This past weekend the Zimich Girls raced in the inaugural RBC Gran Fondo - Vancouver - Whistler bike race. It was amazing!!!!!
They had been calling for rain day of thankfully the weather gods took mercy on us and we had the most amazing weather! Clear skies and not too hot. It was perfect.
Our team origianlly had 8 - we made it to the start line with 5 - sort of. Barb Zimich - our coach had recovered enough from her accident last hear - broken femur that she decided to race and happy to report she won 2nd in her division! A couple of other ladies decided that they had not prepared well enough and we had one lady down with an injury so now we were 4.
I was pretty anxious in the few days prior and especially on Friday and mentioned it to Coach B - she said in her own way I would be fine. My anxiety was not from the ride - I knew I could do the ride in spades it was from riding with a team in a large group and knowing that we each had our jobs and I did not want to let the team down. It is one thing to ride for yourself - I mean if it all goes to hell in a hand basket then it is your problem but on a team if that happens 3 other people's days are messed up to. I wanted to make sure I did my work and contributed to a successful day and also tamped down my competitive spirit so that we stayed together.
We found each other and crossed the start together which was harder than you can imagine with 4000 riders all hopping down the road to the start line. But we got there and set off in our pace line - riding over the Lions Gate down the driving lanes was awesome - much prefer it to the tiny sidewalk! We hit the first climb, Taylor Way, and it was time for me to start my work - I just settled in and the climb went very nicely - Heather who I have only ridden with once before - is also a great climber so it was nice to work with her on the uphills. We had agreed that when we got to the top we would regroup so we would head out on to the highway as a group of 4 and have a better chance of working together.
I was quite amazed at the number of flat tires that we had seen on the road in the early stages. Thankfully Judith had flatted twice for us in the previous 24 hours so we were covered for the day. The ride out to Horseshoe Bay was great and then when we hit the first downhill we sadly saw a rider down and injured badly - he is still in the hospital with a head injury - it rattled all of us. Especially me because when we came up on it we all had to slow down and a rider came flying up the inside before he realized he had to stop and was basically between me and the centre concrete median - he was yelling whoa and I had nowhere to go without taking out a bunch of riders - fortunately I was able to hold my line and not take out anyone but he grinded his bike along that centre meridian pretty badly - I felt awful - still do - but I really had nowhere to go. Everyone around me assured me that there was nothing I could do. I hope his bike is okay...
After that we all settled in quite nicely - we had all ridden to Lions Bay before and well I used to live out there so I knew that portion very well and then we got to the other side - and there were a couple of big climbs - time to go to work - our team did well - as I mentioned Heather is a great climber so it was nice to have someone to work with on the front. Cindy is an amazing downhiller and Judith is great a closing the gap and jumping on the wheel so we could stay as a group - it worked well. Heather and I would work to get us up and if the girls fell off we did not worry too much because Cindy would get them back to us and on the flats Judith would help us jump up to the next group as well as work with Heather so that she stayed with us on the downhill since she was pretty nervous on the downhills.
We stopped in Squamish for potty break and well I had a little glass of wine they were giving out and then off we were again. The next 60 km was pretty much false flats and uphills so I figured I desereved a glass of wine. Heather and I agreed that if we got too far ahead on the climbs we would wait at the top and it worked well as we never waited more than a minute or so and only stopped a few times. It was mentioned at one time that if Heather and I wanted to we could go but we said no - we came up as a team and we would finish as a team - this was to be fun - besides the fact my legs were tired!
We did we crossed the finish line 4 abreast and it was great - Coach B would have been proud - total time on the road was 5:40 - with our 2 breaks that were about 30 minutes in total we figure we did 5:10. I am satisfied with that. The race was well organized and we really enjoyed the course and after BBQ and such - we have all agreed to do it again next year and well I have already registered - it opened about 2 hours ago!
The plan is to shoot for sub 5 hours - no breaks - I know we can do it.
Just an awesome day all round with my awesome riding pals. Next up the last trail race of the season in 2 weeks.