Three of the top 5. What a great way to start the season!!
It has been a long COLD winter, the worst one the Southeast has seen in 15 years, and training has been less than "ideal". We are all excited for spring and race season but this year, we were also little unsure of the level of fitness we have maintained. It was with this sense of anticiaption that we loaded up and went in search of the warmth and sun of Florida for SERC (Southeast Regional Championship Series) #1. Florida is always tough for a few reasons; it is the first race of the year, it is hotter than our bodies are used to, and the trails are completely different than anything else we ever race. Think BMX track through the trees. It's a ton of fun but not my forte. This year the cold winter was going to compound the shock of racing in the warmth and sun. With all that being said, I was really just excited to race my new bike and get to do it without wearing a ton of clothing.
Emily, Mark and I loaded up Friday afternoon and began the long journey to FL where we were meeting up with Anina and Amanda. Our drive was plagued with Spring Break weekend traffic. It took FOREVER to get to our annual stop in Valdosta, Ga. We were hoping that Saturday's drive was going to be shorter (theoretically we were within 2 hours of the race course) and less traffic filled.
We woke up to perfect weather and good driving conditions. It took us almost no time to get to the course and it was so great to see all of our racing friends that we haven't seen since last fall. Everyone was worried about their fitness after such a harsh winter so at least I was not the only one who feels a bit "behind" in training. After saying our hello's and getting the tent up, it was time to RIDE.
Have I mentioned that I love my new bike?? My Trek Top Fuel WSD 9.8 is by far the fastest and lightest bike I've ever ridden. I was definitely not going to lose the race on Sunday because of the bike. The pre-ride reinforced this feeling of speed. I felt good and had a blast. The trail was tough but it flowed nicely. The hardest part was in the beginning of the lap; the end was more about fitness and even a little bit of climbing. Hmmm, this might me my year. About that, I have only won Florida once in all my years of racing and it was not against any of the Florida girls. Both Shelly and Caroline are strong competitors on any course but in their own back yard in March, they are almost unbeatable. Both of them were going to be there this weekend. They have been riding and racing all winter and they are so fast on the Florida trails anyway. Even on my fast new bike it was going to be a tough race.
Saturday night was full of two other race weekend rituals that we have missed, ice baths and hotel dinners. The ice bath is a must the night before the race, my legs always thank me the next day (although they are not so happy the night of...). Our non-heated hotel pool was perfect for the job. I am sure that the other hotel guests though we were crazy standing in the shallow end of the pool in swimsuit bottoms and sweatshirts in the 50 degree weather at 7pm. The dinner was our reward. I was "mom" for the weekend and before we left home I made individual serving pasta dishes for all of us. With Anina contributing the salad and Emily entertaining all of us we enjoyed a relaxing dinner in our room. No Saturday night waiting for a table, no suprises, just good times and good food. We did learn that our over priced hotel had a towel shortage and it paid to be one of the first to shower. Emily got to use two shower floor towels to dry off with. After a fun relaxing evening it was bedtime.
We awoke (after loosing an hour to daylight savings time) ready to race. The sun was shining and it was going to be warm, but not hot. Good, I might not melt. Fortunately we had the 11:30am start so it wasn't as bad getting up as it could have been. We had a strong field of women and the prize money was big, $1000 to the top 5 finishers plus $150 bonus for the fastest lap of the day. I wanted that money. I don't race to make money but it sure does help when I do.
They said "go" and I went on auto-pilot. Yep, I still know how to race. It was the same scene that played out last year a dozen times. Shelly got the hole shot and I was hot on her wheel. Damn that girl has a kick at the start. I settled into my pace and hoped for the best. I resigned myself to the fact that she was probably going to school me on her turf, but that never stops me from trying to win. About halfway through the first of our four laps it was Shelly and I still together. Hmmm, there are some hills at the end of the lap. I think I might be able to get that fastest lap prize if I attack in the right place. I went for it with everything I had. I attacked on the last climb out of the quarry and tried to make it look good. Ouch. It worked!!! I had about 10 seconds going into lap two and my fist lap was ended up as fastest lap of the day. Yay me!!! $150 in my pocket. Now, back to the task at hand, racing. I figured I was going to see Shelly pretty quickly after that attack but I never did. Apparetly my attack hurt her worse than it did me. I won!!! In Florida. In March. After a long cold winter. Against the locals. Every stinkin' trainer/roller ride I did in my living room was worth it. Yes, those days still sucked but it was worth it. My total paycheck for the weekend was $500. Race season is off to a great start.
Kym showing off the Swiftwick t-shirt on the podium. LOVE their socks!!!
Anina also had a hard fought battle with Caroline (another screaming fast Florida native) for 3rd. They beat each other up for all 4 laps and in the end Anina attacked like a mad woman and took the sprint. She looked super strong across the finish line and I was proud she was our teammate. She too has had a strong winter of training. Congrats girl, you are going to school us all this year.
Amnada was the first non-pro in the field and 5th overall, beating at least one of the pro riders. She was all smiles when she finished and is off to a stellar start to her 2010 season. It's not going to be long before she is racing as a pro if she keeps up those kind of races.
Emily, at 17 years old, is always impressive to watch. Not only is she racing against adults, she is doing it in a combined pro/expert field. And she does it well. She took 10th and looked strong the whole day. Emily, please remember the little people when you are winning the big ones someday.
Florida was a huge success for the team and a HUGE reminder of how great my teammates are. We have the best team ever this season. Not only are the girls all EXTREMELY talented, they are a ton of fun. Thanks ladies for making racing bikes so awesome.
Check out Emily, Anina and Amanda's race reports on their blogs.
Thanks for reading....