Last night's stage was somewhat surreal. We had a field of 17 starters, but only 9 finishers - the remainder were either transported to hospital or were too unnerved to finish the race. Our thoughts go out to all of those injured yesterday, including Julie, Kate L from Quad who ended up with a concussion as well as a broken clavicle and Catherine S from ECV who ended up with road rash and pretty badly banged up.
The goal of the team before we started racing last night was to shoot for the QOM win, as well as the overall stage win. We had a "strategy", but that all went out the window when the crash happened on the first lap.
A group of 6 was in front of the crash, and included myself, Katherine S and Clara. Hearing the carnage behind us, I looked back and saw bikes and bodies pretty much everywhere, and did NOT see either Julie or Kathy M. I swore out loud, and Clara was the voice of reason telling us all to keep steady. We then discussed getting a message to the pace car, and I sprinted ahead to ensure that they knew there had been a crash.
On rejoining the group, I was somewhat spent from the effort of catching the car and tried to sit in, but Kristen G chose that moment to attack - not really very sporting of her. I was able to hang in, and the 6 of us were off, with Katherine doing the bulk of the work. Unforuntately, she thought that she still needed to keep Clara and I protected, and did way too much work on the front (expecting someone to pull through). She was dropped as the road started going up, and went on to finish with one other racer from our group, in 6th place.
That left us a group of 4 going into the second lap. Kristen and a rider from Phillips Academy were pretty relentless attacking through the opening stretch, but Clara and I responded to every one, and they finally slowed. As we came upon the site of the crash, there were still ambulances and emergency crews in the road, and riders being attended to alongside the road. We had to slow going by here, and after that I told everyone we really needed to work together (Kristen and the Phillips racer weren't doing any work), and we formed a good working pace line for much of the remainder of the lap.
The second climb up the QOM hill was for points, and Kristen attacked, with Clara responding. Kristen kept up her momentum from the sprint into the downhill, and we weren't able to catch her for the remainder of the race. I believe Clara took the second place points, and I was able to take the third place points.
The pace was high going down the hill and through the start/finish to the first turn as the 3 of us did our best to bridge the gap to Kristen, but we were unable to catch. We worked together as best we could. At one point I signaled to come off the front, and thought I head Clara say that she had no gas, so stayed where I was, burning most of my matches. I later heard from her that she was ready to pass... Oh well.
The three of us stayed together halfway up the QOM hill, at which point Phillips, who hadn't really done much work, attacked. Clara still had the legs to respond, but I was unable to do so, and was dropped going up and over. Clara ended up taking 2nd place, and I crossed the line in 4th.
After the race, I went into a bit of a panic, trying to determine from officials where Julie and Kathy were. I quickly learned that Julie had been involved in the crash, but that Jim was with her at the hospital. No one seemed to know what had happened to Kathy, however. We headed back to the school to see if we could contact Geoff. Much to our relief, about 10 minutes later Kathy rode in - she had managed to find a very small gap as racers crashed around her, and her "fight or flight" instincts got her through. She ended up being the 8th finisher across the line.
So, the final results for the stage:
This changes the overall results for the race as follows:
We will all line up for the points race tonight, and hope to keep the rubber side on the track! Only 3 points separates me from Kristen G in first place, so she will be our target at tonight's race. Thanks to everyone for the support!
p.s.To top off our night of racing, Kathy and I got caught on 495 for over an hour behind an overturned mobile home. The only good thing out of it? All the bozos who thought they would make up time by screaming down the breakdown lane who were BUSTED by the cops for doing so!