This last weekend I made my final trip of the year down to SoCal to race my bike. The high school racing series which began in February was coming to a close with one last race. The California State Championship! A battle between the northern conference and the southern conference. A race which always hosts the fastest high school riders in the state and the competition never fails to impress. This year the race was to be held in Los Olivos, on a course I was foreign to.
Typical of the Lewis family we left the house an hour later than originally planned on Saturday morning and began the 7 hour drive down. We arrived slightly later but still with enough to time for me to get a couple laps in and study the course. I had a quick meeting with my coach to talk strategy and then grabbed some dinner and headed to the hotel to rest up.
I woke up well rested, motivated, and ready to go! I lined up at the start 15 min prior to the race and began to get my self ready mentally for the battle ahead. Glancing around at the familiar faces, I knew that this race would not be easily won, I also knew I had what it takes to win it. I was lined up around 45-50 places back since I had missed some of the races throughout the year. This meant that I needed a very fast start in order to catch the front 10 guys before the first climb. The race went off and I immediately began mashing the pedals.
I worked my way to the outside and started working my way up the pack, picking guys off one by one. About half way to the climb I glanced down at my Garmin and noticed my screaming heart rate. Knowing the race wasn’t going to be won in the first lap, I decided to slide into the group. I hit the climb in about 20th place. The first major climb consisted of 4 steep switchbacks followed by a gradual 100 meter climb to the summit. Being that the group was so close together, the climb was pretty slow. The rest of the first lap I just focused on inching my way closer and closer to the front pack of about 12 who were starting to pull away but still giving my legs some quick rest time on the descents.
In the last kilometer of the race I made a strong effort and bridged the 15 second gap between the couple guys I was stuck behind and the lead pack…I had made it. This was a relief to me, I now just had to settle in and wait for guys to start popping off. As we made our way through the second lap the pace began to pick up and like I had thought guys began dropping like flies. By the beginning of the third lap there was just 4 of us. The pace was defnitley strong and I was starting to feel my legs but I knew the rest of the group was in the same position so I told them to “shut up” kept pushing on. This group was strong. I had raced all but one of them before and it had been so close every time so I knew that this race may come down to a sprint.
The last lap we all tried breaking each other but none of us would give in. I sat in around third most of the lap and waited for the right time to attack. With about a kilometer to go I made the pass into first and hammered the pedals. I made the last descent into the straightaway and gave it all I had maintaining first place. I could see the finish line and taste victory. However, the race was not over. I came into the very last turn slightly too fast and lost traction hitting the ground hard. I scrambled to my feet only to watch my three competitors pass me up. I rolled into the finish in fourth place and extremely disappointed. I was seconds away from being the state champion and I let it slip from my grasp. Huge props to the other 3 guys though, they are animals and it was anybody’s race. Now its time to rest up and get some road racing in before heading up to Canada with USA Cycling in June. Thank you all for your continuous support! God Bless!
Oh Boggs, where do I begin? This race had been on my list of bike races since moving out here. I actually decided to do it last year but I was a day late in the decision because the race had sold out. Well, this year I planned on it and got registered right away.
Apparently I am a special kind of crazy because I not only decided to do the 8-hour solo but I figured if I am doing that I might as well throw in a hill climb on Fri and a Super D on Saturday and race in the whole Funduro. Yeah! My better half decided to split it with a friend and go the 2-man team route. We hooked up with some Folsom bike teammates who so graciously saved us a spot to lay our tent and provide some good info and good times camping.
We made it out Fri afternoon and by the time we set up camp and got things figured out I had to head over and race the hill climb. At some point I had hoped to take a lap of the course beforehand as a warm-up but there was no time for that. So, I got right down to the nitty gritty hill climb. Ouch. Those just hurt. After burning my lungs out, I hacked my way back down to the camp area and jumped on the podium in 2nd place for Pro women. I figured I would hang out with the family and take it easy after that and not even try to get a lap on the course.
The main race day came and we all got ready to get out there. We had a great set up with the Folsom Bike tent and pit area right at our campsite. It was just past the main area where you came through the laps and worked great! All our kids playing and cheering and people hanging in our own area. Well, I got to the line and started somewhere in the middle of the mass. I didn’t really want to start right on the line. While it would have been nice to get out in front of a lot of people, I also wanted to just sit tight on that lap and take it easy. I knew I would go too hard if I was on the front. My plan was a nice easy lap and then to do my second lap as a race lap and then just try to ride strong the rest of the race. For the Funduro they add your fastest lap to your hill climb and Super D times, so I needed a fast lap. So, that is what I did. Worked well since the whole first lap was just a train and I got to see the course. Second lap I went for it, blowing by alot of guys along the way. That was the only lap I didn’t take bacon. After that I refueled and settled in for the long haul. Ashlyn gave me some encouraging cheers each time I came through. Around lap 5 I was stopped eating something and she just asked me what I was doing. Why I was standing there? Love that girl.
The end of lap three and the beginning of 4 were really a bit painful but I just kept trucking. Laps continued to get a bit slower and slower.
Oh, but bacon!! I lived for that bacon each lap, and everytime I went past the sign that said “8.9 miles to more bacon” I wanted to rip it out! I love bacon and I loved my Osmo. I don’t think I have ever loved it more.
Finally, I was at lap 6. Now, I knew I had till 5 o’clock to finish but I was thinking that was 8 hours. So in my delirium of lap 6, only looking at my Garmin time and not at time of day I thought I was done. There was no way I could complete another lap (I thought). What I wasn’t thinking about was that I actually had 9 hours to ride to finish the lap. It just had to be started by the 8 hr mark. I had told myself I would need a good 1:15 to make it safely around another lap.
So, I just settled in and plodded through that 6th lap thinking how tired, done, and maybe slightly relieved that I wouldn’t need to go around again. Well, I came through the lap and there was Drew yelling an update.
“You have the fastest lap of the day, and you will be down by less than 1 minute if you can complete your 7th lap! You have 1:12! You gotta go!!” Until this point in time I really had no idea where I was at all so it was all news.
Ugh! My mind began to reel a bit as I started riding again. Do I go for it? I don’t know if I can make it around that fast. As, I began, the course guy yelled to me me “If you’re gonna go, you gotta GO!” Ooof what to do? I rode to our pit, no way I could go without another Osmo! I looked at Ron and said something about what am I doing?? He jumped in and grabbed me a full bottle as I stood there reeling and confused and said “Yes, Drew was just here and you have to GO!”
So, I tried to wrap my mind around it and get going knowing I would have to go hard now. I had to walk the technical spot as I have no skills at this point and then I was just trying to get moving and I crashed on a loose corner. I picked myself up. It was not a bad crash, but I thought to myself “Really, you should just turn around now and go back, no way you can make it”. Then I got back on my bike and I went for it. I pushed and pushed and tried to ride smooth. I was thinking man, this will really suck if I don’t make it and this lap doesn’t count. I gave it all I had and pushed over the last climb. Once I got over I looked at my watch and knew it would be close but it was all downhill. So, I let it rip. I came up behind one guy on my way down “I gotta go!” I yelled and flew by. He yelled encouragements to me “you got it!” I came through the last tight switchbacks and I could hear a loud roar at the finish I only hoped I was making it, I came around the corner and the roar died…. Silence, or so it seemed in my head, as I looked up at the clock just past5:00.
I missed it by 3 seconds. Really?? Unbelievable.
I rode 80.5 miles and 11,400 in vertical with 8:45 of moving time but that last 11 doesn’t count because I was 3 seconds too slow 🙂
I was second overall and sat just a couple minutes back in the overall All mountain. I was so grateful to have some good food a beer and some rest sitting and enjoying the evening around the campfire with great people.
Oh, but I still had to ride back up the hill and do the Super D on Sun! That was fun. There was way too much pedaling in that super D!
Turns out that last lap didn’t matter at all! It would have given me a minute on the competition so I would have been less than a minute down overall. But she beat me in the Super D anyway!!
Drew kept asking if I was mad at him for making me do another lap. The answer was definitely not. Despite how badly I did not want to do another lap, I learned that I had more left in me than I thought. I don’t think either of us actually thought I would even come that close to getting it. So, while it was crushing at the time I am glad I had the perseverance to push through one more lap, and to push hard. Never give up.