In the list of possible races and events I emailed my coach earlier this season, I included the weekly Boulder Triathlon Club time trial (Thursdays, 10.1 miles) and the Boulder Time Trial Series (Wednesdays, 6.4 miles). They sound the same but they’re totally not. The former is a bunch of triathletes casually gathering, guestimating their finish times, staggering their start times accordingly, and engaging in some friendly competition. The latter is a real honest to god bike race, complete with entry fees, online scheduling, disc wheels galore, skin suits a-plenty, and an official number pinned to your jersey. I told coach I was happy with the Tri team time trial (say that three times fast) because it was free (and truth be told I enjoyed being the second woman the last time I did it), but I would also enjoy trying the Boulder Series to see how I would stack up against the “real” cyclists. I realized I was full of crap when he formulated my plan, complete with weekly Wednesday night Boulder Time Trial Series races. When it was just a thought it was entirely doable. When it became real I found myself very intimidated.
I dressed in my Refunds Now! kit from the team I joined in RI but never actually raced for. I had good intentions but chickened out of actually doing a real bike race. I just didn’t think I felt like breaking my collarbone last summer. That was my favorite of a million excuses… Anyway I digress. As a triathlete disguised in traditional cyclist garb I hoped it would not be blatantly obvious that I had no real business at this bike race. I rode most of the way up to the start with another racer. He had his number from last week pinned to his side, so I caught up to him and promptly introduced myself and asked him about the race and if there was anything I should know that would not be readily apparent. It turned out he was only 15. I admit my first thought was “I am so glad I am not his mother, I would be freaking out if my kid were into this kind of dangerous sport.” Then I realized for what was probably the tenth time this month, I am turning into my mother. Back on track… I showed up at the start, filled out my waiver, had someone pin my number onto my right side and wished I had a time machine. It was only 5:15 and I was getting antsy waiting for my turn, at 5:55:30. Around quarter till 6, I found the gal scheduled to go at 5:55 and lined up behind her. With about a minute before she was to go, she clipped into her right pedal. Then, she held onto the post supporting the tent under which we waited with her left hand and clipped into her left pedal. I was not prepared for this kind of skill from the competition. It got worse yet… One of the officiants leaned his leg against her real wheel while she balanced, motionless, awaiting her turn, both cleats engaged in the pedals. Sure, I can do that anytime… on the trainer that is. In front of strangers? Real cyclist strangers? At my first real bike race since 2005? No way. Any facade I had created was instantly shattered as I stepped up to the line 30 seconds before my turn and blurted out, “Umm…listen… what that girl did? With the hold thing with both pedals clipped in? I’m not doing that.” They assured me it was easy and safe. I assured them I might think about trying it next time. Then it was my turn. Off I went. I was bound and determined this time not to go out too hard. I’ve done a bunch of ten mile time trials over the years but I can never seem to get my pacing right. Every time, I would find myself losing steam around the 6th mile, barely able to focus by the 7th mile, and just hanging on and trying to summon energy I no longer had to finish it out. But not this time, I vowed. I was sure I could hold back to have something left for the final push. I start