Sunday, 18 March
I did two road races this weekend, and they were worlds apart (figuratively) and states apart (geographically).
Saturday was Mason Lake #3. Rain again. The "right" break got away and the entire pack sat up. No, let me rephrase that. The "right" group of women, representing (almost) each team in the race, got to the front of the race and everyone was happy to let them get detached. We got down to the snail's pace of 13 mph for a while. The break contained the two undisputedly strongest women in the field (including one of my teammates) plus last year's BARR champion plus two others, and we were not going to catch them whatever we did. So we kept going slowly, in the rain, except for a few frustrated attacks. This is billed as a training race, but I'm not sure what kind of training it offered.
OK, in the end, my teammate won. But she had the series won before she even got on her bike today. There were 17 women in the race, I had 4 teammates, and we got one in the top 10. The two teams with 3 riders each had all 3 of their riders in the top 10. We need to work on something--in addition to my sprinting.
Sunday was Banana Belt #3 at Hagg Lake west of Portland. 21 women in the field. The first lap (of 4) was a reasonable warm-up pace. Laps 2 and 3 were filled with attacks and counterattacks: on the uphills, on the downhills, in the corners. I got near the front on the climbs but was out the back more often than I want to admit. (Bless those cat 1-2s for passing us at a strategic time, and especially Donald, Matt, and Doug for having a nice gap off the front to prolong our neutralization!) Nobody got away for long, but a few got dropped for good. Thankfully, nobody practiced their track maneuvers by throwing their bikes across half a lane, which was a relief after Saturday. The last time up the biggest hill on the course, the official told us to ride hard or we'd be neutralized to let the cat 3s pass. Bodies launched everywhere. I couldn't quite hang onto the front group but managed to pull them back after the top. This was the best training I've had in a while.
The finish at BB is a scream. The biggest climb is about 3K from the finish (where we avoided being passed by the 3s), and it's mostly downhill after that. You can coast the entire last kilometer at 20 mph except for a tiny riser between 300 and 200m to go. And there's a sweeping righthand turn over a bumpy bridge at 350 to go. So the pack flies along at 30+ mph. The riser punctures some riders' sprint hopes, but then it's 200m of flying downhill to the finish. I do better at this sprint than the one at Mason Lake. Even with compact gearing. Go figure.