UPenn circuit race and TTT (Race #8)

When I crashed and broke my collarbone in April 1995, I thought that was the end of my racing career. Not that I could't ride again; on the contrary, I was riding a month afterwards. I just stopped racing. Try as hard as I could, I really didn't enjoy it. I wasn't all that good at it (hadn't won a race), and I didn't enjoy the competition; the thrill of the chase didn't excite me. Besides, putting out that much effort really hurt.

In March 1996, Penn was hosting a race consisting of a circuit race (about a 3 mile loop, including a big old hill) and a team time trial. A team for the TT could have anywhere from 2 to 4 people on it, and your results are compared with other teams in your category (A thru' D for men, A and B for women). There were plenty enough people for a women's A team, but Coach Pete wanted to form a B team as well. Unforunately, there was only one serious B racer that year, Lucy Shanno, so Pete wanted me to form the other half. I wasn't very excited by the idea, but Pete has a way of talking sweetly to you and convincing you that not only can you do something, but you want to as well. So I did, especially as he told me that I didn't have to do any training, I could just show up the day of the race.

Well, I really couldn't just show up at the race, I felt I had to train a bit. So I went to a couple of the workout sessions, and I was quite pleased that I could mostly keep up with the team drills. I guess that my habit of riding through the winter paid off. After one of these sessions, Lucy and I got together and decided how we were going to do things. We would each pedal for a number of pedal strokes, then swap. We arranged that if one of us felt too tired and needed a rest, we'd tell the other and not swap for awhile. We put a water bottle down in the road and practiced the turnaround.

And then race day came. It was cold and cloudy. It was hard to stay warm, and the starts were late. It began to snow, not hard, just a few big fat flakes floating down...

Finally it was our turn. We lined up at the start. Marshals grabbed our bikes, we clipped into our pedals, the countdown started... And then we went! Or, I went, but Lucy miscalculated and fell sideways. Ooops. Evidently she'd only practiced these time trial starts with her husband holding the bike, and she got nervous this time. Oh well. So I pedalled slowly and waited for her to catch up.

Finally she did and said "I need a rest!!" and so I pulled for awhile. Soon she got her breath back, and got over her nervousness, and we alternated as we had planned. The course of the TT was along West River drive, about 5 miles out and 5 miles back. It was completely flat. We rode along. Eventually we saw some people ahead of us. We soon realized that they were another TT team. We were invigorated by this, and we slowly gained on them. Then we moved into the left lane and passed them. They didn't put up a fight. There were a three-person team, how was it that Lucy and I were going faster than they were? But we did, and that was the last we saw of them.

We reached the turnaround point and went through it more or less as we practiced -- certainly not pro quality, but we got back into our rotations soon after coming out of it. And we passed another 3-woman team. After we went up a tiny slope, I realized that my lack of speed training was showing, and then after my pull I couldn't keep up with Lucy when she was in front. I told her this, and she slowed down slightly and stayed in front for awhile, letting me rest. And I recovered, and we started rotaing again and picked up our speed. Finally, then end was in sight, and we probably went just abit faster at the end, inspired by it.

Later we found that we had won the women's B TTT! Obviously, I felt good about that.

There was the circuit race later. I really wasn't enthusiastic about it at all, but Lucy asked me to at least start the race with her, so she wouldn't be alone. So I said I would. Finally, after a bunch of other categories had gone, it was our turn. We got to the start line early so we could be at the front of the pack when it started. It started and we took off. There was some confusion as to exactly where the course was, so many of the riders hestitated. I knew where it was, so I led them around the course for awhile. By the end of the first lap I was getting tired. By the end of the second lap I'd fallen off greatly coming up the hills, so I packed it in. I'd done my duty: I'd started the race as Lucy had requested, and I'd shown the other racers where the course was.

And Lucy won the race.