Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Still two weeks until my next marathon....

So this weekend I raced my bicycle. Not one of those insane, 8,000 bikes in one tiny little cluster, crashy-type bike races, but a time trial (TT). For those not into cycling, a TT is a fixed distance course where they start riders off every 30 seconds. Drafting is not allowed. I did my first one in June and my second one this past Saturday (same course). These two races are put on by ABRT (Annapolis Bicycle Racing Team), which is Mike's team, so at least I knew a few people and it was a tiny bit less intimidating. The distance was 40k, which is just under 25 miles.

Mike decided not to do this one, so he put his fancy expensive wheels on my bike. I think his secret plan was that I'd really like them and want to keep them, and then he would get to go out and buy even more fancy and more expensive new wheels. I rode the bike around the block the night before to make sure everything shifted okay, etc., and of course we took pictures.

This looks way too cool to be something I should be riding.
Since there is no drafting allowed, TTs are all about being aero. Conveniently, I have an abnormally large head for my body, so even though I'm a foot shorter and 60-70 pounds lighter than Mike, I was able to use his old TT helmet. It was a little big, but it worked.
The picture on the left shows my weirdly large head. That is a picture of me and my sister after running the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon. We are approximately the same size. Note my giant head compared to her normal head. And on the right, me trying on Mike's old helmet. Yes, I wore that in public. Twice.

Anyway, for me, the race is all against myself. I raced in Category 4, which is the beginning women's racing category. To get out of Cat 4 you have to do a bunch of races, and TTs don't count. So all the super-fast triathletes are in there, along with people that have been riding a lot but not racing, or racing but haven't gotten the results yet, or just racing TTs. And then there are people like me. My goal in June was to finish upright and to be not last. I literally didn't get comfortable in the aero bars until the week before the race. I accomplished both goals, and finished in 1:15:17. That's a 19.8 mph average. I'd have liked to have averaged 20, but still, that's pretty darn fast. For me. The winner of Cat 4 finished in 1:01:something. So yeah, in the bike racing world, I'm slow. I'm racing against myself.

This time I wanted to average over 20 mph. It was a pretty cool day for August, but unlike the calm June day of the first race, this time there was wind. In fact, the last 7 miles of the course were into the wind. And they were hurty.

Halfway through I was averaging 22 mph and I was feeling great. Okay, not great, it hurt like all get out, but I was feeling like I could keep it up for another 35 minutes or so. I made it through the bumpy section without getting nervous, slowing down and getting up out of the aero position, so that was an improvement over last time. I didn't get passed until the first corner, so that was an improvement. I slowed some as the wind picked up but I was still averaging over 21 when I made the last turn. Directly into the wind. I struggled to stay above 18. I got passed by at least 5 people. It was awful. The conversations in my head were not pretty.
It hurts.
Shut up and keep pedaling.
It really hurts and I'm slowing down.
The only way home is through the finish line so the harder you pedal the sooner you're done.
Still 5K to go - crap!
Only 5K to go, keep pedaling!!
And so on.

I finished in 1:12:30, 11th out of 15 in Category 4. But the way I felt, it was like I won a marathon. 20.5 mph average, and I know I can go even faster. Despite my best intentions, I only rode my bike 3 times in the month of July, and twice in August before the race (both times the week of the race - can you cram for a bike race?). Still, I rode better and faster. My cadence was higher, my confidence and bike handling were way better.

Mike was taking pictures at the finish line since he didn't race and got some good ones of me. But looking at them, I am definitely going to have to get my own helmet. Even with my giant head, this one is still a little big on me.

I have always liked the idea of cycling. I've ridden some with Mike, and I did a few group rides when we went to Spain, and I've gone out by myself a few times, but I've always been a little nervous and couldn't really enjoy it as much as I should. Afraid of falling, or being unable to clip out of my pedals when I stop, or crashing. But the last couple times I've been on the bike, I really really liked it. And I want to do it more and I want to get better at it. So even though I'm running 70 miles a week right now, I'm going to ride my bike at least once a week. And after my goal marathon (Mohawk Hudson), I'm going to ride even more. And I'm going to finally figure out this swimming thing. 2014 is going to be the year I run Boston, and it's also going to be the year I start doing triathlons.

No comments:

Post a Comment