Kym and Paula celebrating the State Road Race WIN.
Well, I did it again. I put on my Bad Idea Jeans and went racing. What? You have never heard of my Bad Idea Jeans?? Well, let me explain... I come up with super fun ideas which are also logistically, physically and (sometimes) a bit emotionally "challenging". Mark has taken to calling these ideas many things over the years (crazy, demented, etc.) but in recent years he simply reminds me that I might be wearing my "bad idea jeans" and should reconsider. I rarely do. I like how the jeans fit.
Last week it was brought to my attention that the TN State Road Race Championships were this Saturday in Johnson City, TN. Sunday was race #9 in the SERC series in Huntsville, AL. Both races were withing day-trip driving distance of home and I have ridden the SERC course before; never mind that it is one of the most technical courses we races all season. I started thinking (which often leads to me putting on those infamous pants) that with some careful logistical planning we could do both races. Now that Paula has returned and is not only a fantastic mountain bike racer but also a kick butt road racer who has her goal set on Master Road Nationals next month, I figured I could sucker, I mean convince, her to join me.
It took no effort at all to convince Paula to join in the fun; I suspect she also owns a pair of bad idea jeans. Mark, being the incredibly supportive husband, volunteered to work the feed zone on Saturday for us and drive us all over the Southeast to our races. We decided to take Paula's new truck (which makes all other truck in the universe look small) and travel in style. The photo is the "before" shot. She looks even better with the US Stove car magnets on the doors and Trek bikes on the rack!!!
We departed Chattanooga at 7:30am on Saturday for Johnson City and a 12:20pm race. Travel was uneventful and we arrived with a plan and time to relax and prepare for the race. The goal of the day was to get Paula the win. There were some decent hills on the course and we hoped that we had the legs to get her away. Well, to quote my friend Steve "Even the best laid battle plan rarely survives contact with the enemy". We had a strong field of 15 ladies, including two teams with 4 riders each. Okay, so we were a bit out numbered but we hoped we had fitness and experience on our side. Paula and I have been racing as teammates for a LONG time and it showed. We set the pace, controlled the hills and created the eventual winning group of 6 rider. About halfway into the race Paula rolled up next to me and told me that she thought I had better legs today, she was going to work and lead me out at the finish. Okay, change of plans but we can adapt. And adapt we did. She killed it the second half of the race, wore out the field and was the PERFECT lead out. I took the win by over a bike length and am now the TN State Road Race Champion. I can't remember the last time I raced with such an incredible teammate. We were perfect together. And the first half of the weekend was complete. US Stove-Trek has a state title to add to the resume.
Now to get home. Of course the race and after effects took longer than planned and we had to eat so by the time we got moving we were behind schedule. Then we hit construction traffic. Mark drove like a rock star and I navigated and detoured us around the mess and we arrived back in Chattanooga about 7:45pm. Hmmm.... we still have to shower, pack and drive two hours to Huntsville tonight. We frantically got ready for the turn around (while watching the Tour de France... it is July) and were ready to roll by 8:45pm. And then it began to rain, just as we were going to load everything into the back of the truck. We decided that we should get to bed NOW and leave early in the morning for Huntsville instead. Again, the best laid plans....
Sunday morning came WAY too early (5am) and it was the first time all weekend that I thought MAYBE this whole thing was a bad idea. Oh well, too late to change the plans now. We made it to Huntsville without incident and although it was HOT, the sun was shining and we were ready to race. We met most of the rest of the team there (they all pre-rode and were well rested) and we were ready to get it done. My warm-up consisted of riding the first part of the course (I am glad I did, there were a couple of tricky turns I needed to see). My legs actually felt pretty good. Hmmm, maybe I was going to be able to pull this off. We lined up and I took the lead in the first pavement stretch before we hit the trail. I never looked back. One rider stayed with me for a short while but before I knew it I was off the front alone. I was feeling pretty good but I had no idea how long that was going to last and if the weekend's "fun" was going to catch up to me mid race.
About half of the course in Huntsville is fast and the other half is technical. Really, really technical for a race course. Nothing that is unrideable but enough that one wants to pre-ride (hint) and know the best lines and the kind of speed that one can carry into any given section. Well, I had raced there last year but a year is a long time ago. I mostly remembered the big obstacles and was doing well... and then it happened. Just as I was thinking "There is a tricky downhill coming up here soon" I was on top of it and out of control. It was one of those moments when all I could think was "Uh oh, this is not going to end well". Sure enough, it didn't. I ate it HARD and spent a frantic bit of time collecting bike, glasses and other gear, putting my chain back on the bike and checking to see where the other rides were. Damn Kym, SLOW DOWN. I rode a bit more apprehensively the rest of the race and crossed the finish line tired, bruised, bloody and in FIRST place. Whew. I did it. Two for two. The bad idea jeans fit well all weekend.
Kym and Paula on the SERC podium on Sunday.
My teammates also rocked the day. Paula took third, just behind Carey. Catherine was 4th, Emily 7th and Shannon 8th. Kristi had her best finish of the year in her category with 2nd on her single speed (against geared riders).
Mark drove us home and I collapsed on the couch for the rest of the night and watched other riders race (the Tour again...)
Whew. What a weekend. I guess Monday is what happens when you need a break from all the fun. I might need a couple of Mondays this week.
The bad idea jeans are back in the closet for now. I may have a date with them on Thursday. We are headed to the Cherohala Skyway...
Thanks for reading.