Am I crying? Wait a second, are those tears because of the wind, or because I am crying? I'm wearing glasses, so maybe not the wind. Fuuuuuck my hands hurt. This descent is obscene. Why the fuck did they make use come down this. Five times! Yep- I'm crying.
My thoughts descending the final hill at the Copperopolis Road Race.
I'll admit, I did read the race flyer describing this event as California's answer to Paris-Roubaix and I figured it can't be that bad. Loads of races in NorCal are over crappy surfaces. I may have underestimated how Paris-Roubaix-esque the course was (well, I never actually rode the cobbles in northern France but I can imagine). The surface was uncomfortable, and there was lots of it. It's true- I genuinely welled up and was whimpering on the final descent as my hands were in so much pain flying down that hill. I guess we all had to deal with it and my soft, delicate palms decided that they weren't impressed. So, for the first time ever I cried during a race. It may sound ludicrous (that I cried *without* crashing) but it was horrendous. I was really worried about getting a flat so put my tyres to 95/105 psi-higher than I usually run. There wasn't much give through the bike and by about mile 80 I was really starting to feel the toll of the battering that a load of poorly paved farm roads can provide
There were a few other firsts too. First nature break in a race that I have been in. Well, technically not the first. There was a mass pee break in the neutral zone at the start of stage 3 of Green Mountain Stage Race, but that was before we had started racing. This pee break was about 45 miles into our 108 mile adventure, so I guess it counts as legit. In case you were wondering, I didn't actually pee at this opportunity. Didn't need to go.
Another first was a friendly rival team's car asking me if I needed anything. Erm... sure. "Got anything to drink?" - can't be too hydrated in a road race over 100 miles with almost 9,000 feet of climbing. That thing, where you get a bottle from a moving car as you are pedaling is more nuanced than it looks on TV. Try it. Or don't. You might get run over. But anyway, it took me two attempts.
On the start line of the race there was somewhat of a kerfuffle. A bit of excitement. This race wasn't the first time that I have raced against professional cyclists, however it was the first time that I had raced against a pro from a world tour team. He wasn't the only paid cyclist in the bunch on the day, but he was the only one who was heading to the Tour de France in about 3 months. He was pretty good.
I learned something else on the start line too. Don't change your power meter's battery at the start of the race then ask your Garmin to search for it when you reactivate it. My Garmin flipped its shit, just saying "multiple sensors found". I thought it knew the serial number but apparently it got grumpy and didn't want to play. It figures- there is no higher concentration of power meters than on the start line of a race. Oh well, power meter wasn't going to help much anyway: big hill, cycle up. Got it.
The race:- I didn't do too badly ending up 19/63. Usually anything out of the top ten is meaningless but for this event being up near the top half was pretty challenging- of the 63 starters, various incidences led to 38 DNFs (that's 60%). Was a shame that I was being such a moaner about my hands as I failed at the end not so much because of my legs, but because I couldn't go down a hill and be sure of using the brakes effectively. Or, for that matter, just being able to hold onto the bars effectively. Everyone else had the same shit to deal with so I guess the result is fair. Maybe next time I will get some tubeless wheels at 65 psi to race on. Double bar tape. Strap my wrists. Full suspension maybe?