Sunday, February 1, 2015

Boulevard Road Race Recap (The Long Version)

I have no idea where to start with this one, because I still can't really figure out what went on yesterday during my 3rd experience racing Boulevard Road race (first was 4 years ago in college, and second was last year). All I can say for sure is that you know you are a mountain bike racer when you cannot for the life of you figure out what the heck tactics were going on/what you should have done in response in a bike race.

But first, a picture of my motivation to race road bikes in San Diego County, the best nachos of your life. 
So good I am already trying to find another excuse to go down to Alpine...

Obscenely confusing tactics aside, Boulevard is my favorite road race in SoCal, and even though I am 99% a mountain bike racer at this point, I can't imagine missing it. The race started as usual, with the group riding conservatively around the first 22.7 mile lap to the base of the hill. The first time up the nasty 20ish min climb I covered some attacks and eventually was off the front with local strong woman Tracy. At the top we were 45 seconds up from the pack, not enough time to be worth it with just two of us. We let the chase of 7 catch us and I tried to recover. It was hard work sitting in though, somehow I found myself on the front several times covering small attacks that no one else seemed to want to chase. Second time up the hill the group stayed pretty much together until I attacked, again bringing only one other girl with me, not worth it. Seeing how I had already done a lot of work/pushed the pace on the climb twice, I thought I would sit in for good till the last time up the climb to the finish. I chatted with some of the more experienced ladies about tactics, tried to stay in the way back, recovered a little. But then, halfway through the 22 mile lap a girl went off the front (while I was picking my nose in the back) and NO ONE did anything to chase her down! A minute or so went by and I became a bit frantic. Why was no one going after her? Were they just going to let her win? Eventually I went to the front and started to work because I certainly didn't want to hand the win over that easy! After some time on the front I sat up and moved over so someone else could help out. No one did. I worked some more, sat up again, and again, no one came through to help. Eventually I put my head down and decided to do all the work, because even if I was shelled for the final climb, I couldn't stand the idea of giving up like that. I eventually caught the chick who had been off the front, and then tried again to get someone else to pull through. Nothing. So basically I sat on the front all the way to the climb and then, because I was pissed at the group for leaving me in the wind, I attacked. Oddly, this worked. Tracy and Caitlin eventually found me, and we tortured each other the whole way up, until about 500m to the finish. At this point Tracy and I were just waiting for the other to initiate the final sprint. It was agonizing, waiting, stressing about which gear to be in, trying to figure out exactly when I should dig in and attack, worrying about the fact that she had raced smarter than me and worked less during the last 3 hours. I can't remember who eventually initiated it, but suddenly we were riding as hard as possible up the hill to the finish, up shifting as we went, pushing down on the pedals with agonizing force. I kept telling myself that I wanted it more, that I could withstand any amount of pain for the win, that I had it in me, and then, as soon as the sprint had started, I was over the line, in first. 
This part was unbelievable painful, but so worth it :) Also I may have stolen this picture!
I thought about this moment a lot over that past week or so. I though about all the time and energy I have put into training, about how smart my coach is and how much faster I feel from working with him, and a lot about how one flat tire or busted shifter cable could cost me this win. In the end, winning Boulevard was just as sweet as I imagined it would be, maybe more because I had worked so hard and was still somehow able to pull it off. 

When there is no podium, you just gotta improvise.
This race marks the first time I have ever won a real P123 road race, and the first time I've won a jersey in a race. It was pretty exciting times down there in SD county, and then, of course, there were nachos!
I can think of a few things I could have done differently, and maybe next time I will learn from my silly mistakes because doing all that chasing and sitting on the front could have easily cost me the win, but for now I think I'll stick with mountain bike racing :)

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