So, leading up to the race everyone knew that the hill was going to be a deciding factor. I’ve been working on my climbing this year, but I know that I’m not a strong climber. I can get up the hills and I’m getting faster but race speed is a different matter. I went into the race knowing this and planned on treating it largely as a training ride.
The turn out from 7 Hills was great. There were 7 of us in the 4/5 group, I think 4 in the 3/4, 1 in the 1/2/3 and 2 in the 5s. Its always good to see your teammates at a race and it works out better when everyone stays upright and/or finishes well.
I chatted with a couple of the new team members, did a little recon on the course and got ready for the race. The weather was making it difficult to decide how to dress. Because it was threatening to rain and was in the low 50s when we started I decided to go with the arm and leg warmers. Tired, wet and cold sucks.
We lined up and I think there was a wreck coming out of the parking lot… at least thats what it sounded like with the crunching noise. That did not bode well for the day, but heck if it puts more people behind me and no one is hurt, I’ll take any advantage 🙂
Big Dave decided to be evil this week and we came out of the neutral start immediately into the first ascent. Warming up before hand was really important because hitting the hill cold would have been awful. I wasn’t doing awful on the climb. I could see the group stringing out pretty bad but I wasn’t the slowest up the hill by any stretch, but I was clearly back in the pack. The hill went on forever…. I thought it would never end. We hit the top of the hill it flattened out and it was almost immediately into the descent. And to top it off it started raining; I was glad I was dressed warmly.
The descent was fast and into the wind. Winding roads that are slightly slick meant needing to watch the speed. The 3/4 group had a huge wreck on the descent on the second lap. When I hit the bottom of the hill the first time it was time to find a group to work with. I grabbed the wheel of a bunch of the team dayton guys but they were moving faster than I could manage. I fell off and went into time trial mode, which seems appropriate since it was a TT course. At this point my only goal was to not get lapped by my field. I knew that I could maintain a pretty decent pace so I found a pace I was comfortable with.
The second time up the hill wasn’t bad and I was now playing leapfrog with a guy in Minnesota kit. He didn’t seem to want to work with me, and it looked like I was a stronger climber so I got ahead and went. We needed to slow on the descent because of the aforementioned wreck. Its never good when the moto-ref is telling you to slow and the next thing you see is ambulances (plural), police cars and a fire truck. Tons of riders on the side of the road.
I hit the bottom and went back to TT mode. By this point the 5s had caught and passed us. Then the stragglers were coming by. Who do I see in their midst? The guy in the Minnesota kit. What pissed me off was we aren’t allowed to mix fields and this guy was pacelining with the 5s. WTF?!? I’m out here working by myself obeying the rules and this douche is cheating for like 60th place. I mentioned to him that the refs could DQ him for that and he shrugged. Oh, well.
Around this time it was sunny and getting warm. The arm warmers and leggings were too much. The only thing I could do was strip off the arm warmers. I’m glad that I’ve practiced that. I’ve found the trick is to use your teeth so you can keep one hand on the bars. The rain and sweat made them a little grabby but not a big deal.
Midway through lap 3 Jenny (Bishop’s) blew past me right after the descent. It was like 4 miles later before the rest of the women’s field came past. It wasn’t even close with her race. I don’t think they realized that she was that far off the front based on the brief chat we had when they went by.
Lap 4 sucked. The hill was just painful the last time. About half way up I saw the Minnesota guy. He was alone and knew that he didn’t have the 5s to help him. That was all the motivation I needed. I gained on him the whole way up the climb. I gained ground on the descent and when he slowed at the bottom, I blew past him, hit the turn onto the TT course and kicked into gear. I knew that we had no more climbing so at that point it was whatever pace I could manage. It turned out to be my 2nd fastest lap.
Met my goals for the day: didn’t get lapped by my own field and didn’t finish last. It was also a good day because the team finished without an accident. It doesn’t get much better than that.