Battle at Bonelli!

Yesterday saw the conclusion to the 2009 US Cup series at Bonelli Park in San Dimas. It didn't seem like there was much in the way of East/West unification, but I know that there were some good battles in many of the categories anyway! In addition to battling each other, the racers had to battle some crazy heat. It was, literally, Sea Otter hot out there yesterday.

Saturday morning Justin and I got up and headed north to pre-ride the course and get out on the bikes again after their full rebuild (courtesy of Justin!) to make sure they were running A-ok. Beth and James met us for the laps before Beth set out on a big training day (4-5 hours on the bike and a T-run post-ride!) and James hit up the 3/4 CX race (So Cal Cross opener). The course looked like a blast! Lucky for me, as much fun as it seemed like it was, I'm glad I had no desire to strap on a number and hit up the race! The ladies were killing it, though. Had a great time cheering for them as I sat in the shade.

We got home and Justin cooked up some bomb breakfast burritos for us.

Uh.. I think we're gonna need a bigger "boat"

We lounged around a bit, then Justin went to work dusting off the bikes, and I did pre-race prep. 16 bottles. We managed to make it home with 10.

Sunday we slept in, which was good for me since I thought I was coming down with a cold (Justin thinks I have swine flu - kidding!). The extra sleep was awesome for me, cause I've been having some insomnia lately. We got out to Bonelli early anyway (before the Cat 2/3 starts in the morning), picked up our number plates and goodies, and did some socializing.

Some of the fast ladies out and about!

Me, Lisa, Dorothy Wong, Tonya, Heidi, and Joy. Lisa is great. She raced CX on Saturday, then did both XC and Super D on Sunday. I was totally stoked she won her category yesterday, and got selected to be "in the money" for winning!!

Eventually we took our cooler with bottles, extra wheels, and a pump up to the feed zone just in case! Then we sat around and ate some food and got dressed for the race. It felt way hotter on Sunday than it had on Saturday. Was great to catch up with Heidi V and Joy, and watch some of the early racers on course.

Justin and I started our warm-up after suiting up, and it was just hot out. The breeze wasn't doing much for us. I actually remember thinking as I grabbed my race bottle and finished prepping for the start that I thought I was dehydrated. Was I smart enough to do something about it? Um, no.

We lined up on the super hot pavement, trying to find an ounce of shade, and took off about two minutes after the Pro Men. Surprisingly enough, none of us attacked off the line. It was actually a very benign race start. Once we hit the dirt we all put in a much bigger effort, but no one wanted to seem to take the lead. I led out the first climb, but Krista was right on me and put in a small attack on a flat section. I stuck to her wheel. We hit some fluff in a sharp turn, and I put in a pass shortly after. I managed an attack and pulled a bit of a gap on the early climbs. I wasn't paying much attention, but coming around near the end of the lap Krista had easily closed the gap on me, and I was not feeling all that stellar anymore.

I led coming in for lap 1, but she was right behind me heading into the feedzone. HUGE THANK YOU to Carolyn and Don from the Sho-Air team for the awesome feedzone support. Don was doing water down the back as we went by, and Carolyn was handing off bottles.

Krista fell back just a tad, but was always right there. I'd pull a small gap, and she'd be closing it down. Lap 2 I started to shut down. Physically my legs and lungs felt fine, but my HR was sky high. When I started to notice goosebumps I slowed down. My HR didn't recover, but I felt like I was crawling. I said to myself, "If Krista passes, just hold her wheel until you can't." I had no idea what she was going through, but she didn’t put in an attack. I kept waiting for it, but it didn't come. When she did catch up, she held fast to my wheel. After the singletrack descent on lap 2 I saw that she was right back on me, and so was Justin. I kept waiting for Justin to pass, but he didn't. I knew someone was on my wheel, and as slow as I was moving, I kept wondering why they weren't passing. I realized it was Krista and not Justin. Once we got to the flats he came around, and Krista and I were unsure as to who was going to grab his wheel. She latched on to Justin, and I latched on to her. He pulled on the flats, but near the top of a little rise sat up and said he was blown.

I honestly almost broke. He had been feeling so good and ready to go, so I was super disappointed for him. I wanted to sit up and just ride with him to the finish. Instead I dug deep and caught back on to Krista's wheel and we went back and forth the entire rest of the lap. She passed just before the straight run in to the finish line, and led us out for lap 3.

I had no idea how she was feeling, and as much as I kept wanting to go, "Are you feeling as horrible as I am?" I didn't. Actually, I only felt like I was getting heat stroke. My legs were fine, and my RPE was surprisingly moderate throughout the race. Mentally I was struggling to keep moving at times, and other times felt really strong and ready to keep on trucking.

I pulled a small gap again on the early hills of lap 3, but Krista was always right there just half a turn away. I did what I could. She passed me, I think, and led out the singletrack descent this time. She got off line and bobbled, and I was like, "Nice save!" I have no idea how she pulled it out! I sat on her wheel on the rollers that followed more because I had nothing with which to attack than because I felt like playing tactics. I knew this was going to be a battle to the finish. I couldn't put in an attack this early on and make it stick, and she hadn't been able to do that either. It was going to come down to a sprint on the last hill or the finish turn/line.

She had gone into the fluff and I had gotten off line on lap 2 before a tight turn onto a steep climb. I pulled in front this time and put in a mini-attack. She kept on me, so I stopped making the effort any harder than it needed to be. I heard her gears going. Then I heard the chain drop. I looked back just for an instant to see her off the bike. I knew this was my shot, so I put in a massive TT on the flat pavement and up the next hill, down the steep descent, on the paved flat again, almost got head-on'd by a car?! driving on the course, and kept pushing to the finish line. I kept talking to my body, "I need you to do this for the next 5 minutes. You cannot let up. 5 minutes. Just hold on for 5 more minutes and I'll give you whatever you want." My body obliged, though not without a lot of suffering and pain, and I pulled through for the win.

It was a hard fought battle, and one I thoroughly enjoyed. Krista is a great competitor and racer, and I think despite the heat slowing us down a little, we both had a stellar race.

She took the series overall. We got these massive trophies to take home! It was awesome. The only thing that comes close is the marble slab from Idyllwild Spring Challenge!

Joy and I hefting our respective trophies

The goods

We had to stop to pick up some coffee creamer for today, and I had somewhat kept myself motivated with red wine of all things… Hmm…which shall I drink first?

I had some food, some water, and settled on the Porter. It seemed fitting.

Great weekend, great racing. Thanks so much to Sho-Air and Team Big Bear for the race series! Can't wait for next year.