1:30 am I wake up on Saturday morning in the race hotel in Burlington with a hundred thoughts going through my head. How was I going to do? Who was strong? Blah Blah Blah. I turned over different strategies and possible outcomes in my mind, but I never went back to sleep. So with espresso in my left hand and a Cliff Bar in my right, I slipped on my Mesa kit and set up my bike. Dazed and confused, I trekked to the Start/Finish line among women from all over the Midwest. POW! The gun went off and I noticed the racers around me were heading in the forward direction so I followed. I was in a bad position around the first corner heading up the hill leading to the Snake Alley Torture Climb. I stood up as I kept grinding my feet into the pedals, strangling the snake. Slowly but surely I was climbing past racers. Last lap to go, one woman was in front of me and I kept getting nearer and nearer to her but with each climb, I was feeling less like a Snake Strangler and more like a snake charmer. 200 meters to go, I stand up and sprint while Number 1 sits up and puts her hands in the air. I get close, but no cigar - about 2 yards too short.
Later in the day, I went to go get my prize. I received a cash envelope and a silver medal. The silver medal said Junior Olympics (Do races ever have the correct medals?). Then I slid my finger in the envelope, expecting a $10 at most. 1 twenty, 2 twenty, 1 hundred dollar bill = $140! HOLY ---! I turned the envelope over and saw 2nd place: Womens Open! Nuts. I went back and returned the envelope in exchange for 2nd place: womens 4s for a much smaller sum .
5:30 that evening, I went to the hotel room, took an Advil PM. When I woke up 6 I had to check if it was AM or PM. AM! 12 and a half hours of sleep! Eureka! That morning we were in Muscatine for the Melon City Crit. This race had a few attacks (many from me) but pretty uneventful.
4 laps to go, on a descent, a girl in front of me braked. It was the strangest sensation in the next few seconds. Next thing I knew I was on the ground as girls flew over me. It was kind of beautiful in slow motion (in a sick kind of way).
First rule I had ever learned in cycling was always keep the rubber between me and the ground but I broke it. OUCH! I looked down and I had torn my brand new skinsuit (I had been so excited for it too L). Blood and dirt were plentiful as I stood up examining my bike to make sure I hadn’t hurt it. An ambulance came to pick up one girl whose head had been gashed and was still lying on the concrete. Both hoods of my bike were turned inward, facing each other, my chain was off, brakes were rubbing, and there appears to be a new scratch on my top tube (I’m taking it to the shop today to get it checked – pray that it is only cosmetic!). And of course there was NO FREE LAP! I walked my bike back to the Mesa tents. After I had changed, cleaned my battle wounds, and was lying down, a teammate pointed out that I had broken my helmet. Adrienne kept checking my eyes to make sure I was still conscience. Now my pink helmet has a new home in a trashcan in the Muscatine Holiday Inn.
I have never said as many four-letter words as I did in the shower that evening. I took another Advil PM so that I could sleep through the night. I think all the medicine had gotten to me because I had a dream that my cat, Peek-a-boo, turned into a demon, had only one orange, huge eye, and was scratching through everything and then he went for my leg. I woke up to feel a painful sensation on my leg/hip. The sheets had dried to my leg. Rip! I held my tongue as I ripped the sheets off my wounds. I rubbed them with more ointment and tried to sleep.
The next morning, we went to the Quad Cities Criterium, a completely flat, corners kind-of race. I had been debating whether to race or not. I put Icy-Hot on my neck (it was sore), took Advil, put on my kit, and borrowed Tim’s helmet. He was hesitant to let me borrow it, saying that I would stink it up. “Don’t worry, girls don’t sweat,” I reassured the Aussie.
I rode to the line and chased down attack after attack from this one team who had a skeleton joker on their kit (scary) whose teammate had won Snake Alley. I was fed up I had told myself that if I didn’t get podium, I was going to get the Most Aggressive Rider. I attacked after the racer in front of me; I realized that the momentum was taking me past the racer. I love free energy. What better time to attack? Peace out Jokers! The next 10 or so laps I was off the front, grinding the pedals, wanting to make dents in the concrete. Sexy pros began cheering for me and yelling my name, and I just couldn’t let them down. As I crossed the Finish, I threw both hands up in the air and beamed my pearly whites. What a great weekend.
Now I am writing this blog, popping an Advil, complaining from just a little road rash. I know many a cyclist has experienced these wounds, much more deep and severe than mine, and had stoic faces; however, I’m just not that tough.
More Quad Cities pictures to come! Stay tuned folks