Meet my awesome new team for this summer! I'm racing for the new NEBC Elite Women's Team. (Dave Chiu's doing an awesome job with the website!) I'm very happy to have such wonderful teammates this year. And thanks to Dave and Roy from the men's squad for your cheers and support, especially on Saturday. Congrats, Roy, on your win!
We made our first team appearance Sunday at the Miles Standish Grand Prix in Plymouth, Mass. As we lined up for the start of the P/1/2/3 women's race, the announcer said, "Wow, NEBC has a huge team this year!" There we were, all 7 of us, in our red, white, and blue on the line with Brooke there to direct. (Alie, lucky girl, is off vacationing in California, so we'll have to wait for next weekend to race as a complete squad.) We learned so much as a team on Sunday. Everyone attacked, everyone contributed, and we came away with the win. Learning to race as a team will make this a fun and rewarding season!
Although held in the same Miles Standish State Park as the Adelphia Grand Prix in years past, the course was changed to remove the bumpy descent and left hand turn into the downhill finish. This year, the 5-mile loop went around clockwise (the opposite direction), still included the same hill, but also some roads out by the pond. The finish came past the registration/parking area on the right and had a slight rise to the line. I enjoyed the course, but it was hard to get away in the rolling terrain, bumpy roads, and wind. All of us we were active, Amy attacked first and got the pace high in the first lap, then Natalie went off the front with a great move. Neither move stuck, but every effort kept the other teams working and chasing. Both IBC and the Anthem/Blue Cross teams made attacks, and Tami, Suzanne, Ashley, and Cris worked to reel them in. Two Harvard racers and and IBC racer (Sam for IBC, I think... sorry I don't have names, Anna and maybe Eve for Harvard... I will definitely be learning these names this season!) Got a good gap off the front for a couple of miles. I eventually bridged up, but the break was doomed to fail, since we were neutralized when the junior field passed us. This caused the slowest part of our race. Things settled down, and I sat in to rest for the finish. Sitting in is difficult for me, since I love to attack and chase, but I knew my team was working for me, and I had to come through for them. The pace picked up through the rollers a couple of miles to go to the finish. Our team was well set up near the front of the field, with Cris and Natalie lined up in front of me. Then, a Harvard rider went off the front (maybe Eve?) with a hard attack. Our train "broke" and I surfed different wheels as we caught her and the pace increased. An IBC rider (Sam) started the sprint with a very hard jump, and I jumped to her wheel. It was maybe 400 meters out... I stayed on her wheel until the last 50-75 meters or so, then shot past her for the win. We've got some things to work on as a team, but this was a great beginning. I felt much more relaxed and comfortable racing with teammates around me, knowing that they were there to help me (for that race, anyways). I know this is the start of a great season to come!
Saturday at the Turtle Pond Circuit Race in New Hampshire, I raced with my two teammates, Tami and Natalie. Turtle Pond is an 11-mile rolling circuit with a 1 K climb to the finish line each lap. The climb has a "step" in the middle and then flattens out a bit at the top, with a hard drag to the finish line. I like this hill because it's a sprinters hill! And I know if I can get to the flatter section at the top at the front, I have a good sprint to beat others to the line.
The weather was awesome. Upper 60's and sunny! No leg warmers, no arm warmers. I thought the sudden heat might actually play a factor during the race, I was baking before the start, so I made sure to hydrate well before the start (naturally, this strategy led to a bursting bladder by the time we got to the finish). Tami had a mechanical at the end of the first lap, just at the start of the hill, and was left to chase for most of that lap. She didn't give up, but chased hard and rejoined the pack. The third lap, 4-5 of us had a little gap going up the hill, but any thoughts of a breakaway were squelched when the pace car slowed down and honked at us to neutralize at the top of the climb! Oh, how frustrating!! I felt so good up the hill. But I decided I would certainly feel good again the next lap, and I knew I could rail it to the finish line. Tami did a lot of work keeping the pace high for the last lap, since we were neutralized several times during the race and things got slower each lap. With maybe 2-3 miles to go, an IBC/Wachovia girl (I think it was Sam) launched a very effective attack. IBC was all stacked up at the front. I was up there, too, and so was Tami. Nat was on my wheel. Sam got a big gap, but I didn't have to decide to risk it to go after her so close to the finish climb, because Tami was awesome. She got on front and reeled things back together before the final right hand corner before the climb. Whew! I started the climb in the second row, center, on Suzanna's (UNH) wheel. She accelerated a little just before the first step, and it opened up enough of a gap for me to get out to the front of the group. Anna (Harvard) attacked from behind me at the step and opened up a gap. I had to chase. I caught her near the top, where the road flattens out, shifted up, and sprinted past her for the win. Natalie held on for 7th, and Tami, spent when she hit the climb from all the work she did, rolled in at 18th. Yay!
I would like to add one more comment on the weekend....
Anyone want to guess how much moola the winner of the P/1/2/3 women's field earned for her team at Miles Standish on Sunday?? Just venture a guess....