Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Third Time's No Charm But...

...what a great course! It had a little bit of everything: flats, rollers, climbs, descents. The Page Valley road race this past Sunday brought together racers from the MABRA & VAC to compete for the championship in each division. There was a good turnout for the Cat 4 group with a total of 18 girls entering. As a flatlander, I knew going into it that I was in for some pain...didn't know until that third & final climb, however, just how much.

Thankfully we had an 8:05 a.m. start b/c the day turned out to be a roaster. Our first lap was pretty non-eventful...think it may have broken up the group a bit though (guessing 18 down to 10 but don't hold me to it). Second lap proved to be more interesting as the pace picked up during different flat sections in an effort to break down the number even more. Though several attempts were made, none were seemingly successful (again, as far as I could tell).

On the back side of the course we descended again around 45 mph to head for the last 1/2 lap. One of the girls and I made the sharp right turn at the bottom and tried to get a gap going. A girl from another team joined in and the three of us managed some space for a few flat stretches. Unfortunately the effort was for naught as we couldn't hold long enough to make any ground on them so we all embraced the glorious journey up that initial climb together (for the 3rd & final time). Managed to find some(demented)humor along the way when a little help was requested at the front and a taker emerged up the middle. Problem was, once she got the space, she just kept on going & dropped us like a sack of potatoes. She was kept close enough that with some extra effort we bridged up to her just before the top.

Then as we crested & started shifting for the downhill, another girl pulled through on the outside and the chase was on. Kind of felt like we all got caught sleeping but maybe it was just me. So, here's my blow by blow at that point: try to catch her on the downhill but she’s holding the gap, turn into a straightaway, still has the gap. Realize that I'm feeling pretty spent now & better get off of the front to conserve what little I have left. With that, the pack of maybe 7 or 8 now(?) comes around me on the outside to go into the last turn (a sharp left). Lead girl in our chase group goes down in the turn due to speed & gravel. She slides out but I'm on the inside so I clear the accident and head for the dreaded uphill finish. In and out of the saddle trying to close in on the leader but not getting anywhere fast. Resign myself to 2nd if I'm lucky (because I'm sure I could have run that bike up faster). Look back & see that I'm in the crosshairs of another girl who's on the move. Dig down but it's not there - might as well have been in quicksand the way she passes me. You know you're hurtin' for certain when that happens and you can't even muster up the energy to be discouraged about it! Finally cross that $@#% line and end up 3rd overall, 2nd in the VAC division.

All in all I had a great time (easier to say now of course) & will definitely do it again next year - just with more training on hills beforehand so the pain will at least be familiar. Very happy to report that the rider who went down was okay & what’s more, she got back on her bike & finished the race! It was a strong showing for Cat 4 out there in my opinion & who knows how it would have turned out had she not crashed (doubtful I would have faired as well). Big thanks to her, her teammate & the rest of the girls who worked hard to make the race so challenging! I'm a broken record but I think it's worth noting again how quality the girls are that I’ve met this year. It's made my first season of racing truly enjoyable!

Oh yeah, the camera battery was dead so I apologize for the lack of pictures documenting my many grimaces but I think the photo below captures my race face quite well.

Ali Cat a/k/a Ramblin' Rose

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