I went into Davis without a whole lot of preconceived notions or expectations. I'd had two weeks on Rosemary, one of which was spent with a sinus infection, antibiotics, an insane week at work, and - no riding. Does this sound familiar? Yep - A little like my runup to Race Across Oregon.
Well, sometimes getting there is half the battle. This was one of those times. Fortunately Elise and I got an early start as there was a snowstorm in the Siskiyous. We got to visit a Les Schwab for tire chains:
As a public service announcement, here's how to put them on! http://www.lesschwab.com/videos_chains.asp
Between the detour to get chains, the LONG inspection line - mandatory chain-up, and putting the chains on (OK, we wussed out on that part, got some help), we were about three hours later than we expected to be - but still in plenty of time for racer checkin at Winters. I can't verify this 100% but I believe I collected a hug from everyone who was at registration (though a gingerly one from Patsy as her arm was in a sling). It's that kind of a race.
We stayed with Lee Mitchell - an annual tradition that just keeps getting better - lots of friends, lasagne, and laughing off what might have been pre-race jitters. We were rockin' the Team Sandy kit, which had arrived the past week from Champion Systems - thanks, guys! - and I'd like to report that I got ZERO lasagna on my tee, even though it was very tasty. Here's Lee in action:
Oh, yeah - the race. We took off at 6:30 into the barely-light. Up, down, flat, rolling along. Weather was cool - I conceded knickers to the weather gods and I think it was a good thing. I was on a mission to NOT push any climbs, just experience them at RAAM pace. I think I succeeded - at least judging from the number of people I passed on every downhill, and then saw again later. Elise was a champ feeder. We'd made sandwiches the night before - a medley of ham, cheese, cream cheese, cherry jam, and Nutella - and she'd pull random ones out to surprise me. They were ALL good, so it was a lot of fun. We'd also gotten a half flat of strawberries from a street vendor in Williams on the way down - you could SMELL them from the road. And they were HUGE. And TASTY. Oh - the first time she handed off a hand-sized strawberry to me halfway up a climb, it was heavenly. They were so good, and there were so many of them, that she started handing them off to all of the racers around us - Max, Mike, and Joan I know for sure mentioned getting treats.
Mike Wilson and I got off-course in Lower Lake, missed the turn onto 175. No excuses, but I was following him - got mesmerized by the lycra, dunno? - and we both lost 5 minutes or so before we got turned around. I knew that we'd missed the turn fairly quickly, so it wasn't that big a deal - and the extra adrenaline surge might've come in handy on Cobb Mountain - so it might have been a net zero - can't say.
I "turtled" on one stupid little bit of Cobb Mtn. Just too much going on, riders coming around, traffic heading both directions, and me pushing dynamically unstable - so I decided to put a foot down. Couldn't hold the position - the bike slid back - and over we went. Rats. The bike landed fully on top of me. I was giggling and I swear she was, too. We dusted ourselves off and restarted. No harm, no foul - just amused Mike and Joan.
After that, I continued on at a good clip - over Resurrection, which is actually one of my favorite climbs - mainly shallow, you know where you're going, and you can push it a little. Down and into the wind...should have switched to the motorcycle goggles right away but we waited until night loops for that.
The motorcycle goggles completely solved the night blindness problem that I'd had at Sebring. For those who don't know, the padding blocks air entry, which I guess is important if you're whizzing around on a hawg at supersonic speeds. Here's a picture:
Not fashion forward, my friends - not at all. But they work, and for $15 you can get 'em in colors. You can see the foam padding behind the frame.
I got a couple of pretty fast night loops in before I settled into a night rhythm. I knew I was falling short of 400 miles - my original goal - but I also knew that I could easily go over 355, which was the womens' course record (upright bike, set in 2008 by...I'll let you look it up...). I felt a little sleepy right as the sun went down, and fought that for some time. Red Bull helped with that, as did tunes. I'd had to abandon the earbuds for my ipod - I'm pretty sure they were contributing to my earache/sinus problems, especially considering the way I abuse them at the gym - so I had to get creative. I rigged a very high-powered headphone speaker to my helmet, and it works great. I don't get true stereo, but it was more than adequate. Definitely rockin' the house.
I decided to let go with a little more juice on the last full lap. I finally lapped Michele S, who I'd been surfing a comfortable hour ahead of most of the night. I figured that my 1:04 final lap was a pretty emphatic finale, but she apparently begged to differ, logging an amazing self-reported 13 miles in her subsequent 27-minute partial lap.
Breakfast at the Putah Creek Cafe is a given after this event. I went for the biscuits and gravy, though their scrambles are also quite good.
Shower and a nap at Lee's, then a long drive home. After a really ragged trip over the Shasta summit, the Siskiyous were clear. We celebrated with dinner at a Thai restaurant in Ashland which is definitely worth a repeat.
Aftermath - I was impressed with the speedy (almost immediate) recovery after this race. Possibly has to do with the slightly more relaxed pace, but also experience and training seem to be coming along quite nicely.