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Christina Cone’s CRCA Women’s Cat 4 Race Recap – August 18th

The intent before a race is always to get a good night’s sleep. As we all know, good intentions don’t always pan out. As I lay awake throughout the night, hearing the rain pour down I was plagued with trepidation. If I fall asleep will I hear my alarm go off at 2:40am? Will it still be raining by race time? Even if it stops, how slick will the pavement be? This was to be my second time racing in the CRCA series. I was motivated and inspired to give it a go back in June thanks to the encouragement and support of my fellow Live Love Velo teammates. It was great to have fellow riders to carpool with and to share stories with when the race was over. While I did not do great at that race (finished last!) I learned a lot and felt supported by my friends. This time, I was hoping to fare better…this was to be a smaller field, just Cat 4 women rather than 3 and 4, and I knew more of what to expect having done it once before. Again, things don’t always go according to plan.
After being awake most of the night I struggled through a bowl of cereal (for who can really eat at 3:00 in the morning?), loaded my bike on the car and was out the door at 3:30am to pick up Jenn. We fit her bike in the back seat and we were on our way to the city. Have I mentioned that it was still raining? It was. Ellen and Amy were driving in together from the south shore and during the car ride Jenn shared a text message from Ellen reading, “Do you guys want to go to a diner?!” No one was too excited about the weather conditions!

Just before the start, using the trees as cover from the rain. From left to right: Jenn Solomon, Ellen Reichel, Amy O’Connell, Christina Cone and Tori Boughton Nelson

After making good time, we parked on 71st but stayed in the car talking for a bit, hoping for the rain to stop. I told Jenn that I had some concerns….I don’t ride in the rain yet alone race in the rain. I crashed hard three years ago in a Babylon to Montauk ride during Tropical Storm Danny and I credit that to the fact that I couldn’t see very well. When my glasses get wet I am done. After a cracked helmet and some bleeding on the brain, I get a bit nervous now when the skies open up and it’s me on skinny tires. Jenn told me to do what I felt was right and to err on the side of caution. As a fellow mom, I know she understands the inherent thoughts that were going through my mind about being able to be there to take care of my son. I also know that she is driven and pushes herself and it not a quitter…and I’d like to think I share those qualities as well. If I commit to doing something, I’m going to do it. I would be upset with myself if I didn’t race. I would feel like I let myself down and that I quit. Jenn then said to make a smaller goal. She suggested that the goal be just to start the race. Perfect advice.
We finally get ourselves ready and I watch one quick little video of my son on my phone. That might have been a bad idea. He’s all I think about as we ride into the park to register. Well, that and needing to go to the bathroom! The restroom is a happening place and that is where I finally get to meet Amy. Amy is a strong rider who was coming to do her first race as well. I can tell right away that she’s not only a great rider but a great person and I took the forward step of asking her to pin me (pin my number plate on my jersey, that is!). We also then found Ellen and Tori and the quintet was complete for this race! We attempted a bit of a pre-lap warm-up and as we were getting back, Jenn’s tires skid out on the wet road. She handled it well, of course, but it’s another mark imprinted in my mind.
It’s finally 6:15am. The field is small as apparently 60% of the registrants opted to stay in bed and not race in the rain. Smart. We begin and I am hanging near the back of the pack. It’s dark still, the road is wet and the rooster spray is adding to my lack of vision. I find myself squinting to see and then comes the curvy descent. One of the things I want to work on to begin with is cornering….now add slick roads and lack of vision into the equation and my confidence is gone. I slow down and loose the pack and then have to hammer to catch back up. At that point, I decided that I was not going to continue on with the pack but I was going to at least finish what I started and complete the 5 laps. Once the decision is made, I spend the next 6 miles regretting it…kicking myself mentally and feeling a bit pathetic. Then, I pass Tori’s mom and Amy’s husband who cheer me on and make me smile and I am on to lap 3. Some of the marshals along the route were great too and really encouraging. An hour and 40 minutes later I head up Cat’s Paw for the fifth and final time to the sound of cheering from my team! They were not disappointed in me, as I had been feeling, but rather they were proud that I stuck it out. How awesome are they and how lucky am I to have found such camaraderie?!

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