...My Old Ways Returneth
Back to Sequim for the Tour de Dung #2. This time I was chauffeured by my teammate, Debbie. It was still an early start, and I appreciate Debbie offering to drive, even though she wasn't racing. Her role today was that of Team Photographer. Yes, she would be shooting us as we shot by!
We arrived in plenty of time for some socializing with the other Cat 4 Women. Each race I learn a couple more names. It's great to be able to say things like, "Coming up on your left, Kirsten." Or, "Can I get in, Nikki?" It's so much more personal (and, therefore, more fun) than, "On your right, Bike Sale (or Starbucks, or Group Health)."
Something new this week was the opening of the whole road at the 1 km mark. Last week (and in all the other races I have done) we couldn't take the whole road until 200m. I thought to myself, okay, this will be good.
I had talked to Jean about making a plan where I would lead her out for the sprint at the finish, like she did for me last week. She said she would try to be there. But, as is true in every race, who knows what's going to happen at the end. At least we also had Heather who, if I couldn't do it, possibly could. It sure is nice to have three of us!
The start was uneventful. We were a field of just 23 this time, with better chances of all of us staying upright! There was one gal, who word quickly got around, to stay away from. Her riding was very upright, and her legs were pedaling like crazy, and not real smooth. Heather remarked later that it looked painful. Fortunately for us (not so much for her) she dropped part way through the first lap. I even heard people say, "That gal (team shall remain anonymous) is gone." Followed by a collective sigh of relief.
On the first lap, I was on the front, when Heather came up, passed me, and told me to get on her wheel. Then she said, "Let's go." I said something like, "It's the first lap. We've got a long way to go." But, what the heck, why not? Maybe Heather knows something I don't. So, I hammered behind her. She pulled for a bit, then she moved over. I came up and got in front of her. But, then she was gassed and fell back. I had no desire to continue hammering away...in the first lap...alone! We went up a hill, and I was able to get off the front.
We came down the hill and did a good job taking corner #2. Anna came up to those of us near the front and said we should punch it after the corners because we were fast enough to get a gap. There were about 7 of us who pulled away. But, the group would always catch us.
I found myself going to the front frequently when the pace was really slow, or I just found myself too far back. I would pull for awhile (too long) then try to drift back and return to the draft. There were a number of times when either Kirsten (who has no teammates in the race), or Heather (and occasionally, Jean) would ask me if I wanted to get in. Most of the time I said, "Yes, please." But, a few of the times, it would not do me much good because I would end up right back on the front. At one point, Heather asked if I wanted in, and I said I wanted to go further back. I needed a little longer rest.
Finally, we were on the last lap. Now the work would really begin. As we came into Corner 1, I was near the back. The gals in the front shot around the corner, then took off. Well, crap! I was not positioned to go with them. As I was fighting to get by the slower gals and get up to the front group, the lead car slowed down, and the follow car beeped it's horn. At the most opportune time (for me, anyway), we were neutralized while the Cat 3 Men went by! There was a breakaway of three guys, then the peloton. We remained neutral until they were all gone. Whew! I even got time to take a swig from my water bottle and eat a Shot Block! Of course, we were all back together. So much for that breakaway!
I moved up to the front again, but got passed going up the hill, but not by too many. We took Corner 2 for the final time, but no one tried to take off. In fact, the pace got really slow. It was as if we were all trying to save our energy for the end. After awhile, I felt quite rested, and moved back to the front. That was a mistake. Even though I kept slowing down, no one would pass me. I finally got off the front on Kitchen-Dick Rd (yes, that is really the name of the road). But, I had, as they say, burned too many matches. I wanted to stay out by the yellow line, which I did. Unfortunately, I was not able to move up at all in the pack. I wasn't terribly worried, because I knew the road would open up at 1 km (thinking I still had some sprint left in me).
We got to the 1 km mark and I made a move to get up and over so Jean could pop in behind me, and we could commence with the lead-out plan. I picked up the pace, my legs were rapidly heating up to spontaneous-combustion level. I kept it up as long as I could to get Jean to the 200m mark. As my legs were crying for a fire extinguisher, Jean sprinted past me. I yelled, "Go Jean!" I tried to sprint, but due to my extended periods of time spent on the front over the course of the 36+ miles, it pretty much fizzled. But, the plan was for Jean to sprint...and that she did! Heather did an awesome job too, coming in just ahead of Jean. So, Heather came in 7th, and Jean came in 8th. Just add a zero to my last week's finish to make it this week's at 10th. I'm happy with that. Once again, three top 10 finishes for the OOA Cat 4 Women!
I thought I would like getting the whole road at 1km. Nope, turns out I didn't like that at all. It made it hard to remain in the draft. Of course, since I had reverted to my ways of yesteryear by staying on the front too long and too many times, who knows if I would have had anything left even without the whole road at the 1km?
Here are some photos Debbie took.