by Lindsey Fahey

Gapers Block – Day 2

It was FINALLY here, Gapers Block, the newby race, my EPIC CRIT RACING DEBUT!!!!  I was so excited……….until I woke up Sunday night with a fever. Monday I was coughing, felt off and tired so after a few hours spent agonizing over what to do I decided not to race.   I tucked in early Monday and woke up promptly at 4:30 am, all ready to go and unable to go back to sleep.  No fever this time though, so I packed my bike carefully in my car, quadruple checked my bag of stuff (I had everything FOR SURE) and drove down to work early and counted down until 4:45 PM. I finally bolted from my desk and changed into my kit at work………only to discover I had forgotten a major article of clothing.  NO SPORTS BRA??!?!? You moron, I told myself.  WHAT WILL YOU DO????   YOU CAN’T RACE YOUR EPIC FIRST RACE WITHOUT A SPORTS BRA!??!?!   Relax I told myself, sure you can, you have 18 layers on and bib shorts, get your ass down there.

Starting Line

I made my way down to Calumet Park sports braless and a bundle of nerves and reviewed my goals, in descending order of importance:

1.  Don’t break bike

2.  Don’t kill self

3.  Don’t do anything horribly embarrassing

4. Stay upright, if possible

5. Stay with pack for 1 lap

6. Do whatever Kelly Clarke does (but let’s be real,  you should probably just focus on goals 1 & 2)

Ok, I could do this.   I picked up my number and went to the bathroom in the field house and pinned it on next to a radiator. Great idea, I warmed up my jersey and my gloves!  All toasty I headed to warm up with Katie.  After a while we went to take our practice laps, Kristen Meshberg was there and was nice enough to take my laps with me (THANK YOU SO MUCH!!)  She gave me a few pointers and basically made me feel at ease since at this point I was thinking I was a little crazy to try this and maybe I should spectate a girls crit first.   We came around and people were lining up.  Here goes nothing, I thought, 1 lap you can do it!!!   I parked behind someone who looked like they wouldn’t set me up for failing at Goals 1 and/or 2 (see above) and waited to go.  Soon we were off………I somehow clipped in ok, and  then settled on the wheel in front of me, waiting for the blazing pace to set in………….and waited.  Before I knew it we were around the course.  Ummmmm what was this???? I was in the middle of the pack with Goals 1,2,3,4 AND 5 so far accomplished, in fact I could surge to the front if I wanted.  Ok self, that was pretty baller, I thought, one more time around, you can do it!!!!

I kept going around and around, still not falling off (or over!).  This is odd I kept telling myself, what is happening??? How am I not dropped??  Kelly kept saying great job Lindsey, way to go as she came near me at times (I seemed to be accomplishing Goal 6 as well!)  This is fun, I thought, I don’t know what the hell is going on, but I can swoop in and out of these corners and hang just fine.  Bring it race!!!!  Lets DO THIS!  I remember coming out of the last corner before the line with Katie and Kelly at once point and thinking how badass we looked coming around all together, oh yeah Spidermonkey ladies, look at us!!!!  I was on the inside zipping along having a grand old time.  Kelly rolled back and was like LINDSEY GET ON A WHEEL!   I was like huh??? OH I guess I’m all alone out here………Focus on Goal 6 self! (and don’t forget 1 & 2!!) ……..  I grabbed Kelly’s wheel and kept going.

Three laps to go, I realized the error in my ways.  It seems Crit racing is really easy until it got really hard.  I struggled along until the last lap, head down, holding on with all my might.  In the back stretch I got distracted for a moment, thinking about what a mess the girl’s hair in front of me was..…how it was kind of funny how I wasn’t sure if I was shifting up or down since my hands were so numb……ooopsies wrong way, silly hands……and bam, the pack surged, fluffy hair didn’t and I was gapped off………so fast!!! I tried to sprint back on but couldn’t get back to the pack.  I zipped through the final corner for good measure and finished 18th.   I was quite pleased with myself for hanging on the entire time until the very end but pissed it was all for naught when I got gapped off the back when it counted.   I took my cool out lap and the one girl told me she was glad there were not as many squirrely new people out there.  I smiled and was glad she thought I was NOT a squirrely new person.  I got off my bike and changed and then went to congratulate everyone, getting distracted by some cute dogs in the process, and didn’t check the results.  Fearsome competitor right here, I actually didn’t find out where I finished until the next day (no dog petting next time). My impending sickness took me down the rest of the week, but I am excited to get out there a few more times this season!

Overall trying racing was a great experience and I’d recommend it to anyone (as long as you aren’t squirrely).  Thank you for all the support, Spidermonkeys, and thank you for going out there with me Kelly, Katie, Lauren (and Michelle on Thursday!).  Great job ladies!!!