Yes! I got to do a race! I’ve been surviving my injury (rupured plantar fascia at Block Island Tri in early August). It started with 3 weeks of crutches and NO weight bearing and then more time in a walking boot. Now I’m at 10 weeks post-injury and I’m walking fine, unable to run, nursing some atrophy in my foot, and I’m able to ride my bike! Its been pretty tough to be off my feet for so long. If I didn’t have the Pain in the Mass Tour to focus on I would have needed padded walls. I literally got on the bike trainer before I could really walk, and that was only 2 weeks before race day!
This event was a first time event and I was amazed at how well run it was. The organizers are completely new at putting on a race and they thought of nearly everything and even added some special extra touches! I wrangled up my parents and my friend Michael to volunteer for the weekend and it was super awesome to have them all there. It was a 2 day event and a point-to-point ride. The entire ride was timed and the two main climbs were timed. There were individual and team awards. But before I get into the details of the actual race, I want to explain the WHY.
This event is a fundraiser for the Tyler Foundation. The foundation was established by Heather (an event organizer) and Erik in honor of their son Tyler. Tyler was born with epilepsy and as an infant he suffered up to 20 grand mal seizures per day. His parents were fortunate enough to be able to afford all of the expenses (food, gas, equipment) during Tyler’s extended hospital stays but they thought of the families who struggled. This is why they began the Tyler Foundation – to help families of children with epilepsy who are being treated at Boston Children’s Hospital and UMASS Memorial Children’s Medical Center to be able to cover their expenses. They are very similar to Team Continuum in this way. All proceeds from the event go to the Home Away Fund/ Tyler Foundation.
The event was insane. You know I love riding up mountains on my bike and this was the BEST climbing I’ve done in the US. My Evil racing Cult bike was donning its ERC race wheels and looking darned sexy, if you ask me. Day 1 began with a 30 mile warm up to get to the first climb, Mt Wachusett. I used the first 30 miles to chill and just meet the familiar faces. I hadn’t been training for long so I planned to just race the climbs and enjoy the rest of the ride in a chill fashion. Of course I came to a couple of really steep shorter climbs and couldn’t resist digging in, to which I got some comments from the tough guys because I think they weren’t expecting lil’ ole me to breeze by up a big hill. Giggle. The weather was a bit chilly (gloves, hat, jacket) but warmed up enough to start shedding layers by the first aid station. When we finally arrived at Mt Wachusett I was pumped. I went over the timing mat and dug in. I passed people one by one and felt STRONG. I was surprised at how comfortable I was, considering I hadn’t been on my bike in a long time. I was the first lady to get to the top and was QOM. At the top I waited for my folks and chatted with a new nutrition client of mine who has been struggling with some muscle cramping. I asked him if he had done all the things I had told him to do to avoid cramping. He said no. So I made fun of him and glued myself to him for the rest of the day (nearly 80 miles). I tried to get him back on track with electrolytes and hydration and stopped with him when he would cramp. Eventually we collected a group of people who were happy to chill a bit but eventually my buddy started to cramp less and we all picked up the pace and hammered it in. I was FRICKING COOKED by the time we got back. Day one was 117 miles and like 9,000 feet of climbing.
4 exhausted cyclists, 4 bikes, one elevator
When I got back to the hotel I was completely exhausted but totally wired. I started to panic that I wouldn’t sleep because I was excited and nervous for the next day. I went up to my room and the race staff already had my luggage in there waiting for me. That was a special touch that I deeply appreciated. Then I was off to dinner and they had GLUTEN FREE PASTA! I ate all the things and then put my name on the list for free massage after dinner. I got a two-lady massage, and if you have never had one, I suggest you grab the first two ladies you see right now and make them give you a massage at the same time. From there folks were fixing to go get drinks and hang out but I opted to go to my room and chill and get some good sleep. I took my FemMed Sleep (that I use especially for mega training and HARD racing) and was out cold and didn’t even wake up when my roomie came in after hanging with the cool kids. That stuff is like a mix of magic, plus a snuggly blankie, plus your mom reading you a bedtime story. I sweat through my sleep because my metabolism was through the roof from my crazy day. And I was already sore and my voice was hoarse. Holy moly.
2 ladies, 4 hands, 1 melting athlete
The next morning I woke up looking like a beautiful-queen-cycling-goddess, or at least I felt like one. I went down to breakfast, dropped my luggage back in the luggage sag van, then batted my lashes at the bike mechanic and asked him to pretty please make my bike shift in all its gears again. We met at the start and had a mini KOM and QOM ceremony from the day prior. I got a polka dot jersey! Yay! Then we were off for day 2! 64 miles with about 6,000 feet of climbing! I felt surprisingly good and told the weather “bring it” with its dreary, gloomy drizzle. I have survived some pretty mean weather conditions and I knew that weather was going to blow over soon. Within an hour I was shedding layers, and an hour after that it was dry and sunny. My plan again was to only race the timed climb, Mt Greylock, and to make friends when I wasn’t climbing. I chatted up some honeys and they were my new friends, and PS they are wicked cyclists. I also rode with some fellas and noticed again that boys seem to always have something wrong with their bike that is slowing them down. Especially this guy named Peter. He had the worst luck. He totally would have beat me up the mountain the day before if he was able to shift into his small ring. Then he was struggling to keep up because all three of his wheels were flat. I mean, this guy must be a machine normally. Just a bad weekend I guess.
Queen of the Mountains!
Most importantly, this ride was BREATHTAKINGLY BEAUTIFUL. The overwhelming beauty started at the beginning of the 6-mile climb-to-the-climb. Me and the ladies took that easy and soaked it all in. The last aid station before the climb was super sweet because my mom and dad were there with my friend Michael! It was so great to see their faces and everyone enjoyed their company. Finally, at the bottom of Mt Greylock I started to get wicked nervous! I put on my climbing playlist as I began pedaling, building my confidence up as I thought of all of the SICK climbing I have done at Strong Like Bull. I was prepared. Several years of SLB meant that my default was to be prepared for the climbing worst, even without much training. I dug in. Oh man that climb was tough! It was harder than I expected and rivaled the bottom section of the Pico ride in Spain! This was no joke! I often wondered if I might tip over and thought about stopping to rest, but I didn’t. I just took it super easy and slow at the toughest portions. Toward the top the elevation gain started to chill out a bit, or the view was so gorgeous it distracted me… or both. Again I was QOM and I was super stoked. Then, I was even more stoked when my nutrition client got to the top of the climb and said he had zero cramping all day and had been hydrating according to schedule. BOOM! I TOLD YA SO! The descent down the mountain was everything you’re hoping it was, switchbacks and smooth surface and 40 MPH excitement. From there I don’t remember much of the last bit of the ride back to the finish. It was great but I was too happy to notice details.
Look. I helped.
The finish was spectacular. They had BBQ food, and a dj, and fancy/healthy chocolate (Perfect Fuel) that was amazingly delicious, and beer, and a lake to jump in and rinse off. We had an awards ceremony and everyone sat around to celebrate and share their war stories. I will definitely do this ride again and the next time I will be bringing a badass team of SLB monsters.
Summit of Mt Grelock. Ooooooooh. Aaaaahhhhh.
Now I’m cycling focused, riding my mountain bike tons. And I plan to try running this weekend if I get a green light from the doctor. Cannot wait to run again after crewing Bobby at the Grindstone 100-mile run this weekend!