A Day in the Life of Rail 34s: Crits with Men and Weekend Worlds

Katie continues putting a set of Rail 34s through the paces - this weekend racing with the local Legends of the Fast at a popular crit, and then mixing it up again at the Sunday ride Dave we would call a hammerfest if Dave didn't expressly forbid use of the word. 


Weekend 2 of the 34s challenge was local. Sleeping in your own bed until 9:30 is AWESOME. (I'm a sleeper, 10 hours just about covers it. I can slide by on 8 but I don't like it.) On the docket for Saturday: Ride Sally Ride. It's a flat four corner crit, shorter, like .7 mile or so. The plan was to race the W's 123 and then jump right into the Men's Masters 35+ (run jointly with the 45+) or as we refer to it: "Old and Fast." I can call it that because I am old (not because I am fast). The women's race went about like local women's races do. It was windy, so it was unlikely there would be a break in a field of about 25. I fudged up the final lap and ended up 5th. It was a relatively uneventful race, there isn't much to say about it.

I had just enough time to grab a new bottle from my car, have my new number fixed up, and get to the start. There were 50 or so dudes lined up. That is the perfect size field for me to train in, as most pro women's races level off at about that number. We were off from the whistle, and immediately it was fast. Not holy crap I'm redlining fast, just a nice "let's pedal our bikes!" fast. I settled in and realized that men pedal HARD through corners and are not afraid to be close to you. Again, as expected, the 34s behaved perfectly. This was probably the biggest test so far as every corner was taken at speed. There wasn't one second where I didn't trust those wheels completely. Men are pretty aggressive, so putting my faith in those wheels was paramount and I had ZERO issue doing so. It was windy, and I felt 100% stable and in control the entire time. It was easy to maintain speed and surf the pack as well as match the men's acceleration, I never felt like I was drifting back and there were times when I was able to move up easily during a surge. I finished the race in the pack, and was a little sad it was over. Normally, I am counting down the laps until the end, but I was enjoying the roller coaster ride so much, I was actually kind of let down we didn't have more laps to do.

Some takeaways: The men's field is somewhat damp and smelly. It reeks up in there, it's not like the ladies smell like sunshine and rainbows (or something that actually has a scent) but the dudes are a bit stinky. Also, what's up with spraying water on your legs and back? It was like 80 and low humidity, not 100. I'm sure some of the damp was also snot. Whatever, I get it, I have nose goblins too. Also, QUIET. The men's race is quiet. Ladies, sometimes, chat. I made like Depeche Mode and Enjoyed the Silence.

Earning fistbumps in the Masters Men race.Thanks to the guys who came up to me after the race. That was really nice, I was sort of hoping not to be in the way, but it was super awesome to get a fist bump and well done here and there. A little respect for your fellow female racers goes a long way. It is motivating, so thanks for being so cool. Which brings me to Sunday's training session: the 10am...

Rather than drive 90 minutes to race against 10 women, I decided to stay local, SLEEP in again and do the local "fast" weekend group ride. I'm in total prep mode for Air Force next weekend so I thought it might be a better lesson for the legs than racing. I have mixed feelings about the 10am ride. It meets most Saturdays and Sundays in Rock Creek Park. It's a MIXED bag of abilities. Its also a MIXED bag of egos. It's 99% dudes. Most of the "racer" types are totally fine with me being there. I have, however, been told to "get to the back where you belong" once, so that happened. For some the10am is training, for a lot of other riders, it is basically a weekly race. It's a tough route for me to hang on, as there are some big ring uphill portions that zap my legs pretty good. (There are only so many times I can punch my 450 watt ticket. After like 3 times, I start to fold.) The ride starts off pretty mellow through the park. There were three of us to start, and we picked up most of the ride on the way. I haven't done this ride since April and am used to it being a bit more populated, and heavier on the racers. Yesterday not so much. The official 10 am "regulator" was present (easily recognized with his purple hubs) so I was confident that the pace would be lively but smooth. This is preferable to me. I can do fast, but I have a difficult time with a heavily undulating pace. For the most part the pace remained civil up Tuckerman to Falls. That gave me just enough warmup I needed to shake off Saturday's efforts. Even once we crossed the bridge onto Glen, we weren't hammering into the first rise like usual. Again thank you, it was totally fine for me to move up on the hills and settle back into the group after. Even when spinning out on downhill portions, it was easy to maintain speed with the 34s. (yes, I use compact cranks, my biggest gear is a 50/12, I NEED the free speed). The instructions from coach were to "win" the10am. Um, even on my best day ever (and certainly not after racing twice the day prior), that is probably not going to happen, (see, purple hubs from earlier). In the (inevitable) event that I was dropped, I was supposed to give chase. NORMALLY my coach is kind enough to let me stay "dropped" once that happens. But it is RACE season, PRO WOMEN WANT YOUR SOUL TO CRUSH so I had to ride hard. I managed to stay on until just about when it gets mellow again. Right before the turn onto Seneca. I was under the mistaken impression that there were more people behind me. Apparently those people had been dropped much earlier because I let up a little to regroup behind someone and poof! I was off. No more people. I followed orders (albeit very reluctantly) and chased hard for about 5 minutes. I managed to close a bit, I could see the group on river, but it was too late. Thankfully there was fellow droppee who let me wheel suck for the next 15 miles on my way home. Thank you Mr. Bike Rack on the Cervelo with the noisy bottom bracket. I was pretty cooked when I returned home. So cooked actually, I marched into the Walgreens with my bike and got a LARGE ass can of coke. And then I ate all of the Chipotle and a pint of Ben and Jerry's Americone Dream. Don't judge me, I ride my bike so I can eat like a teenage boy. I love food, a lot.

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Katie, what can I say, I like your style! Well written, great choice of food and beverage post ride :)Hell, if I hear that comment from anyone I'd call them out. Poor form all the way around in that group that day. Good on you for coming.


Damn, I can't believe someone said that to you on the 10am… Someone should've called him out… (and there are plenty of 10am regulars who like to yell)


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