After the shoot, we went for an 1.5hr ride on the bike trails in Sacramento. I made sure to do a few extra leg openers than normal since there wasn't much time for a warm up on race day. Once we finished the ride, I got myself back to Stephanie's house as quickly as possible. I showered, put on my compression tights and put my feet up. Stephanie was a great host and made me a wonder steak dinner with a little gluten free dessert. :) Then it was hours on the sofa before bed time.
SUNDAY - RACE DAY
I woke up in a slight state of panic. I was thinking, oh crap it's race day! This is actually happening! I got myself showered, packed and fed before heading out to meet the team. Parking was limited, so I met the girls at their hotel and rode to the team tent (about 10 mins). When we got there our DS, Haldane, got our bikes to the mechanic and made sure we had everything we needed. This was actually kind of fun, not having to do any of the prep work for the race. The tent was also in a great spot, we got to watch the Sky team and a few other teams head out to the start since our tent was in front of their buses.
We ran through the schedule for the morning:
9:00am: Eat something! haha
10:30am: Team Meeting
11:10am: Sign In
11:20am: Team Presentations/Interviews
12:00pm: Go go go go go!
With all that was scheduled leading up the race, I pretty much tossed the warm up out the window. I knew this was risky, but I felt like if I warmed up and then sat around for 2 hours I would have felt worse.
At the team meeting, Haldane gave us our marching orders. Pretty simple stuff. Line up towards the front, get to the front of the field fast, and if something goes, go with it. He basically told us, he would rather us race aggressive and blow up over us be passive and hang in. This actually made me feel a lot less nervous. At this point I reminded myself that I was here to race my bike, not to roll around in circles. Go big or go home! So, I went to the line with that running through my head.
After the team meeting, I had a little time before having to sign in and do the presentations. I found a vacant parking lot and spun around a bit. I got to watch the mens start as the rolled by, so that was cool!
Around 11:00am I headed over to the start line to sign into the race. I'm not sure the point of this or what the boards with the signatures will be used for, but what ever. I was super thankful that I didn't get asked any questions during the team presentation. I had enough running through my mind already to have to work about public speaking! Once we were off the stage we got to pre-ride the course. I took a couple laps and tried to get my heart rate up. I knew the race was going to start fast, so I didn't want my body to be in complete shock. Once I did that, I rolled over to the staging area and lined up first row. After the roll up to the line and pro callouts, I ended up 3rd row for the start. Not ideal, but it could have been worse! At this point, I was like holy f'in s**t! I am surrounded by amazing athletes!
The gun went off and there was an attack off the line! Thankfully I was able to clip in right away. I got myself up to speed and tucked onto a wheel right away. Oh hey Mara Abbott, I'll ride your wheel! I followed Mara through the first lap. I figured I'd stay put for a lap or two to let my legs open up. Big mistake! On the second lap there was a huge pile up going into corner 3. I was able to track stand it, wiggle my way around it and catch back onto the main field. That was not without burning a few matches. Then in lap 4 or 5, there was another pile up as we were coming through the start / finish. Again, I was able to avoid it and keep going. Only this time, I was going into a lovely headwind and had no one in sight to help me catch back on. I dug deep and solo'd a lap or so trying to get onto the main field. Finally I saw a group coming up behind me. I let off the gas and integrated with the chase group. I caught my breathe and checked my computer. We were going 25 mph. The main field was going 28 - 30 mph. I rolled up along side of the group of 20 or so women and barked "do you want to catch them or get pulled?!?!?!". I knew I couldn't do it alone, so I got them working in a rotating pace line. We had the gap down to 10 seconds, but then things just fell apart. I tried to go with an attack to get to the main field, but that didn't work either. 30 minutes into the race the officials pulled the group of 20+ women I was in.
The cornering in this race was atrocious for the record, the roads were wide and smooth. There was no need for breaking or any of the crashes that happened.
The sum this up, I was totally bummed that I didn't get to finish the race. From a fitness standpoint, I felt like I could have stayed with the main field if I had only positioned myself better and/or not had to have avoided the crashes. It made me feel a little better when I saw the company I was with when we were pulled. It wasn't just the local NorCal teams, but a lot of the pro women as well. I felt like I did what I could. The only thing I would change would have been taking a free lap after avoiding the crashes instead of chasing. But, that thought never crossed my mind in the chaos of the race. Newbie mistake that I will never make again!
It was probably for the best, there were a number of crashes after I got out of the race. Out of the 6 women on my team, 2 were pulled, 3 were crashed out, and 1 finished with the main field. Crazy day!