After arriving and watching teammates and friends start off in the Cat 2 race, we suited up to go out and pre-ride the course. It was much like I remembered from last year with a few changes - a loose, sandy downhill followed by a mud pit was the biggie. I had taken a bottle with me on the pre-ride, but in my jersey pocket - my front triangle is too small to hold a big bottle - and I couldn't get it out of my jersey during the ride! Did manage to finish it off afterwards though, and to down another bottle of water before starting. I was trying to pre-hydrate, but in the end, that didn't really help me.
Photo by AA
I went and wished Mike luck as he started in the Pro/Cat 1 Open race again this week. He had a TERRIFIC race. When he came by me in my second lap, he was in 5th place behind Thom P and Matt O'Keefe. He had to have been working pretty hard, because the verbal exchange was brief - passing on your left and you're doing great ;). I didn't see him again until the finish (erasing my fear that he would pass me a second time in my race) where I learned that he had moved to and finished in 3rd position! A great result in a tough field, especially in the heat (Mike doesn't do so well in the heat...).
The women's Cat 1 field was smaller this week than at Hopbrook - guess more people like the cold and rain than the sun and heat ;). There were a total of eight of us on the start line, and four in my field. In the end, only five of us finished ...
Video from Colt McElwaine
I THOUGHT I had a good line to get through the first sand section, but on closer inspection of the video, apparently not. I botched that and quickly fell behind the lead group of 4. I settled in with Liz A in front and Sue coming up from behind. I wanted, so badly, to stay with Sue. She put the hammer down to pass us both, I passed Liz and stayed, ever so briefly, on her wheel. That woman is a powerhouse, especially on the climbs. Turns out she had a stellar day, beating the entire women's field by over 2 minutes.
Photo from Colt McElwaine
After losing Sue and Liz, I essentially rode the rest of the race on my own, with the exception of the men from the earlier fields passing me. I want to thank all of the men who are so courteous and encouraging when they pass - none of you know just how much a friendly voice means when you're out there all alone! And to the Bikeman rider I cut off - so sorry, but if you had said you were there, I never would have changed my line...
Many thanks also are due to my teammates from the earlier races who cheered as I passed by and finished. Special thanks to Jean for handing up a bottle (which I sadly, should have drank) and reminding me to eat ;). Next time I need you to remind me to drink too!
Eventually, I did catch one of the earlier leaders (from the younger age category), but never saw Sue, Linnea, Kate or Marianne again. It was a sufferfest the entire time, and my last lap was truly the worst (and slowest) - it was hot, I was tired, my arms hurt, my toe was rubbing against the end of my shoe, I wasn't remembering ANY of the course, the "I Suck" talk started, and I just wanted to be DONE. On crossing the finish (where Mike had already completed 5 laps to my 4), I collapsed in a dusty heap trying to catch my breath.
The drive home was an exercise in trying not to lose the contents of our stomachs (both Mike and I were feeling VERY poorly after the race). That meant no post-ride food, and very little drink as well. We didn't actually finally get anything down until about 4 hours post-race - a sure sign we were dehydrated and had put in a solid effort.
Congrats to all of my teammates as well. NEBC had a total of 8 top 10 finishes across the Cat 1 and 2 fields, with a first, second and two thirds. It's definitely fun to see SO MANY people embracing the sport and having a good (?) time. While some of us question continuing, others of us are just too stupid to know when to stop...