This was my fourth year riding in the Tour de Donut, but it was the first year I had to think about breakfast. In the past, I’ve gone singlemindedly focused on eating as many donuts as possible, with both good and not so good results. I don’t even like donuts, but I’ve always felt that you can’t go to a race called the Tour de Donut and not eat them.
After the sting of choking down 9 gigantic donuts last year to only come in 6th place and currently being at the heaviest I’ve been in a while, it was time to reconsider my game plan. Last year I had been pretty sure I could have beaten the third place time had I not stopped for donuts; this year I decided to test that theory out. Rather than lose time stopping to shovel in sugar bombs, I planned to ride straight through.
I was pretty comfortable with my decision until THE BET. It all started when Bob took to the Team Virtus website to call out our teammates for their lackluster donut-eating performance last year…and it snowballed into something much bigger…or, I guess, smaller. Something speedo-sized.
|Wow. That just happened.|
I was torn. Ride my own race? Or stick closer to Bob to
encourage him witness the carnage? It was a tough call, and when I left home this morning I wasn’t sure which way my decision would fall. So…breakfast. If I was going to be hanging out at donut stops anyway, it would make sense to go ahead and eat them and try for a good donut-adjusted time, but if I was actually racing I’d need fuel. I went light with a Greek yogurt and pack of almonds, and then I brought a Honey Stinger waffle in case I decided to skip the stops.
Stepping into the growing heat and humidity at the race site, I was kind of dreading how the ride would feel. It’s funny; running races are generally nice and early, but the most bike races don’t start til 9 or 10. Thankfully, by start time the sky looked like it was considering rain. The thick cloud cover that had moved in was very welcome!
|About 1700 registered racers|
The Tour de Donut gets more fun each year, with more and more familiar faces. This year’s included my Metro Tri Club teammates, Bob, blog friend Anne (who I didn’t actually get to see until after the race…well, other than her hand waving), adventure racing friends Allie and Stephen, and an older gentleman I met while hanging out with J at cub scout day camp. And then there was Kim, who despite being married to my ex-husband is one of my good friends and always comes to the TDD to cheer/take pictures.
|Waiting for the start
Photo credit: Kim
Though I’ve ridden in this race for several years, that huge pack of bikes makes me nervous, and I don’t want any part of the fast front. I’m much more comfortable lining up further back. Way further back.
I parked my bike, ran over to the donuts, ate two (therefore doubling my goal), rinsed my hands, and ran back to my bike…after asking a very nice volunteer to wipe off my glasses on her tshirt (thank you!). My jersey was soaked. The whole stop took me less than 3 minutes. It probably would have been smarter to eat a waffle on the bike, but in addition to really needing to stretch my leg, my handling is unsteady enough that chances were good I’d crash while trying to open the package.
As I rode away from the donut stop, it started raining on us. So much for having that lady dry my glasses! I was a little nervous on the wet roads, but everything went well and the brief shower only lasted for a few minutes. My leg felt a little better, but it was still sore. My first mile after the stop was 16 mph, but the next few were pretty fast for me: 19, 20, 22. They were all over the place after that, and I was counting down the miles to the end at 32.
I’d been thinking that overall the course was easier than the old one, and then I hit the bigger hills in the last several miles. Ouch. Even worse was when I rode past the 32 mile mark painted on the road…and no end in sight. Yeah…the race was 34 miles this year. Those last two miles were rough, not because the course was difficult but because I was sore and DONE. In the last mile, this much older man passed me on a bike that looked even older and sounded creaky as can be. Because I have no pride, I caught back up with him and clung to his wheel into the finish. Thank you, Mr. Yellow Bike…my finish would have been even more pathetic without you.
I had a great time at the race, especially the first 15 miles or so. Drafting off of a stronger rider was definitely a good strategy (I did offer to take my turn in front, but he declined), and I’m happy I managed to use that for at least part of the race. I’m pretty disappointed in how much I struggled over the last six miles, but as more than one friend pointed out, that’s where actually training might come into play. With my focus this year on adventure racing and mountain biking, I think I’ve only actually ridden my road bike five times since last fall: February’s Super Century, women’s ride day back in April, a half hour trainer ride, 20 miles this past Wednesday…and today. If you want to do well, you have to put in the work…and that’s an area in which I consistently fall short.
Even so, my chip time of 1:56:59 was good enough for 8th place out of 111 in my age group (actually, my CHIP time is good enough for 7th place, but for whatever reason the standings are ordered by gun time) and 220/1438 overall. Oh, and my paltry 2 donuts still gave me 9th place AG donut adjusted….and you just can’t overestimate how great it is to go home without wanting to have your stomach pumped.