After a two week (well, really, just one weekend) respite from the string of races in February and March, we were back for another race before the next break. Today was the Vance Creek Road Race (VCRR). This is one of OOA's sponsored races, so we provided all the volunteers to run the race. Brad did a great job gathering all the volunteers. It takes a lot of people to staff a race. There has to be two drivers for each race group, and usually two people on each corner. For this race, there were 5 corners. Plus, there has to be someone at the finish, and someone to do the podiums. Then, multiply that by 2 as there are morning and afternoon races. Anyway, you get the picture. The Cat 4 Women raced in the morning, so we volunteered for the afternoon races (the longest races).
The race was held out near Elma at the defunct Satsop towers, now the Satsop Development Park.
One of two cooling towers.
Today, the OOA Cat 4 Women were represented by Jean, Debbie, Julie, Jasmine, Makayla (Jasmine's younger sister), and me. Yep, another 6 strong OOA group of gals! This was Makayla's first road race with Cat 4 Women. She's just 13 or 14 years old (but was not the youngest in our race--the 12 year old that raced IVRR also raced). Debbie and I drove out together.
Warming up on our trainers.
We've been having awesomely warm weather this past week, but today the sun decided to go into hiding. In fact, it was quite chilly. There was a bit of wind that didn't help matters. Fortunately, I had the appropriate kit for a cooler day.
Twenty five of us Cat 4s lined up to start. One notable difference to the last time I did this race was that Erik (the race promoter...and fellow teammate) had reversed the course (the road had less gravel in the counterclockwise direction). A bunch of us OOA gals came out last Wednesday and pre-rode the course. I tried to convince myself counterclockwise was going to be easier. I'm not sure I ended up convinced.
We were in a neutral rollout until we were through Corner 1. From Corner 1 we had a long downhill. The shoulder was smoother than the chipsealed road. Since I knew what the shoulder was like from pre-riding, I knew I could ride it. So, I coasted along the shoulder to the front. I also wanted to get away from the 12 year old junior. She's still pretty sketchy. There were some uphills, but they were short, and most had a downhill leading into it.
I spent time on the front after Corner 2, but then managed to get on a wheel of someone who came up from behind. We went through Corner 3, and after awhile, I was on the front again. This time, when I didn't want to be on the front any longer, I just peeled to the left, and the next gal came up, then rotated in front of me. As we were going along the narrow farm road, here comes Julie up beside me! At one point she said, "So this is what it feels like up here!" This is, of course, only her third race! She protected me for a bit, which was awesome.
We came through Corner 4, and once again, Julie came up beside me. She asked if I wanted her to get in front of me (I was sitting second wheel at that time). I would have definitely let her do that, but we were coming up to the long climb. I knew it wouldn't do any good as neither of us would be able to stay up with the group. The climb really broke the group apart. I saw Jasmine and Makayla go shooting up, little sister on big sister's wheel (like they can...I can't). Most of the peloton passed me up the hill. I was wheezing like a donkey. I could hear Jean and Debbie breathing hard behind me. Apparently, at one point, Jean yelled that I was losing them. I didn't hear that over the very loud beating of my heart, and the even louder sucking wind I was doing. At the top of the long part (but not the top top), I started to cough, which then led to gagging. Fortunately, I got it under control before I hurled the Shot Blocks I had consumed before the race.
There was a teaser downhill, but then the road went back up (at a gradient requiring the small ring again). Just before Corner 5 was the 1km sign. We climbed through Corner 5, then it leveled out a little. There was one more downward slope before we turned right to go up again to where the finish line was. Of course, we had another lap to go.
I caught up to a few gals, one of which was Courtney from Starbucks. I said, "Let's see how many we can catch up to on the downhill." So we set out to do that. Coming down the hills between Corners 1 and 2, we ended up with a good size group. We wanted to get some rotating going so we could catch up to the group in front of us, but it was only Courtney and I doing the pulling. Occasionally Laura, from Spokeswomen Racing would fly by, but then she'd slow down. Her teammate, Mary would do the same. It was not organized at all. We came through Corner 2 with Courtney and I still doing most of the work. Laura and Mary were still there along with several others. Finally, after Corner 3, we had shed the others, and it was just the Spokeswomen two, and Courtney and I. Laura and Mary finally started to do some pulling, but they clearly weren't well versed in the art of rotating. Then, the follow car went around us. We still kept going as fast as we could. Once we got a decent rotation going, we started gaining on the group of 8 or so in front of us. Then we were back! We went by the follow car, and got back in the race! The group we caught up to was not the leaders. I was somewhat surprised to see Emily in the group. She was trying like crazy to get the group to work together. Makayla was also in that group. Once Courtney and I joined in, the rotating started working better. Emily was still shouting orders, but it was getting smoother. But, here's the problem. This is not the lead group. So, some of the gals are basically cooked. They've done as much as they can. They struggle to take any kind of pulls (even a rotating paceline). Makayla was doing a great job, but she was also very tired. She hung in the rotation pretty well. Emily kept having to tell people not to "drop anchor" when they would rotate off the front. She'd say, "Keep pedaling, keep pedaling!"
We came through Corner 4 again. The follow car went around the whole group. We were still rotating, but fewer and fewer gals were taking part. Then...the hill...again. I went by Makayla--she just didn't have much left. Most all the Starbucks and Bike Sale gals that were in the group took off (well, maybe not so much took off, as much as I slowed down). At least this time up the hill I didn't end up gagging!
I finished alone, 9 seconds back from the gal in front of me, but 39 seconds ahead of Makayla, for 16th place. I finished similar to IVRR. BUT...best of all...JASMINE WON!!! I'm so proud of her! She raced a perfect race!
It was a good race for all of us! Also fun to have our teammates cheering us on through the corners!
Of course, we got to do our own cheering as Corner Marshals for the afternoon races. Debbie and I were on Corner 1.
Yes, it was still cold, only now, we were just standing around--even colder!
The Pro 1/2 guys had to do 6 laps (that's three times as long as our race!). Even the 1/2/3 Women had to do 5 laps (a very good reason why I have no desire to upgrade to Cat 3!)
Here's the guys.
After the guys went by for their 6th lap, and the women went by, we were done. We turned in our vests, stop signs, and walkie-talkies. We stopped at Ranch House BBQ for some dinner.
Now a break until May 14th, and the race I am really hoping to do well in, OVRR.