Wow! The women of VeloRosa have found the racing bug. Five women came out on a windy May evening to push themselves for the seven-mile time trial. So, you may ask, how hard is just seven miles; I ride 20 or more every weekend? True that seven miles pales in comparison from a pure mileage stand point.
But let’s look at the nature of the beast called the time trial (TT). It is you again nature. No help. No draft. No fans, except for the start and end line. You. Wind. Sun. Dirt. Silence. Empty fields. As you wait in line to go, there is little chatter. As you watch the person take off in front of you and they disappear over the little rise in the road it hits you: you are alone. You. Your bike. Your fears. Your doubts. Your mind. Your body.
You sit in the ready position. Clipped in. A strange man holding your seat/buns. You on the bike ready to take off. Your mind doubts; wonders; ponders; wishes; hopes; dreams. It is like Zach Johnson preparing to sink the putt to win the Masters. The silence is deafening. "Go!" and you are off. Your heart is racing. Your HR monitor is binging at your to slow it down. Your legs are twitching. You can see the person in front of you and your have the NEED to catch them. But it is much like the mirage of water in the desert. You can see but rarely can you catch it. Then you need to settle down and settle in to a sustainable cadence. Seven is not that long but it can kill you if you start off like it is a 400 meter sprint.
So you reign in your mind and you try to find a rhythm. But don't get too complacent as 30 second behind you started another rider. Could be a Cat 1 guy; a masters' racer of either gender; a triathlon TT specialist. So hurry up and don't get passed. But don't burn your last match as you are only 1.5 miles into the race. The road appears to go on forever. A country road to nowhere. You can see the horizon but you have no clear view of where the turnaround is at and how much further you have to go. Concentrate! Someone is chasing you down. You are the prey that the person behind you is seeking.
Oh, but you say it does not matter unless the person behind you in your category? HA! When you are driving your car and another one comes out of nowhere and passes you I dare you to not try to accelerate to catch back up and pass that car right back. Remember the TT is you, the road, your sweet bike (and the person chasing you down).
Wait, you now can see the turnaround point. Cool, half-way done. This is not so bad! Oh no, got to slow down, but not too much, pick a line, pull a 180 degree U-turn. Be careful to stay on the road (try a U-turn at 10 or 15 miles per hour). Don't hit the course marshal. Don't hit the pylon. ACCELERATE. Dang, that person behind you is RIGHT there.
Now your legs are burning. They liked the previous rhythm. The slowing and turning and acceleration is like being jolted awake in the middle of an awesome dream. You shift, try to find a comfortable place on the seat, adjust your hands. Crap, the wind changed direction. You rethink your body position, cadence, speed. Where did all of these little rollers come from? You are sure they were not on the way out, which is the other lane of this same road. You are passing others that started behind you; a constant reminder that you are being hunted down by many. Back to the chase mentality. Go and get that person in front of you.
OK, so you only race TT against the clock. All of this nonsense does not happen in your mind. Sure if you are a yogi or Zen master I concede my position. Otherwise, turn those cranks and start praying for this to end. Meatloaf sang: "I am praying for the end of time." He must have meant time TRIAL.
One final rise and you think you can see the school. There was a school. Was there a ball field? Are those cars? It looks close enough that you can run there but it is not quite that close. Smooth pedal strokes. Your thighs are burning. You lungs want relief. This sustained effort has about drained your tank. Don't get too excited and blow up before you get to the end. Oh so close, yet so far. Contain!
Then there it is. It? The finish line. Manna. Relief. You cross. You lay across your handle bars. Wiped is an understatement. You spin for a brief cool down. You then do it some more because if you do not, it is really going to be a sore morning tomorrow. You congrat others. They do the same for you. You all have suffered the same. Whether you rode a sub 17, a sub 20 or a 30 minute TT. It all hurts.
Finally you sit up and ride back to the start. You feel a bit of pride coming on. You look at those Cat 1 guys. You look at the family and friends. You look at the volunteers. You sit up a bit straighter because you are now a TIME TRIALIST.
Even better, you are a PINK TT. You rock the biking world. Welcome to VeloRosa mystique. Where we tell you we just help women ride bikes but where we really transform them into conquering dreams they were afraid to dream.
This TEAM rocks. Congrats to all that rode that little TT called Elkhart. So how far is just seven miles.....
See ya at the races.
Your Roving Race Reporter,
W CAT 4 2nd Abby G 3rd Erika Y
W 40 J2nd Julie G
W Open 2nd Aryn F 4th Megan K
Blogger note: Julie G will always be VeloRosa to me!