with the hills, there was an end in sight and a respite on the descent. The wind is a relentless adversary. But the more I've ridden in windy conditions, the more I've resigned myself not to fight. I don't like the wind, but I can't do anything about it. I just hunker down and spin. This weekend I elevated something else to the top of my demon list--bad pavement. Those quaint Amish or Mennonite horse and buggies have chewed the pavement like a mouse chews old newspaper. Chip and seal sucks, but Boone County needs to invest in something. I swore the welds on my frame were going to come undone on some of those stretches.

This summer has given me a lot of insight into group dynamics, and the MS ride provided more action research material for me. I have learned a lot about the way one or two changes in a group of people can really make a difference in the way a group behaves, whether those are additions or subtractions. I like to watch the different ways people conduct themselves in the presence or absence of others. I know I fall victim to this, and was a lot more subdued on Saturday night than I have been in other situations. It intrigues me to see the different sides that people have. It was fascinating to watch the interactions between people the longer we were together. It definitely led me to new hypotheses. My predictions are getting better with time, and as I become a more skillful observer (and learn to be silent, like the ever watchful sphinx, at the right moment).

In that same spirit of being a lifelong learner, I learned a new word a few weeks ago, pathlete. Someone had thrown it out on stlbiking, and I had to Google it. Over the weekend, I was exposed to quite a few of these folks--goes back to me being a group ride snob. One of the most impressive ones who zoomed past us in his capped-sleeve, baggy t-shirt, with arm warmers that sagging. I wouldn't have given much thought to him, except for we all stopped at a rest stop. Our group didn't stay long and was regrouping to hit the road when I heard him say, "If I hurry, I'll catch you again." I'm not sure what the payout was for the MS, but it must have been sweet because this guy chased us down and crossed the yellow to make sure he was ahead. Really, if you have that much of a need to show your stuff, TNWs are only $10/week. You can do the whole series for you fundraised for this weekend...and you may learn to hold a line to boot.

My first MS rides were filled with the mantra, "Only 10 miles between rest stops. You can ride for 10 more miles." The longest stretch I would do was from the start to rest stop 2 because I quickly learned that stopping at the first one was a clear sign of a love of chaos. I go out on my long rides, 3.5 or 4 hours, and only stop if I need water. Very rarely do I get off, walk around and spend time socializing with the riders I'm with until after we're all finished. But those rest stops are inviting: orange wedges, peanut butter/ jelly grahams, homemade ice cream and pies. I found myself having to practice restraint to not veer to the right, their tawdry draw. I say this, because I know the longer I spend off the bike, the harder it is to get going again. My legs tighten, my resolve waivers. They are so appealing, yet so, so bad. When I got home and looked up the calories (290) on one of those amazing peanut butter/jelly grahams and that bolstered my view on the maliciousness of those sinful oases.

All playing aside, the weekend was good for me. I began the weekend with some guilt about not racing Saturday and Sunday, because after all I am a wanna-be bike racer. That was juxtapositioned with a tiredness and sullen nature about racing in general. Sunday morning as I got ready, I had a momentary thought about texting Ryan and telling him to ride on his own because I was going to E'ville. (I did have a racing kit with me just in case.) I'm glad I didn't. It was relaxing and undemanding. It gave me a chance to ride how I wanted, not how I needed to in order to prepare for the next event on my schedule. More than anything, it was as much a mental training ride as a physical endeavor: well-needed, well-executed, valuable.

Benton Park Classic

Monday's Gateway Cup Races featured a new venue: Benton Park. T had suggested the neighborhood to Mike and was right--it was outstanding. There were ten corners in the 1.7 miles course, including a chicane. We crossed I-55 twice and an almost perfect 200M finishing straight.

The women and men were once again split. I watched the men's race from the trainer and was surprised to see how strung out the field became. This should have given me an idea of what was to come.
We went 23 deep to the line today. Most of the girls had been in the three previous races, so were racing on legs as tired as mine. The first lap started fast. By the time we hit turn three, I felt like I was struggling to keep up. A good showing in this race was important to me; my brother was there, his first race this season. Lap 2 I was still struggling. Where were my legs? How did these girls all have it and I didn't? Lap 3 brought a prime. As we headed to the line, I was nowhere near in it, and it was gapping me. I was off the back. Holy Campagnolo! How did this happen? And why today?

I hit Corner 4 and Klucker was giving me gap times. I realized T was off as well. Hannah (Team Pegasus) was in front of me, but off the back too. T and I got together and took turns. Mike yelled to us to work together. We did. We caught up to Hannah. Soli joined us as well. Within a lap, of jumping on us, Soli took off. At that point, I was ready to let her go. I wasn't ready to go after her. T, Hannah, and I our turns. We eventually chased Soli down and she got on the group. It felt like we were falling further and further behind and the gap was growing. Klucker's time announced verified that. We were up to 20 seconds off.

We went around and got the three to go card. Hannah was pulling. I was reflecting. I had three choices, and not a lot of time to decide. I could stay where I was and work with these girls for the next three laps and hope they didn't out sprint me. I could go off on a flyer, and possibly blow up--I would end up back here. I could go off on a flyer, and try to get on the pack. To me, at that moment, worst case scenario was where I was. I knew after turn 4, the course got a bit technical: lots of turns in quick succesion. The pack would have to slow, a single rider would not. That was the time to go. I looked ahead and there was a girl off the back. She would be my first target.

We passed Klucker and he yelled five seconds. Ok, here we go. I jump, say to Hannah, come with me, let's shut this thing down. I took off. About 15 seconds in I began to question my logic. This freakin' hurt. My quick, little ti princess took the corners like she was on rails. (Why did I ever think about wanting a Scott?) I was close enough to tell the girl had Dumas on the back of her shorts. Turn 10 and I was on her wheel. I yelled to her I had her wheel and needed 30 seconds to recover and would take a pull. We were under the start finish when I moved around she and the moto and jumped onto the pack. I couldn't believe what I had just done. I couldn't believe how much that hurt. Two to go and I had to stay on now. I got myself mid pack and sat in. I saw Klucker's smile as we went by. I also realized Jeffrey had left already. He didn't get to see my push.

With one to go, I knew I could hang on. We weaved through the course and turned onto the finish. The sprint went early and I tried to go with it. By 150M, I was done. I sat down and pedal to the line, getting passed by two or three girls who still had something to give. It was a 10th place finish for me, but a victory in assessment. decision-making and determination.
My "bridge face." It hurt as much as it looks like it does. "Photo credit: Mike Dawson

Giro della Montagna: The Hill

The confusion from Saturday's race led to something good. On Sunday, the 3/4 Women and 4/5 Men got split. We each had our own race. Knowing that, I got to the course early so I would have time to ride it before the men raced. This course was again a basic four corner crit, more of a long rectangle this time. The trick to this course was that the roads were narrow, corners tight, and manhole covers a plenty. The backside of the course had a long uphill with a headwind, and the front side was a downhill to the finish.

I had to do most of my warm up on the trainer because the men were on the course. We rolled to the line 27 deep, another wonderful sized women's field. The whistle blew and we were off. I immediately saw why everyone warned me about the corners in this course. A wrong move here could easily have you meeting the pavement. We went out hot, but slowed down on the backside. And so it went for most of the race. At some point, Amelia from xXx attacked and Aubree went after her. I went after Aubree. There were lots of surges, and I frequently had to work to stay on after turn two. I spent a good deal of the race anaerobic. At some point there was a prime, I stayed with the group, but knew I had no business even attempting it.

During the later half of the race in turn three someone rubbed my back wheel sending me over towards the Hannah, the Pegasus girl. We rubbed arms and I quickly apologized. We started counting down laps and I was happy. This course was taking a toll on me. I was working to get set up, because I knew I would be at a disadvantage on a downhill finish. Around turn one I heard it and saw it all at once. The Fusion girl slid out, taking Amelia with her. I was on Amelia's wheel. I quickly got around her and stood up to get back to the group. We took turn two and at the small flat in the middle of the backside, I moved into position. I wanted to go at the intersection before turn 3. We got there and I was stuck. I was second wheel, but they were spread five wide across the road. There was no getting through. I eased up going through turn three and four and lost position. We hit the downhill and I prayed I could make up my losses. The ladies in front sped away from me; I was around 12th position at this point. I was not ready to quit though. I added gear until I ran out. We hit the bottom of the hill and I stood and went. One by one, I passed girls, not easing until I crossed the line. Sixth place! I'd take it.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Moral of the Story: When You Hear a Bell--Sprint!

It was actually a little chilly when I got to the course this morning. The breeze made me wonder if I should have had arm warmers for the warmup. The course was a basic four corner crit, slight uphill off the start/finish, flat short end, downhill on the long back side, and short end. The wind was a head on the short end.

We lined up about 28 deep, many of the women were the same as last night. We were again on the course with the 4/5 men. The men went off and we got our whistle. I could not get clipped in. I was gapped off the line. It took me about 30 seconds to get in my pedals and then I had to work to get back to the field. I had a wheel by the time we hit turn one and was moving up to a good position after turn two. It took me about three laps until I felt settled in the race. A few laps later, a xXx girl went off the front. I have to admit, we all were knitting and watched her go. By the time, we tried to organize, she had 20 seconds on us. Aubree tried to get us organized, but no one wanted to take turns at the front. Finally when she was up to about 25 seconds, Aubree went off the front. I knew if she got away, she'd hunt the girl down and we'd be fighting for third. I think I said aloud, "Eff this, come with me if you can." I pulled the field up to Aubree, but eventually girl's lead grew, and we never got her.

Somewhere around 25 minutes in, we got a bell for a prime. I always love a prime, but I also wanted to play it smart. I moved into a good position and waited. We rounded turn four and I was sitting about fourth wheel. The sprint went and so did I. There was one other girl in front of me and I just kept adding gear until I put daylight in between us. It was mine. I sat up because I knew I didn't have it to stay out there alone, the wind would have worn me down. The field caught me after turn one. We did another lap or two and the moto neutralized us for the men to pass. As that was organizing, one of our local racers did something and her skewer was in my front wheel. I held on and told her to watch her line--her reply was that it wasn't her fault.
After we got passed, it wasn't long until we got the five to go on the cards. Lots of movement for position, but nothing crazy. We came around on what should have been two to go. I was sitting mid-pack I watched as half the pack went through, the lap card changed to one and the bell was rung. I was confused. Was there a guy off the front that mixed in with us? What lap were we on? I asked out loud, but no one responded. We got to the backside of the course, and Aubree took off. The chase was on. We hit turn four, and I didn't know if we were chasing or sprinting. I was not in place for a sprint. We went under and the lap card still read 1 to go so we kept racing.
Around again and it got even hotter after turn 3. We were onto the finishing straight and this was definitely a sprint. I turned it up and went hard. I came across the line 6th, so I thought.
We did a cool down lap and Carrie said we needed to talk to the officials because they didn't score our last lap, they scored the one before. We went en masse to the chief official. He ranted about his decision being final and that the bell was the ultimate authority. He stormed away when we asked for the rule book. Aero, the chief judge, came out and told us he thought we were the men and so he changed the card. The "first" finish would be the official one. That meant, instead of 6th, I finished 20th. I didn't think about it when we protested, but in essence it means he pulled the entire field because we all finished before the woman who won the race. I still don't agree with decision, but I have to give Aero props for owning up to what happened and listening to our concerns and reacting kindly and professionally.

I learned some lessons in this race. First, when I hear a bell, sprint. Second, on the lap that was scored, I shouldn't have been sitting so far back. I should never be in that position in a race. This year has been about positioning and sprinting for me, this race, I didn't adhere to what I learned.

Tour de Lafayette

Nothing could have prepared me for the race that was the Tour de Lafayette. I've raced some pretty large races this year, fields of 50+ women, but never have I raced in front of such an awesome crowd.

Cat 3/4 women went to line with Men's 4/5. I've raced with juniors on the course, but this was a whole different ballgame. The men were at least 50 deep, and we brought 28 to the line. As I lined up, I heard a disembodied "mommy, mommy." Peeking out from under the banner was my boo. Nothing makes me feel better than having my kids at a race. They are the ultimate fans!

I was about three deep on the line and Steph looked back at me and said there's a spot here. That's all I needed to hear. "Excuse me, pardon me. Bike racer coming through. Must be in the front row!" Being that aggressive is something new for me. I have often felt like I didn't belong up there. Tonight I knew I did.

Lafayette Square is a basic four corner course. There is a slight downhill after turn one. A long slow uphill on the back and a slight uphill after turn three. The finishing straight is flat and fast. We got a whistle and were off. Around turn one and the headwind hits. Positioning would be everything for this race in that staying out of that wind was necessary.

My shadow for the weekend on my wheel...
Sky gave me the best compliment ever in telling me I had a great wheel to follow.

We had a few attacks and surges early on. There were some crazy wheels a few times, but nothing too dangerous. We got a prime bell fairly early. To go or not to go is always my question. For me the goal of the weekend was to hold onto, and possibly gain more points in the MOBAR lead. Finish place was more important than cash. I was ready to sprint to stay on, but not wanting to blow up. I held my place in the lap.

Most of the race was unremarkable. I went out and helped chase down one attack. We were lapped by the men's field twice. I was actually happy when this happened. It gave us about a minute of recovery in what was a very quick field.

All of a sudden we were counting down laps. This, for me, is always where the fun begins. Let's play cat and mouse. Let's move and get a good position. Grab a wheel and hold tight! This is also where I noticed the crowd. It had grown and grown and grown. Each time we passed through the start/finish, the cheers were deafening. Finally the sweet, sweet bell rang. It's all or nothing on the last lap. I worked my way to the front of the group and looked to hold onto Jamie or Aubree. They would definitely be the ones to beat tonight, and all weekend. We rounded the last corner and I hit what I knew was the sweet spot for my sprint. Up and out and turn 'em over. I saw my mark for the weekend, and I overtook her. In my mind it was by inches, the photos show a full bike length. Those power sprints I've been doing paid off. I took fourth with a huge smile!