It’s been a bit of a hiatus, thanks to travel and Life Stuff. But I have an actual race to report!
(My anxiety-driven-perfectionist decision to skip the Shawnigan Lake Tri because I am in less-than-peak condition turned out to be a bonehead move. It would have been a great race anyway, but oh, well)
I raced the 5 km Rumble* Dallas Road Time Trial, the first event of three (TT, Road race, and the Bastion Square Criterium) running this weekend. I’ve been experimenting way, way outside my comfort zone this spring (see also: Biking, Mountain; Road Race, Latoria; Roubaix, Barry’s), and it felt really good to be back in my sweet spot where I sort of know what I’m doing, the Time Trial. No tactics, no sudden pickups, (relatively few) crazy corners. Just put your head down and ride as hard as you can over the distance. I mean, really. I didn’t even have to save anything for the run.
So I dusted off the tri bike, got out my goofy spaceman helmet, wrestled into a skinsuit in baby-blue argyle, and rolled down to the race site. Spent the late afternoon putting up fencing and signs on the course, and went to pick up my number and the start list. I knew my class started first, but boggled when I saw that I was the second person out of the gate. Yes. I had 30 women starting in 30-second intervals behind me trying to run me down, and (figuratively) over 150 even faster people bottled up behind the cork in the dam that was me. Warmed up with 2.5 loops of the course and a few accelerations and made my way to the start.
I have two pre-race modes. One is Frantic, and one is Silent. I went for Silent (Frantic has never really turned out to be a winning approach), while 99.5% of the others around me expressed themselves in a different mode, Chatter. We learned at the very last minute that we were not going to be using the Super-Pro, Very Skeery starting ramp on site. Rank amateurs like us got to start on the ground. The Chatter lasered in on this subject, bursting with late-breaking bravado (“Well, Damn!!! I totally wasn’t scared of that thing, really really!”). I glowered as I turtled deeper into my silly hat.
The race itself is ridiculously short, really. I still, 24 hours later, haven’t seen the results, because I had to bolt from the site to go to a Sting concert, but I think I did it in about eight minutes. It’s a fast downhill start, a hairpin U-turn, and then a 2.5 km slog up a grade and into what was, thank goodness, a gentle edition of our standard evening westerly breeze. The course is shaped sadistically, designed so the twin realizations that 1) the hill doesn’t actually stop at Clover Point; and 2) you went out too fast, arrive in your mind at about the same moment. The last third of the uphill segment heading to the second U-turn near the Terry Fox statue was gruesomely painful. I decided not to bother with hating life, because, after all, you can do almost anything for just eight minutes. As my sister the vet taught me, “Bleeding always stops. Eventually.” I tucked deep into the bike and drove hard. I streamed into the rush of the passing wind and spinning carbon. And I indulged in an upshift as I passed my minute-[wo]man, the kind of shift that produces a deep, satisfying, “crack!” sound in deep-dish wheels.
The final leg was glorious. Back down the hill, downwind, emptying the tank, leaving little shards of myself streaming in my wake as I dumped it all into the bike. I blew through the finish and onto the Clover Point loop for cooldown. The first lap, all I thought was, “my lungs are going to explode.” The second lap, I had a brief panic: “ZOMG, I totally don’t know where the Transition Zone is!!!” By the end of the third lap, I’d mostly regained consciousness.
Stood around stretching and watching the racing for a little while, but had to eventually beat feet home to go clean up for the concert.
This morning, I topped the race with a 105-km ride that included two trips up Munn Road. I was feeling pretty cocky until the second time up Munn, when the TT made itself known in no uncertain terms. I think I’ve pretty well ensured there is no way I’ll be riding the crit tomorrow. And that’s just fine.
*And, by the way: Rumble is delicious, local to Victoria, good for you and comes in a nifty reusable bottle. Drink Rumble.