Saturday, June 18, 2016

Race Report: Smithsburg Road Race

In which I try something risky/stupid and it doesn't pay off.

The race was 5 laps for a total of 41 miles. The tech guide described it as "a bit faster than in the past years . . . best described as rolling with some short but significant hills." I would call the hills a little more than significant. There was also a sprinter's jersey, which I had my eye on, and a climber's jersey, which I did not. The day was beautiful--perfect for racing with no wind and mild temperatures/humidity for this area and season.

Field was relatively small for the women's open and 4 fields combined, probably 30-35 women total, and we had the whole road to play with! I got a decent start and positioned well through the first lap. I felt strong. Kept pace with the pack pretty well. Came across for 4th in the first sprint for points. I had great feelings about the race.

Maybe I felt a little too great about my prospects. On the back third of the first lap, I was sitting third wheel in the peloton bringing back a lone rider who got maaaaybe 5 seconds on the pack. The pace slowed as we made the catch and the time felt right to counter, so I did. I got one other girl away with me and the pack was sitting up, so I buried myself to make some time. Little did I realize that the pack was sitting up because we were coming to the first big hill on the course. I hit the base of that hill already gassed. The entire peloton passed me and pooped me out the back. Two significant hills followed that first one, and I couldn't recover enough to catch back on.

I got well and truly dropped.

Passed three other women on the way through the first three laps. At the end of the third lap, the officials asked me if I wanted to be pulled. I asked how far ahead the main group was. "About 10 minutes," they told me. "Yeah, I'd like to be pulled." So I did 25 miles instead of 41 and I'm still having trouble going down stairs now. My three laps were good enough for 6th place, apparently, so yay? People make up 10 minutes in 10-mile time trials all the time, right?

If I hadn't made that attack in the first lap, I'm not sure I could have hung on to the pack anyway. There was carnage, from what I saw watching laps 4 and 5. Two of my teammates hung with the second group and got third and fourth out of the 4s though! My third teammate had a rough day: dropped, then lost, then flatted. She finished 9th and will still be eligible for GC awards, which means she can still start the TT and crit tomorrow!

I've given myself permission to make lots of mistakes this season. I'm happy as a 4, at least for now. I've decided to focus more on experience than on results (although results are awesome too). So I don't feel bad about my performance today. Although I felt pretty stupid going up those backside hills by myself for the third time.

Tomorrow, time trial and crit! Stay tuned!

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