Is Grandma there?
No. She's getting her hair done.
What do you need?
Will you just go get her for me right now?
I'm really busy right now.
Well just tell her to come get me.
Cause I don't feel good!
Well have you talked to the school nurse?
No, she doesn't know anything. Will you just come get me?
Well will you do me a favor then?
Can you bring me my chap stick?
But my lips hurt real BAD!
We pulled up to Waitsburg, a town about 30 minutes outside of Walla Walla for an optional 35 mile road race on Friday. Karen and I had driven 5 hours from Seattle and were struck with how windy it was in the Tricities area and were hoping it would calm down by our 4:30 start time. Turns out the winds were not blowing as hard as they were in the morning - but we still were facing 30mph gusts.
Only 37 ladies showed up for the optional stage - and with prizes going 5 deep it was a drag race from the gun. Bob's Bicycles out of Idaho and Giant/Team Whistler were anxious to get things rolling from the start and one slip of a wheel would shoot you out the back in no time. I managed to have good positioning for the constant surges and attacks - but when push came to shove up a slow steady 10 mile hill - I found myself out of my comfort zone and unable to hold a wheel. Thank goodness Dana was there - she paced me up the hill and we fought to clamber back on the pack. The crosswinds, headwinds and tailwinds were so strong - at one point I had completely dropped her on a crosswind downhill section. I remember looking ahead at Liz and seeing her fight to go downhill - sideways and being blown across the road. Luckily I have weight on my side and was able to stay upright a little more than the smaller ladies.
Once Liz and I regained contact we pacelined it to catch another straggler and at several points within distance of catching the pack. But the winds made what normally would take 5 minutes to bridge take 20. As we climbed another hill, Liz and I decided to save our legs for the following day. Little had we known the pack slowed significantly and had we pushed it just a little more up a hill, we would have caught them. Oh well. Karen did really well - staying on wheels and finished strong in 12th. The poor Pro 1/2 men had two loops - 80 miles of epic proportions. The finished right at dusk. Jimmy came back wiped out and said it was one of the top three hardest days of racing he had ever had. Ditto. It took us 2 1/2 hours to complete only 35 miles.
Saturday the official Tour of Walla Walla started for the 67 Pro 1/2/3 women with a short 6.6 mile time trial. The wind had picked up again but not as bad as the previous day. I opted to ride the disc and 404's - which worked like a sail in both directions thanks to the cross winds. (On a side note - I've been risking a serious flat each time I ride my track specific tubulars on the road. Mark Boursaw was shocked I was rolling them - so was Stephen from GL - but luck was on my side and I escaped a mechanical again!) The course was mainly won on the uphill section - it was hard to gain any time on the swift descent. I remember climbing one of the hills near the top in my big chain ring knowing I should shift to the small ring, causing massive lactic acid build up in my legs and paying for it the following minute as they recovered. I little ringed and sprocketed it up the final stretch, to be passed by Robin from FRM who placed the second fastest time of the day. The ultimate reward - the downhill return was screaming fast - I love riding my bike at high speeds. Turns out I placed a respectable 9th place with a time of 17:04. Only a minute from Suz (16:03) the leader. Not a bad start.
Three hours later we lined up for the Waitsburg Road Race - a 60 mile venture with three 3k long climbs and several rollers with cross, head and tail winds. We were sprinkled with snow as we rolled out the neutral start up the climb for the first time. I had great positioning and was right behind the erratic driver who had a hard time maintaining a slow and steady speed up the hill. He pulled off with 200m to go to the crest and everyone started sprinting past the top. Luckily I was in the front and didn't feel the accordion effect - but for some that meant game over all ready.
I expected the ladies to be frisky as they were the day before - but with longer miles and hills - things were pretty low key. I stayed near the front and out of trouble. That is until we hit Waitsburg for the intermediate sprint and all hell broke lose. I lost quite a bit of positioning that when we rounded the corner for the second time up the hill - I lost all wheels and found myself struggling to stay on. Next thing I know the caravan passed me - and it was all I could do to pace myself near them. Rounding the top of the hill I saw a few stragglers and decided to book it toward them. There's strength in numbers in the wind - the thought of completing the remaining miles solo was NOT an option. I put the pedal to the medal and rode hard. Luckily some other ladies were willing to push it - and we started catching people. First a group of two, then four - next thing we know we're a solid group of 8 trying to make up some lost ground. Unfortunately my weak mix of honey and sea salt wasn't enough fuel to keep the watts up - a final surge near Waitsburg and the looming final climb sent me off the back again. It was all I could do to heave myself up the final climb. Though I did pass two guys who were in much worse shape than me - one guy nearly fell off his bike as I passed him. I lost some serious time on the hill - but still was within the time cut and was excited to show my ability in the crit on Sunday.
Sunday morning I woke up and felt decent - considering the 100 miles in 24 hours. With some encouragement from Alynda, Jimmy, Nick and Karen, we lined up for 45 minutes of fun in down town Walla Walla. That is seriously one of the funnest crit courses of the year. Luckily it wasn't that hard - I was able to maintain good position and Liz won the second to last lap in a miscalculated finish. Dope! The final sprint came and I hesitated just slightly right before the final corner. Had I followed my instinct and gone then - maybe my placement would have been higher? But placing 8th in a pack of 47 isn't bad.
All in all - another great weekend of racing. I have identified my greatest weakness and will diligently start working on it to improve. Track season starts up in a few weeks - but I'm not sure if I'm ready to give up road racing quite yet....
And yes, all that wind definitely made my lips scream for chap stick. But I'm sure the nurse has like 50 of them.