Monday, April 09, 2007


by Marian

All the boys at the shop had been telling me for days how absolutely maximum extreme Copperwhopyerarse is. I got excited instead of scared after listening to the elaborate Copperwhopyerarse stories of "uphill, in the snow, both ways, we had to rub sticks together to make fire, I saw my life flash before my very eyes."

So I'm excited about the race. And I'm excited because it was going to be the first time I raced with my rockin' teammate, Amy.

Our race wasn't until 11:20 so we had a reasonable, downright civilized departure time of 8 am. I rolled up to Amy's house at about 7:40 and Amy, pro that she is, is already loaded and ready. Chad, Amy's husband, tells us that the course is hard enough and that we should just "let the course do the work for you. Don't feel like you have to work to get the pack settled because the course is tough enough."

So, off Amy and I went, with a quickie stop at Peets. Mmm, coffee, how I love you. Quickie stop about 45 minutes from the course to get gas and I, amped on the large Peets coffee and not one who understands the concept of moderation, stupidly purchased a Red Bull. And not the standard issue 8 oz Red Bull, but the Big Girl 12 oz can of Red Bull. For after the race I tell myself.

Get to the racecourse and it's the standard registration, "Oh, hey, good to see you, how you doing", (Amy knows everyone!) and the port-o-pots.

Amy and I head back to the car and I hear the Red Bull calling me. I couldn't hear the voice of reason over the pounding of my heart, so as we're changing into our spandex superhero suits, I polish it off. I rationalize it by telling myself that "It's got about 300 calories and it's liquid, so I'll be able to absorb it easily before the race."

Pro Tip from Amy: Pin your number on your jersey before you put it on to ensure full three pocket access. It's really a good tip, however, I found that pinning my number was a bit more technically challenging because by this time I was all hopped up on caffeine.

Not enough warmup for either Amy or I.

To the line. 16 Cat 4 women in our race. 3 Velo Bellas. Soni, Amy, and myself. A couple women from Nor Cal, Deb from Left Coast, and some other people in spandex on bikes with two wheels. It was kind of a blur.

Off we roll. Soni, Amy, and I had staked out spots on the line and so we were all able to hold great positions for the first part of the race, although I think I let myself get pushed off of people's wheels a little to easily. I still don't fully understand the finer points of cromulent pack etiquette. Oh well. It'll come.

First couple of miles: choppy, choppy, choppy pavement, which I'm totally fine with, I'm not afraid, but I'm not so happy riding up in a group on crappy roads.

First lap, we kind of grind up the the alternatively textured hill, but because we're at an uphill tilt, it's not so bad. It's decently long climb and the pack is grim, concentrated, and focused. No small talk about who you are, where you're from, how was your drive, isn't this nice weather, man the wildflowers are going crazy, eh? Just grinding, grinding, grinding uphill, uphill, uphill.

We get closer to the top, where it flatted out and you can pick up a little speed before the last kicker, and one of the Nor Cali girls tells the other women at the front "Alright! Let's whip it up and string the pack out. Let's go!"

When I heard this I just couldn't help but ask myself:

Why? I mean, we hadn't even done the first lap. Jiminy juice boxes, we hadn't even done 10 miles! Why, why do you want to string the pack out? Why do you want to "whip it up"? What is so bad about enjoying the first lap as a pack, with a group of 16 women? I mean, I hardly ever get to enjoy a nice ride with 16 people, let alone a nice ride with 16 women. That just doesn't happen. Can't we all play nice for the first lap and enjoy this as a group?
But noooo.

The Nor Cali girls want to "whip it up!" and so, because I'm not going to get strung off the back so easy-like, and because I'm fully-caffeinated and wearing my smarty-pants, I throw out some Devo. You know, "Whip it. Into shape. Shape it up. Get it straight. Try to detect it. It's not to late." But, thankfully, I'm not the only one who's not fully on the over-eager style "Let's whip it up! Let's string the pack out!" page, so a couple other people join in.

And, I'll admit right here and now that I was a total bitch. Why? I didn't want to string the pack out. What's in it for me to string the pack out this early? Nothing! So I would ride up to the front (deliberately!) of the group and then downshift, sit up, and soft pedal. Maybe that was the wrong thing to do, but I'm sorry I just did not see why it was necessary to break the pack up in the first 10 miles. Especially when I've got some teammates I would like to see come with me. And besides, it's to early in the race to be working that hard.

We reach the top of the first climb, and when I look around I see that Soni is still with us.
But when I look back, I don't see Amy.
No, no, no, no, no!
This is not at all what I had planned, this is not at all part of my scheming. I'm kind of worried because Amy's not one to get dropped easily so I wonder if something bad happened. (I find out later that yes, Amy was struggling with some asthma issues. Ugh. Total bummer.) But Soni was still with us (about 8 of us I think?), so I had a familiar, friendly face and was content.

Through the "flats" which weren't so flat and were actually awfully windy we tried to paceline it. Key word "tried." The ringleader suggested that we have a rotating paceline and pull off to the right. No, the other right. Wait, what are we doing? Which side are we pulling off to? Are we pulling through or dropping back? I am so confused. Good thing Soni was there because she had it all dialed and all I had to do was copy her. Yay!

Blah, blah, blah. Then there were 6 and when we turned into the wind, we lost Soni. Nooooooo! No, no, no, no! Why did we want to string the pack out? What was the point of this?

And then there were 5. Another climb, which wasn't that bad, and then that rattly downhill.

Now I think I've made some considerable gains in my descending skills, but it was noticeable that those Nor Cali women gapped me on that descent. Note to self.

Neutral feed and I bobble my first bottle, and yes there's a reason I ride bikes but maybe I should spend some time practicing that because that was positively heartbreaking dropping that bottle. Heartbreaking.

Thankfully, 50 feet up the road there was another feeder, which I didn't bobble, but the lid was screwed on all cattywompus style (yes, you can cross-thread a water bottle!) and so every time I took some water, only half would end up in me and the other half of it would end up spilling all over me. Grrr.

But, Hernandohoot's out, cheering for the ladies, and shouting out encouragement, like the color black, is always in style.

We climb. We paceline, or rather everyone else pacelines and I try to fake it as best I can. Blah, blah, blah. Finally, we roll into sighting of the last hill and our pacelining efforts are breaking up. No sense in pacelining up the hill, so we spread over the road. I climb and I look left and I look right. Wait, that's funny. Where did you all go? I wasn't trying to attack so why are you all back there?

So I shout out to the ladies, because maybe it's still a little early to go off and play by myself and I hadn't gapped them that much, "Hey, c'mon, let's go ladies!" But, no response from the ladies. In fact they get smaller. What's up with that?

I had to make a choice. Those Nor Cali women put time into me on the downhill. I had about 4 or 5 more miles of racing. I can sit up and wait for the four ladies back there or I can put my head down and go for it.

Alright, head down, time to get rolling. I look back and am thrilled (and shocked) at how much time I was able to put into them. Oh, but it hurts. The hill flattens and I big ring it. Oh, I am ready to rock! More climbing. Ok, this whole climbing thing is really getting on my nerves now.

Finally, the top and it's time to rail it on the descent. I've got the mental image of the Nor Cali women dropping me on the descent so I'm gunning it. Zen, I am one with my bike. I am one with the road. I am a descending genius.

Until I look back and lo and behold, one of the Nor Cali women is back there in the rearview. How? I had dropped you like a stone on that climb! I didn't even see you when I looked back at the top of the hill! How have you caught up to me? I'm not a crappy downhiller either. How do you do that? What is your downhill secret? Dah!

She catches me. As she rolls along side me at 35 mph+, she shouts "Work together?" And of course I respond with"Yes! Lets!"

Newsflash: In order to work together you actually have to be together. In about a minute she's waaay up the road from me, so working together becomes, well, a dream. How? How did she do that? I was barely even working the brakes! How?

Alright. Fine. We've still got some flats and some rollers, I'll just minimize the damage on the rest of this descent. Ok, here are the flats and I start working back up to her, but man, total rockstar that she was, she got herself waaaaay up the road from me. How? How? What is your secret oh Nor Cali Zen Mistress of the Downhill?

A little climb before the last 1K. I get serious about reeling her in but she's still a ways up the road from me. But she's getting closer. "Ok, I guess I need to stop messing around and get this done." She gets closer, I'm reeling her in, I'm going to make it happen, and I can taste the finish. Or maybe it's the Red Bull and the powerbar that I'm tasting.

200meters to go. It's uphill, but I've got my diesel engine getting fired up, so as we kick it up the hill, I'm able to pass her with some time to spare, still accelerating and people hollering on the sideline "You've got her, you've got her, you've got her!" and I look back and yes, I do have her, thank you. (After the race I find out that that was her husband yelling to her not to me. Ah, well, it was pretty exciting and I'm easily confused when I'm red-lining it.)

Across the line, I glance back and she's just finishing and I was a little shocked. "Is that it? Wait, did I really just finish the race? First? What? Are you sure there hasn't been some mix up with the numbers?"

And so there you have it.
Soni finished in the top ten. Yay!
Amy had some asthma problems (total bummer!) on the first climb and spent the race working with some of the other women she was able to find. She said that a couple of the women that she worked with dropped out after the first lap, which was probably not easy to take.


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