Words to live by...

"A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others." ~Author Unknown

"A good wife is her husband's biggest fan -- no matter how crazy he is." ~Me

"May God give you.. For every storm a rainbow, for every tear a smile, for every care a promise and a blessing in each trial. For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share, for every sigh a sweet song and an answer for each prayer." ~ Irish Blessing

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kindergarten teacher by day...

...bike racer by night!

In the snow.

Epic Eric's pogies make me glow!
Eric, I do want PINK pogies... and while I was riding, I thought you should also design Toe-gies :)

Saturday night was the second race in the winter series up in Leadville.

I looked forward to this race since the moment the last race ended.

It was everything I hoped it could be... and more.

We woke up Saturday morning with a routine visit to the vet and then a leisurely breakfast at one of our favorite breakfast spots. We lazied around, slowly packed up the car and our bike gear, and got to head out for the race around 2:00. This lack of scrambling around early in the morning? I could get used that. It suits me quite well to get to sleep in.

After meeting up with our friends at the park-n-ride, we had a pleasantly uneventful drive up to Leadville. We even got there early, resulting in an outstanding pre-race snack of cheese/jalapeno stuffed soft pretzel and hot chocolate in town. We got to hang out with our friend Michelle, who we haven't seen in a while. It's always a welcome change to have another girl around to buffer the testosterone that comes from the boys! Eventually we headed over to the Tennessee Pass Nordic Center where the race was being held. We saw a surprising number of people in the parking lot compared to the last race. Turns out, 65 riders started this race. 65! Amazing, considering the previous race in the series, during the day, in nearly perfect weather, saw only 25 or 30 at the start line. There also appeared to be a decent number of girls -- 10 or 11 as it turns out -- and I was told by Sterling, our friendly race director, that I had some competition in the form of one other single speed girl.

Lounging around a fire with good friends is always high on my like list and we did plenty of this before and after the race. There were even super cute puppies walking around the center, making the experience even more wonderful!

Eventually the pre-race preparations took priority over socializing, and I got my many layers of clothes on and headed out for a quick warmup with Chris. We rode up part of the first climb, and I quickly realized that the gearing on my single speed would most likely cause me to be walking up a lot of that hill. Epic Eric's pogies were going to make my hands deliciously warm though! We spun back to the starting line and waited with our friends as the 7:00 start time quickly approached.
Erik and I waiting for the race to start.

Go! Courtesy of the Vail Daily

Before I knew it we were starting and, as expected, I eventually had to get off and walk. I had the other single speed girl in my sights, and my plan was mostly just to not let her out of my sight. I saw she was walking too, so for a few steps that made me feel better. My competitive side, that has been sleeping peacefully since our racing last summer, quickly awoke and I realized I should get my butt on the bike and pedal past her. I also thought that if I rode past her fast enough, she may not realize that I was also on a single speed, and thus she would not get on and chase :) haha. I'm not sure it worked, but it at least made me laugh at myself. I slowly turned over the pedals up the rest of the hill, passing a few guys that were walking and encouraging me for being on the bike "even on a single!"

This part was okay, although I got pretty hot in my typically-over-dressed-state. We got to do a nice, fast flatish/downhill part and that at least gave the legs and core temperature a little bit of relief. The other single speed girl was still within sight, although behind me luckily. Eventually we got to the WORST part of the course (and if this part was the worst, that is pretty darn good). It was a big, long downhill, but the snow was soft thus making the decent virtually unrideable for us mortals (Chris rode the whole thing...). I tried to ride it some of the time, sometimes doing a one-legged push, sometimes getting brave enough to put both feet on the pedals. This is when the other single speed girl caught me and quickly passed me. She decided to run her bike down this entire decent. A great idea if you have any sort of running stamina whatsoever... which I don't. I tried, but she pulled away pretty quick.

The course wound around for a while, with some rideable ups, some steep enough to cause me to walk, and more rideable flat/downs. The other single speeder and I yo-yo'd basically the entire race. She pushed me pretty hard, and if she hadn't been there, I wouldn't have gone nearly as hard as I did. Eventually we got to a big, open area where the views were outstanding. Being near the back of the 65 person pack, I could see bike lights stretching as far as I could see. The nearly full moon lit up the surrounding mountains and made the snow glow a beautiful white.

It was blissful.

At this point I was pretty sure I was last.

As in... well... very last.

I couldn't see any lights behind me, and it was as really open stretch, so my best guess is that I was, in fact, last.

I tried to make peace with that. The single speed girl had gone past me at some point and I didn't know where she was by now. It's funny, I thought "she's a girl, riding a single speed, at a night snow race, she must be really hard core and fast, there's no way I'll catch her" -- never did it enter into my mind that I, too, was doing that same unthinkable thing. It's like my mind still doesn't believe I actually participate in this stuff.

I rode behind two other guys, and eventually passed them. Chris always joked that with a single speed, you either go fast or you go home. I don't think I ever really got it until this race. It's so true. You ride the gear you have, you don't really have any other option. It seemed the gearies were taking it easy on this beautiful flatish section and I passed probably 8 of them on this section alone. Not really even passed them, but blew past them. Their lights quickly disappeared behind me and I couldn't believe it. In this pack, I also caught back up and passed the other single speed girl. I think she hung on for a while, but then she wasn't there any more. Not sure what happened. Perhaps she chose to ride with one of the groups that I passed.

The trail wound around some more, eventually climbing up a big annoying road that we got to go down at the start of the pretty section. I walked a bunch. I was bonked pretty hard at that point. I had really cranked on the flater section, and that caught up with me on the uphill. The other single speed girl caught up closer behind me, although she and a few other guys seemed to be walking that last part of the hill too. From here on out, she'd get close and then drop off behind. Eventually I didn't ever see her again.

I climbed up the dryish road to pass by the finish line for the start of my last little loop. I passed my cheering friends, wishing more than anything that I was finished instead. My legs were killing me and I was really thirsty. Chris, in his big puffy coat, tagged along the last little loop, following behind me and telling me not to give up. I think he could see that I was nearly toast. Ready to just get off the bike and crawl into a little hole.
Apparently at night part of my head disappears. Courtesy of the Vail Daily.

Eventually I finished and it felt good.
I do believe I'm high-fiving Erik because he had unfrozen liquid.

In the end I got beat by several Leadville local girls... although they do have that whole altitude advantage -- haha. I won the female single speed class -- #1 out of 2. It was a hard battle between the two of us though, so I feel like in the end, that makes up for the lack of numbers. When all was said and done, I put 10 minutes into her. I'm not sure how. Maybe she stopped to pee or something :)

Erik, Brett, and Bill put up outstanding times -- Erik and Brett both pushing single speeds as well.
Chris and Brett (yes, ladies, Brett is s-i-n-g-l-e AND talented)

Erik and Bill (neither are single, but both are talented!)

Chris finished 2nd out of 65 people, competing against some really fast guys. Coming off a rest week and hauling around a 35 pound bike on a fast course makes my legs just hurt thinking about it. He's a monster. And I love him.

After the race we got to hang around in our post-race bliss, eating, talking, and soaking up the heat from the fire. I even got to talk with a few great people who I had never officially met, but know of through this crazy bike world and these fun Leadville races.

After Chris drove us back to Denver, I eventually made it to bed around 2 am.

Sleepy, but full of smiles.


Chris said...

You raced so hard, I'm so proud of you!

Ali B. said...

Wow! Congrats to both of you! Brr.. looks so chilly. I only leave my house to run to and from my car these days. Tired of winter! :)