It could have been snowing (maybe that would have actually been better; less wet?), it could have been a longer course (like the 70 miles next weekend at Mizzou), I could have not stayed upright (that makes me cringe less than saying “crashed”)…Being a self-proclaimed optimist, I’m really trying to think this past weekend’s road race at Ohio could have been worse…
Leaving Friday morning from campus, we’d all seen the weather predictions—cool temps, precipitation, and even possibly snow—but being in the Midwest, where anything can happen (and every once in awhile change for the better), I was hopeful that things would be okay. The 7-hour drive was all rain—maybe it would get it all out of its system?! We checked into our hotel, had team dinner and pre-race meeting, and went to bed with good-weather thoughts in our heads.
Saturday morning came. Race day- yeah! And we went about our usual pre-race preparations—breakfast, kit-up, load-up and drive to the course—under cloudy skies and drizzle. It was cool, but nothing we couldn’t handle, right?! We proceeded to warm-up, fuel-up, and line-up for the start of the race. A steady drizzle and brisk winds met us at the starting line—3 laps, 44 miles—go! The game plan was the same: stay up-front, watch Marian (the cycling empire in our conference), and more importantly, stay with Marian when they go. A mile and a half in was this course’s main hill—and the field was already charging up the hill, and the tempo quickly picked up as it flattened out. Dang—I thought my legs were ready for this; they were lacking spunk and didn’t respond to attacks as easily as I’d wanted them to. Was I not warmed-up enough (I mean, I was already cold, but so was everyone else); were the legs a little tired from a hard week of training (“stop being a baby!” I thought to myself) I’m not sure, but I found myself struggling to keep up. Frustrated, I road on.
Another girl and I road together for most of the race, I didn’t even really feel like I was racing at this point—more like surviving. I would finish. I didn’t care how cold and wet I was (which, by the way, separate are fine—but together, what a cruel combination!)—I wanted points for my team, by golly! The last lap we were really soaked and the wind (and the nature of riding a bike creating more air flow) made us really cold. We kept conversation going to keep our mind off it—covering a wide range of topics, but always coming back to the “I can’t wait for hot chocolate/tea and a hot shower and dry clothes back at the hotel,” “oh how I wish I was with my sister on her way to sunny South Padre” warm-thoughts-type of conversation. The final miles came, another girl joined us and the last decent approached. It was finally time to race—I wasn’t going to let these other two beat me now. So, after a decent sprint to the finish (we were actually racing after all, despite what on-lookers may have thought earlier in the race) I had a small victory of beating my group. I’m not sure what place I ended up in, but it actually might have been better than last week because so many people dropped out. I was bummed I didn’t race better at the beginning, but ultimately I was happy I finished! I survived the coldest, wettest ride (er, race!) I’ve ever done!
Shivering, one of the boys took my bike and loaded it up for me and we headed back to the hotel. I couldn’t stop shaking and my lips were purple by the time I got to my room and jumped in for the longest warm shower I’ve probably ever taken! I finally returned to a normal, non-hypothermic temperature and we went to team dinner, traded race stories, and looked forward to another shot racing the next day. Questionable weather still loomed for Sunday—and as we turned out the lights, sleet/snow was hitting the window. Awesome. Unfortunately, we got word Sunday morning that the streets were too icy to race on. No crit. Ah, man! I was looking forward to the crit, and redemption after a sub-par performance the day before. But instead we began the journey home. Next weekend will bring another set of races. And even though this past weekend wasn’t ideal, it could have been worse…right?!
Until next week-
Ride on, Revers!