Let's get to the race. This week there were only 21 Cat 4 Women racing. Most of the speedy gals were there, but not the young Junior who won last week. Sheila, the gal who won Mason Lake was there. She said she probably wouldn't be that fast because she rode 100 miles yesterday. What??? Who does that? Who rides 100 miles the day before a race? Now, one would think, this could be good...
Off we rolled in a spitting rain. Not only did we start earlier, but the amount of time we rolled in neutral was also shorter. You might think that was no big deal, but it did have it's consequences later in the race.
As we came down the hill into Turn 2, I started to say, "Watch this corner it can be slip..." At that moment one of the Starbucks gals hits the corner, and her bike slides right out from under her. She slides across the road. I said, "Yeah...like that." Everyone else made the corner.
Before the race, Ron had said to stay to the right of the peleton on the straightaway after Turn 2. The way the wind blows, staying to the right allows you to pretty much be sucked along with little effort. He was absolutely right! Part of the time I wasn't even pedaling! It was awesome! I was near the back (not my favorite place to be), but we still had lots of race to go.
Sheila was off and on pushing the pace by getting on the front, then speeding up. Then she would slow down and get back in the peleton. What this serves to do, is make the rest of us very tired. It's called surging, and it is not fun. I just tried to hang on and not get dropped off the group.
We complete Lap 1, and I'm thinking I'm dying. I choke down a Shot Block early into Lap 2. As we come up the longer hill after the straightaway, I'm thinking I'm going to be dropped. We come down the other side, make the corner, and they zoom off. I passed Jean, and I heard Debbie yell at Jean to catch her wheel. The bulk of the group has broken away, but there are still stragglers spaced out in front of me. One by one, I pass them, yelling that we can catch them. Finally, I caught back up to the front group. I was keeping my eye on Sheila. I, somehow, managed to get in behind her as she headed up to the front again. I stayed as close to her wheel as possible. Then, she did what she is very good at--she slowed down and got back in the group. But, a little later, as she went by, I was able to tuck back in behind her. Soon she was back on the front. I was still right behind her. Again, she slows down. This time I stay on the front. I'm no longer feeling like I'm dying (can't really explain why--I doubt one Shot Block would make much difference). I pull for awhile, feeling good because I am not having to surge. Then Sheila goes by and says, "Good pull." I slip in behind her again. We make the turn onto Kitchen-Dick road. Now we have some help with the wind. Sheila and I stay one and two all the way along KD. The water is cascading down my face from her wheel. We make the turn. Now we've got a tailwind. Sheila peels off the front, I peel off right in front of her. The next gal comes up and peels off in front of me, then the next...what do ya know, we've got a rotating paceline going!!...until the hill up to the finish (we still have a lap to go).
We go through Turn 1 and head back down the hill (with the wipeout corner at the bottom). The group of about 10 take off. I work like mad to catch up. They make the corner. I make the corner. They take off...I get dropped. Eventually, the follow-car goes around me. I can still SEE them. I tell myself I...can...catch...them... Slowly, they get further away...I...can't...catch...them...BUT, I keep going as hard as I can, because you never know what might happen. I'm hoping we get neutralized by the Cat 3 guys (like the week before). If I can stay close enough, I can catch back up...if the front group gets neutralized.
They are still in my sight up the hill, down the hill, and around the corner onto Woodcock. But, they are still getting further away. Where are those Cat 3 Men??? This is the consequence of starting earlier. Finally, I resign myself to not catching up. Instead, I get into my drops for some Time Trial practice. I try not to let my speed drop below 18mph. I'm pretty successful.
I make the last turn onto the finish road. Just after the 1km sign, a lead car goes by me. I think, uh oh, what do I do now? I don't want to slow down. I'm almost done! Two guys go by me, then their follow-car. Okay, it's a breakaway. Now, I'd better hurry up before the rest of the group catches me! I need not have worried, I finished with plenty of time before the next batch of guys came by.
Ron was at the finish taking photos. I went back to him to wait for Jean and Debbie. Turns out, the two guys were a breakaway of Cat 4s. They had passed the Cat 3s!
I ended up getting 11th with my solo time trial of about 9 miles with an overall time of 1:48:07. That is 10 minutes faster than last week's pack finish! I was 4 minutes behind the 10th place gal. Yeah, I guess I wasn't catching up to them...not by a long shot! However, I did improve over last week!
Oh, and Sheila, who had done 100 miles yesterday...she got 3rd. Amazing!