This time, I thought, I won’t let everyone pass me right at the start. I’ll try to maintain a decent spot…or any spot that isn’t last or second to last. I tried to start out a little harder than usual, trying to convince myself that I was better than the people behind me. I didn’t really believe myself, and after not very much time on the single track, I had let what seemed the like entire 35 and under Sport class pass me. Shortly after that, the 35 and over Sport women came blazing by me as well. Every time I thought I must be last, another person passed me. The most annoying person who passed me was a women who yelled as she passed “What are you?” What am I? What does that even mean? I thought for a second and said “sport?” I figured she could tell I was a woman. This seemed to answer her question, and after passing me in a hurry, she promptly slowed down to about the speed I was going.
I spent about half the next several miles stressing about being last, and trying to tell myself just to enjoy the ride. In my head, I was plotting out my letter to the Bike Lane telling them how I am not as fast as maybe they thought, and that they can in fact kick me off the team with no worries. I also devised a letter in my head to the guys that made me think I could be fast in the first place, basically telling them that they were wrong, and when we ride together, that I must be farther behind them than they realize.
Eventually, I started really forgetting about being last, and started to really just have fun riding. Around mile 15 of 20, we came out of the woods and turned up a long, hot, grassy hill. Everyone was slowly grinding up and some people were even walking. I think that may have been where I had my turning point: the point where I realized that everyone else was getting tired and I wasn’t. I picked it up on that hill, passing several people, including some women.
Knowing that there were only 5 miles left, and that I may not be as far behind as I thought, I started summoning my end of ride cycling motivation–most often used at the end of road rides when I am (1) clinging on the much faster wheel in front of me so I don’t have to get back on my own, (2) trying to catch up to my boyfriend who dropped me AGAIN at the end of a ride, or (3) just really trying to get the ride over as quickly as possible. This caught me up to a few more women, most notably, one who took off in second place at the start. Around the last turn to the end down a gravel road, I took advantage of a draft from a pretty big guy and passed one more woman as we flew into the finish.
Somehow, I snagged 4th place. After a second to last and a last place Sport class finish at Wakefield in the previous weeks, my goal was simply to not to be last, and I was not last by several places. I was pretty ecstatic. I was even pretty ecstatic before I learned that I came in 4th because I finished the race better than I had started.
Really, I think I am just too consistent for my own good. I lack a faster speed to use in shorter races, and I can only ride as fast as my poor cornering will allow. However, I am still going the same speed when everyone else is slowing down. I guess that I just need to do longer races…