Well, after my results at WMSR last week, I submitted my race resume to request an upgrade to a Cat 3 road AND 'cross racer. My request was approved, and I raced my first race as a Cat 3 at Attleboro on Saturday! Now I just have to get used to coming in at the back of the pack again ;-).
My first race as a Cat 3!
Strangely, I am excited about this upgrade. It means that in several New England races, I will now be racing with the Cat 1 and 2 women. This is sure to help me become a stronger and smarter racer, and to provide a different kind of experience for me!
Attleboro Crit - officially 14th
This was a combined 3/4 and Masters race for the women, and NEBC had 9 women on the starting line! Since I had already raced a couple of days during the week, and had just upgraded, my only goal was to help my teammates, Kristen and Loraine, so that they, too, could get some upgrade points for the race.
It was a strong field of women, and the pace was pretty quick out of the gate. I got a poor start, and had quite a bit of trouble trying to maneuver in the field, but Kristen stayed attached to my wheel, until I told her to move up. The original plan was for her to stay attached to my wheel until we launched an attack after the second prime, and then for us to create a break. Failing that Kristen was to attach to another wheel, and if it came to a field sprint, Janet would lead out Loraine. Unfortunately, even the best laid plans sometimes unfold...
After I caught my breath and got my legs back under me, I launched an attack on the field coming through the start/finish and into the only hill on the course. Apparently I managed to hold this for quite awhile, pulling the field for a full two laps before someone finally came around me. After one lap of recovery, I was back on the attack to try and shake things up a little bit (I didn't want to blindly ride around in circles without making the race at least somewhat interesting). This let my teammates sit in the pack to watch for any counters, and to save their legs for the finish.
Sadly, shortly after my second attack, there was a crash in the middle of the field (someone on another team), and I got caught behind it. This did two things - separated me somewhat from the pack, and made me nervous. I spent the remainder of the race in full on TT mode, trying in vain to catch back onto the field. I did manage to pass some of the women and not get lapped, but never managed to quite catch back up.
The big lesson I learned in this race is to use your teammates - even if they are BEHIND you. I managed to catch up to Julie, who had been lapped, and used her wheel ever so briefly to try to "catch my breath". Julie didn't realize I was there, and in hindsight, had I made myself known, she may have been able to help me out for a little bit. Because I was in TT mode at that point, I didn't think to say anything to Julie, and potentially missed an opportunity.
The team did will in the end, taking 7th, 8th, 9th, 12th, 14th and 19th in the 3/4 race, and 7th and 9th in the Masters race. I believe that the results were still "messed up" in the end and that I should have placed 12th, but it doesn't make a difference overall.
Oh - and my friend Carol from Boston Scientific, who helped me out at WMSR, had a STELLAR race, finishing 2nd overall and was the 1st Cat 4 to cross the line! Congrats Carol!
Mike raced in the Masters 35+ race with seasoned racers like Mark McCormack (former National Champ). He was nervous going into his race because of some of the talent, but managed brilliantly, hanging with the pack until the end of the race! Here is his description (note that NEBC is AHEAD of McCormack in the photo):
So, McCormack is still pretty fast. Basically set in with the pack for a while until he decided to hunt down the break of Johnny Bold and Tyler Munroe (I think) and the three rode off the front for the rest of the race at about 14 seconds ahead. Seems they got some time at the end though as it says they were 31 seconds ahead. Race was fast and hard save the few laps we were neutralized when the Ambulance was on the course taking an unconcious CCB rider off the course on a backboard. Nasty crash into a granite curb. Overall I really liked the course and thought it was the safest I'd done (as a crit course) so far.
Mike finished 33 out of 62 starters - pretty good for a field that includes Cat 1 - 4 racers! Here are a couple of additional photos from his race:
The race is neutralized; Restarting the field with 10 laps to go
Hanging at the front of the pack; The finish of a terrific race!