Chattanooga was full of racing the end of August. The weekend immediately following Booker T was a road race weekend here in town. This wasn't just any race, it was the mother of all climbing races, River Gorge. The short course (which everyone except the P1/2 and Cat 3 men race) was 48 miles with 4 good size climbs and a mountain top finish. I finished 2nd last year and was really hoping to win this one. After seeing the registration list, I had my work cut out for me. There were a number of really good climbers here to try out their legs on our mountains, including some of my teammates. Paula, Gina, Catherine and I all lined up and we were off.....
Women's road racing is annoying. One of the the big reasons that I don't do more of it is that everyone tends to wait for someone else to do something. When someone (read: me) finally does do something they chase it down and do nothing again. The mountain biker in me really hates that. I minimize that by picking races that have a lot of hills so we at least have to do some work. River Gorge proved to be the same old thing. The hills were hard but other than that it was SLOW. Everyone was saving themselves for the climb up Raccoon Mountain. There was a group of about 15 of us together at the base of the climb (3 miles to the finish, all steep uphill). We rolled into it slow and then the attacks started. I had a plan and I was going to stick with it. I knew exactly what kind of wattage I could hold up the mountain and I was going to look at my Power Tap and do my thing. That meant letting the early attacks go in hopes that I would reel them back in. The hard part about doing that was watching Ann, arguably one of the best climbers in the Southeast, go up the hill without me. Patience, Kym. I slowly started bringing her back. I was in second and had dropped everyone else. I had Ann in sight. I caught her right as the road flattened out for a minute. I held the power high instead of recovering on the flat area. It worked, I dropped her. Okay, about 1.5 miles left. Stay focused and stay strong. I refused to let myself look back. The race is ahead of me. As a came to the 1k to go sign I glanced over my shoulder. No one around!!! Kym, you have this; just keep pedaling. As I rounded the corner to the finish there were crowds SCREAMING and cheering for me. Wow. I was really going to win. I did it. I won a climbing race against climbers. This has been an amazing season. This one-time-sprinter has finally transformed herself into a climber!!!
My teammates also all did great. Paula rolled in for 4th, Gina was 5th and Catherine was 6th. Great job ladies.
After some quick lunch and a nap (I love racing at home....) it was time to head back for the time trial. I HATE time trials. I had borrowed a tt bike, (Thanks Carol!!) and was hoping for the best. As good of a bike handler as I am off road, I SUCK on a tt bike. Even worse when I can't stop because of a bad brake pad/wheel combo. Oh well, time to try and minimize my losses. I got 2nd by .24 seconds. Yep, less than a second. Wow. To the reigning state tt champion too. And it was all in bike handling. I lost tons of time on the corners. I guess maybe I should practice this skill once in a while. Catherine took 4th. Great job girlie.
After sleeping in my own bed it was time on Sunday to race the crit. Catherine and I had a nice commute/warm-up to the race and then it was time for one of the most boring crits I have done in a long time. Nothing happened. The plan was for me to lead out Catherine (she as tied for 3rd in the Omnium). I won a couple of mid race preems and made people work. It was fun, AND our plan worked. I led Catherine out for a beautiful 3rd place finish.
All in all it was a great weekend. My season is complete. I am focused more than ever on cross and it ended at home on a high note.
Thanks for reading...