I understand the difference between a workout and a race.
I understand the importance of rest and recovery.
I understand I know so little about this whole cycling thing and others around me know a lot more. Now I listen to them.
Saturday was my first road race of the season and my smartest road race to date.
Before the race began, over breakfast at Ashland’s Morning Glory restaurant, as I ate eggs and oats, I said to Matt, "My goal for today is to just sit-in".
I don’t think I had ever even has that thought before, much less verbalize it.
Yes, just sit-in.
DO NOT find yourself at the front.
DO NOT do all the work.
DO NOT pull those girls around only to have them sprint pass you at the line.
I have done all that before, I was not going to do it again. The goal for the race was to just sit-in; until the race dictated I do something else.
And sit-in I did. For the first 2 laps, I sat 4 or 5 or 7th wheel. I kept an eye on the girls I knew were strong. I stayed close to Teri and Jade and Jen. I let the Veloforma girls do most of the work. When there was an attack off the front, I only reacted when I needed to.
When Jen took off with about 15 miles to go, I didn’t flinch; I watched Teri and Jade. They didn’t react, neither did I. I was watching Jen sit out there, trusting that the peleton would catch her, trusting that Teri and Jade wanted to win. This was tough, but I did it.
The third and final time up the mild long grade, with Jen still sitting out in front, about 300 meters off the front, Teri jumped. Jade and Heather followed. I was boxed in, sitting behind a couple of VF girls.
The face of George Hincapie in this year’s Tour of Flanders flashed before me. He saw Callcellara go, he watched Boonen follow. He watched, he didn’t react.
Don’t wait, just go.
So I went. I went hard. I was pushing my limit, but I was reeling them in. By the time I caught Jade, Heather was falling back. She grabbed my wheel and the three of us bridged up to Teri and Jen. I glanced back as we rounded a turn; the rest of the group was out of sight. I had made the break. There were five of us.
Okay, good. I made it. Now what?
I sat 4th wheel up the next set of hills, pulled for a couple minutes on the flats and then settled by into the group as we started up the last hill. With 2k to go, Heather was redlining and didn’t want to be last wheel. She tried to grab Jen’s wheel. I didn’t want to give it up, but was using to much energy trying to keep her from it, so I let her have it. Later, this would prove to be a poor tactical decision.
With 1k to go, I thought the race would be on. (Did I mention the race finished on a SUPER steep grade?) The pace picked up, but not by much.
Should I go?
Teri was right there, so was Jade, and Jen.
Just sit Serena, just sit.
With 400meters to go, Teri went. Jade followed, Jen too. Heather slipped back, I was behind her.
Crap. Dumb. Bad move. Okay, get over it and back in it.
I stood up; around Heather, up to Jen, around her; Teri and Jade were right there. I crossed the line in third; trying to smile but that had to be saved until later; when I could breathe again.
My CAT 3 status kept me out of the results and out of the Oregon Cycling Action write up. My very strategic placement kept me out of the finishing photo. Only if you look VERY hard can you see me hiding behind Teri in this photo.
Can you tell I am just a little bit disappointed about this? Alright, I'm over it.
I raced well, 3rd place overall, 1st place CAT 3. Table Rock was my final CAT 3 race (Kenji, can I have my upgrade please?).
I was nervous/anxious/excited about my first road race of the season. I wasn’t sure how I would stack up, if I would remember how to hold a wheel, if I would make the right split-second decision. My training is proving successful, I did remember how to hold a wheel and when faced with it, I made the right split-second decision.