Below Trixie Bradley, dedicated and talented o2fitness- athlete shares her fist foray in to the road racing scene..
It was an early morning as I ventured my way to Winter’s to take place in my FIRST official road race. My husband was working so I dropped the kids off at grandmas and was off on my new adventure! I had decided when I signed up as part of Team Roseville Cyclery that I wanted to road race so I set my goals ahead of me with Julie Young’s help and scratched it off my list of new adventures. I didn’t know how it would go all I knew was that I was going to give it everything I had. In the last 4 months of training, I had learned a ton on the dynamics of racing. Again, thanks to Julie Young for introducing me to groups to ride with and for starting the Breaking Barriers women’s mock race ride. Getting out there and riding any chance I could in a group setting I went from getting dropped immediately to sometimes hanging with the group to the end. I felt confident and was ready to race!
The Cat 4 women was the last heat so there was some down time before we started. The USA cycling administrator was filling us in on rules and things to remember as we were lined up and ready to take off. I knew I did not want to be at the front because well I didn’t want to be the work horse. I didn’t want to be at the back either. I set myself behind a gal whom I’d ridden with a few times from Team City. I knew she was great at strategy so if she were to jump I was going to jump. It was a smart move because it was easy for me to keep good position. We got neutralized 2 times in the very beginning. I had no idea what neutralized meant but figured it out. Our pace was dreadfully slow in the beginning. No one wanted to break away and I was nervous to make a move this being my first time. We stayed at the dreadfully slow pace for a while until we started to get to the first few rollers. Thinking back on it now, I should have tried to break the group up and went for a break away in the beginning there was plenty of time to recoup if it went south! After the pace picked up it was going well, until mid way up Cantelow. It was here that I lost the pack. I have always thought as myself as a climber but joke on me those ladies were off! Thank goodness I had rode out there once before with the Rio Strada team because I knew what to expect and how the climb would go. I just kept hitting it as hard as I could. I saw a girl up ahead a ways that seemed to be slowing down. I knew if I just kept going as fast as I could maybe I could catch her and other riders. Before I knew it I was up the climb and on the descent. As soon as I rounded the corner and hit the flats I could see her up ahead. I caught her and just sat back to see what she would do. She was all over the place. Not holding a good line but pushing hard. She seemed strong and kept plugging along so I just let her keep pushing. I was on her wheel trying to minimize my own work just waiting to see what she would do. Eventually she looked back a few times so I asked her if she wanted to work together and she said yes. So we began rotating and working together. Thank goodness she was strong and giving effort because her skill in pace lining needed some help. She was still all over the place and our rhythm was not smooth and was driving me crazy. LOL
Funny huh? Now I am talking like I have done this before. HAHAHA Kudos to Julie Young once again because she has taught me fluidity in pace lining and how to work with different wind factors etc. This girl and I worked together until the start of the second loop where we caught another cat 4 racer. The wind had picked up and was blowing hard and straight at us. We did a rotating pace line and figured 3 was better than 2. After rotating a few times, I was feeling frustrated. This new gal that we caught was either super tired or sand bagging. Every time she got up to pull the our speed would slow down. My first reaction is usually to take the lead and try to speed us up but I have leaned the hard way before by doing the pulling and then not having the energy later. So, I knew I did NOT want to do that. We then made it to Cantelow and we started to climb. Slow girl was messing with me and I as not about to let her use me on this hill. The first gal I had caught started to jump and I was jumping after her. Slow girl got dropped and I was now chasing again. I was not far behind but just enough that on the descent I did not see her. Once I turned the corner and was back on the flat I hit the heaviest gear I could maintain to try and get her. She was in eyes view but I never did catch her. I finished strong and overall was extremely happy with the work I put out. My legs felt strong till the very end!
Looking back I would have done things differently. That is where experience comes in. Next time I will take those chances and try to break away. I also wont let my fear of not having enough stop me from trying. Like Julie says, “when you don’t think you have anything left you have 5 more pedal strokes left in you.” What do I have to lose….right? So either I bonk and have a bad race or I kick some serious tail. All I can do is try and take each race as a learning opportunity. I have learned that racing is a lot of strategy and it takes practice. I am already looking forward to next season and to all the new adventures on my horizon.
Also thanks to the team for all of your support and friendship. As for Julie Young, I could not have made it here without you guiding me in my training and for sharing your wealth of knowledge in racing. I truly admire all that you do and am so thankful to have you in my life.