Today's race was Olympic View Road Race in Brady, WA. This was my first year to get to do this course. The first year I was touring from Austin to Memphis. Last year...I think I was in Austin again. It was a 36 mile race around an 18 mile course. It was also the WSBA Masters Road Championship. That meant us older gals weren't racing against anyone under 40. However, we did race with the 30-39 group, but we weren't scored with them.
After my warmup, I rode backwards on the course to the last downhill into the final corner. Close to the top there was a steep right hand curve (not unlike The Ridge). At the bottom was a sharp corner. It was good to eyeball those two places before the race. Beyond that, I had only Jean and Debbie's description of the course.
At the start, we were told about the hill I had ridden to. We would know we were at the top of it (before the steep descent) when we passed the cemetery. We were also told, at the start we would be neutral until everyone was through the first intersection. The follow car would beep it's horn when we were racing (standard stuff). So, we started at a leisurely neutral pace. I was near the front. We passed the intersection, but didn't hear any horn beep. Not long after, I was on the front, but it seemed like no one knew if we were racing. At 1 1/2 miles in, I was pretty sure we were racing, but it was still at a very leisurely pace. I was still on the front. The gals behind me were chatting up a storm. It was like a group ride with friends you haven't seen for awhile, so you've got to catch up on all the news. I was fine with that.
We came to the first bit of hill. Since, by then, there was no question we were racing, most of the chatter had stopped. It was more race talk ("slowing", "on your left/right", etc.). The pace continued to be pretty reasonable. It helps that it was just us older gals--no twentysomethings pushing the pace (because they can, and do).
The course was flat-ish with rollers. The greater issue was wind. It was mostly cross winds, with not much tailwind, and a nasty headwind after rounding the last corner. Because the pace was not blistering fast, I found myself on the front a few times. On the backside (?), I had been on the front for awhile. I wanted off the front. So, I moved over toward the yellow line. At first, nothing. Then I slowed down a bit. Then, I think it was one of the plethora of Bike Sale gals (this is their sponsored race), came up and asked if I wanted to do paceline rotation. I said, "Sure." In my head I was thinking, whatever gets me off the front! So, we rotated for awhile. The only thing with that is that I don't like ending up in the back, which is what would happen.
It seemed like forever (in hindsight, should have made a note of this) before we got to the cemetery. Finally I could see the headstones. Everyone did great coming down the hill. As we came up to the end of Lap 1, I thought, "Crap, we have a whole 'nother lap to do!"
Into the second lap, the pace was still pretty sedate. Oh, it would pick up on the downhills quite a bit, but overall, not too fast. As we came back out to the flat section on the backside, there was some squirrelly type moving around by the front group. I was probably 3/4 back in the peleton (if you can call a group of 14 a "peleton"). They finally straightened out into a single paceline. It was still pretty slow. In my head I could hear Michelle and Jennifer (Cat 1 and 2 racers) saying, "You should just try a breakaway...don't break off the front, come from behind." Well, I was not in front...so I decided to give it a shot. I got in my drops, and sprinted out of the saddle until I couldn't sprint anymore. I looked back and saw that no one was with me. I stayed in my drops, put my head down, and just tried to keep the pedals turning as fast as I could. I stayed away for awhile. In reality, it was probably not as long of a while as it seemed. Then I remembered...there was still one more hill to go up. They "let" me stay on the front into the hill, but then all but one gal passed me as if they were riding on the flat, and I was the only one going up a hill. As the last gal (Heather from Group Health) caught up to me, I said, "This will be my demise." And it was. I thought if I could just stay close enough until the dead people, I could catch them on the downhill. Then, the follow car went around me. Where are those dead people?!!! Like I said, should have made note of this distance.
Finally the cemetery came into view. By then, I may as well have gone to lay with the dead people, for as much chance as I had of catching the group on the downhill. At least I got to go down the hill pretty fast--one last hurrah before turning into the headwind for the final section. I crossed the line 53 seconds after the peleton.