Of course the two Shama Mamas are Laura and Aimee who raced earlier.
We start rolling and right away I realize this race is going to break apart cause it was super windy and this is a wide open course. Oh man, we go right into the wind which is fine when you are drafting in the back but that means as soon as we make a turn there is a cross wind and the gutter fest will begin. The course wasn't closed so we had to follow the yellow line rule which meant we had to all stay in one lane. Perfect for splitting the pack of almost 70 racers. I was in a bad spot. Half way through the first lap I see it breaking apart with some of my stronger team mates sitting in the back where I am. After a tough cross wind section I knew we were hitting a fast slightly downhill tail wind section. I moved up to the front of our group with Steve and Doug in it and I just gave it all I had to help get them up to the front pack. It was a big dig that I was not really warmed up for still and just as we made contact in the crosswind section again I started to get a side stitch. OH MAN! NO WAY! But I knew that in just a little bit we would hit the head wind section again and I could get some rest. Before that I got separated again and had to jump in another chase pack to gain on the front group before we crossed the start/finish section. We joined the group and I felt fine and with my new wife watching I made an effort to get up front but as I got about 1o from the front I realized the pain that would come soon after what it took to get there and after blowing a kiss and looking cool to my bride I quickly backed off and went to the back for the next little headwind section for some shelter. Now it really started breaking up and my poor choice of position started to cost me as I had to start jumpin around the gaps that started to open. Finally after several miles of cross and tail wind I found myself with 3 other guys working well together to keep it going. Over the next couple of miles we caught and dropped and regrouped...and I was feeling good. Not like it was easy, it hurt, my legs hurt, my heart was racing and my lungs were burning but I was in the zone. Finally we caught up to one of my team mates, Clark. Of course he was upset cause he was thinking of pulling out next time we pass the start finish area...as being off the front group and all that was up there who wants to suffer in this wind for 40th place. Now that I was there and while I was ready to crumble myself and throw in the towel I looked over at Clark and told him to HTFU. Just so I could hear those darn little letters out loud and hopefully inspire myself as well. Clark and I fought it out with the wind and several other guys for one more lap. Finally on that long hard tailwind section I put my head down, grabbed my drops and slowly spun up each gear all the way to the turn. I was grinding it out cause I saw Ned ahead rolling solo. I made the turn and saw I had an unexpected gap on my group and we were 2-3 miles from the finish. Oh man! So I kept it going fighting the wind hitting my right side till I got to my team mate Ned. Perfect...the two of us to the line. We took one turn and Ned said he was toasted. CRAP! I saw another guy up the road and drilled it to him. We started a couple turns and I looked back and here they come in their echelon. CRAP! So we sit up and make the right turn straight into the wind. Not sure of our speed but we had an easy mile straight into it while rolling in my 23 cog. I was getting kinda hopeful but laughing at myself for thinking of sprinting it out for back of the pack glory but hey, I am here and obviously I need the training! I was kinda feeling good and thought I should have a go at it from far out cause there is now way I am going to accelerate up that little finish incline into the wind. Clark looks back and I give him "the nod" that I am about to go. He in turn gives me "the look" that its too early. But I am hell bent on going at this time on this little down hill to let my Extra Sexyness that I carry with me give me an advantage for a little bit. So I take off sprinting out of my 25cog in the rear. Now let me just mention, I have a 54tooth big ring. We live in Texas and its flat....and I am a cat 4 which means that I need every bit of gear that guys like Tom Boonen ride on cause how can I ever be like them if I only ride a 53 tooth chain ring. (Ok, wait, let me stop laughing at myself right now) Really, I just like the way it looks on my bike. I am my own worst customer! ;-) So I was able to shift down a couple only to then slowly start shifting back up as I hit the head wind and rise before me as I see the 500 meters to go sign. Now usually it would only be a matter of seconds to the finish....though today is not that day. I am in my 25 tooth again spinning, trying to keep my cadence up as to not require my 42 inner ring...cause seriously...who sprints the finish in their small ring in Texas??? NOT I! I look behind me and I notice a 20 yard gap maybe. Oh no, I went to early. I keep spinning though cause Joy is up at the finish and I can't let her down after she woke up at 5am on a Sunday morning and stood outside in the wind in the middle of no where to watch me race. Slowly I creep up on the 200 meter to go sign. I was going so slow I would have laughed at myself could I regain any normal breathing to do so. I was maxed out, my form was horrible and I was waiting for someone to pass me at any second. I looked back again and still I saw this gap. Its like slow motion. I click down to my 23 and stand up to give that last little bit a go.....aaaaaand then I go back to my 25 as I almost locked up my quads in that stupid display of lack of strength. I grind away as if I was coming in first and cross the line with a clean set of wheels. UN-FREAKING-BELIEVABLE! I can not believe for as slow as I was finishing no one came around me. The wind REALLY sucked there. So Clark catches up to me and gives me a pat on the back, so do some of the other guys from our little pack of eight riders who were not smart enough to pack it in on this tough day. I see Joy who is as proud of me as if I won and we make our way back to the van. Stretching out the pain and disbelief of the day Clark rolls over and yells out 15th. I was like 15th what? He said he got 16th and I got 15th. NO WAY! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? WOW! Suddenly it seemed all of that was worth it. I was so glad we didn't give up and that I fought for that finish. Now sure, I didn't win. I am not going to upgrade off of this. I did how ever just have one of my best road race finishes and I am not even rolling like I should be. I looked at my Guru Photon with such pride and felt really really good about my race that day...or maybe stunned is more like it. I guess it just shows....to never give up cause you never really know where you are at till you are done.