A few weeks ago, I stumbled on this old post, and I've been meaning revisit it ever since. The reason is that when I read the post I realized that, although it took two years to happen, I finally got my Billy Brubaker moment and even got a picture to prove it.:
In case you didn't click through above, my definition of a Billy Brubaker moment is a small success that gives you the confidence to achieve bigger successes. Although I spent the days following last fall's AppleCross wondering what would have happened if I hadn't crashed myself out of the lead, at the end of the season I had a pretty good idea. I could have won the pre-season race and ended up Cat 3 pack fill, instead of getting third, realizing that I wasn't ready to cat up yet, and becoming the OVCX Cat 4 women's champion. Some might argue that Cat 3 pack fill is better, but after five years of being pack fill (at best), I needed the season of learning to battle it out weekend after weekend with something that I considered worth winning on the line. I'm also sure that those lessons will prove more useful in the future than another season of struggling for "not last" would have. Sometimes small successes are better than big ones.
Anyway, this weekend was the redux of the Ceraland circuit race that I originally blew off for gardening. Since all but one of the scheduled races were cancelled due to the severe weather, the promoter brought it back this weekend, and included a women's Cat 4 race, as opposed to the single 1/2/3/4 race offered the first time around. So I figured it was a good time to get back on the road racing horse after kicking my season off with a DFL and a DNF (yeah...left that one off the blog) back in March. There were five of us in the race, but we started in the same group as the Cat 5 men. Things started off badly with me once again not knowing what to do with myself on the downhill corner going into the beginning of the second lap. I got gapped and couldn't (or wouldn't) close, and quickly found myself alone and disgusted with myself for wasting $35 and the drive over to Columbus for five minutes of racing.
Then I realized that with the speed I had been dropped, I would be lapped quickly and that this was a good thing. I just had to be ready when the pack came by, and I could at least still get some good racing experience in, even if my result was still another DFL. However, as I heard the wheels behind me, sped up, and successfully re-integrated myself with the group, I realized that there was only one girl left from the starting group. I just had to stay on until we caught the others and I would have a shot at getting myself back out of last place. Once I was in again, it wasn't that hard to stay there, except for each time through the turn where I got dropped the first time, when I would have to pedal with all my might to keep contact until the group slowed again. I'm not sure how many laps I stayed there, but it was enough to pass two other girls who didn't jump into the pack, and I realized that I had snuck my way onto the podium. I did get dropped again when the group sped up a bit with five laps to go, but then I had something to fight for and was able to maintain my place soloing in the last few laps.
Unfortunately, for my first road race "podium", they didn't actually have a podium, but they did give a cash payout instead of merchandise prizes, a rarity for Cat 4 women. So even though I felt like a bit of a jerk for getting on the podium by cunning rather than speed, it definitely felt like a huge victory for me since it was about the first smart thing I've done in a road race ever. I'll only do handful of other road races over the rest of the spring and summer, since I'm trying not to overdo the racing before 'cross season starts, but I'm crossing my fingers that today will prove to be the Billy Brubaker moment of my road racing career.