Monday, March 24, 2008

Copperopolis Road Race: Category- Women's Solo Training Ride

I won my category and learned a lot in the process.

So I raced with the women's 4 field in 2006. It was my first real year racing and I was unattached. At the start, I chatted with others to calm myself down. The woman I talked to (who will remain team-less and nameless) gave me a "great pep talk" about how big girls do better at crits because they can throw their weight around. There was some truth to that, but I didn't need to hear it at that point. ("There is a special place in Hell for women who don't help other women " Madeline Albright, Secretary of State). I then proceeded to redline on the first lap and get dropped on the smooth section after the feed zone and rode solo the rest to the way to finish next to last. Not a confidence builder.

At that time, I had more of a complex about my size and shape, and felt like it was a major inhibitor to being good at bike racing. When I watched the pro women at the San Francisco Gran Prix it was a major eye opener. I thought "Man! These girls aren't all pip-squeaks!" There was hope after all. After that I tried to sign up for races where I didn't set myself up for "failure"--things that were more suited to my strengths. I met my goal last year of moving up a category and had more fun than ever being a part of Velo Bella.

I cheered on my friends and teammates for the first wave of racers, then took a lovely training ride once around the course. I rode up to the feedzone with a backpack full of bottles and gu's to feed people that might need it. I hung out with some really cool people, gave Dino food and a bottle of Heed and then spun over to the start/finish to laze about in the sun with Linda E., Team Cities and Laura. My friend Sarah (Mtn. Bike Pro) won the Women's 3 race. Awesome.

Observations & Conversation:

  • The largest pack I saw maybe had a dozen riders finishing together.
  • There were a lot of solo finishers-- including people I knew to be very strong (hill-climbers even).
  • A lot of people seriously asked me why I wasn't racing (in that past I would have thought "Are you serious? Can't you see I'm not built for this course?")
  • Most people don't think they are built for this course.
  • I overheard a very strong pro (Tait) saying "This was a wakeup call today." (Everyone has thoughts like this?)
  • I don't care about smack talk anymore (bring it on).
  • It's more honorable to race and finish then to not try (duh).
  • More women need to sign up for races. Period.
  • There is no failure if I have fun, learn something or can help out a teammate.
  • I take things too seriously sometimes.

I looked up my results from last time and found out that Virginia P. won that time (now an NRC contender and Cat 1). I finished 12th place. Good for me! Maybe next year I'll sign up.


Chris said...

Bike racing in my opinion is at least 70% mental. If you can convince yourself that you belong in the race and that you can and should win the race, you will do well. I struggle with the mental side of racing from time to time.

Marian said...

That's a cute picture! I look like I'm about to sneeze, tho. :)

Denise said...

I love your postive vibes....

X Bunny said...

and next time wear you bella jersey--you totally belong in it whether you are racing, supporting, or just hanging out--no explanations needed or due to anybody!