fitness · Guest Post

Mother’s Day cycling, remembrances of races past (guest post)

Today’s Mother’s Day post is courtesy of my dear friend Pata. We are riding buddies, crafting pals, and sisters of choice. We both have (and had) complex relationships with our mothers– another point on which we understand each other. We also love them dearly. So, from Catherine and Pata, Happy Mother’s Day to Beth (Catherine’s mom), JoAnn (Pata’s mom) and Tobyanne (Pata’s stepmom).

And Happy Mother’s Day to all of you from us.

Pata (on left) and Catherine, last summer during one of our coffee rides.
Pata (on left) and Catherine, last summer during one of our coffee rides.

Now, on to Pata:

Mother’s Day, 2008: I got up at 5AM and left the house around 6:30 to ride to my first race.  It was a crit– which just means it is a course that goes around and around.  Fifteen laps to be exact, each lap just under a mile.  I went to my parent’s house which is about five minutes from the course to use the facilities (there are none at the race site) and to shed some of the warmer clothing I had needed so early in the morning.

As I entered the race course, I looked over to the woods and out came a coyote.  He looked me straight in the eye and I passed him on my bicycle and he went along his way.  Coyote is one of my animal totems and I felt like he was saying, “Don’t take the race or yourself too seriously, girl!  See the humor and have some fun.”

I was one of the first people to show and rode around the course a couple of times.  A few other women riders who I knew arrived and we rode the course together.  This actually was a mistake for me.  I had already warmed up by riding to the race and I just tired myself out a bit by doing more laps.  Oh well, live and learn. 

The race started a bit past 8:30 and we were off.  I was with the pack but toward the back, which isn’t a great place to be.  There was one woman who was squirrelly and unfortunately I was behind her.  Around the second or third lap she almost crashed into another rider and to avoid getting involved in a crash, I had to go around them.  As luck would have it, neither of them went down.  But I was separated from the pack and never got back on.  So, I rode most of the race time trial style, by myself.

At one point, I passed a fellow team mate who was struggling.  I told her to get on my wheel and tried to pull her so she could rest.  She couldn’t stay on and eventually abandoned the race. 

At the very end, one of the team coaches came up and gave me a lead out to the sprint.  I, being quite befuddled, wasn’t sure on which side to sprint past her and end up sort of muddled it up.  (Turns out the side didn’t matter.)  But I sprinted to the finish in the end.

I was determined to finish the race even if it meant I was going 5 mph (which I didn’t).  I did finish and not everyone did.  I was the last rider who finished.  And lo and behold I got a prize.  They call the last rider the lantern rider.  That would be me.  

I learned a lot in this race.  I went into it knowing that this kind of race wouldn’t be my strength.  I do better when there is terrain and some hills.   But I learned that riding too much before the race isn’t a good idea; that starting as close to the front as you can IS a good idea; that you have to watch out for the squirrelly rider and stay way; and that I am a team player.  In the end, it was a nice Mother’s Day gift to myself.

A lanterne rouge (last rider) jersey. I should get a supply of these...
A lanterne rouge (last rider) jersey. I should get a supply of these…