When we left for Saco, ME on Saturday morning, we had no idea that we would not only be part of high-speed bike racing for the day, but also witness to a high-speed car chase a la the most recent episode of Cops!
After Mike and I were done racing for the day, we were about to head back to the car with all of our gear when a police cruiser came barreling the wrong way down the race course. Shortly thereafter, the race announcers/organizers ordered everyone OFF the road (they shutdown the last race of the day in the safety of the school parking lot), due to a car chase that was in progress. We watched in absolute amazement as a woman came screaming up the race course in a rental car on two flat front tires (the police had gotten spike strips under her at some point, but that didn't stop her immediately). Then came about 5 police cars in full on pursuit. A few turns later, the cops penned her in and crashed into the car, hauling the woman, who was vacationing from France, off for a psychiatric evaluation. We were stunned! You can read the news story here and here.
As for the bike racing? It was also reasonably high-speed. The Saco crit scares me somewhat, given that the corners are really tight and technical. Last year there was a bad crash on the second to last corner of the last lap of my race, and I still had those images in my head. I wanted to try and have a better race here this year, and to work with Susanne to see how we could do working together.
I had another pedal incident at the start of the race, but nothing as bad as last week, quickly moving to the front of our group. There were 8 women who started in the 1/2/3 race, and 4 in the Cat 4 race, so the organizers set us all off together, despite the Cat 4s doing 5 less laps. Susanne managed to take the mid-race prime, and the group came back together. As the Cat 4s went into their final lap (two of them still in the 1/2/3 field), they started attacking, with our field beginning to respond. I yelled to let them go as they were finishing, and we sat up to let them go through their sprint - Katherine took 2nd place, and was excited about her finish!
With 5 laps left to go, Susanne got stuck on the front of the field, really pulling everyone around, with no one willing to come around. Watching what was happening from the back of the group, and figuring that I wouldn't probably be able to contest the finish, I launched an attack with 2 laps to go, digging in and burying myself to try to keep a high pace for the final laps, and to set Susanne up for the finish. I managed to hang onto the lead inito the final lap when Julie from IBC came around to set up Stephanie. I did catch back onto the group, but had burnt all of my matches at that point, and hoped that Susanne had rested enough to sprint it out for the win. In the end, she took second, which was her best finish of the season - YIPPEE! I rolled across the line in 7th (we had one DNF in the race), but was happy to have helped Susanne.
In hindsight, I think I should have waited to attack until the final lap, and that I MAY have had a better chance of finishing with the front of the group if I had. Unfortunately, hindsight is 20/20, and I will look at this as a lesson learned moving forward.
Mike also raced at Saco, both in the Master's 35+ McCormack-filled race, and in the Cat 3 race later in the afternoon. He looked strong in both races. In the Cat 3 race, teammate Dave C. got into the lead breakaway, and Mike did an awesome job of ensuring that no one chased down the break. Manny G from MRC ended up winning, with Dave having his best finish of the season as well, finishing in 5th place.
I thought that Saco would be my final road race/crit of the season, but I just may get talked into racing Portsmouth...