Julian, a former teammate now riding for Audi, had offered me a ride if ever I needed it. Since I was the only OOA Cat 4 gal wanting to do Mason Lake #1, I took him up on the offer. His daughter, Jasmine (races for RAD, but is my favorite 16 year old racer), was also racing with the Cat 4 Women. A testament to how generous Julian is, he said he would drive me, even if neither him or Jasmine were racing. How incredible is that??? I do hope it doesn't come to that; mostly, because that means I would be racing without my teammates (even though Jasmine races for RAD, I consider her my teammate). I actually rode with Todd (an OOA Cat 5 guy--today was his first race), but Julian and Jasmine came to pick me up with Todd. It was fun getting to know Todd more, and telling him about the course.
When we got out to Mason Lake County Park, Julian set up his tent. Jasmine and I went and checked in. It looked like there were a few additions (day of registrations) to the list. We ended up starting with 27! As we were checking in, the weather looked pretty good--blue sky patches. Sadly, it did not stay that way. It started to rain before we were warming up. Todd didn't have a trainer, so he had to warm up on the road. I gave him my rain cape to at least keep him a little dry before his race. Jasmine and I warmed up on our trainers under the protection of the tent (so awesome, Julian!).
It actually stopped raining by the time we finished our warmup. However, as we were getting our instructions prior to rolling out, it started raining again. Great...not. The official finally let us go (something unusual this year, there were neutral wheels in the follow car--it's always been wheels in/wheels out).
Starbucks had their usual large posse (4), but Group Health took the cake for the largest team presence with 9! Bike Sale was actually quite small with only 3 (usually they have at least 5). Everyone else was just one or two, with three who had no team listed.
We roll neutral until the first corner. Then we're off!!! Well, not really. It was a slow go up the long gradual climb. In fact, it was a pretty slow go the entire first lap. On the "front" side (the no roller side), it didn't help that there was a nasty cross/headwind with sideways rain pouring on us. We made it through Corner 2, and onto the backside rollers. I found myself sometimes near the back (I knew this not because I looked behind me, but because how many were in front of me). I do not like to be in the back. I would wait for an opening, then try to get back into the front third of the peloton. I really made a conscious effort to not get on the front. There were plenty of Starbucks and Group Health gals that could take turns working. I didn't feel the need to get up there and pull everyone. For anyone who has read my race blog posts before, you know this is a huge revelation for me. I have always spent some time on the front in every race. It never works out well (except that one Sequim race). So, regardless of how slow the pace was, I was happy to stay out of the wind.
We finished the first lap, and I expected the pace to pick up. Nope, it didn't. And, we were all still pretty much together (by the end, we had truly dropped only 4 gals). I was thinking, as we came into the roller section again, that this was possibly going to be Mason Lake #2, of two years ago, all over again. The one where we were all together at the sprint and 17 of us crashed. I figured I should try and stay as close to the front as possible. I stayed within the top 5 or 6. As much as I did not want to participate in a bunch sprint, I was not terribly tired, and felt like my legs could definitely sprint. I was also stuck on the right side, but I just hoped they would take the whole road at the 200m, so I'd have some room. We came into the 200m, and the sprint was on! There was a small amount of road on the far right. I managed to squeeze by the gal who had been in front of me. I was yelling the whole time, "ON YOUR RIGHT, ON YOUR RIGHT!!!" I stayed out of the saddle until I crossed the line (See? I did have a sprint left in my legs!). With the exception of one gal who jerked a bit to one side (but was immediately yelled at to hold her line), the sprint was safe, and no one crashed. Yay for us Cat 4 Women!!!
After we changed out of our soaking wet clothing, and into many layers of dry warm clothes, we went over to the Community Center for a Women's Clinic put on by Gina and Sarah. Gina had been watching us from the lead car, and Sarah from the follow car. It was the usual stuff--how we should try attacks, break away, etc. I'm pretty sure most of the gals were thinking, yeah, no, not gonna do that. I know I sure was thinking that! You can do an attack but, unless they think you are a threat, they'll just let you go...all by yourself...and you will die (unless you are super strong and can totally get away). Anyway, it was nice to hear the info again, and see the new faces outside of the race.
Jasmine and I went to check results. Jasmine came in 6th, and I came in 8th. It's another top 10 finish. I'm happy with that.
Me and my favorite 16 year old, Jasmine.
Of course, after we were all done racing and changing, the sun came out. Well, that's okay. We've had our share of nice mornings only to start raining for the afternoon races. Here's a photo of the lake we race around.
Since I'm pretty much guaranteed a ride, it looks like I'll be able to do all three Mason Lake races. However, next up is Sequim next Saturday.