The 4th of July weekend was sure to be an
exciting one with two races on my calendar. Friday was the annual Medina YWCA Twin
Sizzler, an unsanctioned citizens race with both age groups and an “expert”
category for those of us with an ego. Sunday would be the third race in the West
Deer series, north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Friday would be for fun, but
Sunday could be serious stuff.
I woke up early Friday morning to rain. If it had
continued, I would have bailed on this race. Since it doesn’t really count for
points in any regard, it wasn’t worth getting wet, sick or possibly, gulp,
crashing (cue foreshadowing music here). But, thankfully, it stopped within
minutes and I continued to prepare for an 8:15 start time.
It was a 27-mile race on a half flat/half rolling course.
There were about 10 women in our field, maybe a couple more. Most notable were
Jane Evely of Tritech and Tiffany
Kenny, a pro mountain biker of Team
Ford Outfitters. I was surprised at the caliber of women who had showed up
for this race. Jane had brought one teammate, Judy Carroll, and Catherine, from
the Summit Freewheelers, was there as well.
However, I would be
riding alone today in a fairly new kit. Just before State Championships a couple
of weeks ago, I took the opportunity to align myself with the best this area has
to offer. West Virginia/Go-Mart
was casually looking for a teammate for their sole female rider, Jenette
Williams, and I was more than happy to come on board. The race turned out well
with Jenette keeping her title and myself eeking out a 4th place in
the 1/2/3 field. Unfortunately, she lives at the other end of the state, so we
won’t be training or racing together much. However, the small amount I’ve
learned so far has been enough to justify the jump.
The beginning was leisurely, with the women’s field
chatting about this and that. I love this part of the race. Besides the start
line, this is where I get to catch up with my peers. It is also the only time I
see most of these women so I take advantage of the pace. Surprisingly, though,
not too far in, Julie Lewis, of Lake
Effect, attacked. I love Julie, but I knew that this wouldn’t last, so I
let someone else chase her down. But then, another attack, this time by Tritech
who had the power of numbers on their side. This, I jumped on. It was pretty cat
and mouse-ish for the entire flat section.
When we hit a fairly large bump in the road, I moved up
front and could hear Tiffany saying something along the lines of “I think we
can break now” so I picked up the pace. Jane, Tiffany and I started to really
move and I was hanging on for dear life, honestly. This was probably one of the
toughest breaks I had ever been in. Due to the course, there was every reason to
believe that they would catch us. There were no more hills and they had at least
7 strong women back there pushing the pace to reel us in.
I admit, my adrenalin was running high when I took a
90-degree turn off a small downhill without swinging out far enough before hand.
I summarily went into the ditch on the other side of the road, achieving some
nasty bruising on my knees and a cut. I immediately jumped back on the bike,
which seemed fine (more foreshadowing music, please), and tried to time trial my
way back up to Tiff and Jane, but it was not to be.
I began to feel my knee throb and blood was now running
down my leg. Not knowing how badly I was hurt and with Sunday to think about, I
made the difficult decision to abandon. My knees turned out to be badly bruised,
with my right swelling nicely and the left turning colors I didn’t know skin
could turn. Anyway, that was my day and I spent Saturday trying to ease my
aching muscles with ibuprofen.
Sunday was sunny,
85-degrees and humid. The 2-hour trip was made more entertaining by my
Freewheeler friends Rob and Doug. There are four West Deer races in the series
and each is more difficult than the last. I had done the third race in ‘02 and
that was what was slated for today. It proved to be just as hard as I
Before the race even started, though, there was a 5-mile
ride to the start line. I was ready to go, on my bike, and leaving the parking
lot when it happened. Apparently when I stood up to gain a little momentum to
catch up with some friends, my foot came out of the pedal and down I went. I
smacked the back of my head hard enough on the pavement to crack my helmet and
acquired more road rash on my already aching back, leg and arm.
A bunch of Freddie
Fu guys behind me witnessed the whole embarrassing incident and were nice
enough to stop, lend me a hand and get me back up on my feet. One of them
mentioned cleat wear possibly being the culprit and sure enough, looking at my
right cleat, it was cracked and worn on the two bottom corners. Geez, could my
luck get any worse? My computer was out and my gears were now slipping all over
the place. Gee, I guess it could. Oh yeah, and my rear deraillieur was now in my
spokes when I shifted into my 39-25.
But I went to the start line regardless. With 11 women
present, I figured Stephanie Swan of UMPC/PCC
would be my biggest competition. I had done the first race in this series about
a month ago and she had outsprinted me for the finish. I was determined not to
let that happen again. This was another uphill finish with a very significant
standing climb about midway in the 6-mile loop. A team I had underestimated was Big
Bang Bikes/Trek, who had three riders there. Between them, Stephanie and I,
we controlled the pace for the first 2.5 laps of the 4 we were to do.
Then we hit that climb, and at the top, Stephanie said to
me, “Want to try and break?” Here I am, anaerobic, and she wants to break? I
knew she was right though, so I think I managed to grunt something that implied
‘sure.’ She was great and could have pulled away from me at any time and did
on that same climb on the last lap. I finished about 10 seconds behind her in
2nd, just happy that I had managed to complete the race without another incident.
boo boo's. :-(
So here I am,
battered and bruised, looking at the last race in the series coming up this
coming weekend. After that it’s Murrysville and the Wendy’s International
with Jenette. I’m hoping to whip my butt into better shape before then
somehow. Oh, for those of you with cracked Bell helmets laying around, they have
a nice replacement policy for only $35. Write
me and I’ll give you the info.
Thanks for reading.