July 27, 2019 - RAMROD is full of peaks, hills, descends, and beautiful/breathtaking landscape. Pictures just don't do Mt. Rainier any justice! It turned into the perfect "mommy" day! This is the longest ride I have ever done, my 2nd bike-only ride, and I really wanted to push it! This ride is not officially timed, but oh how I wish it was!
RAMROD was held on Thursday, which is odd. So, it was supposed to a quick trip with just myself, but we turned it into a 2 day family trip. Living in Spokane WA, the race starts and ends in Enumclaw WA, which is a ~4:30 hr drive from home. Left Wednesday at noon, race breakfast was at 0400, race start at 0500. Had to head straight home after because I had to work the very next morning.
My morning began at 0330 to dress and prepare. We stayed at a hotel that was 20 minutes out since everything was sold out in town. Got to the Thunder Middle School at 0410 ready to fill my belly with goodness! Adam and the kids went back to the hotel to sleep. I really am so grateful for my family; their flexibility, understanding, support, and love!
I got to the start line 10 to 0500, rearing to go. There is so something uneasy yet calming not having anyone you know there. Awkward to not have someone break the silence with you, but also I love the opportunity to just do my thing.
Start; I get into a pack right out the gate. Feeling smooth and fluid, yet edgy. They were doing an 18-19mph pace on the flat and I just wanted to get going! The downside was that part of the course wasn't really marked and I was nervous to get going in the wrong direction. Also, I kept saying to myself hold back out the gate. It's a long ride, lots of climbing ahead, chill out! It was approx 18miles in and a group finally approached from behind and I latched on. A comfortable 20-21 mph is what I needed! They lost part of their group and had to hold back, but at this time, the course is well marked so I take off on my own. I meet up with a guy (JP) that is at my effort and so we joined up. First rest stop at 34 miles and there was an influx of ppl. I kept my rest stops short for this long ride, no dilly-dally! JP and I hit the road! We are just outside the park entrance and are eager for the first climb. We group up with a cpl more guys along the way out and that is when I met a guy (Broc) who, again, same effort as JP and I. I didn't need the next stop, but as a group we stopped. I waited patiently, but Broc was even rearing to hit the road! Broc, JP, and I take off! The three of us took off, taking turns pulling and we were solid. I really enjoy being able to pull the guys at 24 mph and keeping my watts in check. I don't think there is anything better than a girl pulling the guys just as strong as what they can do. I don't want to hold ppl back and it is rewarding to know that I can hold my own.
We enter the park with no issue. First climb begins, 11+ miles ranging from 2-6% incline. We spot the park ranger stalking us, learning really quick that we are the lead pack. I am in awe, I am proud, I am excited! Staying in check because we still have a ways to go! The views are spectacular! The camera phone does not do it justice. The air is fresh and cool. The numerous water falls' mist is so refreshing and cooling. We are feeling solid, I am keeping my power Z3, noticing fatigue towards the top which I attribute to my solid race this last Sunday. A fluid, strong group takes us with about 2 miles left from the top. JP hops on their tail and I push, but there is no way. I look at my power and it is unrealistic, I break off the back hollering "get it!" Shortly after, Brock backs off, we are both in agreement that the power surge is not smart for how much riding we still have.
Broc and I stick together. We make it to the top of Inspriation Pt and are so excited for the descent. I just tuck. Letting my legs rest for the +9 miles. The roads are not the best for going more than the speed limit of 35. There are uneven surfaces, road grates, etc. A cpl times I thought I was going to lose my water bottles off the back. Then we go right into the next climb of only ~2.5 miles, again 2-6% incline. It was comfortable and felt short! Back into another descent! Legs are loving the rest! This descent is relatively short and my stomach is hungry so Broc and I agree on the pit stop before our next big climb. The volunteers on the race course are outstanding! So helpful, positive, inquisitive. Much appreciated! It hasn't dawned on me until this point that I am the first female and as the volunteers cheer me on I feel very shy, but motivated. Off we go, 2 more miles before our last big climb. My quads are fatigued once we approach. This is a ~7.5 mile climb at 4-6% incline. I envisioned holding Z3 one more time, but legs were screaming! I would jump between high Z2 to low Z3 and I tell Broc to leave me. He is off. He is such a strong rider. 2 guys take me on the hill, but I get them at the water stop, 3 miles from the top. Now I am excited. Even though I am hurting, so are they. The weather thus far has been cool with the slow build in warmth. The sun is now warming me up with the incline. I salty, sweaty, and cursing on the inside because I really want to be done. It is about 1 mile now until the top, but looking up it just looks so far! I am 1/2 a mile from the top when a guy in his navy trisuit approaches to pass. A guy that I remember riding with the first 20 miles. He gives me words of encouragement and I keep positive and just keep climbing. I finally see it level out, and OMG there is the top! I am so excited to see the volunteers and support rigs. I take a moment at the top, soaking it all up. I am all smiles! "Living the dream" I said to the volunteers. I think to myself that it could always be worse......I could still have a marathon after! Ha! 107 miles done! Big climbing is done! I feel accomplished and home free!
The Navy guy is at the top waiting. Asked if I was ready? It is for the majority downhill from here! Steep descent to start, into the last aid station, then home free! I nod to him and we take off. I peaked at 45mph. I am so pumped and comfortable. Legs are recovering and are so relieved! I roll into the last aid station. The guys are sitting in the chairs and they all hoot and holler, "There she is!" and all begin to clap. Pretty sure I turned red. The volunteers are once more so helpful and eager to help. They are all smiles and are inquisitive as to how the ride is. The women are pumped and tell me how I am representing! I giggle becasue in my head, I am having mommy time, enjoying a great ride with like minded ppl, out for the views, and in the background I am wondering how my family is doing, how the kids are behaving, that they made it in time to iFly in Tukwilla, etc. I am consumed with thoughts. My Adam told me that I couldn't get better than 10 hrs, and at this point I am creaming his estimate.
I grab a quick bite, and the guys all stand, ready to go. 6 min break to scarf watermelon, a slice of bread with pickles. I am up and ready to go! 42 miles to go! There is a group of about 10 and we took off together. JP looks at me and tells me that I can hold them and keep up. Broc is up and ready. In my head I am saying, "oh shit!" I learn really quick how solid of riders they all are and how to take turns pulling. 2 guys specifically would pull, break off and then cut me off. I am feeling frustrated by the time they are about to do it the second time because I think that they feel I can't hold my own and pull the group! F that! I block them from cutting me off. I am rearing up. My turn is coming and I am so excited to show my potential. I'm the next one up! Then the guy ahead breaks away, I rev up since he was holding us at 22-24mph. I push-pull and focus on form! It's windy and unjulating hills. I hold 29-32 mph comfortably for 4 min. I feel great proving my place in this group of solid riders. I wave on the next guy, I break away leading him into the next downhill. The hightlight of my day! The guys all were shocked how solid the pull was. Calling me a beast, an animal, and solid rider! The smiling faces made my heart burst! I keep in the group, no one else is cutting in front of me now! I am up for round 2 of pull, held them 24-32 mph with a bit more of the headwind and some hill. I lead once more into a good descent and let the next guy take it. Again, huge support and surprising mugs! I get to help out one more time, but definitely not as solid as the last 2 pulls at the 23-28mph. The hill killed my legs, but even on the break away, the guys still gave me words of encouragment, saying, "great, solid effort." Towards the end, 5 miles left, it is rough rode, we are all spread out playing it safe. I am so ready to be crossing the finish, mind is fixated on 150 miles, and then once 150miles passes, I am thinking WTF. Where is the finish!? Finally at 152, there it is!!! We float into the finish. I feel so proud and accomplished! I road in with the lead pack. I am the first female. Even though it is not timed, I am very excited!
I take the time and stand with the guys at the finish line, chatting. They are absolutely lovely people. They all are surprised I rode the course in my tri-bike, but I explained I haven't been riding my Scott carbon road bike this season as much and I don't do anything new on race day. My tush is callused to this saddle. They all laugh and one guy takes a photo of my bike. After mingling, we all go our own way. Adam is still a way out from picking me up. I sit and watch the finishers slowly trickle in and cheer them on. What an accomplishment!! So proud. It has been 1hr and 32min, and still no females have crossed the finish line. I really do wonder, if I approached today with a race perspective, and so did everyone else, where would I stand amongst the females? For now, I will take what I can get!
152.4 miles, 18.5 mph, 8:18 min