WTS #3 proved to be a great opportunity for Annette, Sarah, and I to step into the B race with the hope of picking up additional knowledge and working towards taking our racing skills to the next level. We decided the B race might be suitable for us this time thinking that, with the climb added in, the group may be more inclined to stay fairly consistent through the laps so as to save something for the climbing effort at the end. It proved to be just that, yet still provided us with an excellent opportunity to experience working within a group at a slightly faster pace than we’re used to.
Going in, our initial goal was simply to “hang on” as long as we could, be observant, pick up on some of the finer nuances of the working group, and to not “get in the way” and cause any issues for the guys (we girls do care about that!). I think we each felt that we achieved and perhaps exceeded those goals. As luck would have it, I flatted coming out of the chip seal section on the first lap so was extremely disappointed to have to drop from the group, fix the flat, and carry on for what ended up being a solo time trial effort for the remaining laps (I thought the B’s would catch me and I’d latch back on, but I never saw them again). However, I felt encouraged to learn that I had no issues staying in with the group’s pace for that first lap and actually did learn a great deal in my short single lap with them, so totally worth the effort regardless of what the day became for me.
Annette and Sarah, on the other hand, had a super experience maintaining pace with the group through all four laps leading into the climb. As I understand it, Annette even took an opportunity to chase down an attack, reel it back in and not blow up and fall off the pack—impressive! I know she learned something about her ability to push herself as well as learn that her fitness level is pretty decent right now which can be nothing but encouraging at this time of year. Sarah reported having had an equally excellent experience getting to work at the faster tempo within a larger group and gained a ton of confidence in the effort.
I am proud of and inspired by these two friends who continue to push themselves in the learning curve, both on mountain and road bikes, and motivate me to (attempt to) keep up! We each have but one year under our belts in the road racing arena and are super eager to continue to learn. We were appreciative that the guys in the B group were supportive of us being there (or at least seemed to be! ;-), allowing us the opportunity to learn from them as we continue to gain confidence in our bike handling skills and strength in our riding. All in all, it was a great day on the bike and was fantastic to know that the Sumatanga training races provide both women’s and mixed races where each of us can find a slot to push out of our comfort zone, test ourselves, advance our skills, and build confidence.