Tuesday, October 5, 2010

the ones in massachusetts: part 2

Day 2.  Brisk morning.  Much of the course was similar, but different.  Everyone was talking about the run-up.  Now, I'll say this - in last year's mud, I'm sure it was terrible, miserable, clawing with your hands to get up it.  Honestly, I thought it was a pretty standard run-up and the dirt was torn up enough that you just had to look where you put  your foot.  Oh, it was too steep to push your bike, that's for sure.  No sand.  An uphill road start/finish.  Some long power sections in the wind coming off the ocean.  Did I mention this race course is literally in the park that is the beach?!  As in, the bathrooms have changing stalls and footwashes.  And there are huge rocks on the coast and scattered around the course.  A few mini-spiral of death S-curves, including a very challenging one set on the hillside next to a softball field.

Second row start.  Chilly.  Embro working but not as well as I'd like.  Talked to a woman (Christine, I think) that apparently I battled with last year at DCCX.  She had started in the elite field ahead of us. Impressive memory, she even knew my name.

A great start. Or so I thought.  I was about 5th wheel up the hill when all of the sudden, I was boxed in and swarmed from both sides.  Elbows rubbing, handlebars in my butt, onto the grass we went - everyone upright, but I was about 25th wheel.  Lots of ground to make up.  I was making progress passing people, including a few on the run-up and remount.  Those that had forgotten to shift, paid the price at the top and the first lap was like a wobblefest with 8 or so women trying to stand on their pedals while I tried to weave through without getting knocked over.

Somewhere in there, though, someone apparently stuck a post-it on my bum - "Please pass me then crash right in front of me".  This happened about 4 times in a lap and a half.  Once near the sand, a woman literally passed me and just fell over.  I rolled over her bike, grabbing brakes in time that I didn't endo over her thigh and managed to only lose a spot or two.  More time was lost when ladies crashed in the off camber mini-spiral and on the S turns to the barriers.

I felt decent, was working hard, but just couldn't get up to the lead group.   I worked my way into the top ten, where I battled with about 4 other women for the last two laps - all of us were within a few seconds of each other, and held my last lap position to finish 10th of 88 starters.  Not a bad day and one of the few races where I was really racing the entire time and a two second slack-off or bobble meant I was going to lose a spot. 

In retrospect, other than the start, my biggest mistake was that we weren't working together very well - I definitely did some drafting and once managed to take a pull that was reciprocated, but other than that, it was a battle for each spot and we missed opportunities to draft near the chainlink fence and leading up to the run-up. Clearly we're not used to organizing a chase because I know there were women with me that had the legs to get up there if we'd been a bit smarter.

Afterwards.   I stood at the finish line, laughing and chatting with the ladies who'd been nearby.  Ali pulled out 22nd - awesome for her.  It was clear that it was a hard race, though none of us could pinpoint why.  And that we'd had fun.

I grabbed a chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie (serious yum, even though I was already a bit chilly) and Shea had the car packed up before I even knew what to do with myself.  (He had a second row start Sunday and finished 19th on a course that didn't necessarily favor a technical mountain biker as much as Saturday's).

We stopped in nearby Manchester for brunch at a little restaurant before braving the drive.  Shea's lobster eggs benedict looked pretty awesome.  Too bad I'm allergic to shellfish.

Driving home.  Using a complicated computer-charges-phone-which-uses-3G-internet-to-get-audio-broadcast of Steelers vs. Ravens, I listened to the defense blow it in the last minute of the game.  Oh well.

Moral of the story.  Gloucester is totally worth the drive.  In case you were wondering.

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