Uhl in Waitsburg, WA – With only a few hours between the time trial and the road race, there was only enough time to eat and rest a little bit, but not nearly enough for a 95-mile road race! This year Ted and I staged early and didn't miss our start like we did last year. The first time up the hill was neutral and it truly was as I only averaged around 250 watts for the climb. But at the top the racing started and things picked up. I stayed tucked in near the back of the pack.
With a medium-sized pack on a single lane of these narrow roads, there was a bit of an accordion effect at teh back, so there was a lot of braking going on. I wanted to move up, but with tempo we were riding there weren't any opportunities to move up. When we were riding by a house, a couple dogs came running toward the pack. There was a lot of braking and I heard a tire skid, then a loud pop! I had visions of people crashing but no one went down. But as things got settled and people got pedaling again I noticed it was Ted who got the flat! I stayed back while he got his wheel change, then I tried to pace him up. Ted was pulling hard and I wasn't sure, with my lack of power, how much I'd help. We traded pulls a few times, then the wheel van came by and we jumped in its draft.
We drafted it for a while until we got up to the official's car and the official actually came back and helped us the final bit. Even though we had the draft it was still a major effort for me to catch back on, but we made it! From that point on I tried to do as little work as possible. Even on the slight rollers I was hurting and I was dreading the next time we had to go up the real hill.
When we got to it, I managed to stay with the pack for a good amount of time, but finally popped off. Fortunately I wasn't alone and we eventually had a group of about 10 riders rotating through. We worked hard and caught the pack a short while later. I was really hurting and could tell that something was not right. Whenever there was a slight roller, I would have to dig really hard just to hang on. But when on the flats I was able to hold 290-300 watts just fine?! I wasn't sure what the deal was, but since there was a break off, there weren't many attacks. So I went to the front and rode threshold so I would at least get a workout in. At that point I decided that I would call it a day after this lap and not go up the hill the third and final time. So I took some long, hard pulls and kicked it up until the hotspot sprint in Waitsburg. Then when I hit the hill, I eased up and watched the race go on up the road, while I turned around and went back to our host house.
I knew if I went out for that third lap I'd get dropped and have to "death march it" back on my own. No thanks...I'd rather cut my losses and start recovering as soon as I can. I have all the signs of over-training and continuing to race would just dig me deeper into the hole. So I managed to get back to the house, shower, eat some food then go outside to watch as the other fields went by. I watched as the women's group went by with Heather tucked in the middle. Ted and Hugo stuck it out and both ended up in the top 40 for the stage.
The funny part of the day was when Ted thanked the wheel van driver for pacing us back to the pack. He looked at Ted with a confused look on his face and said, "What?". He didn't even know he helped us?! How funny! He just happened to be going the perfect speed to pace us back up, but not drop us. We all got a laugh out of that one!