Sunday morning was not windy, but it was still cold. And gray. A great day for a 'cross race - all we needed was some of the snow that was forecast for later in the day ;-). It was really tough getting warmed up for the race. I donned my now familiar warmup gear of down jacket and blue jeans to take a lap of the [frozen] course. Great course despite the absence of "the rock" from last year - lots of tight turns, and some really fast sections. Woohoo!
Only 4 women had pre-reg'd for the Elite race, so the promoters ran us with the Juniors and B Women. Of course, day of saw some of the big guns coming out - Rebecca W, Amy W, Kathy S, Jennifer S, Stephanie W, Karen T and Libby; and Alie K made her comeback after a bad crash at Gloucester!
Since there were 9 of us, we all lined up beside each other. This caused me some panic as I wasn't sure how I was going to avoid catching bars with Jennifer on one side and Alie on the other when the whistle blew. This lack of confidence cost me on the start, as I was the LAST person onto the field. Yup - DFL AGAIN. Will I ever learn????
I decided, since I was behind Karen (whom I've never been able to beat in a race), that I would hang onto her wheel. She starts slow, but will put in big efforts to catch the group in front. When she went around Libby, I went with her. I stuck to her wheel like glue for the first lap and a half. Then, in the woods, she slowed and I went around. That was the end of her race - she dropped out saying she couldn't feel her fingers (did I mention it was cold?). I could see the group ahead of me, and Mike said it was 30 seconds. Sounds reasonable, but it was insurrmountable, and their lead grew as we continued on.
As the race progressed, I could see the leaders of the 3/4 race making time on me, and I worked really hard to hold them off for as long as possible. I managed to hold Christina (the eventualy 3/4 winner) off until the barriers on the 5th lap, where she finally passed me. But, I passed her back as she slowed in the woods. She eventually caught me, and then Julie L (IBC) passed me as well. I hung with both of them in the final lap until they got a gap, and were gone.
I have to say, it was deflating to be passed by the 3/4 leaders as I was racing in the ELITE race. Really made me question what the heck I was doing... The rest of the 3/4 women aslo did well, and looked like they were having a fun (but cold) time). Congrats to Teri for a 6th place finish!
In the end, I finished 7th. Not too bad. Not last, and not lapped. This was the last race for me until Nationals though, and I am VERY excited about that!
Mike had his best race ever yesterday, also finishing 7th (and I was #104 and he was #204 - strange!). Here is his perspective on a great result:
The whistle blew and it was a mad sprint for position or just to warm up. We had a guy from CycleSmart, Paul C,. and then I managed to scam on the back. We got a gap going and I was struggling but hanging in there. Then after a lap or so CornerCycle's Kevin H. showed up. He was content to just hang for a lap or so (as he was still saving himself for the A race) but then moved to the front and put in an acceleration. That was it for me; off the back. A lap or so in no mans land before I got picked off by Mike and then Chris from GearWorks/SpinArts. An NBX rider got me next and I knew that was going to be the last come hell or highwater. I stuck with him and we bridged back to Chris and the 3 of us rode the rest of the race together. Pretty uneventful besides a small mishap/slideout in a corner and running my knee into the rear brake arm hurdling a barricade on the final lap. Foiled my planned attack but oh well. Managed to hang in for 7th out of the 33 that finished. My best result ever I'd say and I managed to stay ahead of some folks that I have never beaten before.
Mike also rode "the log" on several laps. I got a couple of good shots, as did Bill from FastShots.
Kudos to the good folks at MRC for putting on a fine race! I am finally warmed back up. And we did get some snow overnight - about 4 inches. Supposed to mostly rain today though with snow showers through the week. I guess winter is finally arriving!