Last year I had so much fun at the Yarmouth Clam Festival bike race that I talked Mike into going with me this year. Yes, for those of you keeping track, that DOES mean driving from Mt. Snow, VT to Bethel, ME on Saturday, and then from Bethel to Yarmouth on Sunday. Die hards (or crazy - you pick ;)).
Why do I love this race? The festival atmosphere is so incredible! And there are spectators lining most of the 3 mile loop, all cheering and making you feel like you are a real pro. The course is fun, the crowds are huge, and the fried food afterwards is delicious ;).
After WMSR, I took a couple of days off the bike, and thought I felt pretty good, but still didn't want to commit to any definitive team plans, just in case. The Elite team was out in force, and their primary plan was to clean up - winning primes and the entire race. I was hopeful that I would have the legs to help.
Again this year, every lap of our 6 lap race was being raced for a prime. The people in Yarmouth really get behind this race, and the women's field in particular. For the first lap, I sat in the pack to see how my legs were going to feel, and all went well for me. Unfortunately, Tami led into the uphill on the first lap, and dropped her chain; the pack all swarmed around her as she was frantically spinning pedals to stay upright and not take anyone out!
Feeling pretty good, I decided that I could be of some help in in lap 2 in getting my teammates to the front for the prime. My strength in this race does NOT come on the uphill climb, but I knew I could lead out pretty well for most of the back half of the course. I made my way to the front of the pack where Susanne was setting the pace, and picked things up a bit as we climbed the slight rise, rounded the corner, and went into the downhill. Following the lead motorcycle into the 110 degree uphill turn was nerve-wracking - I watched and listened to him scraping hi pegs on the pavement! I took the turn pretty wide, knowing I wouldn't be able to keep pace going up the hill, and just hoping to be able to catch onto the back of the group, which I did. And thankfully, we took that prime! My mission was accomplished.
Going through the start/finish, I was again on the back of the pack when Sunapee tried a two-pronged attack on the field, going up both sides. having just lead out, I had no legs to counter, but managed to hang on when the pace increased, catching the break. After recovering, I decided to go with the same approach on lap 4 that I had used on lap 3, and again acted as the locomotive going into the hill, and again managed to get back onto the pack. By this point I was confident that I could do the same thing for the 6th and final lap, hopefully setting the team up well for the win.
Unfortunately for me, the back of the pack was not the place to be going into the climb on lap 5. Hannah K was just ahead of me, and as we started up the hill, she broke her chain and went down. I just barely managed to avoid her, but I had been gapped. Now I had to madly chase on the fastest part of the course! I could see the pack ahead for what seemed like an eternity, and just hoped that they would slow in the usual places, allowing me to catch back on.
I chased. And I chased some more. At one point I thought about throwing in the towel and just rolling across the finish alone, but I just don't have that in me. The TT work paid off, and on the backside of the course, I finally managed to catch back on to the pack. My original intent was to ride right through the pack back to the front, but just as I made contact, the pace increased, and I just had to hang on. The chase effort had taken it out of me at that point, and I just wanted to survive.
Into the final hill, and I hung on by the thinnest thread. We crested the top, shifted into the big gears, and hurtled toward the finish (ok, I was gasping for breath and my legs were screaming, but hurtling sounds better, yes?). I managed to finish 20th of 25 starters, but the real results for me were in the earlier performance. Oh - and the team did clean up - we won every prime and took both first and second in the finish! Yay!
Mike had a great race in the Men's P1/2/3 field. When the men lapped us during the race, he was near the front, and looked really strong. Unfortunately, he mis-counted the laps, and wasn't able to hold an attack he put in launching Ward S off to a second place finish. He still finished strong in the lead chase group - 23 of 55 finishers, and that was after his great result at Mt Snow the previous day!
We spent some time after our races buying Soap from the Goat Soap Guy (be sure to support Jenness Farm - they are awesome about supporting women's racing in New England!), and then enjoying some festival cuisine - fried clams and sweet potato fries!
My newfound confidence and enthusiasm had me register to race the Norwell Circuit race this weekend. There's no women's field, so I registered to race with the stinkin' fast 45+ Men. Lord help me...