I wish I had made it to this race previously, but the last couple years I've been out of town this week (Trans-Wisconsin and then a weeklong trip to the Keweenaw and racing the Chain Drive). I will be back next year and will plan my other trips accordingly! The park was an ideal location for a start/finish and it was great to see so many riders stick around and talk after the race. The course was enjoyable and although it maybe isn't 'ideal' for me with very little climbing it certainly provides a challenge while also being great fun to ride.
One thing I didn't like was the neutral? lead-out. I wasn't sure where it had ended and it seemed people had already started racing before a lot of other people had worked their way through the trail section. I found myself chasing before the cue-cards had even started! I also right away noticed that I felt weak doing so and hoped I was just tired from the drive.
Long story short- I rode hard, tried to look strong etc., but felt "off" the whole time. After the checkpoint we got down to under 10 riders and I was really suffering when I knew that I shouldn't really be feeling that bad at that point in the race. Then I started getting little crampy feelings in my legs. That was when I went into a downward mental spiral revolving around how poorly I had been riding since mile 130 or whatnot in the Royal. Miles clicked by and I even got yelled at by the group once for not pulling... I tried to drink and recover. I sucked. Then I realized that something really was off. My saddle height was too low! Had it been slipping? SHIT. Why hadn't I ridden this bike since the Royal? I didn't want to admit that I was cramping as I still hoped to make it to the finish with the lead group but I did mention quietly to Ted that I needed to adjust it or something. We were being chased though and neither of us could do anything to get me the time needed. Besides that, it was way too late. I was starting to hurt in ways I have only ever hurt before during the Royal. Finally I did stop and fix the post and then sort of limp the last 20 miles or so on in by myself. With the saddle raised a full inch and the clamp tightened as much as possible I found that the cramping feelings started to go away. However, I did not find that I had the energy or power left in my legs to join any of the various chase groups as they rode by me. I was destined to ride in alone. I told myself that this was why my year long goals for 'gravel racing' have FINISH EVERY RACE high up on the list. It is always an accomplishment to fnish and I should be proud. It was still frustrating though. Excuses are excuses and this one is lame, can only be blamed on my mechanic... and that's me. I need to not do things like that to myself it is plenty, plenty hard to compete without.
It felt great to finish and to hear about how the 'race' had gone down. Major props to Koeneman for the win and The Hollywood for beating Ted by a bike throw. Keith Bianchi getting in there in 4th had to feel good too. Plus Linda Sone was only 5 minutes back! Wish I would have been able to stick with that chase group for a while! Congrats to all the finishers.
No pictures, sorry! Lots of pictures upcoming soon from the rest of my weekend.
List of Postcards - In the interest of letting folks know that I received their card (without the hassle of emailing each and every one of you... not that it is too much work....
2 days ago