Sunday was the opening of the road season in Oregon. It was also my first real race (that one time at PIR doesn't count). I had some goals for this race:
1. Finish the race
2. Don't finish last
3. Learn something (that one came from my coach, can you tell?)
Cherry Pie took place on an incredibly beautiful day that had everyone thinking, "What the hell is wrong, I thought we were in Oregon!" I had three teammates to ride with in the Cat 4 women's race. We started with a long neutral rollout that let us get our legs in working order. At some point the guy in the lead car shouted, "You're racing now!" and we sorta sped up a little. The first half of the race for me involved a lot of careful not panicking and trying to avoid getting shunted to the back of the pack. I managed pretty well, and eventually secured a spot about a third of the way back, content to let someone else do most of the work. That's about when someone right in front of me went down and took a few others out with her. Somehow I managed to stay upright, despite running directly over someone's wheel. That little bit of excitement was enough to let the front third of the pack (including all three of my teammates) get a good lead up the road. Another girl (with hot pink tires and bar tape, no less) was stuck at the front of the stragglers, but didn't look like she was making much progress in closing the gap. No one else was taking the initiative, so I dived in and somehow managed to bridge the two groups. There was a very gratifying series of, "Nice Job!" "Thanks!" and "You Rock!" from the girls I had pulled with me. At that point I figured I had done something to be proud of and really didn't care how the rest of the race went. Unfortunately, the finish line was still 10 miles away.
The rest of the race went something like this: I sat behind my teammates trying to recover from my heroic effort. We somehow end up at the front of the pack. We make the 90 degree turn that was supposed to signal the beginning of the end and then hit a hill. I knew the race would end with a hill, so I gave everything I had to get up this hill (everything was very little at this point). A few people pass me, but I feel pretty good. The road levels out a bit, and then we hit the second half of the hill. No one knew that there was going to be a second half. I'd already used up all my reserves on the first half. A few more people passed me. Then some more. My legs screamed. A lot. Then I saw my cheering section (Thanks guys!) and somehow made it across the finish line. According to OBRA I finished 14th.
So, that's it. I survived my first road race and accomplished all of my goals. Time to start thinking about the next race.