Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Never Say Never Again

After my last experience racing on the road this year, I said I was done. That was it - no more for me, thank you very much. Those of you who have hung out in this black hole of a blog for any time may remember that I have a bit of an issue with NOT racing whatever I decide it is I've had it with - this year road racing, last year, MTB racing (but I've NEVER quit 'cross - that would be crazy!).

All that said, I really like the Norwell race, and have done it a couple of times in the past with the Master's 45+ men (before they re-introduced a women's field). I debated a bit about registering though - I planned to ride the Fundo (64 miles and almost 5000 ft of climbing) the day before, and wasn't sure how the legs would hold up. The early morning start was also unattractive after getting up early for the Fundo. I briefly considered racing with the Master men again given their later start, but figured with so many teammates heading to the early women's race, I needed to be a team player :).

At the pre-race meeting, Juliane asked what everyone's goals were. Mine was simple - hang in. My legs felt like lead on the pre-ride, and 9 times up the finish hill after the previous days' effort was certain to hurt - A LOT. Jackie was more direct though - she wanted to win. I told her I would help if I could.

The race started out steadily enough, but with some suspicious bike handling by a few riders. We had a couple of strong women who tried attacking downhill - something I have learned (the hard way) never works. They must have learned it too, because I think they wore themselves out.

The first time a break went up the road, it was launched on the finish hill - the perfect place for it. We could see that group for a long time, and it was pretty easy to tell that they weren't working together. With a little effort from various racers, we managed to catch them. I did think it was funny that one racer said "C'mon - let's catch them. Just one more hard effort", but never put in an effort on the front herself...

The next time up the finish hill, though, another small break formed with three riders, including Jackie (again). After telling another NEBC racer NOT to chase her teammate, I sat on the front for a bit, literally sitting up (and no one trying to go around me, which I thought odd), and let the group of three get a good sized gap. Then, it was just a matter of defending. The chase group was made up of 6 racers, with 3 of us from NEBC. At this point, my goal was to sit second wheel and not do any work to bring back the break. Now, we were racing for 4th place!

The tactics worked perfectly. At one point, another racer (and NEBC member, but racing for another team) tried to wave me through, but I was having none of it given that I had a teammate up the road. She and another racer did try to work together for a time, but they couldn't shake any of the NEBC women :).

In the final lap, I found myself on the front of our group (not where I wanted to be or should have been, but I drifted there climbing the hill). As we descended the hill on the backside, teammate Lisa L. was there, and I jumped on her wheel. I told her that she needed to go as hard as she could despite being tired. Lisa pulled like crazy along the false flat leading to the finish (later commenting that she felt like a sled dog with me calling mush!), delivering our group to the base of the final climb. I started the sprint, and was happy to see Julianne take the field sprint for 4th, and Elizabeth finish 7th. After all of the work, I was happy with the 9th place finish, and excited that after the previous days' effort, my legs held up for the team.

There was real racing happening in this field. Constant attacks and perfect team tactics. I might have even had some fun racing my road bike, but we'll keep that just between us :).


tmc said...

Real racing! Awesome job! Perhaps you should warm up with me on a Fundo before every race!

Anonymous said...

So glad you had fun!


Anonymous said...

This ALMOST makes me want skinny tires. Maybe I just need another cup of coffee ;)

Nice work team NEBC!

Trigirlpink said...

Sweet! Just be prepared, as you know these "real" road races might be few and far between. I had signed up for the Fundo and then by the end of the week, (group)excitement fizzled and I didn't feel like driving out there by myself. See you tonight..