Only Mary, Susanne and I lined up representing NEBC in the women's 1/2/3 field. We were happy, however, to end up with 18 women in our field - especially seeing that there were far fewer women pre-registered. I had done well at this race last year, initiating a break on the first climb, and finishing 2nd. This year I knew I was going to have my work cut out for me - I was racing in a strong field of climbers and I had to do two full laps - double the previous year's distance (46 miles).
Susanne, Mary and I chatted about a plan, but essentially this is a race that will blow apart when the climbing starts. Mary was going to react to any attacks that happened, so Susanne and I were happy to do the work in the chase if we could, blocking. As we rolled out from the start, Susanne and I ended up on the front (and I began reliving my race here two years ago), working together into the wind to get warmed up. We finally forced other racers around us, and I drifted to the back for some rest.
Susanne stayed near the front, and ended up doing a lot of work. As I looked forward, I could see her on the front with Mary as second wheel, and knew I needed to move up to protect Mary, and to help Susanne. Soon after my move to the front, the field was neutralized. Huh? How is that possible, we thought. Because none of the women would pull, the Cat 4 women were overtaking our field - just as we hit the first climb! Now, we had chaos as two fields combined and the first attack came from the front of my field.
Just as the attack happened, I dropped my chain, and was immediately popped off the back. I could see Susanne and her chase group for the remainder of the first lap, and would get close enough to ALMOST catch back on, and then one of those blasted hills came up, out of nowhere, putting me even further behind.
After working with and then losing Ivy, I ended up with Hannah, and into the second lap, we continued to work together. Unfortunately for me, every time Hannah went to the front, the pace seemed to drop, forcing me back around her to try to catch (I kept hearing Nat saying how that wheel just up ahead was my lifeline!). Once back into the hills, I was all done from all of the effort of chasing and we ended up riding the rest of the lap together.
As we entered the final climb to the finish, Hannah turned and asked, "So, are you going to punch me out for the sprint?". I thought this hillarious given there was no punch left anywhere in my body by that point, and the two of us made a pact to cross the line together (although, I did make sure that my wheel crossed the line first...). Tough day for me, but as it turned out, I ended up pretty sick the next day, and had been dizzy enough the day before to have to get off my trainer twice... I guess I'll take it - at least I finished, even if it was in 13th place!