Today was the first and most major road race at Superweek. 115K on a 10-mile loop around flat and rolling dairy farmland punctuated by two steep valley climbs and two fast descents. Another warm day, this afternoon at least had some thin cloud cover. We raced for 3hrs 50 min.
We started at a little ski area/golf course called Alpine Valley. Apparently, the women didn't really want to race today, because the first 4 laps were about the slowest race I've ever done. The climbs were similar to either Sterling, Saco Bay RR, or the Auburn RR. Short but steep, and not too long, so they suited me well. I felt AWFUL for the first 2 laps, legs of lead, so I was thankful for the slow pace. After a few laps, I opened up and actually felt quite good. But, I hung out near the back, just sitting in the pack, since nothing was happening, and really, nothing was going to, at least for awhile. The pace increased up the climbs the the later laps, and I got to the front. I climbed near and on the front for a lap or two, and had fun on the first superfast descent. The second descent of the course was absolutely HORRIBLE. The worst pavement I've ever ridden on. Two inch cracks cut across the whole road every few feet. The rattling at 40 mph shook us to the bone. My feet ached from the jostling on the pedals, and I feared actually doing damage to my bike, particularly the headset or my wheels. We all dreaded that section of road and talked about how it took more energy to descend that section than to climb. And the second hard climb came right out of that descent. On the first lap, I found myself near the back, flanking Dotsie Cowden's wheel, when her full water bottle popped loose. I gasped as I headed to collide with it, but luck saved me, and it rolled right beneath me, between my wheels. The front is a much safer place.
A couple of times up the climbs, people tried to get away, but to no avail because it was too easy to chase on the flats and nobody organized to try and get a break going. I hoped the last climb would separate the pack, because I felt good and pretty certain that I could make the selection. I got on front to be sure to respond to or go with any attacks. But instead, we slowed up after the last climb and everyone waited for the sprint. I made sure I stayed near the front.
In good position flanking the right side on the front of the field at 1K to go, I got excited. I thought I could pull off a great finish. Then at about 750 meters, the attack went from the left, and I surged from the right, but making big mistake. I didn't get right on someone's wheel. I stayed beside riders, but that also left me in the wind. The sprint accelerated, and left me in the dust since I obviously don't have a 30+ mph sprint for 750 meters! I've made this mistake before, and it cost me a good finish today. I finished towards the back of the pack.
It turns out that they only list the top 30 finishers. So, many of us who raced don't even end up in the results! To race for almost 4 hours and not even be in the results!! :(
Now that I realize this, I will be even more motivated at the finish.
A big thanks to Marci's awesome husband, Bert, for feeding me today! I would never have been able to finish without a feed. Thanks!
So, I'm still in 6th place in the overall points competition, but pretty far back in points. I will try again next crit. After yesterday's race, I was in 17th overall. I'm sure I dropped position today.
There's another 110K road race tomorrow, starting and finishing on an auto track, I think. Yay!
And damnit -- tomorrow I will finish well!!