Last weekend, in a brief reprieve from rain and mist, Mike and I headed down to Ninigret, RI for the Mystic Velo Crit. I wasn't planning on racing - sort of on a self-imposed hiatus - but put my bike and gear in the car so I could ride while Mike raced.
It wasn't until we arrived that I decided that since I was there, and had all of my stuff, that I might as well just suck it up and race. It was either that, or go out and ride on roads that I didn't know, by myself. So, while Mike registered for the Cat 3 race, I lined up, paid some nice people my money, and registered to race in the Men's 55+ race (there wasn't a women's category available, and cycling regulations allow master women to race 20 years their senior with the men).
Mike was super active in a fairly strong Cat 3 field, that oddly, included most of the Gearworks/SpinArts team. We later learned, that Mike had been assigned a shadow for the race, and in every picture I have of Mike, Tom S. is right there as well. His job for the day - do whatever Mike does! It was a fun race to watch, and Mike did well, but was frustrated by "racers" who didn't do anything for 24 laps but sit in, and then sprint at the finish for 13th place.
I convinced MaryAnn M to race in the 55+ race instead of the Cat 3, and we were also joined by Inette R. On the line, the 65+ field decided they wanted to do their own race, but there were two women in that field as well. I sat in for a time to see how things were going to play out, and the attacks started early, and often. I don't know most of these racers, so went with anything that moved on the off chance that it actually succeeded. Everyone of the attempts, however, was quickly reeled in.
While I consider this field to be reasonably safe, there were one or two wheels that made me nervous. Between that and the inconsistency in pace (24 mph to 18 mph in one flat lap), I decided fairly often to try and launch attacks. The men were having none of it, however, and the group stayed together until the end of the race.
With just 3 laps remaining, the pace again dropped to about 18 mph in a "cat and mouse" kind of situation. I believe the words "This is just stupid" came out of my mouth, and I attacked. Of course, everyone came with me, and now there were 2 laps to go, and I was pulling the entire field - DOH! I moved myself into 3rd wheel partway into that lap, and sat there through the bell. I was easily able to maintain this position into the final corner when ... I got SWARMED! ACK! The inside was no place to be on that corner, and I was forced to sprint out behind all of the leaders. But, I was sprinting... Until someone behind me started screaming something that sounded like "Give it up!" It scared me enough that I sat up, rolling across the line in a dismal 14th place.
So, the results show one thing, but I was really pleased with my performance at this race. First, I RACED. I was active the entire time, either attacking or responding to attacks. I got a GREAT workout, with an average HR of 177 for the race (ouch!). And, two former National Crit Champions complimented me on my race afterwards. In fact, Mark H. talked to me about strategy, who to follow and who not to, and encouraged me to join more of the men's races! I'd say, overall, the race was a success DESPITE what the results show.
Mike decided that he would do another race that day, since the rain was holding off. He lined up for the 35+ race, and on Go, led the field. Half a lap in, Mike was off the front of the group. Then two laps, then three with a 25 second advantage. After four laps alone, they rang the bell for a $10 prime. Mike solo'd for one more lap before finally getting caught by the chase group, which, unfortunately, contained Jonny B and a strong newcomer to NE racing, Scott G.
With the catch, Jonny attacked hard, and built a big gap on the chasers. Scott eventually bridged up to Jonny, and the two of them built a lead so big, they ended up lapping the field with about 4 laps to go! Mike and the chase group were eventually absorbed by the field. With three laps to go, Mike launched another solo attack on the field. Jonny noticed that Scott was boxed in, and launched his own counter, flying by Mike with the boosters at full throttle. Scott had to counter, dig deep and try to bridge, but couldn't quite make it, giving Jonny the win by a VERY small amount... Definitely an exciting race to watch!
CBTT Update - a New Personal Best!
Recently, a pair of Specialized Transitions showed up Chez Rowell. Jeff at the Loft loves us, because anything we buy that is bike related, usually comes in twos ;). We gave the new rides a test run last week at the CBTT, but the fit wasn't quite right for either of us, and we needed to make some tweaks.
This week, again with an ever so brief break in the mist/rain, we took them out for a second run to see if the tweaks made a difference. In my pre-ride, the bike felt great, with the cockpit adjusted to near perfection. The weather was good for a TT, although a bit on the cool side - humid and heavy air. On setting out, I settled into a comfortable pace, and reminded myself that anytime I got tired, to shift into a HARDER gear - yes, it's counter-intuitive, but it actually worked! I pushed one gear harder than I thought I could the whole way around.
Coming into the Carlisle rotary, I had a good average speed (above 25 mph), and still hadn't been caught by Eric M from BoB - my 30 second man. It's important coming out of Carlisle not to let up despite the slight downhill, so I kept on the gas, eventually passing Victoria G and Julie L just as we turned onto River Rd (and still no Eric). This is the hardest part of the course for me, and I usually lose too much time here. I focused not on the time, nor on my speed, but just on going as hard as possible through that section.
At the bottom of Punkatasset Hill, Eric finally caught and passed me. But I didn't just let him go. He really served as my motivation for getting up over the hill, down the backside and sprinting through the finish for .... a PR! I have been chasing a time of 23:56 for two years, and had finally decided that it was somehow an annomoly that I had ever posted that time. But this was my night - 23:43!
I heard from others afterwards that they thought it had been a slow night, so I am hoping that this bodes well for me. New goal - 23:30! As Mike said, it's amazing how much time enough money can buy ;).