Saturday, June 02, 2007

Tulsa Tough: Blue dome crit Friday nite

Didn't get as much warm-up as I would have liked,
but didn't think it was that critical because our race
was to be a full 60 minutes. I figured I would warm up the first half then kick it in to overdrive for the second. We line up. I take 3rd row just to remind myself to stay out of the front until later. Troy comes up behind me and says, "Stay off the paint. It's slick." He had done the cat 3's before our race and got stalled up by two wrecks that happened in front of him.

The announcer says "go" and boy do we.

There's some super fast women here and pow, they're off and the pack is stretched out and we haven't even got to the second corner yet. I'm in the back thinking, "Dang, wish I would have warmed up more. Wonder if they're going to go this hard for an hour? Sure is a long ways to the front."

The streets are slick. I apply power and even though I'm seated, I feel my back tire slip around. We take a few laps. Thunder rolls, lightening flashes in the distance and it starts to rain. We're headed into the second corner from the start and woman hollers. Bikes skid and fall. One is sliding into my path. I swing wide. The bike and it's thrown rider continue to slide my way. I swing it wider and miss it by about 8 inches. There's a huge gap between me and the leaders. I put the power on and try to regroup with the others who made it through the debris. I'm nervous and cautious.

I come by Michelle and she emphatically tells me, almost like an order, "You can do those corners, Syd." I obey, pass and target the next, relaxing at the elbow, putting my weight on the outside pedal and taking it harder than any previously. Whew. Made it and gaining. The rain falls.

I hear another wreck behind me. I'm with Catherine and Pamela. They're powering hard to catch the front group. My legs are stinging and I grab their wheels. We take the next few corners. We've got to catch that front group or we're toast. I go to take my pull on the backside. The next turn is into the headwind. Catherine tells me to hit it as hard as I can. I do it and regain the front group. We whiz under the finish line and the announcer shouts two more laps. I think, "Damn that went fast." It's pouring as we round the corner. Lightening cracks. Looking only a couple of blocks away. In front of me a woman goes down and takes a few others with her, they're skidding into my path, I give a scream, but keep my eyes open, unclipping my foot to prevent a wipeout. I don't go down and follow a clear line out of the mess. I reclip and power as hard as I can and catch up with some women.

I don't know if they're the leaders or riders recently rejoined from the wrecks. I just know it's the last lap and I need to go as hard as I can. A girl hammers by me, I grab her wheel following her through the last two corners into the straight-away. It's the sprint and as she powers up I just stay on her wheel and do the same. We come through under the line and I get 7th.

It would have been nice to write that I sling-shotted around her, but I didn't. Nonetheless, I consider the finish a success. I kept my head and followed a wheel. It doesn't sound like much but it's progress from the blank-mind stalls I experienced last weekend in Iowa. I can learn this and one day I'll get it together enough to go to max power and keep the brain engaged. Slow down and be fast. Think it through and speed will come.

Later, I got a chance to talk to Catherine and thanked her for telling me to go hard. She said if we hadn't, the front group would have left us in the muck when we hit the headwind and we would never have caught them. Point taken, Catherine.

Today there's a chance for rain and thunderstorms all day, but I've ridden the course and it's less technical than last nights. However, there's a long downhill into the last corner. This means we're going to be flying into it and then hit the sprint. Yowza. Ladies, hold your lines and let's make it a rash free evening. Stay tuned.

(Oh, and Junebug, please email me. Need to talk to you. Email link on my profile page.)

1 comment:

Ed W said...

That's an excellent account of racing in the rain, the crashes, and the overall tension of not only trying to stay upright but trying to be competitive.

Thanks!