By Kim Morris
So we go and right off, I get my foot in my pedal, which is a good thing because while that is a maneuver very easy to do on a group ride, it seems to be a skill unattainable in a bike race. This course is flat and fast and there are 8 bazillion corners. I know this because I counted them. With my abacus. Halfway through the first lap I am sitting in 6 and Catherine jams by and declares, "We got a gap, you guys, we should go." And they turn it up. I have never had a "gap" on another person and I have heard about these so-called "breaks," but I have never been a part of one so cannot verify that they actually exist. Apparently, they exist in other races, so why not the women's cat 4 race?
We plow through the juniors, they are a field of wily, skinny legs who may be going extremely slow or may be playing tactical games, it is unknown and I don't stick around to find out. The women are hauling and I am afraid I will not be able to keep up. It was possible that my heart was going to explode, but I ignored it and it went away. I reference the sign on my dentist's wall for insight into this concept: ignore your teeth and they'll go away. I say the same: ignore your impending heart attack, and it will go away.
My goal today is to stay in my big ring and to finish with all my limbs still attached. I am sitting in 6 or 7 - our group swells and deswells by one with each lap and, by the way, who are these people? I don't recall seeing them at the line - and watching what is happening as though I am watching a really big television. There is always an Alberto's woman dangling off the front. That Alberto's woman is never me. If you wear an Alberto's jersey and you go to bike races, you should be very proud of Deb and Catherine. They are gutsy and they seem unaware of pain or fear. It was absolutely an empowering feeling to look up and see them working.
So Deb goes off, then Catherine, then Deb, and then probably Catherine but after a while I start getting confused and soon I am struck with Homer Simpson brain. All is fuzzy and now I'm frustrated as I recall spending what seems to be millions of dollars on a grad school education. I expected to be far more graceful at this stage in my life. Deb is off the front, I can see her legs spinning like a tornado, and Catherine slides up next to me and says "When they catch her, one of us should go." And I say, cleverly, "Yes." Because I'm sure Catherine is not asking which one of us should go next, I'm sure she is asking me to verify what she already knows. When you're working your butt off in a bike race, I'm sure the one thing you want to hear is a teammate state the obvious.
Most likely Catherine gave me a look that questioned what exactly my helmet was protecting, although I saw only the wheel I was stuck to, and then I heard, "Well, which one of us?" And then I had to admit it, I am not the racer I am in my dreams. "I won't be able to go," I whispered. And so she deftly moved to attack position and took off when our group caught Deb. A bit later, the unattached rider bridges up to Catherine, who was up ahead of us with one other girl who I think was the XXX rider. I am happy that I saw it coming but since I did nothing about it but watch and then consider the danger my teammate was in with two other people in her group and not me or Deb with her, what is the point of seeing it happen in the first place? If a break takes off in a bike race but no one in the field sees it, is it really there? Ponder that with a Homer Simpson brain and then try and sprint for the finish and let me know how easy it is to speak in full sentences.
I vaguely recall the rev up on the last two laps (during which I jammed my pedal on a corner due to a lazy leg and I also received a furtive cut on my thumb, which may have been from something on my bike that is angry with me - I suspect the hoods, who think I should use the drops more often). I definitely recall being thankful there were no primes since there were the same number of people on the course as one-day attendance at Taste of Chicago. Into the finish, I can see Catherine right in front of me and Deb is beyond her. I get in my drops and get out of my saddle and then I plop back down in my saddle because my thighs weigh as much as a house. And I mean, a really big house. Alberto's ends up like this: Deb-2, Catherine-4, Kim-5. That's pretty.
Whooping and hollering ensues after, although the majority of it was done on the cool down and not in front of others who may consider it gloating. Except for the photo session--you have to have whooping and hollering in a photo session.
You know how the winter starts to press down on you and you can feel its heaviness in your clothes and on your shoulders and you feel like it's actually getting into your veins and then the first warm day of Spring pops up and you have that glorious light feeling that seems to be a near-religious experience? This race was my first day of Spring.
It is my honor to be here, ladies. Thank you.