THEY WARNED ME.
They told me women’s teams raced dirty. I was on the offense before we even clipped in. Well, when they blew the whistle, I couldn’t actually clip in (new pedals that I wasn’t used to), so I fell to the back of the pack quickly. Eventually, I caught up-ish.
The Front Range Cycling Classic is a 13.45 mile circuit (3 laps) through the Air Force base in the Springs. Because this race doesn’t recognize women’s categories, we were all grouped together: as a Women’s Open. Which means the Cat 1’s & 2’s (elite level) raced against us sorry 4’s and 5’s. The Cat 3s are kind of their own thing. They’re not elite level, but they’re certainly beyond the beginners.
GOING INTO THIS RACE, I KNEW I WASN’T GETTING ANYWHERE NEAR THE TOP BECAUSE I’M A CAT 4.
Cat 1’s and 2’s are those for a reason: they’re fast. Fast as fuck. I couldn’t even clip in correctly at the start.
The first lap I was able to stick with the pack about, well, half-way through until a gap grew and it hurt to keep up and then the wind caught me and my legs were sort of tired and it was my first road race.
I FOUND WHEELS TO SUCK.
Not because I want to be known as a wheel-sucker, but because it’s strategy. The straightaways and the headwind were absolutely killer. I dodged it by hanging on to taller and bigger women’s wheels, letting them take the brunt of the suckfest.
Then I found Katie. She’s a Cat 3. We alternated between pulling and wheel-sucking. She told me if I was feeling it, to just go and to not wait for her. A few times I dropped her, but she eventually caught back up. Throughout the climbs, we chatted a little and it was more of a ride than a race.
This chick was so awesome to race with. I only ever heard stories of how other women’s teams race dirty, so going into my first race, I anticipated riding on the defense the entire time. Instead, I met Katie. She’s a Cat-3 and was incredibly helpful the entire time. We actually worked as a team through the 42 miles of headwind and climbs. When we got to the last climb I told her, “I’ll be honest: I don’t plan on sprinting to the finish.” And instead of using that to her advantage, she replied, “we’ll cross the finish line together.” Now that is the definition of #teamworkmakesthedreamwork
MENTALLY, I DIDN’T FEEL LIKE I WAS RACING
because I knew there was no chance in hell I’d make my way on to the podium. Instead, I focused on learning about Katie. I watched the trees swallow the blue sky as we pedaled deeper into the forest.
It was a hilly course and 40 miles of sorta race pace, my legs were exhausted by the last climb to the finish.
I told Katie I didn’t have in me to sprint to the finish. It was hers if she wanted it. She said, “We’ll cross the finish line together.”
This road race opened my eyes to racing and how, even if we’re on different teams, women find ways to work together and overcome obstacles to help each other out.