Time to update this puppy again! Wish I had some pictures for you, I didn't think to pack my camera this weekend.
Lessons learned from the weekend (most of which I already knew but clearly I need reminding):
1. Never eat spaghetti while wearing a white t-shirt.
2. My Look pedals don't clip in the same as my Eggbeater 'cross pedals.... (DOH!)
3. I can't react to attacks in the race when I'm sitting on the front for no good purpose.
4. Be top 3-5 into the last corner of a crit.
5. If I'm not moving up, I'm falling back.
6. When times are bad, and you feel like crap, it's just a valley, and the high hills aren't far ahead.
Here I am in the passenger seat of our Element, somewhere in CT, on the way home. Ward is a rockstar for driving. I luck out when he just kind of naturally goes for the drivers' seat. Usually a couple of miles down the road he'll say, "Wait - why am I driving again?" Lucky for me we can't switch seats while driving 75 down the highway.
Saturday was the Bank of America crit in Wilmington, DE. I'd never done this race before, and I think it was only in its second year, maybe first with NRC status. It was a big clockwise rectangle with the finish line being about 3/4 of the way up the uphill, long side. It was about a 3% steady grade the whole way, but with a tailwind. The backside was downhill screaming fast but with a strong blow-you-off-your-line headwind. At first look at the course I'll admit, I was a little nervous about doing that fast 3rd corner in a pack, but once we got going and things strung out, I felt comfortable and loved how I could shoot around people on the left by taking a wider line and better anticipating shifting down before the hill so I could save my momentum.
The usual race to staging took place 15 minutes before the start. As usual, I didn't care to partake in the pushing and the attitude, and just sat at the back and used those minutes for a final trip to the potty. So, I'm at the back, and the anouncer (Joe Jefferson - calls most of the big Mid-Atlantic races) starts calling up riders in no-such order I could distinguish. I wasn't really paying attention, I was at the back and just thinking about the race and when I'd be able to move up. Then I heard "Rebecca Wellmans" called - or some such variation on my name. Huh? How did I earn a call-up at my first NRC race of the season? Well, whatever. Sweet - I'll take it. Anna joked with me afterwards that she was waiting for him to say "winner of SUCKERBROOK cross race" like Fries did to me for a year after winning that in 2006. Ha! So I took the last really available spot on the front line, but then Laura VanGuilder got called.... hmm... think maybe she deserved a front row start? We made room.
Well, I was thankful for the call-up, but looked so amazingly NOT pro when the whistle blew! I had been running through mental imagery about flipping and clicking in my Look pedal (right always, I have to start with my left already in) fast and clean, but must have been nervous and for some crazy reason when the whistle blew, I tried to step in the pedal like my Eggbeater 'cross pedals, and I slid right off the pedal and landed my crotch painfully hard on the nose of my saddle! I went from the front row to the back before the first corner, and I couldn't sit properly on the saddle for the first two laps! I was still sore in my race today, too. Ugh. Not exactly the way I wanted to start the season, but I'll recover.
As usual, I did too much in the race, and spent time at the front for no real purpose. Then I missed being able to follw Jen McRae when she attacked first. My immediate thought was "Where is Laura?" And my next immediate action should have been to get my behind off the front and find her wheel. But of course I didn't, and I missed the opportunity to follow her when she went, too. I was actually kicking myself (quite the feat while pedaling). Then I got upset at myself and tried bridging because they were only about 5-10 seconds away at one point, and without full teams in the field to chase, it was clearly going to stick, but I couldn't take the downhill fast enough in the wind. All 128 pounds of me was getting blown all over the place. It was really a wall of wind.
There was a split in the field, and about 8-10 of us became a chase group. A Juice Plus rider made it with them, and right now I can't remember how or when she got there, but she ended up winning, I hear she is an accomplished track racer. I just don't know some of the riders and teams yet this year. Our chase group eventually slowed and we got caught by a big group of riders that included a bunch of lapped riders and created some confusion in the final laps. I should have just sat at the front into the last corner, but not wanting to be in the wind too early, I ended up maybe 10th through the last corners and had to slow up, so I missed going with the two girls who took the front of the field sprint. I felt great but had to settle for third in the field sprint. I was happy that I felt great during the race and finished 6th with more juice left in my tank, certainly a good solid result. Good for my confidence to see that I am strong.
Sunday we raced on Long Island, sort of on the way home from Wilmington, and a nice change of scenery. Sam, Brooke, and I lined up for the open women's field with about 20 women, and some strong local riders, including AnnMarie Miller. The race was a loop in a park with a 270-degree left-hander and a short rise on the back side before the last turns into the finish straight with a tail-wind. After sitting in for 10 of the 20 laps, they rang the preme bell, and Brooke and I attacked up the right side as the road curved left into the headwind. We got a small gap, and won the preme, but the break was not to be. With about 5 to go, Sam attacked up the left, the pack chased, Brooke countered up the right when she was caught, and the field was strung out. I attacked 1/2 a lap later, through the start/finish, to get a gap going into the 270-degree turn. I got a gap, and AnnMarie and another local rider went with me. Perfect! I buried myself for a lap, then AnnMarie came around and took a short pull, but seemed pretty spent. I had to drive it again. I had to goad the other rider into taking a pull bacause I was pretty maxed. We had to work hard for a few laps because we didn't have a huge gap, CRCA was chasing, I think. Sam and Brooke helped control things at the front. Finally with 2 to go, it seemed certain we wouldn't be caught, and I tried to work a little less. I ended up on front up the little hill the last time, which I didn't really want, so before the final turn into the finish straight, I pulled off right and sat up fast, hoping to force the others to the front. AnnMarie seemed to want to lead it out from there. I got on her wheel and then came around for the win. I was in my 53x12! Felt great.
I didn't get a cool-down in because the men's race started immediately after, and Brooke and I were racing again. And naturally, it started to pour after just a few laps. It was a rather slow race, I thought, and kind of boring but good speed work to just sit in. Frustrating to be stuck around guys cornering slow in the 270 and having to sprint out of that corner every lap to close gaps! I have never spent so much time in my 53x12! It was fun except for the poor visibility in the rain and eating road sand. I had a muddy goatee at the finish. I just rolled in with the lead group, kind of disappointed that I didn't get my butt to the front and sprint it out with the boys - I'll bet I would have beaten a bunch of them, and I need the practice.
Well, we're almost home now, I can't believe how long it takes me to write entries! No time to proofread, I can't wait to curl up in the covers and fall asleep.