I repeat, Blog is not suited for Triathletes! what a great weekend. Although I started my trip on a sad note due to my clinic being cancelled, I had to change my feelings quickly in order to try to enjoy the 8 hour trip to the Gwinnett Cycling fest. After a couple food/pottie stops, we (Jim B., Karel and I) arrived at Stage 1 of the Gwinnett cycling fest. How cooll was this! We were at a race car course for the cycling race! I couldn't believe that the climbs and descends on this race course for cars and the fact that there were so many cyclists was amazing! Jim races in the 40+ and cat. 3 category so for this race he did the 40+ race a little before Karel's Pro 1,2 race. I couldn't just stand around, so I put on my cute pink Hammer cycling shorts and jersey and warmed up around the course with karel. We had a lot of fun cycling together and because I've never warmed up with him before, I'd like to say it brought him good luck. Then again, I could just be his traveling podium girl! The race was exciting and karel looked incredibly smooth. After an hour of racing the circuit race, you could barely see the riders it was so dark! Good think they had transponders on their bikes or else you would have no idea what place anyone was in at the finish! well, I could see Karle sprinting to the line and I couldn't believe it....4th place!!!! Holy heck! Out of over 40 rides, 4th place! What a way to start the weekend. Also, he earned $90 for his finish!!! In honor of his finish, I felt we needed to go to Outback for a very late dinner to celebrate! After a 9:30pm dinner we were all really tired and quickly checked into our hotel (best western) and headed off to bed. I had a big day ahead of me in the morning. I had been in contact with two elite triathletes (Husband and wife, Steve and Kris Kester) and they invited me to ride with them on fri morning. A 50 mile bike ride in the hills was just what I was looking for, but the intensity of the ride was tough! I just loved climbing and I really wanted to take advantage of the hills in GA! After 50 miles I was relieved to see my hotel! I had a great time and I was amazed that we averaged 20 mph for the ride. I knew we hammered it out and even with a few 30-sec rotations and most of the time sitting on their wheels, I couldn't believe how toasted I was after the ride. Karel and Jim made a stop at the grocery store and I was happy to see yummy food and starbucks after my well-needed shower. Most of the day I laid around and did nothing while the guys road the road race course for sat. Fri evening was the crit race in the Gwinnett Arena parking lot. Not Karel's ideal place for a crit race and the .7 mile course was incredibly tough! An uphill climb to finish each loop and crazy tight turns to round out each loop. Karel unfortunantly did not finish the race and after 20 minutes, he and many others were out of the race. This was Karel's first race that he ever dropped out of, but in Cycling, if you can not keep up or contribute to the group, there is not sense continuing. Especially in crits were the intensity is high and speeds are fast, once you get dropped you are done with the race. Karel just didn't feel it tonight and it was hard seeing him so down and depressed. His first race to stop and he just couldn't believe it. Karel was one of many who stopped the race on fri. so even though he didn't finish, he still scored points for the loops he completed. I tried cheering him up but it is hard. The mind has to be strong and he had to convince himself that the 4th place finish on thurs was reason enough to show that he is still a strong rider. Before his crash Karel was always a crit racer but after you take some time off, you loose the confidence and skills which are necessary in the tight courses of crit racing. Well, Karel couldn't be down for too long on fri. cause he knew sat. was a special day. My first road race! I was a littl nervous but very excited to do a cycling race. I've been to enough races and watched plenty of cycling races with Karel to understand what goes on in a cycling race, but for the cat. 4 women's race that I was about to participate in, I don't think strategy is involved. As I warmed up in the rain, 11:10am was approaching and I cycled my way to the starting line of the 7 mile loop road race course. This was a very hilly course so I knew I had to be good with the gears and climbing legs. The race started and the pace was very slow. I couldn't believe how slow these 10 girls were going!! I had no choice but to get to the front and lead the pack. Seriously, 15 mph to start..too slow for me! The first couple miles were downhills and rollers which were kinda scary in the rain. The rain did stop but the ground was still wet. The last 2 miles of the loop had some big climbs but I was feeling good for the 5 loops which we were to complete. After loop 1 I see Karel on his bike warming up and taking pictures of me. I don't think he could have been more proud of me at that moment. well, the next loop was finished and I started making moves and attacking to try to get the 4 girls off my wheel. I would create several gaps but I slowed down hoping that someone would take the lead and make a move to make the race interesting. Nope, nothing! So after 2 or 3 loops, I was getting upset that I was doing all the works and just pulling these girls for over an hour up and down the 7 mile course! Finally the bell lap came and they were still on my wheel. Out of the starting field, only 4 girls were left and I just knew that they were having a hard time on my wheel but I was sure they were waiting for the sprint to try to beat me. In cycling there is a lot of strategy but I just couldn't imagine going easy for the race so I had no choice but to lead the whole time. I even turned around and asked the girls if they were going to take a turn pulling and they said no!! How rude! I could hear them huffing and puffing and I should have just hammered out the last loop but I really wanted someone to make a move to make it exciting. I wasn't too tired, but after 25 miles or so of pulling, it would have been nice to get a break. So at the last mile I had to decide when to make my move and once I did, the two girls behind me had no choice but to sprint down the finish line. Errrrr, i was 3rd. what a bummer. oh well, a podium finish, a medal, a great training ride and a very proud boyfriend. Karel and I rode around a little bit and he was just so happy for me! His race started around 1 so he missed me on the podium, but I took a pic. for proof that i can be a roadie! I had a lot of fun, but I will have more fun racing in the Women 1,2,3 division once I can move up from Women 4.
Karel raced for 70 miles, which was right around 3 hours or so. I was 4 for 4 on my water bottle tosses to Karel and I spent my time in the feed zone helping him out and making him drinks. The field started out with 60 riders in the pro 1,2 race and at the last loop, there were 2 breakaway groups and only 25 riders left on the course! The race was crazy fast and a lot of people were making moves and attacking. Karel just wanted to show himself that he could finish after fri night and he ended up with 18th place! Just three places away from a small cash payout, but he was just happy that he finished the race. Even more, he was still in 10th place for the ominium! After not finishing fri's race, he still had enough points to keep him in top 10 for the overall 4-stage payout. Sunday was a great day for all of us because it was the last day. Jim raced at 9am and I went with him to the 3 mile circuit race at 7:30am. Although I would have preffered to ride that morning, I had my fuel belt on and I was ready to run! (*this is triathlon related!). I ended up running their circuit loop 5 times for a nice 15 mile ride in around 2 hours. There were a lot of uphills on the course and I was in great company with all the riders. I had people ask me what loop I was on and I enjoyed seeing the junior riders spinning their legs off on the course! After Jim's race we headed back to the hotel to pack up and shower. After I ate my breakfast, we were off to the race course again for karel's race. As the last race of the weekend, Karel wanted to do well enough to keep him in top 10 but he was so tired that he didn't know how well he would finish. The 90 minute race was exciting and I was able to see karel every 5 or 6 minutes. The race was interesting because there were a lot of attacks and breakaways and the downhill finish of each loop made it hard for me to see Karel among over 50 riders! The last loop is always exciting because you never know what the riders have left or what's going to happen and Karel ended up in 11th place!!! once again, a top 15 finish earned him so money and for the omnium he ended up in 9th place!!! Congrats karel, what an exciting weekend!! He is $185 richer and most importantly, he showed himself that he is a strong rider. This was just what he needed to tell his mind and body that he is ready to step up the training and push hard again (just like before his crash and the Tour de Gila). Jim also had a great weekend and with racing two races on sunday, he was also tired after the weekend of racing.
The car ride home was long but we finally made it back to flat, borning, how can you improve on the bike, florida...booo for flat! Looks like this will be a quick week with the Top Gun triathlon on sat. Now that I've seen karel do so well, I hope I can show myself that I have what it takes to possibly win a race! We will see....Congrats again Karel!