First race of the year!


I have to admit some nervousness before the time trial yesterday.  Not because of being the first race of the year, and not because the race was a time trial: the nerves stemmed from the fact that two of my very strong teammates on Specialized lululemon were set to ride their road bikes for the event of truth against the clock.  My concern was that Ina or Loren would beat me.  Yes, me, the time trialist, with all the aerodynamic bling leant to such a title from the best suppliers in the world: Specialized, Hed. and Shimano, not to mention the sweet red-hot national champion skinsuit the team made.  Let’s just say it’s very ‘Canadian’.


The worry came from watching Ina’s Strava uploads the last few months.  The woman is a machine.  I’ve known Ina for some time and won’t ever count her out of any race.  No matter her equipment, form, no matter if it’s uphill, downhill, flat, rainy, hot, cold….Ina is an animal and likes a challenge.  My goal was NOT to get beaten by Ina with her Merckx-esque time trial set-up.


Okay, I’ll admit, too, that the nerves were slightly fueled by the fact it had been a few weeks since I’d ridden on the road….training up in the Utah mountains in winter gives one a good spin from riding the rollers and good hip strength from all the snowshoeing, but a little rust in the top speed and flow only road riding and specifically racing allow for.  You have to start somewhere.  This year, I wanted to start at a race I’d never done, and that’s why I came to Merced.


A beautiful day awaited the racers on the out and back curcuit outside of Merced proper.  How the organizers had the ENTIRE road closed seemed nothing short of a miracle.  It was a delight to warm up on the course, 9.8km out and then the same distance back, with no cars.  Little wind and blue skies made up for the slight chill in the air.  The more I pedaled, the more motivated I felt to race.


And soon it was time to go.  One by one we set off to test ourselves against ourselves and each other.  It’s pretty funny seeing riders come back from the turnaround as I made my way towards the halfway point.  I saw a few girls looking back to see if anyone was catching them.  Others seemed out for a leisurely spin in the countryside.  Some looked in a state of pain on the verge of falling off their bikes.


As for me and the rest of Specialized lululemon, we had some good rides.  Thankfully, Ina did not beat me (though she does claim a 2-minute handicap because of the road bike….which I have to admit is probably less than the detriment should be compared to what I rode), and I can continue to call myself a bike racer this year.


And finally, I did my first race ever for this marvelous team.  The best memories of yesterday were sharing war stories of races past with the younger girls on the team.  I swear Ina and I come from Mars sometimes with the time in sport we’ve had.  Somehow Ina can make crashing and skidding on her face in Redlands, then having kids run away crying after seeing her in the coffee shop after sound funny.


We share myriad epic racing experiences together.  I look forward to creating these same experiences with the team this year.  Not the crashing, epic ones, but the good ones of stepping on the line and trying to win every race we sign up to do.  That’s what racing is and that’s precisely what being on a team makes so very satisfying.

Bring it on!

© 2023. Clara Hughes. All Rights Reserved. Site Design | SGD