Raquel Orellana – 1st place – Women’s Cs, UC Berkeley Road Race

She got a new look for her great performance. She looks great in red!

Two topics dominated the conversation as we drove up to UC Berkeley: the brutal weather forecast for the weekend and the amount of climbing we’d have to do on Saturday’s Road Race.

On Saturday morning, we were pleasantly surprised by the weather: it was freezing, but at least it wasn’t raining.  The climb, on the other hand, was also a surprise, but certainly not a pleasant one.

Women’s Cs and Women’s Bs were racing together and were required to do three 10 mile laps, each with 1,100 ft of climbing.  I didn’t do a very good job of warming up before the race, so my legs started hurting as soon as I started working up the course’s initial steady climb.  Half jokingly and half wishfully, I asked a UC Berkeley girl if this was the difficult climb everybody talked about.  She just sort of smirked and didn’t answer.

After that first climb came a long descent, followed by rolling hills.  And then, when my Garmin said we had done just over 6.5 miles, I saw someone directing us to a sharp turn.  And there it was: the infamous climb.  More like a wall really, a long wall.

At this point, the group had spread out.  I estimated that I was in the second half of it, but had no idea how many of the riders ahead of me were Cs.  The climb was much steeper than I expected but I kept pushing hard because I figured it couldn’t last very long.  I was wrong.  It was very long, but I was able to pass several of the riders, including two UC Davis girls at the very end of the climb.

As I started the second lap, however, the two Davis girls, who had started working together, managed to catch up with me and  eventually dropped me.  I tried my best to keep up, but descents are not my strength.  I rode on my own for a while until I reached the steep climb.  To my surprise, towards the end of the climb I had the two UC Davis girls within eyesight again.

I wasn’t able to catch up with them, and during the descent of the third lap, they increased the distance again.  As I approached the climb, I started to doubt whether I had enough energy to do it a third time.  But I ate half a Power Bar and told myself that I at least had to try.

The bar gave me a boost, and once again I managed to get close to the Davis girls.  I noticed that they were no longer side by side, and realized that it was my chance to beat at least one of them.  I caught up with and passed her and then followed the other one to the end.

I crossed the finish line and stopped next to a few of my teammates who where standing there watching.  I was extremely tired and glad to have finished, so when one of my teammates said he thought I was the first of the Women’s Cs to come in, I wasn’t really paying attention.  I was satisfied with my hard work and with my continued effort until the end.

I was about to jump in the car, but decided it was worth going to the finish line to try to figure out my results.  “735?  I have you down as first.”

By the way, if you’re in the LA Area, please join our team and others in the community this Sunday for the Trojan Cycling Benefit Ride.

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