Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Memorial Weekend Racing Report

Jenny Willhite & me  (front 2)
After filling out but not yet dropping the Iowa registrations in the post box, my friend IM'd me and said, "Hey, did you see the payouts at this race?"  I looked and holy moly... a first time race in Woodward, OK paid $400 to win the crit and the road race paid $700. After some more investigation to find more crits to fill out the weekend, we decided to drive south.

Surprisingly, there were only 10 of us on the line at the start of the crit and most of those were cat 4 women, but that did not ensure success, especially since Miranda Long showed up. She's pretty quick on the sprint. I didn't know that at the start, but my 2nd place finish testifies to her effort, especially since she had to come around a couple of us. In retrospect, I should have started my wind-up further out, but that's OK, I'm still working on that. Right after the women's race, I jumped in with a large group of masters men and finished 13th in that. With half the course restricted to a single lane of traffic, the battles for position were fierce. It was excellent prep for my season's crit racing. Thanks, guys!

The next morning's 100K road race went off at 7 am. That was a little brutal and I opted to eat before the race, instead of waking up at 4ish to start the nutrition. Thinking back, it might have been better to have stuck with my regular prep and gone w/o the sleep, but at the time, I really wanted to sleep.

There were only 4 of us in the W 1/2/3, and one woman asked me if I wanted to ride with the masters men. I said sure. That'd be great, even though I do dislike what mixed fields do to a race.

The break went at less than 10K into the race. I looked up the road and saw every strong men's team represented except one, which I'd overheard one guy say not to worry about, so I jumped and bridged. It was expensive, but worth it as the break held for the rest of the race. I took a share of pulls, though I did sit out a couple of rotations after hard surges. The guys might have let me sit on, but in the spirit of racing and for the benefits of training, I did my best to shoulder a fair load. The win felt earned.
On the warm-up circle while Ian races.

By that evening, we were in Frisco, TX where one of my traveling companions, wanted to do a track race at the Superdrome. He had also called ahead and arranged for me to get some time on the track.  I was going to back out because my legs were so fried from the road race, but opportunities for track time are rare, so Ian took me through some after the event concluded.

Sunday was hot hot hot. There were 20-25ish women in the race with two teams quite well represented. I attacked a few times and got off the front for while, but the field wasn't having it and in a few laps they reeled it in. More corners would have helped, but the other seemed quite determined to keep me in the fold. Tired, I acquiesced and at that point, of course, one of the teams put a girl off and nobody chased. Sigh. However, I'd decided my field sprint needed work and here was a chance to practice, so I continued to sit in even when another woman went off. It hurt to let them go, but I didn't think they'd let me jump clean and I wasn't going to drag the pack, so sit I did. The finish went perfectly. Followed two wheels, jumped hard accelerated up the hill all the way to the finish line for the field sprint. That felt pretty good.

Monday, we went to Ft. Worth for the Texas State Criterium championships. Lucky for me, the women's race was right after the cat 5 men at 8:55am. Normally, I'd be bummed to be so early, but even then the temp was 90ish by the time 30ish of us put our wheels on the line for the 60 minute race. My legs were feeling Ok, but not great. The heat had my HR elevated, but I liked the 10 corner course. They called it a chicane, but they were actual turns in a parking lot up a rise, so with 10 corners, a break could make time on a pack and I'd been given a heads up on who had legs.

Thus, when the first attack went on the 2nd lap, I impulsively countered and turned to find I was way clear, and that there were two women also separated from the field and coming my way. One of these, Jenny, had been identified as "having legs."  Perfect. I slowed it down, they joined me and two of us started 30 sec pulls. The heat beat down and the minutes crawled by. Periodically, I thought about harassing the 3rd woman about not pulling, but I didn't want to waste the energy. I figured so long as she didn't jump us for the primes, we could solve that problem later. Eventually, I looked back and she wasn't even there. The heat must've done her in.  Finally, because of Willhite's team and perhaps some disorganization on the part of the other teams, our success looked secure and I attacked before the last corner on the final lap to take the win.

It was a weekend of good racing and wonderful to meet so many nice people. The Oklahoma and Texas women ride their bikes well and race hard. It was a lot of fun and I look forward to returning.

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