Monday, October 4, 2010

the ones in massachusetts: part 1

Race reports from Gloucester, Mass (pronounced glouster, in case you don't want to sound like the idiot I was last week, saying it the way it's spelled).  The hub of New England Cross.  One of the biggest races in the Eastern half of the US.  1700 riders pre-registered over two days.

Our last minute decision.  We decided to go to this race on Tuesday.  No, not a Tuesday in August.  But last Tuesday.  You see, I was enthralled when I glanced at the pre-reg list.  The concept of lining up with nearly 100 other women was just too good to miss out on - a big field around here (and, as the New Englanders admitted, up there for most races) is 40 or 50...  They were staging by points, a system that meant my last-minuteness wouldn't put me all the way at the back for the start.

The trip.  10 hours.  With stops.  Rain.  Traffic in Connecticut.  Bridge crosswind in PA hard enough that we stopped at the next exit to check the bikes.  We went through PA and around NYC.  Others went through it.  Their drive was even longer.  Arrived to a little b&b in Rockport with a huge soft bed.

Day 1.  Driving the 10 minutes to the race as the sun rises over the Atlantic. Not bad.  A brisk morning.  Shea was wait-listed but got a number, starting from the very back of the 8am men's 4 race, he worked his way to 30th by the finish. 

My pre-rides told me the course was pretty technical and way fun, and the start was going to be critical.  A downhill road start to an off camber bumpy grass section that quickly went through a 180 degree chicane before spurting out onto a flat straightaway.  The possibilities for crashing and bottlenecks on the chicane and off camber were significant.  I wanted my own line through there, not someone else's.

After some of the women missed their callups, I wound up on the front row for the start and was 2nd wheel onto the grass.  I hung behind Brittlee for about 1/3 of the first lap before passing her and riding in the lead for a bit.  Holding the pace down, I was trying to let someone come by and be in the wind.  But they were too smart for a while.  When the eventual winner flew by me, I missed her wheel and crushed myself trying to catch her.  Turns out she's 14.  Awesome.  We drove 10 hours so I could get my *ss handed to me by a woman too young to drive.

This was one of those days where I just felt great on the bike.  I was in the right gear every time I came off a downhill or remounted after the barriers.  I was off the brakes and flowing through the corners.  I was strong in the sand, hitting the line around the rooty tree, missing the rocks on the downhill before the barriers.  I wound up 6th, less than a minute off the winner.

Afterwards. We enjoyed a beer (yeah, just one for me) while watching the lobster boats check traps in the harbor and heckling by the barriers during the masters' races.  I was in the pits with some friendlies for the elite women - which was fun until new-to-Baltimore Evie rolled a tubie about as far away as possible from the pits and DNF'd.  Watching the pro's hit those corners with no brakes, whew.  Good stuff.  We hung out in the evening over in Rockport, indulging in ice cream and eating seafood (fish for me) for dinner.  Lobster was $13. With sides.

I'll put up some pictures later this week when I find them online.  Surely there were some cameras out there, and I know Shea shot some video of Day 1.

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