At the beginning of the week, I had a conversation with my coach about how I was losing my motivation to ride and train. We talked about why that was happening, and how I could get past it - I needed to set some short term goals related to my training, and focus not necessarily on results, but on smaller things.
So Tuesday, I went out and did our Tuesday Women's Ride for the first time in a couple of months. I forgot how much I loved doing these rides last year - I got to catch up with teammates and friends I don't get to see as much now that I am training by myself more often, and to give back to a sport that I truly love.
Many of you have already seen the accomplishment from Weds. Despite rain and thunder, Mike and I were able to whip around the CBTT course in a time of 20:37, re-capturing the tandem record by 4 seconds. We had been chasing that time for well over a year, so it was a great accomplishment for us. And who knew that wet roads would be so conducive to a record?
Yesterday, however, was one of my biggest achievements to date. I decided to race Attleboro again this year, despite not doing that well on the course last year. There aren't many Cat 3/4 races on the calendar this season, but this was one. I was going into the race, and I wanted to win.
With the 3/4, 30+ and 45+ fields all racing together, there were a total of 27 women who started out at 8:00 am. I knew there were some strong racers in the field, and I was somewhat worried. I had talked to my teammate Cris on Thursday about my strategy for the race - don't do too much work, stay near the front, and watch the wheels of some of the strong riders. So, throughout the race, I was somewhat ruthless - I tried to stay one to two riders from the front, taking the wheel of anyone who went past, regardless of who was on that wheel. The few times I drifted back to 6 or 8 wheels back, I saw teammates Loraine, Clara and Katherine right in the front of the group as well, which motivated me further.
I contested the first prime with Samantha N., but she got me on the line for that one. After the second prime, I tried an attack up the hill that didn't quite work - dragging he whole field with me. So, I went back to my strategy, and then made sure that with two laps to go, I was second to third wheel back.
Coming out of the final turn, I decided it was now or never, and started my finish sprint. I could hear others with me, but put my head down, and buried myself to get to the line. In the end, I got pipped by Cheryl W, but came across the line in second overall, and WINNING the 3/4 race! Yes, my first road win EVER! I was so excited that I had raced well, and smart! Oh - and I was surprised to learn later that I had also won a prime!
I didn't have much time to revel in my accomplishment though, as I was registered for the very next race - Men's 55+. Not knowing what I would have left in my legs, I changed numbers, grabbed a new water bottle, and was off for my second 25 km race. Immediately, I noticed a difference between the women's and men's race tactics. In the women's race, all of the attacking and hard efforts came on the small uphill just after the start/finish. In contrast, in the men's race I was actually on the brakes going into this hill, but the attacks came on the downhill after the second corner, where I had to bust my butt just to hang on.
Knowing that I was in the second chase group, and able to see the lead group just ahead, I put in an acceleration to bridge between the two, shouting to my other group mates, "C'mon!" as I went. A few pedal strokes into the chase, I looked back to realize that none had come with me, so I dug in to attach myself to the lead group of men. I even duked it out in the sprint, hanging in to finish 13th, and in the lead group! The men's race was 2 mph faster than the previous race, with an average speed of 24.5. Two great races for me, and a major boost to my confidence and my motivation!
After changing and socializing with my teammates (thanks for the support, encouragement, and cheering, btw), I spent the rest of the day as a spectator as Mike raced in the Master's 35+ and Pro 1/2/3 races (for a total of 90 km!). He looked great in the Masters race, but did a BIT too much work chasing attacks from Corner Cycles (hoping one would be the break that stuck). He finished that race 20th out of 72 starters, which was a great result. He also did back-to-back races, and was not sure how he would fair in the next race - especially with Team Fuji and other pros taking the line. He hung in well, however, and looked stronger as the race progressed. Even in that race, he managed an impressive 29th place out of 62 starters.