Race Report: Vicious Series #2 - Goldendale Gravel Grinder

Girls just wanna have Type 2.0 fun :D 
After last weekend's stellar performance (recap: Jamie blown into a fence, Jamie's derailleur went on strike, Lo's handle bars went 20 degrees off wheel, Lo's body went on strike, ...) our two innocent heroines decided to redeem themselves. I'm pretty sure 99% of the American population would stay at home and watch Grey's Anatomy re-runs on their couch after getting blown into a fence, but that's too easy for the Jamies of the world...

So we trekked down to Goldendale, WA (about 3.5 hours from Seattle) after a Team Fun Ride (yes! Fun ride! Wait, why aren't all our rides fun? ... ) and very much had like the teenage girl sleepover party in Goldendale where Jamie and recapped our traumatic backpacking adventures, our traumatic biking experiences, etc. after eating all the food/salt our bodies could reasonably manage (see why we're friends?). We'll admit it - we were nervous about the 90 miles and 6500 feet of dirt riding we had tomorrow. In typical Lo fashion, I had no idea what the course was like (la la la if I don't look it won't hurt!).

Dangerous Duo in Leaf's first road trip
 But we got up the next morning, got on our bikes, and got ready to kill it. By 'kill it', I mean the typical Jamie ran off with the peloton and Lo stumbled her way through some really awful pacelines until ditching them all at the first hill (see ya!). From my perspective, the first climb always marks where I meet my first group of friends - I hung out for about 10 miles with a guy named Ted and we talked about Washington, being engineers, our children (well, his real children, my bikes). I saw snippets of Jamie in the distance - like when she took her first pee and tried to pretend she wasn't looking back for me (she hopped on the bike awfully fast when she saw me... ). Dying trolls take a while to warm up!

<3 <3 <3 
But eventually I did warm up. Jamie and I found each other and began an alliance in an unlikely paceline of men (later women) on some of the most beautiful dirt roads I've ever been on. Really, these pictures do the mountains and dirt no justice... it was perfection itself. I stopped to take pictures because I wanted those memories more than I wanted 30 seconds off my time. We climbed over a ridge and began to descend... fast. I've never felt so powerful in my life - 2 months ago this would have terrified me, but after several gravel grinders, mountain biking, and slowly chipping away at my fears about road racing, I flew down this gravel descent (~ 30 mph). I felt like Ibie and I could take anything... and we did.

Our female paceline killed it for a while... but then we began a gradual 3% grade. Yes friends, this was at about the 40 mile mark where the dying troll suddenly electrified to life and began flying. After making it up the grade, we had the first set of rollers but these were all slightly down grade. For me, once again, this was like euphoria. I had happy flashbacks to Michigan (minus the pot holes... these roads were pristine), and just flew again, reveling in all those rides I did on Bikey on the dirt roads around Ann Arbor.

The end of the rollers brought 'lunch' where I regrouped with Jamie and binge ate approximately 1000 calories in < 7 minutes. However, critical game changer... Jamie: "Hey Lo, I'm going to go to the bathroom". Me: "OK, but I only have about 2 minutes before I need to go. I am getting cold". After about 1 minute, I started shivering (I am the weakest link!) and, ashamedly, admit to ditching Jamie again while she is in the bathroom (Never go to the bathroom!!!).

Got the QOM :D 
Another paceline formed up the valley (not a Christmas paceline though... well, I was someone else's Christmas paceline... ) and after 10 miles, we hit the major 1200 ft dirt, 18% grade at some places climb of the race. I wanted this QOM (fastest female time up the mountain) ... something had turned on in me and even though my legs hurt (they already wanted to wrench themselves from my body), I went 100% on it. I must have picked off like 20 people in a 3 mile span ('you're making this look easy!' 'I assure you, it's NOT'), some walking up the climb. Not me and Ibie... she and I were in it together, and we did it.
Found a matching Ibis at this race too!

After the brutal climb, unfortunately, there was no descent. Instead, we had slightly uphill rollers for 15 miles to the finish. I had no one in sight to paceline with... it was just me and my legs hating me for 15 miles of excruciating rollers. I swear I was counting down by the tenth of a mile. But Christmas came early for me in the form of a finish line 3 miles early. I actually thought it was a mirage before I started a sprint at 100 m. I don't think I've ever felt so relieved to finish a race... my legs really were NOT happy with the situation.

Jamie finished soon after ("so you ditched me again at the bathroom..."). We rolled for a bit back to the car, packed up our things (my jersey was COVERED in salt), went and binge ate some pasta recapping the race, and then drove back to Seattle. Overall, it was an amazing weekend, truly. The Goldendale course was one of the most beautiful rides I have ever done, the company was A+ (you're type 1.0 fun Jamie!), and I didn't wake up feeling like sludge this morning. Major thanks to the Vicious Series, Jamie, Team Thrive, and those Cliff Shot Bloks (seriously, those things keep me alive/salted). Overall, I finished 50th out of about 100 (2nd for women) and came in at under 6 hours. Seriously hard work was done this weekend.

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