Thursday, February 08, 2007

Boulevard and the Winds from Hell

By Raja



Bittie, nippily, dark winds from somewhere other than San Diego. We don't do cold. We don't do wind. Well unless of course you tell us we're racing and then you're talking bid-ness.

Headwinds, ok. Crosswinds, ok. But head-cross-flip-cross-headwinds?!? If the mens Pro field wasn't so beautifully decked in spandex.. I might not have been smiling so much. Gotta love men in tights. This is a notoriously nasty early season road race. This year, the hills were easy compared to the wind. Especially if you were caught by yourself. With just under 4000' of climbing... the chances of being caught by yourself or with a small group were high since the climbing tends to string out the field. But we had such a lovely bunch of Bellas, and so pretty!!!

The cast:
Julia "Uhlie la la" Uhlendorf
Rhonda "Rrrrrrrr" Geisler
"Happy Happy Joy" Joy Muehlenbein
Shannon "I'm Game" Werner
Julie "Goodie Got it" Goodwin
Raja "La-Hottie" Lahti

I have to say, these women ROCK. Rhonda and I had done the race last year, but for everyone else, this was their first road race. The night prior we all got together for some spaghetti dinner at Efrat Veidman's place for some confidence building and road racing chat. We're going to miss Efrat, she's moving back to Israel in 2 weeks. She's been an amazing cycling resource for us San Diego Bellas. I am a sad bella.... :-(

Registration/Check-In was a mess and by the time I got out of there I had just enough time to gather my flair and start stripping. Warming up on the trainers was going to take too long to set up, so we all hopped on and started riding in circles for a brief warm up. The race started and by mile 2 we were careening down the road at 30-40 mph. Holy-frijoles Batman!! I have wings! Juls (Uhlie) was perfectly placed up in the front of the peloton. Her technical skills and descending abilities are wicked and she worked her way up to perfection. 11 miles in, the fun's over and the hills start. I felt surprisingly good and was able to stay with the lead group when the pack split. At mile 19 the front pack split again and a group of women were able to rip our legs off and separate off the front. By this time I'm cursing myself and just trying to stay out of the wind. Gotta love those race wheels... freakin' kites! (They did however save my little rear on the wicked decent)

At the top of the final climb I hear from behind "Lets organize ladies!". Always nice to hear. We immediately grouped with as many we could find and rotated ourselves all over the next 13 miles or so to the start of the climbing on the 2nd loop. By now we had picked up some women left behind by our lead ladies. Our mini-peloton was looking good at about 8+ riders. We were descending as fast as our little 11 cogs could take us. My speedometer said 42mph. Once again when the climbing started the group fractured and 5 of us we left. On the second climb I looked behind and was surprised to see there were only 3 of us left. The wind was whipping around from all directions with gusts to 20-30 mph. The three of us worked together and rotated our way up the hill. With about 100 meters to go, I was at my turn in front and decided to test the 2 ladies I was with.

If I picked it up, would they stay with me? So I went. I had no explosive energy left so I figured if I was going to beat these women, I'd better out climb them. With everything I had left I finished the race in 16th place. I was stoked, last year I was 26th in perfect weather. This year I felt I had improved a ton and my strength was greatly improved from last year. I finally felt like I rode a smart, strong ride.

Juls and Rhonda were not too far behind and both looked and if their eyes were lasers... well, I'd have been toast! "That wind is f***** up!". Yup. Juls, you too said it girl. Not 30 seconds later.. "Wow, that was fun!" Joy came running up in her running shoes. Mechanical problems sidelined her to 1 lap where she just gathered the running shoes and ran to the finish. Behind Rhonda came Shannon & Julie, both finishing their first road race in tough conditions.

It was soooo great to have the Bellas there. Last year I was a lone bella. This year everyone had a great time, everyone rode safe, and most of the bellas (other than Rhonda & myself) were virgin road racers. Whitney, the UCSB rider who finished behind me, and some other women immediately started asking about Velo Bella-Kona. It's great to share the energy and to see that the people around us can tell - we're having fun!.


Happy Riding!!

So Cal Racing Action Here


Post a Comment

<< Home