Tuesday, August 5, 2008
And Around We Go...
Saturday was the Concord Crit in Concord, NH. I did this race last year as a Master, and then my season went completely downhill... This year, I am feeling more confident and not as burnt out, so I went and decided to line up with 34 other P/1/2/3 women for a 20 mile race around White Park.
I remembered from last year that there were some pretty scary corners on this course, but having gotten somewhat more confident in my ability, I decided they wouldn't be as bad this year. Unfortunately, I didn't take into account the other racers - yikes! Some of the other riders were pretty sketchy (at least from my perspective), thus making me really nervous for most of the race. It seemed every time I would move ahead in the pack, someone would make a move onto the wheel I was following, edging me out. I really need to get better at protecting my space, and not letting that happen.
The Elite team made up a significant percentage of the field, and they had a plan of attack for the race. I went in hoping to stick to one of their wheels for a respectable finish in the pack, and to try and secure some upgrade points. Unfortunately, neither of our plans would pan out in the end.
As the race got underway, I often found myself on the wheel of a rider who would pop off the back, creating a gap between us and the pack. Several times, I had to put out a pretty big effort to close that gap until I finally got dropped - not a lot, but still dropped. Determined to at least finish with the pack, I went into TT mode for a lap - what a joy to take all of the corners at speed, with no brakes, and now worries about other racers! It took me a full lap, but thanks to the encouragement of some cheering spectators, and my determination, I latched back onto the pack. Unfortunately, in chasing, I had also burnt most of my matches, and was now hanging on to the group by a very thin thread. I had also been somewhat unnerved by a crash in the field behind me.
In the final lap, I tried to move ahead in the pack to improve my finish position. I was in a good place going into the third last corner, and still with the group when "the swarm" happened. The speed accelerated out of the corner, riders came around on both sides of me, and I was gapped. I chased through the final two corners of the course, and through the finish, but was 10 seconds behind the leading pack. In the end, I finished 22 of 35 starters - not a completely bad result, but not the one I had been hoping for going into the race.
What was interesting to me was the difference in racing between the P/1/2/3 field today, and the Masters Men's fields I have raced with a couple of times this season. The men seem to be much smoother in their racing - I feel as if I can ride in their midst without really thinking, whereas with the women, the surges and sudden moves keep me on my toes! I have to get a few more of these races under my belt - my fitness is clearly not an issue in these races, but my fear and over-thinking is getting in my way.
After my race, Mike went on to compete in the Master's 35+ race, as well as the Cat 3 race. Thankfully the threatening rain held off until all the races were finished! Mike looked strong in both races, and made a great attack in the Master's race (teammates later commented that it was the best move they have seen him make in a race). Unfortunately, his break was caught with only one lap left to race. He still finished well in a field of 68 starters, and despite looking like he could fall over, rolled up to the start of yet another race with another strong performance.