"Flatlandia":http://www.flatlandiasport.com/ did a fantastic job throwing a great road race with a fun course on Saturday, but mother nature did what she could to make it really live up to the title "spring classic."  Tim and I made the trek west to endure wind, rain, lightning, and flats, and to get to the finish line with muddy butts and big smiles.

It was my first road race ever, and I was surprised that the women's 4 field started with the men's 5.  I guess it is a good thing, since the 6 of us in the women's field were barely enough to create a windblock, but it meant that you hung with the guys or you just didn't hang.  On the neutral leadout, we women were in the back, and I rode with my good friend (and honorary teammate) Amy.

We crossed the start line and... hey, where did everyone go?  By the time we crossed the start the men had jumped and we were left behind.  I burned more matches than I should have trying to bridge up in that first upwind leg, to no avail.  29 miles to go.  Solo.

The wind was so strong that you had to lean into  the crosswind and the howling reached jet engine decibels.  Luckily just the first part of the course was upwind and the rest was just a fast flight back to the start.  I put my head down and just said, "get to that upwind corner."

The gravel that was supposed to be such a factor in the race was short and had several good, easily rideable lines.  Yet, my first time over it, "TATI rider Joe":http://www.qgd3.com/blog/?p=68 was standing by the side of the road with a flat.  (Here's where, if this was a novella, we'd call this foreshadowing.) I pulled over, yanked my flat kit out of the saddlebag, threw it at him, and continued on.  (That's what trail riders do, but I was later told that roadies don't do this.  Can't imagine why...)

Lap two just plain sucked.  Putting all I had into the pedals, I was going just 9mph upwind.  Didn't see anyone but a few stragglers the whole time.  At the start of lap 3 I just told myself, "one more upwind.  Just get there and your work is over."  (More foreshadowing, that.)  So, head down, I just kept pedaling.  I hit the upwind corner - yay! - and bam!  You guessed it.  A flat.

I asked some passers-by for a kit.  They didn't even get what I was asking for.  I went to the nearest corner and watched lightning begin to roll in as I thought about my options.  I just needed to get back to the finish.  Luckily about 5 minutes later a kind fellow with an Ireland jersey on (Forgot his name!  eep!) pulled his car over and traded me a fancy Easton wheel for my crappy one and I was off.  Then the sky opened up.

I looked around me at the lightening striking the nearby fields and the rain driving in the blustery winds.  Now this is a spring classic.  The gravel was wet before I hit it that last time, and it was fine for riding but made my finish mucky and sandy and forced me to, for a second week in a row, double-wash the kit.  5th of 6, but medals went 5 deep, so I guess it was a winner.

Tim, me, and Amy, photo from "Amy.":http://www.flickr.com/photos/19091172@N02/3475746932/


 -Julie Popper