Had a good Thanksgiving, albeit pretty busy. Mike and I went up to Maine for a few days, where we were joined by my parents. Then we had a trip to VT for a very delicious and filling turkey dinner with Mike's family, a trip to N. Conway for some Black Friday shopping, and then back down to MA so that we could hit the Sterling race on Saturday.
I've read reports from other racers on the Sterling course, and get the sense that people either love or hate this course. I, personally, fall into the former category. Tom Stevens does a great job with the course layout, and this year, added some tighter turns and more technical aspects, making it even better from my perspective. Of course, at Sterling, the weather always plays a factor as well, and this year was no different. Yes, the sun was out. But, it was cold, and the sun hadn't quite thawed the ground before racing started for the day. I watched people sliding and hitting the deck in corners, and, after failing to ride a steepish uphill after the barriers, dismount only to fall back down the hill on their feet!
I watched the mayhem of the early fields, including one racer in the 55+ race who didn't make it past the start line before knocking himslef unconcious! He had some sort of major equipment failure, putting him over the bars and onto the track. After a free ride to the hospital in the ambulance, he will be ok... Other fields with large numbers of starters (3/4 Masters and 1/2/3 Masters) bunched up coming off of the track, and headed up the steep, and frozen, run-up. This was going to be tough, and I was glad for my front line starting position!
After a muddy, and successful race, Mike found me and gave me some intel on the changing conditions of the course. I should note here that Mike got his first Verge point of the season at Sterling, finishing 15th! He has been so close all season, it was nice to finally see him in the points and the money after all his hard work! this means a coveted call up at the RI races for him! YAY!
With the large women's fields at the Verge races this year, and a reasonably technical start to the race, having a front row starting position was key for me. I was able (after getting rammed from a racer who believed that lining up on the far left, and cutting far right immediately), to get in behind Libby and the fast MRC women as we headed around the track. Another key to the start of my race – being able to cleanly ride the entrance to the run up, passing some more women who had trouble there, dabbing, dismounting and even "scootering" around the muddy corner. That quickly put me in about 5th position for the first lap! This was a good place for me, and I was psyched to be doing so well.
Knowing that at least one racer was directly behind me going into the second lap (I could hear her cheering section the whole way around the course ;-)), I took a risk heading off the track and into the tight turns to try to gain some advantage. Note to self: if you KNOW there is a good line on the course, don't, in the middle of a race, decide to change to an unknown line. The risk did NOT pay off, and I ended up going down in the mud reasonably hard, with my bike getting tangled in the tape. While I was getting myself untangled, 4 other racers passed, and that annoyed me.
I continued in the top ten for most of the next lap(s), and slipped again when my feet went out from under me on the slippery uphill in the lollipop section of the course. Two falls. Doesn’t usually happen to me, but the conditions were tough, and that is part of racing. I was disappointed with my final result, but had a great time regardless.
Only three more races left this season. Has it really gone by already?