Last year a volunteer was ready with my bike, this time I had to yell my number so it took a little bit. I put my shoes on as she ran for the bike. I took a moment to let one blast of air out both tires given the wet roads. The mount line was starting to get a little crowded and mostly with men – meaning those a little less timid on the hair pin turn and steep descent just out of the gate. So I stood for a couple of seconds to wait for a clearing. Some volunteer said "way to have patience!" It was way more about fear of crashing than patience!
In my opinion, the worst part of the course is the first climb right after the ski jumps. It goes F-O-R-E-V-E-R. Turns out I'd get a break right in the middle….yep, flat tire, mile 4. Son of a !(*@#!@!. Right then I figured it was over. I needed EVERY MINUTE to make the cut off and here I had to stop and change a tire. "No matter, I will keep moving forward… stay in the moment. Now shut up and change the tire – you've got this." As I took the cap off the valve I realized that I had not closed it after letting air out in transition and the cap had PROBABLY let the rest of the air out in the first couple of miles. PROBABLY……big descent ahead, 40 mph..hmmmmmm. Not taking the chance! I changed it and reached for the CO2 and inflator. Now I should say here that dozens of people had asked if I had everything I needed as they rode by. Each time I said I was good and they carried on. So again, I reached for the CO2. GONE. I had none. I pulled out the other tube, checked the pocket. Nothing. GONE. What?! That sent me right back to "I'm done." I prayed that race support would come but it was so early in the race. Before long one of the men tossed me a cartridge but no one wanted to toss their inflator because they couldn't do without it later if they had a flat. And no one wanted to stop and waste all that time. No one that is until Mandy – a total stranger with a big heart! (Coincidentally my coach knew her and noted the reference in her race report to this "woman looking miserable" that she stopped to help – yep that was me. I was so glad to be able to connect with her and thank her for stopping.) Now I was back to "No matter, I'll keep moving forward. No way am I giving up at mile 4!"
My next lap (5 miles) was a 26 mph average. I flew down those hills, passing the people who were obviously on the course for the first time, white knuckling it -so grateful I had rode them in the rain during training! I stayed steady on the flats, careful to not overdue it. I ate and followed my nutrition plan – bag #1, one bottle of perform and one bottle of water gone before the turn around.
P.S. So what happened to the CO2 and inflator that I had double checked were on my bike before racking on Saturday? It never turned up later so sadly I am left with the conclusion that someone took it from my pack. Note to self!