Saturday, April 27, 2013

Quabbin Reservoir Bike Race: Wits Not Watts.

For my birthday weekend I decided to race the Quabbin Reservoir 65 mile bike race.  The venue was absolutely beautiful and the race was so outrageously fun it got me wondering why I hadn't done this before.

Of course I tried to enter as a PRO with my PRO triathlon license but apparently you can't do that in cycling. So I was forced to race Cat 4.  This was all well and good except now that I was the newbie in the sport (and causing a raucous) it was imperative that I avoid newbie cycling embarrassment. So, I got down to business in the parking lot before the race start. I took out my new Felt F4 and gave it a good look over.  First things first; remove the reflectors.  After that was done I went after the cassette guard (until I realized you needed a knife to take that darn thing off.  A knife, or you needed to remove your entire cassette.)  Hmmm.  The male pro next to me looked handy and I asked if he could help. He hastily threw me some pliers and Dan was able to saw the cassette guard plastic thread at a time.

Felt F4 sans reflectors and cassette guard! That's at least a 20 watt gain!  I was psyched and ready to go. The sun was warm as the race director gave us our last instructions.  The female PRO/Cat 3 went off 5 minutes prior to my Cat 4 wave, which was also the last wave of the day.  I felt relaxed but also had a secret goal of catching that pro wave...

Cycling has this really cool thing called a "Neutral Start."  Meaning, when the gun goes off your wave just casually soft pedals along until the real "start" of the race. So basically you just chat it up with your neighbor, position yourself, and enjoy life. As we all relaxed down the long descent I was thinking: HELLO IRONMAN...can we all agree to have a Neutral Ironman Start?  As much as I love the barbaric water brawl at the start of a 140 mile journey, my heart rate does not.

As the descent plateaued we rounded a corner and...BOOM! Like a cannon we are off. NO more nice girls I guess.  My mantra for the race was something my coach had texted me that morning: BIKE RACES ARE WON ON WITS, NOT WATTS.

I promised myself I would follow his advice and behave.  After all, this was my first bike race and I had no teammates to lean on.  I found myself in the middle of the pack repeating: Bike races are won on wits, not watts.  Bike races are won on wits, not watts. Bike races are won on wits, not watts.  And then after about the third repeat I realized that I was quite bored. I looked down at my Garmin: I was exactly 3 minutes into the race. That's it! I can't take it anymore! I wiggled my way up to the front and didn't look back. I justified this bonehead move by remembering at the last second that I don't necessarily have an excessive amount of watts but I do have even less wits.

So there I was. At the pointy front of my first bike race. Pulling the pack like a little donkey.

I actually played some games and tried really hard not to let people pass. Dumb move.

And then I tried standing on the flats to see if I could break away. Dumber move.

And then I tried sprinting every hill. What a dumb dumb I am!

However, around mile 42 (just when I was about to implode) I got a glance of someone I knew up ahead. It was Dan! That gave me enough energy to surge on and when I looked back again it was just me and three others girls. All 3 of use were able to really work together. It was so much fun to lead and then follow and zip around the corners and fly down the flat stretches with these girls. So many surges and red line efforts but at the same time really feeling like I was working as a team. Around mile 50 the race director drove up along side our little pack and informed us that we were within minutes of catching the Pro girls. That news got the juices flowing. Even more so than the 2 Cherry Lime GU's I had just inhaled. Now this was really turning into a race!  Our little group put our heads down and pushed!  In about 10 minutes we caught and passed and road away from the Pro group. From then on it was head down and no more fun and games. Get me to the finish line.

The race was totally meant for me as it ended with a 3 mile stretch uphill. There were numerous occasions where I tried to stand and sprint but my little ham-hocks had had enough. It ended with a sprint (kind of) to the finish and I ended up getting edged at the line.

Did I tell you that bike racing is awesome!? Well it's about to get more awesome.  When you finish, you walk/crawl to this RV/mobile home and some lady comes out and hands you cold hard cash. And then you go home. No waiting around for awards, no filling out W4 forms. Show up, bike hard, RV, $, home.

The day would have ended if I was a pure cyclist, but I'm not. So I changed into my running shoes and headed out for a nice little jog:

 And then it was off to go play some birthday mini golf which also served as a wonderful way to deal with getting nipped at the line... Happy Gilmore Style:

Next up: US PRO CHAMPIONSHIPS in St. George UTAH. May 4, 2013.

1 comment:

  1. Saw you cruise by up the hill at the Enfield Outlook just before the finish. Awesome job, Amber!

    You and Danny after your victory:!i=2491028850&k=dfHstd3&lb=1&s=A


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