This year there was only the Cat 4 40+, and the Cat 1, 2, 3 40+ options for women. Last year, there was a 35-39 Cat 4 that we raced with, but weren't scored with them. It was good because I knew exactly who I was racing against. Another positive about this year was that we had 6 OOA gals racing! Yes, that right, 6! Okay, so partly what that says is that our women's team of road racers is made up mostly of old women (mind you, not old in the real world, but old in the bike racing world)! Today, OOA was represented by Jean, Debbie, Julie, Karen, Cindy, and myself. We made up almost half of the field! Talk about the pressure being on for one of us to get on the podium! If we couldn't do it with having half the field, when could we? From a race plan standpoint, because I wanted to do well, I told the gals, if there was a breakaway, I planned to be in it (I just wouldn't initiate it--yes, I learned my lesson well). I also said that it would be great if some of my other teammates were also in the break!
Debbie, Julie, Jean, Cindy, Me, and Karen--don't you think it curious that the ones not on bikes have helmets on, yet the ones on bikes do not??? Jean was the only one brave enough to go bare legged!
As we lined up for the start, the weather was overcast, and it was spitting rain occasionally. Because it had rained, and the roads were wet (after a significant dry period, so potentially oily), the finish was changed to before the Cemetary. That meant we would only be racing down the steep hairpin turn once. That also made our race about 4 miles shorter--fine by me!
We got the go ahead to roll out. Laura (her name might be Laurie--the results say Laura, but we were calling her Laurie), the Spokeswoman gal, had made it known she was going to push the pace. She wanted to race, not just poodle along. I figured, at some point, she would get a break going. I would try to stay near her.
The first part was pretty flat. Julie was the worker bee, staying on the front for a long time. When we came to the first hill, Debbie motored up the hill like it was nothing! I got on her wheel. As we started down the other side, gals started to go around us. I told Debbie to get into her drops. She didn't, but I went around anyway because I had my eye on Laura. Indeed, Laura was pushing the pace, but she would sit up, and wait for us to catch back on. Then, for awhile, it got a little crazy fast but, there were only 5 of us doing the work. Once we realized we were just pulling everyone along behind us, we eased up (thank God!!!). All of us OOA gals were in the mix. I was coaching them now and then to get in--we certainly had enough of us that no one should be stuck out in the wind too long! I was really proud of how my teammate's were racing!
We had made the turn from Middle Satsop to Schafer Park Rd, then to E Satsop. Pretty soon, I saw the 1 km sign. I thought to myself, would we be finishing at the top of the big hill??? I so hoped not! Then we came to the 200m sign, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized we would not. In fact, even better, I realized we would only have to race up the big hill once! Well, this just keeps getting better and better! First the race is shorter, and now we don't even have to go up the big hill twice!
When we finally came to the big hill, I was still so elated to know I would only have to go hard up it once, that I got out of the saddle for most of the climb, and stayed with the front group! This was where the break got going. Laura kept yelling for us to keep going. At first it was Laura, Lisa (Bikesale), Vicki (also Bikesale), and me. But, then Debbie and Jean chased and got in too! They were wiped out from chasing on, so didn't get into the rotating pace line, but that was fine. We went by the Cemetary, and I shouted that this was the beginning of the steep downhill with the hairpin turn. Fortunately, the road was fairly dry, so we were able to drill it through the turn. Unfortunately, Jean and Debbie slowed up a bit too much (you would too if you didn't like steep curvy downhills so much--I happen to love them), and they were unable to catch back on.
Going into the second (but really only 8/10ths) lap, it was just the four of us. We had no idea how close everyone else was, so we were going as fast as we could. The problem was, Lisa and Laura were stronger than Vicki and I. We were rotating, but it would take everything Vicki and I had to get up to the front, then Laura and Lisa would blow right by us. Then it was right back to having to pull to the front. We were getting zero recovery (not how a rotating paceline is supposed to work). Finally, I said the pace was a little too fast. Lisa immediately apologized, and we slowed it down ever so slightly. That was much better. At this point, the follow car was behind us, so we knew we had a decent break. Still, you never want to let up, and we definitely didn't! While it seemed effortless for Lisa and Laura, Vicki and I were wheezing like donkeys. There were times where Vicki and I had to sit out a rotation, but we would get right back into it on the next go around. Just needed a tiny bit of recovery!
Remember how I said I wanted to do well in this race? By well, I meant on the podium. It was looking like I would be, quite possibly, 4th. That's not on the podium! I was sure I couldn't beat Lisa or Laura. They were just both so strong.
We finally came to the 1 km sign again. We continued to rotate right up until the 200 m. Then, as predicted, the two Ls sprinted off, and it was left for Vicki and I to battle for 3rd. I had a slight advantage as I was on Vicki's wheel coming into the 200 m. We were both sprinting our guts out, but I managed to get by her and take 3rd. Woo Hoo!!! Redemption is mine!!!
Vicki remarked on our 4 mile ride back to the parking lot how hard the race was...for a Masters race. We were both fairly surprised that Lisa did so well as she has not raced at all (or very little) this season. She was the dark horse.
It was a good race. Jean, Karen, and Debbie came in together for 6th, 7th, and 8th respectively. Julie and Cindy were 10th and 11th.
Well done ladies!
The official results.
Today was my 11th race of this season. Now I'm turning my attention, somewhat, to some touring and other things. I'll still be riding because I do have two more races in early August--Boston Harbor Circuit Race, and the Masters Championship TT in Tenino. For now, however, a bit of a breather!