Words by: Trina Jacobson
TAKING A STEP BACK
I can’t believe September 2013 was my last post here on Cycling Illustrated. I certainly started my break from writing with a bang (yay!), but that was also the last time I was on the podium (sigh).
2014 was an ebb year, personally. Personal life takes a lot of energy to keep balanced and when faced with life transitions, the energy goes there. It has to. With a finite amount of energy to expend, more energy there means less energy to cycling; and it began to wear on me big time. Yet I still tried to race with my team to stay connected with my cycling family. I felt like a mushy passenger on my bike most of the year but I was able to contribute to a few successes.
Needless to say, I wouldn’t categorize the season as “fun”.
Sometime in the fall, as I began to feel whole again, I started working in earnest on making my life the way I want it to be. That small change in how I looked at life started attracting good energy in the people and opportunities around me. Most specifically, an opportunity to work at SPY Optic in Carlsbad, CA. Once landing the job, it was a no-brainer to commit to the team SPY sponsors: SPY-Giant-RIDE pb GQ6.
I eased myself back into riding more than twice a week mostly by having an explorer’s attitude about the area the office is located in, making new riding friends, and trying new group rides.
THE TOUR DE MURRIETA
At the risk of this entire race reporting sounding like one gigantic #humblebrag, here’s how the Tour de Murrieta Grand Prix played out for the team and my thought process throughout.
The team meets before and after each race. This meeting was quick: it was a different scenario than our last team race at the San Diego Omnium, where we had the numbers and it was our race to lose. Our plan was to be patient today. Be active, but patient for the right opportunity to go with a break…or lead Trina out for the field sprint.
….wait, what? Trina? Me?
I knew I had been riding enough and had gotten enough intensity to hang in, but sprint at the end of the one of the more technical and fast crits in SoCal with that looooong straight finish?
It was hot and I didn’t warm up much. I felt a hunger pang and wished I’d had that snack on my drive. My helmet felt tight. I was suddenly concerned with whether my hands would be too hot in my full fingered gloves.
Breathe, Trina, breathe.
I was active early in the race alongside team-mates Pam, Jenny, Angelica, and Jen. I thought to myself, “I am NOT fit enough for this, get your butt back into the field.” At which time a prime strung the field out and I felt in jeopardy of disconnecting from the field. It slowed just a tad for me to get back in and I happened to be in position to follow the next attack. So, I went again.
I don’t much remember the middle part of the race. Jenny was on a solo effort for several laps, then Pam. Pam went for a prime which rolled into a group of 3 or 4 getting a small gap on the field. I prayed for it to stick so that, selfishly, I’d not have the pressure to perform in a field sprint.
At 7 laps to go I was on the front again. “I must be the stupidest sprinter ever….get back, get BACK!” At 5 laps to go I actually told my teammate, “You gotta do it. You sprint.” At 2 laps to go, I was somehow behind Pam. I let her know I was there with my super-secret password. I could immediately tell she went from positioning herself to positioning whatever teammate was behind her. She’s rad like that.
Last lap, corner 3: That’s a sharp curb.
Last lap, corner 5 (second to last corner): I lost a position (or two), but knew it’d be ok as it’s a long way to the finish after the last corner. BE PATIENT (while railing a corner).
Last lap, last corner: I found Pam at the same time I saw the gap opening up behind Amber Gaffney of Twenty16. BE PATIENT.
I’m Pam started to go around a few women and I knew I’d better go or I’d get swarmed. YAY! I’m gonna get second! Wait…SECOND?! WTF, Trina! Click, click… I’m closing the gap…this gear is too hard…this one is too easy…there’s the line, there’s the line, there’s…the…LINE!
No longer feeling like a mere passenger on my bike, we rolled around the course, stopping to pick up a piece of asphalt that was in the middle of the road. Pam gave it to me as a souvenir and I’m pretty sure it will sit alongside the crystal trophy TdM awarded.
I took a moment to lay down in the shade and found myself shedding a few tears. After a huge physical effort, I can be a little emotional. I hadn’t yet seen his photos, but I was sure Danny Munson got The Shot. I thought about photos he’s taken of me over the past few years. I know exactly what mental and physical space I was in for each of them and today’s shot was full circle to the one that introduced us….a win and smiles. I told him, “This last year was hard. Really hard.” Then, we chatted about family.
I am hesitant to say that I’m back (mostly because I never really left and I’m sure I’d be happy never winning another race again), but my pack mates and friends greeted me with, “She’s BAAAACK!” My teammates made me laugh about looking like a dude in a trucker hat right before podium.
I celebrated with a brisket sandwich and a coke.