This was my fifth year doing Tundra. For a number of years it was held on the Silver Comet Trail. The organizers eventually moved it from there because it got too dicey with so many other people (walkers, recreational cyclists, etc.) using the trail at the same time. For the past three years Tundra was held in Adairsville in North Georgia, which worked very well. However, this year the original organizers weren't able to continue. That's certainly understandable because it takes a lot of time and energy to put on such an event. The cycling community thought there wasn't going to be a Tundra TT this year, but then just a few weeks ago, Todd Muller and Reality Bikes jumped in to keep Tundra going. Thank you, Todd and Reality Bikes!
I certainly wasn't looking forward to the particularly cold temperatures predicted for today's race, but I've been training in some pretty yucky conditions all winter. Besides, I'm trying to subject myself to adverse conditions as much as I can to prepare for RAAM. It's good for developing mental discipline, and I'll have to ride in whatever conditions occur during RAAM (rain, wind, dark, low oxygen at high altitude, etc. - sounds kind of like the post office, at least in Colorado).
Usually, I wear my team skin suit for TT's, but it was cold enough today that I opted for more therms at slight aerodynamic expense. My heavy-duty tights on bottom with a base layer, short sleeved jersey, and my best (fairly aero) winter cycling jacket on top actually kept me quite comfortable. I wore my heaviest cycling gloves, too. My fingers hurt with cold when I first started warming up, but even they thawed out after not too long. My trusty shoe covers, a snug hat, and my TT helmet completed my ensemble:
I warmed up with my road bike on a trainer. I can't tell you how much I appreciate Robert, my super sweet husband/soigneur, who takes care of so many of my equipment needs. For example, I asked him about switching my power meter, which is in my crank arm, from my road bike to my TT bike, and he had already done it! By the way, Robert raced, too, but in the men's Merckx division. Merckx races, named for the famous pro Eddy Merckx, do not allow TT bikes or any other aero equipment; racers use regular road bikes like they did during Eddy's heyday. Robert has gotten away from TTs and sold his TT bike. Therefore, he entered the Merckx category for fun since he was coming along to support me anyway.
After about a 30-minute warm-up, it was time to head to the start line.
|On my TT bicycle for the race itself|
Although I hadn't ridden or driven the course beforehand, I had checked it out via street view on Google Maps. I didn't see anything unusual, and the course turned out to be pretty much like Google Maps said. Additionally, the volunteers did an excellent job of directing the racers to make sure they knew where all of the turns were. I really enjoyed the course. It was 10.8 miles and had two main loops. Because it had regular turns as opposed to a U-turn on an out-and-back course, which is common for TTs, it made handling my TT bike much easier. (TT bikes are designed for going in a straight line - turning, not so much.) Also, the course had lots of gentle rollers with few straight, flat sections, which played to my strengths.
I rode hard. My nose was dripping from the cold, and my mouth hung open in its usual TT gape as I gulped in the frosty air. Whatever thoughts I can muster during a TT can be rather out-there. Because today I was wearing mostly black instead of my usual TT garb, I imagined I looked like one of those grim reaper masks I often see at Halloween:
This year I have to focus on RAAM and, therefore, didn't do as much TT-specific training leading up to Tundra as I usually do. Still, I felt like I was well prepared. I finished strong and knew that however I came out in the standings, I had a good race.
While we waited for the results, Reality Bikes held a raffle. Each winner got a water bottle and a choice of an item from a big box of swag. Robert's number was called! He selected some Skratch, an electrolyte powder that you mix with water. What makes this product unique is that you mix it with hot water! He got apple cinnamon flavor, and we tried it when we got home. It was quite good, tasting like apple cider. We decided that next time we go to Tundra, Peach Peloton, or another winter event, we'll mix up a thermos to drink after riding in the cold.
After the raffle, we continued to wait for the results. And then we waited some more. It seems like it always takes a long time to get Tundra results, but it took extra long this year because they used a magnetic sensor at the finish line, which didn't function very well in the very low temperatures. I'm not complaining, though. I've been on the hosting end of the Macon Cycling Classic with my Georgia Neurosurgical team, and we've had our share of snafus, particularly with getting results posted in a timely manner last year. I understand that sometimes things happen beyond the organizers' control. Besides, the wait time gave Robert and me time to catch up with our friend Ronnie, a cycling buddy we often see at TTs.
Also, I made a new friend named Pete:
Since I was wearing my sock monkey hat, of course I had to meet the guy in the fox hat! It turns out that Pete owns Outback Bikes in Little Five Points in Atlanta. Several years ago I went to Outback Bikes for a bike fitting. (The fitting was Robert's anniversary present to me - way cooler than jewelry!) From fellow roadies to mountain bikers to tandem riders to the incoherent guy in Bolingbroke who wears a fluorescent vest and yells at other riders - if you power yourself on two wheels, you're one of my kinsmen. I'm always happy to meet another tribe member.
At last the results were posted: yea! I was very pleased to place 2nd among the Cat 4 women:
Also, I was 3rd overall for the women. The 1st overall woman was also 1st in my category. Her name is Lenae, shown at the top of the podium above. She beat me by about 41 seconds. I couldn't have gone 41 seconds faster, but I sure wish I could have! They had wonderful trophies for the overall male and female finishers:
Aren't these beautiful? Reality Bikes kept the Tundra tradition of commissioning Lillie Glassblowers to make the overall male and female awards. Every year these awards are uniquely different and just lovely.
I have to admit that I'm happy that I shouldn't have any more cold races this year. In fact, I don't expect to do many other races at all this year besides RAAM. That's largely because there simply aren't many TTs on the Georgia race calendar this year. Also, I don't have room in my RAAM training schedule. Besides, I do have a few non-cycling commitments. For example, next Saturday I'll be coordinating the Middle Georgia chapter MATHCOUNTS competition, part of a nationwide program to promote excellence and achievement in math among middle school students. I have loved volunteering with MATHCOUNTS for the past 16 years. As an organizer for MATHCOUNTS, I have an appreciation for the effort involved in putting on a large event like a bicycle race. I'm just glad there's a lot less risk involved in solving math problems.