Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Deer Trail -- 34 Degrees, Hilly, and 80 Miles Away

Who drives 80 miles to a bike race at 6:00 in the morning -- when it is snowing outside? Most of the Vic’s Masters Team.

Yes. We were all crazy and braved the cold weather to beat up our bodies and competitors – all for a brown hat. Yes – the hat was THE prize if you placed in your category.

(Photo: Trish Heisdorffer 45+ 1st Place, Susan Karl 45+ 3rd Place, Christy Orris 35+ 2nd Place, Gabriela Ferrat 35+ 3rd Place, Little dog 1st Overall, Julia Wieck 45+ 2nd Place).

None of us went to Deer Trail to win the stylish hats; we went to test our training, support our teammates, and see how deep we could dig.

I was nervous for this race because the 35+ women were grouped with the 55+ men. There were 57 men and 8 women. This changes the whole dynamics of the race. It makes it faster, more tactical, yet provides a lot of drafting support to the ladies. If you can stay with the pack, you’re golden. If not, good luck.

I usually do not have teammates to ride with, but today I had six other strong Vic’s companions: Paul Mack, Steve Worley, Mike Newsome, Dean Sandoval, Bill Simmons, and Barry Messmer. Riding with these guys made me want to sign up for more races with them. They were encouraging, pushed me to a new level, and gave me needed shelter from the wind.

I had a lot of luck and support yesterday. The day started off well and I stayed in the front and out of the wind. This did not last long. The hills quickly broke up the rhythm and the jumps began. The pack stayed together until the first turnaround on Hwy 34. Then I don’t know what happened. I only know that the main pack was ahead of me and I played catch-up for most of the way back to Hwy 217. As I caught up, I passed two of my female competitors - Gabriela Ferrat & Lesley Butler - and thought they would jump on my wheel for sure. Luckily, they never stuck and I was able to eventually make it back to the main field with the help of a few lone guys working their way back into the pack. That was a huge blessing and changed the race for me (hence the benefit of having mixed sex fields).

Once I got back in the pack, there was only one woman, Rene Eastman, among the pack of roughly 30 guys. All the Vic’s men were there and seemed to be controlling the race. I recovered in the pack until the next turnaround and then tried to position myself perfectly in the front of the pack for the upcoming u-turn. This did not last long as a stream of guys barged past me right before the turn. I learned my lesson and will sprint to the corner next time. Amongst screeching brakes, we rounded the turn and a group quickly attacked. I grabbed Paul Mack’s tire for a while, but couldn’t match his mighty wattage and fell back. Again, I was lucky, and a second group went by with Rene in it. I grabbed their wheels and caught the group.

On our second passage up Hwy 34, I saw the most amazing feat of the day. Paul Mack was taken out in front of me by another rider. He tumbled into the grass and rush to get up. Barry Messmer dropped back to bring Paul back into the group. In what must have been only 20 seconds, Barry was passing me with Paul and bringing him (and me) back to the group. Paul went on to get 4th place thanks to his effective crashing technique, tenacity and helpful teammates.

I was weary and the attacks kept coming. At one of the many hills, the group surged and I fell off along with Rene. I tried to recover on Barry’s wheel to make a fight for 1st, but did not have anything left in me. I was beat by less than a minute, but I’m happy with 2nd. It was my 5th road race and I can officially say I am hooked on these crazy things!

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