Sterling was the first road race I ever did, probably about 10 years ago. I wasn't into riding road bikes back then - I was a mountain bike hacker out to see what I could do. I remembered a big hill in the course, but until today, had forgotten just how miserable that hill could be.
Cathy, Loraine, Stephanie, Pat, Chandra, Erica, Kathy, Jean, Caroline, Julie
The race started with a 2 mile neutral roll out. My teammates took the front of the pack, and controlled the pace all the way up through the first hill climb (making some of the other racers a little nervous that we were going to try to block and control for the entire race - it was great fun listening to them trying to figure out what we were up to!). After the first hill climb, the race was on and the speed picked up, although the pack really stayed together.
Then came the hill. While it didn't seem so bad the first time up (because we were neutral and still not racing), it was a bear to try and sprint up the hill as I followed an attack from IBC. Two riders managed to get a break with another two in a chase group (including an IBC teammate), and then me. I literally talked myself into latching on to the chase group, but we were quickly swallowed by the next group on the road, and spent the better part of the remainder of the lap chasing the breakaway.
Once the group was back together, several of us tried to get all of the group working together, but not really to any avail. It was quite frustrating that many in the group didn't know how to paceline, and would literally push you off of your line. In some places it got downright scary, with one rider making very sudden maneuvers across the pack at 37 mph!
Coming into the final sprint up the hill, I had actually positioned myself near the front of the group to try to have a good start up the hill. Little did I know that the IBC riders had formed an alliance with two others in our group, so that when their go-to gal went, the remaining three riders rode completely across the pack, blocking anyone from following. I was literally trapped until we turned the corner! As we sprinted up the hill, I picked off the woman in third and was pretty happy about that. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, however, came another woman from our group who surged past me. I could hear other riders behind and dug as deep as I could to cross the line in 4th place - a really good finish for me!
I must admit, however, to not meeting my goal for the race. At our team meeting, I told everyone that my goal was to win. Of course to do that, I also couldn't do the usual amount of work on the front that I am known for, and would have to race a much smarter race. I did achieve that part of the goal, managing to sit about 8th wheel for most of the race. I may not have won, but I was VERY happy with my result, and proud of the performance of the team overall.
Bring on Sunapee! Maybe I am a hill climber after all ;-).