Saturday - Auburn, ME - Road Race
23 miles, 2 laps
Finished 10th :(
To say I was disappointed in my results at this race would be an understatement. I had high hopes not only for myself, but for the team as a whole. We had 10 team members anxious for a great race - unfortunately, this turned into more of a Sunday ride than a race, until the finish...
The course started at the highest point of the race, leading immediately into a 40+ mph downhill, followed in short measure by a steep uphill rise. The course levelled off after this for quite awhile, before heading back up (over two miles) to the start/finish line to do it all again.
At the team meeting, we talked about strategy. In hindsight, I should have been a little more organized, and had the team attacking. At several points in the "race" with the pack completely together, it would have been a good idea to launch some riders up the road to break things up, especially since there were flat/downhill sections we were riding at about 18 mph - some of the women were carrying on entire social conversations! Like the rest of the team, however, I am still learning! We'll continue to work on this whole strategy thing through the season...
Because of the slow pace, and the fact that the pack really stayed together, the race was a little frustrating at times. My dilemma, however, was not to go too hard so that I didn't have anything left for the finish. In the second lap, I got particularly frustrated, and probably spent a little too much time on the front of the pack. Going in to the final 3-step hill, I felt great. We were at mile 22.5 of a 23 mile race, hitting the third step of the climb when someone attached a boat anchor to my bike, and I literally felt like I was going backwards. I quickly went from the front of the pack, to 10th, to 15th position. I was done. As a couple of my teammates passed me, looking to see WHY I was slowing, I yelled for them to GO. Thankfully, two of them managed a 3rd and an 8th, and my legs recovered enough to head back up into a 10th place finish.
I was really disappointed with my performance, however. This was my worst result of the season, and I felt that the mistakes I made were all strategic. I also felt like I had let the team down - not planning properly for their success. As one of the Elite women said to me afterwards, this is the world of racing - not every week garners a good result! I just need to learn from this race, and apply those learnings to the next one.
Sunday - Auburn, ME - Crit
During the week, I convinced one of my teammates to come up and do the crit with me on Sunday. Jen actually drove up to our house in Maine on Saturday evening so that the morning commute to the race would be significantly shorter. It was fun to hang out with her beforehand.
It poured rain all night in Maine, and I was really concerned about doing a crit on wet roads. Thankfully, the roads dried out before we arrived in Auburn, but the temps never got above about 58 degrees - quite a difference from the 80 degree temps the day before!
Jen, Mike and I walked the course before the race, so we would know what it looked like. It started at the bottom of a short hill that quickly turned left into a steeper uphill pitch. After levelling off at the top, another left hand turn brought us downhill, left again onto the bottom of the course (which was also slightly downhill), and then left again back to the start finish. I was nervous - this would only be my second true crit race, and I am not great at downhill corners, especially left handers!
We got a chance to ride the course before the race, and Jen showed me how to approach the fast corner. After that, we lined up and were off for 15 climbs up that stinkin' hill! After about three laps, one of the women from yesterday's race launched an attack on the hill climb, and five of us managed to go with her. I yelled at them that we had a gap, and needed to keep the pace high to stay away. I managed to stick with this group of 5 through about lap 9, when a surge by Ivy (VeloBella) dropped me off the back. From this point on, I was in a TT, trying not to get caught by the remainder of the field!
While I could see three of my breakmates for most of the rest of the race, I was never able to catch them, and crossed the line in 5th place. A better result for me than the previous day, and definitely a hard effort!
This was also Mike's first weekend of racing since his knee surgery!
BTW - this was a tough race weekend for NEBC. Julie went down in the Cat 4 women's race (but got back on her bike and finished), Peter had a crash where he BADLY cut his fingers when his hand hit the chainring of the bike in front of him, Roy was lucky that he ended up with just road rash when he went down (the pic shows the result of his bike sliding in the opposite direction and being run over by a car), and Dave had a crash in the crit on Sunday, but was ok (although bruised and somewhat battered). Thankfully, everyone on the team is ok!