Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The First Road Race of 2009

While my focus this year will be on MTB racing, I will still be doing some of my favorite road races. I have always done well at Myles Standish in the past, so targeted this as my first foray on the road for the season, despite the fact that the course wasn't the same as past years - the bad pavement meant that the race used the Charge Pond circuit instead (in my only attempt at this race earlier in the season, I left my A game at home...).

Oddly enough, the butterflies that plagued me before my first MTB race were absent on Sunday. I think I am more confident in my abilities on the road, and I don't have the same focus/goals for the road season as I do for MTB racing this year, creating less pressure. It felt good to line up without feeling like I was going to hurl BEFORE the race ;).

Two of my main racing nemeses were on the pre-reg list - Lydia has beat me here (and won) for two years, and Kristen bested me in the Working Man's Stage Race last year. An added kink in the works was that this year, they are teammates racing for Colavita. I lined up next to my teammate, Nat, with a total of 13 women on the line. On the whistle, Nat and I led things out, despite the nasty headwind on the back of the course. Into the first corner, I heard Nat go a little wide and into the dirt behind me (but she stayed upright). I charged up the hill into the second lap (getting yelled at by Mike for being on the front ;)).

Taking stock of those around me, I decided that in the next lap, it would be wise to shake things up a bit and see if we could get a split in the field. I wound up the attack after the start/finish, with both Colavita riders countering. Suddenly, I realized that this was a big girl race - and I needed to be smarter! We ended up with a small gap, but with both Colavita riders putting in a big effort, the group quickly came back together.

So, again in the next lap, I tried to see what I could do. This time, Carola from Webcor came with me, and we set off. The Colavita racers kept indicating that we had a gap - seemingly trying to get us to up the pace. I let them know that if they wanted to keep a gap, they needed to pull through. They did, but then proceeded to take only 5 second pulls. They needed some coaching - we could let the field come back, or we could all become more steady (they also had a habit of bumping the pace when they went to the front) and share the work. Our break was now 5 - 2 Colavita racers, 2 NEBC racers and a Webcor racer.

Our gap on the field steadily increased. Unfortunately, this also took a toll on Nat and she ended up dropping from the lead group. This wasn't good news for me with both of the Colavita racers still in the rotation. I encouraged Carola to make them do the lion's share of the work. At one point, the three gapped me going up the start/finish hill. I heard Lydia comment on this to Kristen and they both picked up the pace. That wasn't to be, however, as once over the top, I had the power to match their acceleration and jump back on.

I knew that my ONLY hope in the race was to try and tire Lydia and Kristen out, and to ensure I had good positioning going into the final corner. I wanted to be first in the corner so that I could try to have an advantage sprinting up the hill. With one lap to go, I was in perfect positioning heading into the corner, but Kristen cut the inside with Lydia on her wheel. The sprint was on, and I was closing. Unfortunately, I couldn't catch them, but did end up crossing the line 3rd, with Carola not far behind.

This was a great race for me. I felt good. The training seems to be paying off, and I think I worked this race smarter than some of the others I have done in the past year. I know that both Lydia and Kristen are strong riders, so feel good that I stuck with them through the race, and finished as well as I did.

The men also raced on Sunday, in both the Master's 35+ and Cat 3 races. Mike and Scott raced smartly in the 35+ race, finishing 3rd and 5th respectively (a pair of 3s for the Rowells!). The Cat 3 race ended with Dave in a break of 3 and Mike, Scott and Oscar effectively blocking in the pack. Dave finished 2nd and Mike 8th. Scott had a stellar sprint for 4th, but it came a lap too early ;).

Master's 35+: Incoming!; 3rd and 5th place

Next weekend we're back on the dirt for the Fat Tire Classic. Can't wait - that will be a FAST race for sure, and was my first win last season!


claudia said...

Wow, great results! I hope there was a podium for you. :)

Ed Sassler said...

The Colavita women's reginal team does have coaching...