A big thanks to ProPam and her Knitting Circle for the reminder to sharpen my needles. (And if you don't understand that, that's ok, I'll try and explain another time. Who knows, perhaps I have yet to fully grasp the concept).
I arrive at the race late and with a loose headset. A couple of very nice mechanics helped me tighten it to a safe level for the race while my field waited for me to get to the line. Arriving at the line, we started. After getting a little warmed up, I tried to drive the pace, figuring if a few of us did that we could promptly halve the field. Unfortunately, there was a lack of enthusiasm, probably due to the incredibly high winds, and after reminding myself not to work too much more than anyone else, the pace slowed way down and we knitted. This was boring and frustrating, but I knew that in order to attack effectively I had to somehow slide back a bit, so I peddled lightly and sat in rounding the first lap closer to the middle of the pack than the front.
As we started up the big hill, I began moving to the front and caught myself, slowed down and prepared to launch. It was a lap sooner than I had planned, but I figured I was fully warmed up and it was time to have a little fun. I launched and by the time I checked my wheel it was clear. Somewhat alarmed and concerned the 4 Kenda riders had decided to let me hang in the wind alone instead of sending someone with me, I sat up and turned round. Thank goodness. There was Kristen and a collegiate rider, Stephanie, with the Gophers. We pulled together, immediately organized and drove the pace hard along the tailwind section, knowing the size of the chase group wouldn't matter with a tailwind of the magnitude available. I knew if we could haul ass through that tailwind section and get across the backside not only would we be out of sight, but the crosswind and subsequent headwind would likely make 4th place look pretty good.
When we turned into the crosswind, our collegiate companion was nearly blown off her bike and I passed her as she worked to regain composure. Kristen and I hit the hill hard and didn't wait for Stephanie when we got to the top. We were now two and figured the chase group, if there was one formed was approaching or may have reached the corner, so we went to solid 30 second pulls and boy o boy did we work as regular as a clock. Neither of us wanted to burn matches like that for nothing and we kept it up till we won the race one two.
I won the Old Capital Crit last year and wanted a decisive repeat this year pretty bad, so I was a little concerned about women with fresh legs showing up and rather alarmed when I missed my pedal at the start, but no one took advantage and I was able to secure my preferred position towards the front of the field before the first time up the hill.
Now this hill is steep, but not too long. It's a power hill that wears people down over time and just long enough and steep enough that many women drop to their little ring. I did not, however, preferring the anaerobic suffering at the top over risking a chain drop. I figured there was plenty of recovery time as there's a slight downhill to the other corner of the course before you come into the start/finish line. Plus, the hill is the only good place to really attack and to make it stick you've got to be ready to fly when you come over the crest, and since it's a downhill grade, you're gonna need the big ring.
Once I was at the front, I tried to drive the pace and Kristen came and helped. In a mere 4 laps, we'd managed to drop the field with only Megan Elliot hanging on. After we'd climbed the hill and I'd noticed we were three alone, I invited Megan to come pull.
"No thanks," she said.
Hmm. That was too bad, because after the Altoona, IA weekend, I terminated my free ride program. I figured Kristin was as annoyed by the freeloader as much as me and would start her attacks as well and we would free ourselves eventually.
So, next time up the hill, I attacked hard. Surprisingly enough when I came off the hill, my wheel was clear despite having launched off the front. Delighted, yet a little apprehensive since 15 laps isn't easy to hold alone, I hit the gas. The corners were wide and I had picked lines I could pedal through, so I was able to keep the speed high. If Megan decided to work and they came after me, I wanted a good head start, so I settled in and found my rhythm. In short order, I started picking up riders who had dropped off the field. With five laps to go or something like that, I lapped what was left of the main group and a Kenda rider attached herself to my wheel. I thought about fighting that, but aside from the cool points of coming across the line completely alone, there was nothing to be gained and after Kristen's tremendous work the previous day I was feeling Kenda friendly, so I just maintained my pace to the win and I believe the Kenda rider was able to get a preem by using me as a leadout.
It was a great event as usual and a huge THANK YOU...
+ to my bike sponsor, Trek Stores of St. Louis, Kansas City, and Omaha, who not only replaced my cracked frame, but built up my bike with only 1.5 days notice. This is incredible support for my level of racing.
+ to my coach for ensuring I had the requisite fitness and power to execute tactics
+ to the race sponsors and promoters for putting on these great races
+ to Kim and all the folks who hollared on the hill and made the race that much more fun
+ to the guys who worked on my headset and freed me from worrying about my bike
+ to all the many well wishers whose support never ceases to make me dig a little deeper
+ to my parents for hosting my boys over the weekend and letting them beat on each other with wooden swords
+ to Ron and his gift of rollers, the riding of which have made me a much smoother and confident rider
+ to the guys who make me work so hard Wednesday nights
+ to Revolution Wraps whose auto transformation has really put some umph in my training interest. I mean, driving that thing around is a little like painting a "come kick my butt if you can"sign on your back. Gotta be fast. :)
I'm feeling good and really excited to go ride with the pro gals in our first NRC level crits this coming weekend. Although we're the underdogs by quite a bit, we do have some strong women aggressive women and we're looking forward to the opportunity to measure ourselves. Stay tuned. Hurrah! The season is coming hard and fast now.