This year, Debbie and I went up the night before, and stayed in Sequim. It was nice to get to sleep until 7:00, and for Debbie to not have to drive for 2 1/2 hours the morning of the race. We arrived at the Tall-Grass Parking Field (the field was not mowed as in previous years) at 8:30. It was a beautiful sunny day, with not too much wind (wind is frequently a factor in this race). The Cat 4 Women's race was at 10:00. We had plenty of time to check-in, say hi to fellow Cat 4 women, and get bikes set up on the trainers. Debbie and I used the big U-Haul blanket to set the trainers onto. It worked great.
We finished the warm-ups, and headed over to the start. There was quite a large group of Cat 4s. Some familiar faces, but a lot of new ones. It's always a little nerve wracking to see so many new gals. For most, this is their first race ever. They are unknowns, so we don't know how they will ride. Sometimes I think they don't even know how they will ride!
Bike Sale, Starbucks, Hagens-Berman, and Group Health teams each had a number of gals. There was one Junior Rad Racer. The rest of us are from a variety of teams with just one to three teammates each (we had three--me, Jean, and Debbie).
As we started the race, it was clear the Bike Sale and Hagens-Berman gals would be forces. They have so many gals. They can, and do ride across the lane, or they do a mini rotating pace line. In the first lap, I went to the front coming down the first big hill. I took the corner in the lead, rode on the front for awhile, then wanted to get off. So, I just started to slow down, hoping some would go by and I could hook onto a wheel somewhere in the upper half of the peleton. Nope. They all went by in a tight group, and I couldn't find a hole to get into. I finally ended getting in somewhere near the back. That was okay, since we still had a lot of race to go.
We finished the first lap (there are 3), and I was still quite aways back. Once again, coming down the hill, I went to the front (it was easy to get to the front on the right shoulder). I pulled for quite awhile on the back stretch. It was fine, until I didn't want to pull anymore. Again, I couldn't seem to insert myself into the middle of the pack. I guess that was okay, as we still had 1 1/2 laps to go. On the first lap, I was worried about getting dropped on the rollers if I was too far back. Not a problem. Either I've gotten stronger on the hills or, and more likely, they went slower. Either way, I was able to stay with the pack easily the whole way. On the "roller" section, we got neutralized (stopped to let the men go by). We were brought to a complete stop. I finished off my Shot Blocks, and drank most of my remaining water bottle. It was a nice rest.
At this point, I had managed to get closer to the front without being on the front. It didn't last long. As we started our final lap, I had decided I would not go to the front. I would save my energy for the finish. I ended up being in the very back. Once again we were neutralized. Debbie commented how she liked it in the back. I said I didn't, and when we started up again I tried to work my way back up. As we came around to the rollers, there was a bit of a breakaway (a few H-B gals, I think). I thought I should make some attempt to "bridge" to them, but found myself being too chicken to try and pass the knot of the rest of the group. Gradually, we caught the breakaway.
Coming around the last main corner, Jean and I were still way back from the front. Neither of us could manage to move around the group of gals directly in front of us. Since we were still in a big bunch, flashes of Mason Lake (last year's big crash) were running through my head.
We were to get the whole road at the 1 km mark. We passed it, but no one crossed the line out of the draft (that would be a bad idea, unless one was super strong). It's uphill, so everyone wanted to stay in the draft as long as possible. Jean and I were on the right side, and opted to stay there. At the 200 meters, I saw, still, no one was crossing the line. Since there was a bunch of Group Health gals not really seeming to sprint, right in front of us, I moved over to the wide open lane. As much as I was giving it all I had, my legs were not following commands. I passed a number of gals, but there was still a huge bunch ahead. I was definately going to achieve my goal of not winning. I just didn't think I would overachieve it by such a huge amount! I came in 25th (out of, I think, around 34). I believe that is my worst finish ever. On the bright side? There's no place to go but up!
Oh yeah, who won the race? The Junior from Rad Racing! Good for her! She earned it!