First let me say this was a great trip. I moved my gear to Brian's car while he wrapped up a few things @ work. We pulled out around 3 give or take. Stopped and grabbed a late lunch and jumped on the Interstate. Pleasant drive, though the scenery gets boring once we leave the knobs behind us.
We arrive in Litchfield where our hotel is but decide to go on to Hillsboro and pick up our numbers. The few miles between towns show that not all of Illinois is flat. Guess that's why they named the town Hillsboro, huh? Registration is a breeze and we drive back and check in. Once all our gear and bikes are stowed we decide to find dinner. There's a restaurant on historic 66 that sounds interesting. Even though it's after 9, it looks to be full. Lucky us, they put us in the next dining room which is empty save one table around the corner. Great food and tasty beers after a long drive had my eyelids drooping. This is good as I got a very good night's sleep.
Set the alarm for 7, well it didn't actually go off as I was awoken 2 minutes early. I could've used that two minutes! LOL Everyone has a different routine. I was too tired to prep before bed, so I had everything to do still. Thankfully I had someone with plenty of experience to assist in all these things. Had a nice breakfast of instant oatmeal, scrambled eggs and coffee (if you can call it that) We loaded up the car, checked out and headed to the venue. Luckily, Brian had already spied a coffee shop where we grabbed a few espresso shots to get us started off on the right foot.
Back to registration, with numbers in hand, to pickup the timing chips. Just let me say that I love timing chips! They make for quick and accurate results as long as the wearer doesn't cross the start/finish before the race. I felt like I had a good warmup on the trainer. Solid 30 minutes, just enough time to change, pee and line up @ the start. I worried as I was at the back, but worked my way up to the middle within the first mile or so and was feelin' good about that. This was the largest field I've ever raced. There were 50 and 46 that finished, all Cat 4 women. I don't think I've ever raced with 50 all categories women and juniors together. The undulation still gets me, slow down at the bottom of the hill and jack it about halfway up. By the time we hit the first "good" hill about mile 5, they dropped me and numerous others. I chase for a long time and another woman comes up and we work together for a few miles. We make it to another woman, but she doesn't seem to have any interest in working together she's just riding. We grab her wheel, but hit another hill and I'm off the back. So frustrating. There was plenty of flat and along with the flats were cross and head winds to contend with. I would look back every so often and knew there were others behind just couldn't see them. Somewhere around mile 22 I think the Cat 5 men pass me. That gives me enough gumption to start pushing harder. I talked to myself the whole race, in the drill Sargent tone. Finally there's a downhill, over the bridge and I recognize the road and I pass the Cat 123 women going in the other direction. The downhill was a nice respite as there is a nice long hill at the feed-zone. I search for a sweet gear, push and push and hear people saying the finish is at the top. Yeah, well what I didn't realize is that the top is still a ways away. There's a false flat and another hill, then turn onto cobblestone for two blocks uphill and another turn with two blocks of cobbles uphill. At the top there's the entrance and where we parked. I'm along, but I start pushing as hard as possible for a sprint finish. My legs are gone and I feel like I'm going backwards. All I can think is that I am so glad I don't have to do another lap. :-D
I had places hurt that never hurt before. It was a warm day, so warm that I was sweating after warmup and was covered with salt by the end of the race. No arm warmers or anything like that was necessary. The pollen was thick. I was sucking wind for an hour and forty minutes, deep and hard. By end of the races my wheezing turned into chest congestion. Not good :( Brian had Zyrtec which I took and it helped marginally.
I have to say that I am thrilled I did this race. It was hard, mostly because I rode solo. I have to stay with the group at some point or there's no sense in continuing this, right? There's more to tell, but I've written enough for now. And I'm tired after doing hill repeats after work tonight.