Sunday, July 17, 2011

French Broad Cycling Classic RR

Todd, Parri, me, Val, Anna, Kat, and Shelly at our cabin—the view was amazing! (Not pictured: Tonya, our massage therapist)

This weekend was amazing. We left early Friday for Marshall, NC, and drove straight to the Time Trial course. Anna and Shelly were the first to go, and Anna was back before I started. That meant I could hear all about the course and how to ride it from someone who had just done it. The information she gave me was very helpful, and I went out to ride hard and fast. Some guys blew past me close to the start, and a girl passed me before the turnaround, but otherwise it was pretty uneventful. After Allison passed me, I kept her in my sights and tried to minimize any time lost. A car got in between her and me, and I was able to use it to pace off of. It wasn't anywhere near me so I wasn't drafting, but it gave me the perfect perspective of where she was and whether I was closing the gap.

TT course

I was closing the gap during the back section of the out-and-back, and that felt great (because I knew she'd beat me unless I could catch and pass her). The race directors had marked the road with 1K to go, and I knew Todd would be around 600 meters from the finish line. He was, and I tried to pick up the pace even more right then because he said to. Unfortunately, as I was closing the gap to Allison, the car still hadn't moved around her and I couldn't risk getting too close or trying to pass either her or the car when neither was paying attention. So I gave everything until the last 500 meters and then just maintained through the finish line. I couldn't complain, though, because I'd been using the car as a marker for the last 6 miles or so. My official time was 32:40, which was good enough for 13 of 15 in the Women 1/2/3.

Anna ready for the TT!

TT stats: 32:29, 12.55 mi, 23.2 avg (30.3 max), 182 HR (192 max)

After a nice leg massage and a short sleep, we headed to the RR start for an early-morning start (8:30!). We'd been told that it would be a Women 1/2/3/4 race, but at the line they said they were splitting us up and starting the 3/4s about 5 minutes after the 1/2/3s. That left us with 20 or so women, and we were off. I didn't know much about the course except what I'd seen on the profile and what Valerie had pointed out as we were driving to the venue. All I knew was that there were a couple tough climbs and I was going to hold on for as long as I possibly could.

RR course

That little mound around mile 18 almost did me in, and I fell off the back. Shortly after I made it up, however, I got caught by the Cat 4 and Masters men and slowly (very slowly) made my way from the front of their pack to the back. I was determined to hang with them and let them pull me, and I hoped it would be enough to pull me up to my group again. It was, and they did. I didn't last long, though, as I dropped off just after the start of that HUGE climb in the middle. I climbed my own pace, and just before the top 5 Cat 3/4 women caught me.

For some reason I thought I had another mile or 2 to go and didn't jump on right away. But as soon as I saw that I was really close to the top, I kicked it in and jumped on their train. I didn't want to have to ride by myself, and I knew I could work with them. We worked really well together during that whole descent and flew through there. It was so much fun! At the base of the final climb, I kept them in my sights for a while but really had no chance of climbing with them. So again, I went at my own pace, determined to finish strong. I finished, immediately found the car, and put my bike up. I'd had enough riding and was so glad that Todd and Tonya had brought the cars up! I finished, but I ended up 19th of 19 finishers. I know of at least one girl who turned around (it was one of those Kat had told me to try to pace with)—evidently she'd had enough 0.5 miles into the first major climb and didn't want to finish.

Kat riding smart in the road race

The Women 1/2/3 field in the RR

RR Stats: 2:24:00, 39.99 mi, 16.7 avg (46.8 max), 162 HR (188 max)
Lap 1: 1:04:07, 18.72 mi, 17.5 avg, 157 HR (with the field)
Lap 2: 9:15, 3.07 mi, 19.9 avg, 169 HR (off the back)
Lap 3: 3:55, 0.96 mi, 14.6 avg, 164 HR (with the field)
Lap 4: 46:14, 15.01 mi, 19.5 avg, 164 HR (climbing and descending)
Lap 5: 20:25, 2.22 mi, 6.5 avg, 170 HR (climbing)

We had two crits on Sunday: one for the 3/4s and one for the 1/2/3s. Again, it was nice to have Shelly and Val already have raced on the course and to get advice from them. Todd gave us the plan, and Kat, Parri, and I were off. Mid-way through our 40-minute race, Kat got in a break of 4 (though we were told it was 5). I sat in the chase group (I think we had 6 or 7 until we lapped 2 or 3) and did absolutely NO work until the last 2 laps, when I knew I had to start making my way to the front. I'd been content to sit at the back, but I also remembered that the closer you are to the front, the better chance you have at finishing higher in your group.

Crit course

One girl went by herself with 3/4 of a lap to go; the course was 1.1 miles long and she'd been unable to stay off earlier, so we all let her go. Unfortunately, she stayed away and finished 5th. (Surprise! There were only 4 ahead of us!) I knew what girls to watch and watched them. When the first one initiated the sprint, I sat on her wheel until another girl came next to us and passed her. I jumped on her wheel until I knew I had to go, and I went. I beat those girls in that field sprint (on my hoods again—I still need to work on sprinting in the drops!), finishing 6th of 16.

The start line at the Women 1/2/3 crit

Crit stats: 42:57, 15.69 mi, 21.9 avg (31.5 max), 169 HR (197 max)

View from the cabin

More views from the cabin—many of the other cabins around us

TT Start 

Crit starting line

Crit mid-race

Crit finishing sprint

Race Photos from here.

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