Sunday, February 24, 2008

PURE AUSTIN Pace Bend Road Race

When I unloaded the bike for hill repeats on Thursday night,
I noticed that my front tire was a bit low. After hill repeats,
it was low again. I patched the tube and pulled the bit of
glass out of the tire on Friday, but the tire was low on
Saturday morning. So, I decided to go against popular
wisdom and change both my front tire and tube the night
before the race. I thought about changing the back tire
and tube, but decided to not tempt fate. This Quick Stick
that I won at Warda works great for both taking tires off
and putting them on. Even new tires, which usually give
me problems on these rims. No swears were heard.

My Cat 4/5 35+ race was scheduled to get underway at 9:55am,
so I thought that if I left my house by 8am, that would give me
plenty of time to get there, pick up my packet, and warm up.

I left my house at 8:20am, and didn't take into account that I'd
be riding behind a pack of cyclists on the race course to get
to the parking area, where I arrived at about 9:30am. At least
I got a chance to see the course, since I haven't ridden out
there before.

I parked near Richie, who was warming up on his trainer. My
warmup consisted of running up to registration and back. At
least there wasn't a line. After pinning on my numbers, and
getting ready, I had about 15 minutes before the start, so
decided to pull out the rollers and get about 5 minutes of
warmup in, for whatever that would be worth, but the grass
was too tall. Heh.

As I was about to head to the line, a woman came up and
asked me if I thought that "they" would have a compressor
so that she could air up her car tire, which had gone flat. I
have an electric pump in the truck, so I lent it to her, and
asked her to put it into the bed of the truck when she was
done. I was hoping that I'd get some good karma for that...

And that brings us to the start of the race. Finally...

Richie and I line up together, and I tell him that, just like
last time, my goal was to stay with him, since he finishes
well. I take a Cliff Shot and drink a half bottle of water.
There was no roll-call this time, just "Go!"

The first lap goes well, the course is really nice, and people
have a tendency to stay on the right side of the road even
though we have the entire roadway to use (no center-line
rule). There are two hard right turns on the course, and
a couple of guys near the front took the first one too hot,
and ended up going straight (from the inside of the turn!).
Luckily, no one crashed, they just ended up off the road
for a bit. I was surprised by the speed of the pack down
the finishing straight, which was slightly downhill, since
it was just the first lap. It's not like there were primes,
or anything...

Not much exciting happened on the second lap.

As we're starting on our third lap, I'm starting to wonder
if this racing stuff is really for me, as I'm starting to get
tired. Luckily, those thought quickly left my head. The
bit of rest that I was getting at that point helped, too. :)

Going up the second hill on the this lap, I'm in the pack,
on the right side. Suddenly, I hear a "Pisssshhhhhh-
pish-pish-pish-pish." I take a quick assessment and
realize that it's coming from the bike on my right. Whew!
The rider of that bike soon sounded like me at Rocky
Hill. :-)

At the top of this hill, Richie gets into a breakaway with
about 5 other guys, but it doesn't last too long, unfortunately.

Flashback to Thursday...

During hill repeats, my knee started to bother me, so I
decided to quit after my third repeat (I was going to stop
after 2, but Kirk talked me into another). I was going to
take it pretty easy, though. David James started his
fourth repeat a bit after Tom and I started our third, and
I told Tom that we'd be David's rabbit. David proved me
right as he came up on us just as we're beginning the
last step of the hill. He worked a lot harder to catch
me than I did to get to that point, so I had some energy
left, and was able to re-pass David before the top. (I
must've forgotten about my knee :-} ).

What's the point of all this, you may be asking. Well,
I thought that a good strategy for today's race would be
to go out a mile or so before the last hill, then rest on
the hill and let the pack catch up to me. I planned on
doing this for laps 3 and 4, if I could get away with it,
so that they would let me go on lap 5, assuming that
they would catch me on the hill again, but I would not
rest on the hill, and try to take it in a breakaway.

Best laid plans. Mice. Men.

However, I did do a version of this on the 4th lap,
though not necessarily on purpose. Leading up to
the hill, I was riding in 4th position. The guy on the
front decided to attack the hill, but I elected to let
those 3 go. Unfortunately, no one else did.


By the top of the hill, I heard the chase motorcycle
on my wheel. I looked back and saw no one else.
I am able to hang onto the back of the pack, though.

We finally start the fifth and final lap, and I'm able
to get some rest here. I also use my small chain
ring for just about the whole lap, but am still able
to stay in the pack. I work my back up to the front
of the pack, and find Richie. We're near the
front when we hit the last hill, and some guy in
front of me swerves, making me touch my brakes.
When this happened in Bryan a couple years ago,
I lost momentum and got spit out the back. Today,
however, I picked a wheel that wasn't swerving, and
hung onto it, making it to the top of the hill in pretty
good position. Richie and I were in the top ten. All
that's left is a hard right turn and a slight downhill

Going into the turn, I'm on Richie's right hip, but I
have to scrub off speed since I'm trying to take it
too sharp. I should have faded out to the left as
Richie and the rest of the group did. I picked it
back up and sprinted as hard as I could for the
finish, even though there were others passing me.
I was able to nip one guy at the finish, and ended
up in 19th place, which I was quite happy with.
Richie ended up 9th.

What I was even happier with was that I had a
few opportunities to let negative thoughts rule me,
which has been a problem in the past. I worked
hard up to the very end.

Now if I could just work on setting up my turns

Epilogue: As I was getting ready to leave, I saw a
note under my windshield. It was from the woman
to whom I had lent my pump. She thanked me for
it and said she hoped I had a good race. She
signed it, "A Single Mother with children on a
camping trip."

But no phone number. :-( Harrumph!

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