Since I already talked about my love/hate relationship with time trials I will move on to the rest of Saturday. After the race we were all in need for food so among our choices in the interesting town of Union City, GA we all went to IHOP. Of course, with 4 healthy cyclists and 1 triathlete (ok, cyclist for the weekend) we all ordered egg beater omelets and a stack (3) of whole grain pancakes w/ sugar free syrup. After a few re-fills of water, we cleaned our plates (all but me w/ the small belly who had to save 2 pancakes and half of my mushroom omelete w/ no cheese for later) and headed to the hotel. I think all the guys (well, the ones in my room, Karel and Cody) took a nap and I was on the computer during the afternoon working on school work. The crit for the evening was about 2 miles from us, if that, so we all rode our bikes to the race. It was in the back of a mall on a semi-rolling street which looped around in the back of the mall parking lot. The guys did well with Curtis placing 2nd place which made him 1st overall for the stage race (all three races). Jeff and Karel did well but it was a tough race with a lot of action. Cody got dropped but he did awesome for being an 18-year old, who was just racing juniors and is now racing with the 1,2 guys. After the crit we all got cleaned up and headed to...OUTBACK in peachtree city for dinner. We decided to get out of Union City for a few hours. With lots of bread, I was really enjoying my b-day dinner. The team sponsor (Bob Linder) treated us to dinner so that was very nice. There were 10 of us for dinner which was great when the host brought me ice cream w/ a cherry on top for my b-day. Luckily, I could pass it around for everyone to share a bit. I think Karel's eye's lit up like a little kid in a candy store when he saw chocolate on top of the ice cream. With a chocolate and vanilla lover, I guess karel and I make a good team. I surprised karel with his anniversary gift which was a Cannon camera. Ok, so maybe the gift was for me as well, but I know karel is going to love playing with OUR new camera. And of course, I will be able to take much better pictures at the races.
After a late dinner we headed back to the hotel and jumped right into bed. The morning came early. We had a small breakfast before our road race and packed up the cars. It was a good thing that the race was only 5 miles down the road so we left the hotel at 7:15. I think we waited in line for the port-o-potty longer than it took to drive there. Karel got my road bike all ready and as I was warming up Karel and the guys were off at 8am. There were 15 women in my race (pro 1,2,3 and then women cat 3,4) who were racing for the state championship. Of course, no GA award for me so I just wanted to see if I could keep up with the pro girls and not get dropped. The course was very tough with LOTS of rollers and climbs. Up and down, it just never stopped. The hardest part about cycling is paying attention to what is going on. I am just so amazed that Karel can do these races every weekend because it is just so hard trying to respond to attacks even if your body says "ouch". I pulled a little bit and we tried to do a few rotations but it seemed when I would pull up a climb (which I found to be my strongest part of this race) someone would attack and I would have to get out of my saddle, change gears and catch them. A lot of changing of the gears so if you ever want to be good at cycling races, you have to know how to keep a steady cadence, especially with hills. The first 20 miles were kinda boring and I wanted to just get the race overwith. However, it was only at the last 10 miles that the race started to get interesting. There were two big climbs before a right turn onto a 5 mile straight away (parkway road) to the finish and it was during the second climb that a few of the pro girls attacked. I was the only one there without a teammate so I guess I was kinda working by myself. I could see the other girls working with each other and helping each other out. You really have to watch over your shoulder during this races cause anything can happen in a split second. Well, without enough time to recover from one climb, the attack was on the second climb and the 6 girls ahead of me sprinted away. There was now 4 of us trying to catch them and I was pulling my group for a few miles at around 25mph. OUCH! I told the girls I was with that we needed to work together so we each took turns pulling. Finally, after around 4 miles we were so close to the finish. My group finally caught the group ahead as I was pulling but silly me, I still needed to sprint to the finish. well, the lack of fast twitch fibers in my legs made it tough to get in a final sprint so I took 10th out of 15th girls (5th in the cat 3,4 category). The 48 mile race didn't bother me and I was happy to not get dropped . Even with my uneasiness of corners and descends I was pretty happy with my performance. I tell ya, cycling races are totally different than tri's. I give Karel a lot of credit for what he does. I know how I feel when i am sprinting to the line at the end of a half ironman so I guess Karel and I both love the pain of pushing hard when it seems like you have no more left in the tank.
Speaking of Karel.....Jeff and Curtis finished the road race around 11:50pm. They only did 3 loops which made the race 98 miles for the guys. After waiting a few min. for Jeff to catch his breath (I can't believe the guys did 3 loops of that crazy rolling course!) I asked him where was Karel? He told me Karel was helping Jeff and Curtis to not get dropped (since both of them were working for a stage placing, Karel opted to help his teammates rather than trying to get a good placing for himself) and after the King of the Mountain climb Karel got dropped. So I waited for about 30 min. and still no Karel. I assumed that Karel was going to finish the loop so I would give him another 30 min. to get back to the race. It was 1:15pm and no karel. Curtis and jeff got their money for the race..and still no karel. Ok, I was starting to get really worried. My thoughts were that he had no spare tire kit (for the pro races there is a wheel truck), no water and no food. When I asked the GA cup staff they said that the police went around the course and no one was left on the course. Oh no. Karel had to be lost. There was about 10 turns for the 25+ mile loop and because the race was over, I knew Karel was still out there...somewhere. Karel is usually really good with directions but because the race was over, all the signs on the course were taken down. At this point, there were police and motorcycle refs all around union city looking for karel. At around 1:30pm I started to break down. My thoughts again, no food and water. He is totally bonking and probably so annoyed that he is just cycling in circles. I knew if Karel was desperate that he would ask someone for help and that is how karel made it back to our car. Finally, A truck pulls up with a cervelo in the back and there is my helpless, glycogen depleted, I never want to see my bike again, let's get out of Union City Karel in the back seat of the car. I gave Karel a big hug and he knew I was so worried about him. He said that everytime he asked how to get back to Union City, someone would point him in a different direction. so 6 miles one way, 6 miles another way, up a hill, down a hill...he just got so turned around. After being dropped around mile 60, Karel ended up riding by himself for many more miles...trying to find his way home. Even with 115 miles, Karel wasn't mad...just annoyed. He said during his 50+ miles alone, he went through so many emotions. He never wanted to ride again, he was upset, he hated racing, etc...but then after many stops on the way home (subway, 2 cookies, ice cream, starbucks)..Karel said he is ready for the Florida State RR in 2 weeks. I am sure we will laugh about this later and Karel (mr. funny) was already making Cody and I laugh on the way home. He said that the couple who brought him back to Union City had just picked up a pizza. Karel was just drooling for 10 miles as he smelled the pizza in the front seat. I guess the couple was unfamiliar with cycling races and that a lost cyclist (or any cyclist) can always eat.
Well, we are back in Jacksonville and all is good. I am 26 years old and I had a great birthday weekend :)
Pics from the weekend: