My race day started early at 4am for a 5am departure with a couple fellow racers, one a teammate.
It was a long 2+ hour drive. We arrived in time for a warmup under partly sunny skies and the wind starting to pick up.
The Cat 4 race start time was 9:36, one minute behind the Pro/1/2/3 field. Surprisingly the Cat 4 field was double the size of the Pro/1/2/3. Of course I’m sure many were racing in other parts of New England instead of at Lake Sunapee.
The race started off very civilized. We all stayed together in a speed up/slow down pace, which is highly frustrating at times, especially when it felt like the entire group came to a hault and I had to grab a lot of brake to avoid running into the girls in front of me. At one point I thought, “This is a race?” It felt more like the Friday Morning Coffee ride. But then again, we had a lot of hills in our way so taking it easy made sense. We even caught the Pro/1/2/3’s at one point. They had 2 laps (46 miles) in their race where we had half that so they were pacing themselves.
Lake Sunapee Race Profile.
Lake Sunapee Race Route
About 1/2 way down Route 103 we had a solo break. Katherine Snell of NEBC went off the front. My teammate, Meg, convinced everyone to let her go, knowing full well she wouldn’t be able to sustain the effort and would eventually blow up. So everyone decided to sit in and conserve some energy early on.
There was a crash before turning onto Route 11. I witnessed someone overlapping a wheel and her front wheel got caught in a rear deraileur in front of her. Rider inattention? Not sure, but they both wobbled and went down, I assume taking out a few riders next to them and also behind them. That caused a gap and instead of looking back at the carnage, I got out of the saddle to close the gap or it was going to be tough catching back up.
My teammates were safe in the front but they didn’t know how far back I was or if I was in the crash.
After the turn onto Route 11 I managed to hang on with the main field. A break had gone off the front and my teammate was in it, though I didn’t know it at the time. If I did lose a little ground on the hills, I was able to descent pretty well to make up some ground. (Larger girls are able to do this due to gravity!)
I was able to catch a teammate, Teresa, and told her I was there. We rode together for a while and got in a pace line that was loosely organized. An approaching hill meant another loss of ground. I told Teresa to go with Amy Viara of IBC. She said she’d wait for me but I urged her to go with Amy, knowing she’d be a great one to ride with and someone that would get her over the climbs. (I later learned she went with her for a while but couldn’t hang on for the entire ride. Next time it might make sense for us to stick together. She’s super strong on the hills and I’m pretty strong on the flats so we might have made a good team together.)
I started working with another woman by the name of Marilyn. We took turns pulling but on the steepest climb at 15 miles in I dropped her, not intentionally, it just happened as I was just going at my own pace over the climb. So it was a TT effort by myself for most of the remainder of the race. Surprisingly enough, Marilyn came back up to me towards the end of the race. She proclaimed she had worked with a junior in the race and was able to catch up to me and then they went by me. I stayed with them a bit but was pretty spent from the solo effort. (I might have been better off soft pedaling for her to catch back up. We worked together well on the flats and I could have saved some energy, but you never can tell the fitness of another rider and what if I had waited and she blew?)
Back at the finish I took the corner in the roundabout well but just blew up on the power climb to the finish. I was barely able to pedal but still I stood up on the last kicker to the line for a decent effort.
I’m still waiting for the race results and will be a few days before they are posted. I’ll update this post with the results when I have them.
In short, I’m happy with the race and my performance. Sure I got dropped, but I was there for much of it. The toughest climb didn’t kill me, even though I thought it might at the time. I descend much better in a race situation, not focusing on the descent or the risks, but focusing on catching back up. I did find that I needed more gear descending but had the right gears for the climbs. I had a few cramps in my left calf when standing on some climbs but managed to keep them at bay. It was a good day and if I’m racing next year, this one will definitely make it on the calendar!
Update: I finished 24th out of 38 riders with 8 minutes and 36 seconds off first place. I’m happy with that and hope to do better next year!