Despite the inclement weather we’ve been having this winter, Minh and I still managed to get two very good bike rides in this week. One at night with a little sprinkle, and the other in a total downpour (well.. partial total downpour).
Wednesday was the first Team Velosport Beginner/Intermediate weekly mountain bike ride for the year (Click here for details). Minh and I had attended a couple last year, but I think it would be beneficial to start going regularly this year. The first ride was Blackstar Canyon to Beek’s Place. We split up into two groups: experienced riders and beginners. The experienced riders were going to ride all the way up to Beek’s Place and turn around. The beginner riders were just going to ride until they felt like turning around, which ended up being almost all the way to Beek’s Place anyway (we rode to the gate). I’ve never ridden at night before, so this was an experience for me. I’ve also never ridden in the rain before, and while it wasn’t raining too bad at the start, it did pick up on and off during the ride. And it was cold. I was a bit nervous about not being able to see everything around me, but I quickly realized that the bike is shining on the important stuff anyway – the trail! I also realized that I was more focused on my riding than during the daytime, this is probably because I didn’t want to hit a hole that I didn’t see or fall into a rut that I could have avoided. Overall, the ride was really fun and the company was great. Looking forward to more Wednesday beginner rides during the year.
Saturday was our first bike race for the year, and my first road bike race ever: Camp Pendleton Bulldog Bike Race. The weather called for rain on Saturday, which would have been fine if it meant a light sprinkle.. but it was more than a light sprinkle. It was a torrential downpour. Minh and I headed down early because we wanted to beat traffic (if any) and we wanted to give ourselves ample time to get down there in the rain. We got to the base about an hour before the ride, so it gave us a lot of time to get checked in and ready. Unfortunately, by the time the race started we were already soaked to the skin.
The start was delayed because of the rain, and instead of starting in 7 waves as planned, we started in only two waves, about 10 minutes apart. The rain was really coming down once the race started, and I was freezing in my soaking wet socks, warmers, jersey, vest, jacket, and cycling cap. The start of the race was a “controlled start”, this meant that everyone started off “slow” behind a pace truck until most of the wave was out on the course. Then the truck pulled away and people could speed off. Well, the “slow” pace truck was actually going 20 mph, at least, and it wasn’t very much of a controlled start since people were really slow with the rain pounding down on them. I started off at the front of the second wave, and even with the rain, I started off pretty strong. For about ten minutes or so, I was able to get up to a good speed – around 23 mph, which is awesome for me. This didn’t last long, and I was soon getting passed by the rest of my wave. The ride was harder than I was expecting with the rolling hills, two steep climbs, and rain. The rain let up a bit about half an hour into the race, but I was already soaking wet and cold. My feet and fingers were going numb from being cold, but I was sticking with it since there was a good chance that I would podium (especially since not that many women were in the race to begin with). I wouldn’t say that this was the best ride I’ve ever done, since I finished in 1:57:39 and it was only 26 miles. But I did podium. Second place in my age group and only a few minutes behind the winner. A little note though… there were only two people in my age group, so I defaulted to second place.. but second place is still a medal.
I’m starting to like this whole racing thing, and with time, I’m sure that I’ll get better. I know that I’ll never be a competitive runner or triathlete, since there are so many people (and women ages 25-29) who participate in these events. But I am quickly realizing (with Minh’s help) that I can easily become a competitive cyclist because there really aren’t that many women (age 25-29) who ride, and even less who compete. Looking forward to more races this year, and visits to the podium.
Oh.. and I am extremely grateful to Minh who (among other things that make him an AWESOME boyfriend) washed five bikes over the weekend (three of which were mine) and put together a new mountain bike (for himself) while I napped and went to the gym and did other selfish things.