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TBC-A beautiful rollar coaster of emotions!

The 25th Annual Tucson Bicycle Classic, aka TBC took place this weekend, and several Missing Link riders contested the three stage event.  A big thanks to promoter Alicia Heiserer, officials Don & Nancy (& others!), moto’s Neil, Andy, Lance (and others!) as well as ALL of the other volunteers that made this a really great weekend.

The racing started Friday afternoon with a 3.5 mile TT on McCain Loop.  As the other 2 stages often end in field sprints, the TT effort can significantly influence the final GC.  Saturday’s race race consisted of 3 20-mile loops south of Tucson, and Sunday’s circuit race was held on a 5.6-mile course just west of Tucson, 6 laps for Cat 3’s, 7 for P12.  As I write, it’s Sunday evening post-race.  I’m both physically and mentally exhausted from a weekend of wholehearted racing, so I thought I’d take a moment to share some of the lessons learned and emotions experienced.  (I might cry; don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Lesson #1:  We have an AMAZING Arizona Cat 3 team.  After Friday’s TT, Tracey had the leader’s jersey, so Kim, Erin, and Kapri took it upon themselves to aide her in keeping said yellow jersey of splendor.  I wasn’t in the field, so I don’t have all the details.  However, after each stage I heard story after story of how these three ladies laid themselves on the line to protect their teammate’s lead.  There were courageous solo attacks, selfless chases and strategery galore.  As a result, Tracey kept the jersey all weekend!  I am so proud of each of these women!!!

Lesson #2:  Going fast doesn’t always feel good.  It’s amazing how much pain one can inflict on oneself in 9 minutes.  Friday’s TT was frustrating for both Mel and I (Missing Link riders in the P12 field).  Mel’s bike really only wanted to operate in 2 or three gears, which presents a problem on a course that looks like the back of a stegasaurus.  Though my bike was spectacular, my legs were not.  I felt like I was hauling a bag of boulders up the hills, and I came very close to “sharing” my breakfast with the officials at the finish line.  Nevertheless, we both finished in the top 10, and we were less than 30 seconds out of first.  This was a learning moment for me.  Because my body felt so uncoordinated, my head was taunting me throughout the TT, offering up a host of excuses.  I contemplated throwing in the towel on multiple occasions (you’d be surprised how many times you can fight this mental battle in 9 minutes…)  However, after seeing the results, I was reminded that feelings and speed don’t always align…ammunition for the next battle!!

Lesson #3:  Racing out of frustration rarely produces anything good…  I was super-excited going into Saturday’s road race.  The relatively flat course plays to my strengths, and I was only 16 seconds out of first.  I knew Saturday was my best chance to move up, as Sunday’s stage has proven historically difficult for me.  I arrived looking to join the winning break, ready to race with everything I had…  About 5 miles into the 60-mile race, 2 women got away.  I could have gone with them, but I decided that it was an attack that wouldn’t stick, choosing to save my energy for the next attack.  As they quickly gained distance on the pack, I knew I’d made a major mistake.  It turns out we’d all underestimated the tenacity of these women.  While 1 was ultimately reeled in, the other woman finished over 2 minutes ahead of the field while her teammates very effectively controlled the field.  I wanted to pick up the pace.  I wanted to bring her back.  I wanted to win the stage.  My frustration led to nothing productive.  Instead of trying to organize a composite team to chase, I did a lot of work in the wind and almost got dropped on the finish.  I really do think we could have brought her back with a consistent effort by an organized group, but I didn’t have the presence of mind to lead or orchestrate such an effort.  At the end of the day we were in 5th and 10th, but now we were over 2 minutes out of the lead.  This race is going to sting for quite some time…

Lesson #4:  Be prepared for an attack off of the start line.  Sunday’s race started at 6:41 am.  It was barely light and below 50 degrees (which, I’ll have you know, is REALLY COLD if you live in Tucson).  Literally from the starting whistle attacks flew.  About half-way through the first lap of 7, I began to wonder if I’d even finish 1 lap with the field.  I was red-lined for the majority of the first 3 laps, but I somehow managed to hang onto the main group.  Mel was absolutely amazing, launching some really painful attacks on the tailwind climbs.  I could see the others suffering around me as I subconsciously willed Mel to attack again.  (not so much talking going on at this point)  Ultimately, several women from different teams worked together to make it really difficult for the leading team to protect their jersey.  This was really the first time I’d gotten to see strategy like this play out.  I really couldn’t do much to help, but I learned a lot as I hung on for dear life and watch the plays unfold.   I didn’t quite make it to the finish, getting caught behind a follow vehicle on a turn in the last lap, so it was a bittersweet but empowering day for me.  It was SO hard; it was SO fun.  I think everyone in that race rode their hearts out (and I think our legs will all remind us of this tomorrow…).   Even after attacking relentlessly throughout the day, Mel sprinted for 3rd and moved up to 8th in the GC!!!

So, that’s the weekend from my vantage point!  Lots of highs and lows.  Lots of lessons learned.  Looking forward to the next race!

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1 Melanie { 03.21.11 at 9:38 am }

The Cat 3 team rode like superstars this weekend. Big props to all those ladies. Judy also had an awesome race. I had lots of fun attacking the pack all day Sunday. :) And I sure am paying for it today!

2 Mary Hall { 03.21.11 at 12:32 pm }

You girls are awesome! Great job this weekend!

3 Kimberly { 03.22.11 at 9:15 am }

It’s amazing how team dynamics and a collective goal can override even the most frustrating scenarios. I had an absolute blast riding with you all this weekend. Thank you, ladies. You rock my world!

4 Kimberly { 03.22.11 at 9:18 am }

Also, great post, Judy. You remind all of us that each race is an opportunity to learn. I’m sure these lessons will serve all of us from here on out.

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