Saturday, February 27, 2016

Get Your Motor Runnin' (okay motors allowed)

Aaaaaannnnnnddddd...we're back to the track--The Ridge Motorsports Raceway, that is! Except, no motors allowed (not even hidden in the seat tube). Today was the second weekend of Time Trialing and Circuit Racing at The Ridge. I wasn't able to do last weekend because of Team Camp (which was just fine, as the weather was horrid). First up...wait, before I get to the TT, I want to mention that Cycle U did a beginner clinic. Two of my teammates, Kim and Julie (new Cat 4 racers this year), did the clinic.
The beginner clinic was open to both men and women. It was great to see a nice turnout. Julie is in the white jacket and white helmet. Kim is in the hi-vis jacket. They both felt that it was useful.
Now, onto...

The Time Trial
This year, like last year, I was last to go of the 40+ Cat 4 Women. Jean went two minutes before me, and Beth (Starbucks) went just before me. There were only 7 total. I figured I had a good chance at 2nd place, since Beth was the only one on a TT bike, and none of the other gals had aero bars. Although, as far as TT courses go, this one is not well suited for a full-on TT bike (too many uphills, and corners). I do believe the aero bars and helmet do help though. 

The TT was 4 laps (almost 10 miles). We had to keep track of our own laps (although, that only effects your time if you think you are done, but you're not. No penalty for doing an extra lap--except indignation). Jean told me I wasn't allowed to lap her in the first lap (she needn't have worried). 

The first lap, going up the steep hill, was...not fun. Okay, going up the steep hill was never fun, but that first time...especially not fun! The wind was kind of out of the northwest-ish. After the steep hill, there is a bit of downhill, but then the track gradually continues up...into the wind. I found myself having to shift up...and up. Finally, at the top, the course turned, and I had a bit of a respite from the wind, and also a downhill. Then, back into the wind, and up another steep little popper (off the aero bars, out of the saddle, but no need to shift off the big ring). A couple more sections of in the wind, out of the wind, and then, the Precipice of Death. Okay, not really death, but what has gone up, must now come down. And, let's make it more interesting by throwing in a hairpin turn at the top, and a sweeping "S" curve on the down. Actually, I love this part! I have to brake for the hairpin, but otherwise it's down in the drops, no brakes, and counter-steering the heck out of the curves! The lap finishes with a long, flat straightaway, and an awesome tailwind.

In the second lap, I passed Jean (she didn't say I couldn't). I had passed one other gal in the first lap. I set my sights on Beth, but, at this point, I couldn't see her. In the later part of the third lap, I could see Beth ahead of me. I tried to judge if she was still a minute ahead of me. I didn't think so, but after the straightaway she had put more distance between us, so I wasn't so sure. In the final lap, I caught sight of her again. It was the same place as the third lap, so I figured I wouldn't be able to make up enough time to win. But, as I came into the finishing straightaway, I could tell that there was no way she was a full minute ahead of me. I put my head down and went as fast as I could. What is this? Beth was slowing down! I passed her and crossed the line first. Something must have been wrong. I do not beat Beth in a TT! Well, remember how I said this course is not the best for a TT bike? Beth had crashed on the hairpin into the downhill. To her credit, she managed to get back on her bike before I even saw her! At the end, her rear wheel (a disc) would not even roll. I told her that wasn't how I wanted to beat her! So, I won. I've never won a TT before. Sadly, by the time we got around to doing the podium, everyone was gone except me. Eric, the race promoter (and fellow teammate) joined me on the podium.
Thanks for the photo, Julie!
Yay, 1st! Notice my average speed was 21mph! I'll take it!
Thanks for the podium company, Erik!

After little more than an hour, it was time for...

The Circuit Race
There were 8 of us who lined up for the Circuit Race. Jean and I were the only two who had also done the TT. Julie joined us, so there were three of us OOA gals, 4 Starbucks, and 1 other gal from a team I didn't recognize. The 4/5 Men went just before us. There was a whole bunch of them. We would race for 60 minutes.

Off we went. Going up the steep hill, the first lap, I could have used a fire extinguisher. My thighs were on fire (even though I had spun them out on the trainer between races)! The 4 Starbucks gals were in the lead. I just tucked in behind them. They were taking turns pulling. I stayed behind (they weren't really letting me get in between them anyway. That was okay by me! I was happy to draft). 

Somewhere in the second lap, we lost one of the Starbucks gals. The remaining three, and me, had also dropped the others. Coming into the straightaway, I was in the lead. Emily said, "Let her pull for awhile." I was happy to do that as it was flat, and a tailwind. I could just cruise at the speed I wanted. That allows me to recover. Up the hill the third time, they went by me. I struggled a bit to catch back on, but managed it. Same thing happened coming into the straightaway again. 

Coming into the last lap, I was not in the lead. I was drafting. Going up the steep hill for the final time, I pulled ahead. I heard Emily say, "Let her set the pace up this hill." (The gradual hill into the wind) My mistake was letting them do that because, on the little popper, they all three pulled ahead of me. I could not stay with them. CRAP! I had just blown any chance of being able to sprint at the end! Then, to make matters worse, the 4/5 guys came by me just as I was starting down the Precipice of Death. Oh, and it had started to rain, no...pour!!! Well, that was a little nerve wracking! Then, out onto the final straightaway, another guy nearly cut me off! I yelled, "Hey, DUDE!" He apologized. In hindsight, I suppose it was better to not be caught in their sprint at the end...

I finished 4th. Oh well...not too bad considering the none of the Starbucks gals did the TT. 
23 seconds off. The gal who DNFd crashed on the downhill.
Could have been me...maybe. Emily won.
You can't tell, but Julie and I were completely soaked!
The Three Racekateers post race (in warm dry clothing). Ah yes, and the sun decided to return!

So, my first two races for the season are done. Not bad, but also not many racers. That will all change next week...

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