At the last minute, I decided to travel to OU with the Texas A&M Cycling Team for the first collegiate race held in Oklahoma in 15 years. It was entitled "Land Ronde" and promised winner's jerseys for every category.
With the weekly Willard case and packing, I only got 3 hours of sleep on Thursday night. We arrived at our homestay just before midnight on Friday, and ended up getting 4 hours of sleep. I was dubious concerning my performance the next day. However, we had the most fabulous hosts ever and awoke to an amazing breakfast of fruit, oatmeal, and homemade cake shaped like a rose. Our accommodations were pretty much in a mansion decorated like a 5 star hotel. We headed to the road race Saturday morning exhausted, yet refreshed.
Sunrise as we arrived at the RR course
This is the face of a honey badger awakened too early.
The women's B course was 2 laps of a 13 mile loop. The first lap was pretty calm, and I took mental note of good places to attack.
Women's B/C field during the RR
photo courtesy of A Stevens
After the RR we watched the other fields finish. Bobby Ehrmann (A&M) and Marc Granberry (UT) had a close sprint for 1st in the men's Cs. Bobby took first with Marc a close second. In addition to the Women's Bs and Men's Cs, Texas A&M took 1st in the Men's Bs and Women's Cs!
Bobby Ehrmann takes 1st in the men's C RR
Marc Granberry takes 2nd in the men's C RR
Saturday afternoon was the team time trial. C rider Cynthia held on for as long as she could and then followed the course in case we needed help. Nicole, Kim and I worked beautifully as a team. At one point, we passed over a bridge and all I could see for miles was red clay, water and grass. We felt like we were in a different country for a while. We turned around and quickly notice the OU girls hot on our trail. We didn't like how close they were, so we picked up the pace. We finished first with two minutes in between us and the 2nd place team and averaged 20.6 mph despite the wind. We put our 1st place medal in the jar from our 1st place TTT at Tunis.
Medal from OU and jar full of rocks from Tunis Roubaix
Om nom nom
Texas A&M Cycling Team setup
I knew the race was going to be a competition of skill rather than athleticism, and I had the advantage of having little regard for my own safety. Sarah (Rice) and I ended up in a breakaway with Ashley and Nicole close behind. Sarah and I worked together to increase the distance slowly. With 3 laps to go, Sarah slid into one of the corners. I was drafting behind her but stopped quickly and missed her by a few inches. I kept going. I saw Nicole catch up with Ashley, and then it was the two of them along with Sarah chasing me. Nicole was working the team tactics and not pulling for the chase group. At this point, I was worried that I wouldn't have the legs to keep Sarah and Ashley at bay for 3 laps. I didn't go all out but I put myself at about 9/10. Half a lap later, I realized they weren't gaining on me, so I went 10/10. I was in a groove. I had moved past the point of pain into numbness. I felt like I was flying. I kept the gap for the remainder of the race and finished 1st without having to fight for it. Thank FSM for bike handling skills!
The results of my first place finishes at OU, along with Tunis results, put me at first place in the conference out of 40 B women.
SCCCC Women's B standings
Despite my success, the golden moment of the OU race was the long overdue addition of a Women's C category. Texas A&M rider Cynthia was the only C in this race, but the numbers will grow throughout the season. I am glad to be a part of this step forward for collegiate women's cycling! I am thankful for Jacque, Matt, Jeff, Kim, Cynthia, and everyone else who helped make this happen. And the promoter of the OU race, James, for being accommodating with last minute changes and providing AWESOME winner's jerseys for the race.
Cynthia, the first ever Women's C rider for the SCCCC!