I had a serious case of decision fatigue this past weekend. By Thursday, I was feeling anxious about everything I wanted to do and all the time I didn’t have to do it. That happens more often than not here in Colorado when there are so many fun things happening all at once.
On Saturday, there was the Mod Market CX race in Centennial and also the Rapha Women’s 100 ride that morning. Then on Sunday, there was the Blue Sky Velo Cup CX race in Longmont and also Secret Groad, a fun gravel adventure team ride organized by one of my friends in Boulder. On top of that, I had a long list of to-dos I wouldn’t let myself duck no matter how tired I felt come Sunday evening. Oh, and I promised a friend I’d take his dog for a walk on Saturday afternoon while he was out of town.
So. On Thursday last week when I got in my car to drive home from work, I had decisions to make. I barely listened to the podcast I had playing as I rolled everything around in my head…Should I skip Saturday’s CX race to ride the Women’s 100? Should I do both CX races and skip the Women’s 100 and Secret Groad? Should I ride the Women’s 100 and then Sunday’s CX race in Longmont? I had until midnight to sign up for the CX races if I chose to do them.
Ultimately, I decided to race the Blue Sky Velo Cup on Sunday in Longmont since it was a shorter drive than Centennial, which is south of Denver. That way, I figured I could do the Rapha Women’s 100 ride on Saturday.
Well, when Saturday morning finally rolled around, I was not interested in doing a huge group ride. The Rapha Women’s 100 is so special and it’s such a cool initiative to get women cycling together all on one day…but I was craving a solo ride, at my own pace, with stops where I wanted, without small talk. I had a less than fun experience on a HUGE group ride last year where riders were not following the rules of the road while seriously pissing off car traffic. That kind of scarred me, and while I’m sure the women were respectful this year, I didn’t have a huge interest to maybe get myself into that again. Anyway.
Instead, I took myself out for almost 60 miles on the super fun dirt roads northeast of Boulder, then added in a little climbing for good measure. I tried to keep the pace comfortable since I’d signed myself up to race the next day.
And, of course, we ended things at Moxie with a big huge cookie and a cup of coffee. I think every ride should end with cookies, especially the chewy homemade oatmeal chocolate chip kind.
When we finally rolled into race day and when I pulled into the parking lot at the Blue Sky Velo Cup race in Longmont on Sunday morning, I was feeling…uninspired. I didn’t sleep well the night before, I had a killer headache, I got this close to leaving my bike shoes at home, and I spilled oatmeal in my bag on the way over. Honestly, I wished I was still in bed. As I wiped sticky bits of steel cut oats off the top of my helmet and from between the cracks of the zipper, I started making excuses. I let all those things add up to equal a poor day of racing…before I had even gotten on my bike. Eventually, the sight of other riders heading out to pre-ride the course coaxed me out of the car. I threw on a jacket, picked up my number from the registration tent and got moving.
My headache had leeched into my eyeballs and down the back of my neck, but the bright sun began to rise into yet another cloudless Colorado sky, and I perked up a little. A little. My typical warmup is about three laps around the course, depending on how much time I have and how I’m feeling after a couple loops. It helps me figure out the lines, jump the barriers, run the stairs, navigate the sandpit, and shake out the nerves. I also like to watch how others take turns, where and when the unclip and remount the bike, etc.
I spotted a few friends on the sidelines after I was done and watched the men’s race before we rolled to the start line together.
Like always, they called us to the line one by one. Like last week, I found a good spot all the way to the left where I wouldn’t get too boxed in. But with a pretty big field of category three racers in front of us category 4 riders, I had a feeling we’d get caught up together pretty quickly on the first big incline.
Suddenly, the category three riders were sent off onto the course. I looked down, closed my eyes, and took a few deep breaths. I opened them up and looked over at the line of competitors next to me. I had a moment of wishing I was watching the race, not racing it. But as soon as the official blew the whistle, I went into out-for-blood mode, and hit the pedals as hard as I could. Immediately, I moved into second position behind my friend, Toni. There weren’t many convenient places to pass on the course, so I let her drag me around for almost the whole lap before I took the lead and kept it.
I was feeling really good. My legs felt strong, ready, and responsive. My head was totally in the race, I took the corners quickly, but smart. By the third lap (we did 5), I had nailed the barriers, and the big scary descent felt easier than it did in the warmup. Slowly, I passed when I could and picked people off. Before I knew it, I was leading the whole damn thing. With one girl on my tail, I heard someone on the sidelines shout, “There goes the winner, right there!”
Me. That was me. I was the winner.
An annoying and careless fall on the last lap costed me a couple seconds, but not my top podium spot. And when I crossed the line and they announced my name, a big fat smile spread across my face.
“She’s a cat 4??” I heard someone in the pit say to their friend. In that moment, I felt totally unbeatable. I knew I wasn’t, of course, while watching the pro women negative split the hell out of the course and cruise over the barriers with ease. But it felt good to dream for a minute.
I hung out for a bit and watched a few more races before they called podiums for my race. It was a lot of fun to stand on the top and celebrate a great day that I had a bad attitude about at the start.
This weekend coming up, I’m racing at Valmont Bike Park here in Boulder. My parents are even flying in to watch and to celebrate my 30thbirthday (GULP). Very excited to get back on the bike and shred it up again.