I was pretty excited about a race so close to home. Instead of driving 2+ hours to a race, there was a nice one in my “back yard” of Auburn, Maine, only 45 minutes away.
The pre-race jitters started 24 hours before the race. My stomach was doing flops all day Friday and into the morning of the race. The only time they really settled down was when I got on the bike to warm up.
As soon as I had arrived I realized I had forgotten to pack my race license. I’ll tell ya, it seems like it’s always something before every race. Luckily they let me check in anyway – probably helped that I had registered on line.
I seemed to stand in line forever for the porta-potty. Two were just not enough!
Then with shaking hands I fumbled with pinning on my race number. Better to have it on early then to try getting it on right before.
Finally I got on the bike to warm up. I went the opposite way of the route to avoid some of the climbs at first, to give me a better chance to warm up. Then it was time to turn around and do a little climbing, especially the big climb that the race starts with.
The length of the route was 11.5 miles and the women raced 3 laps. After a downhill, followed by an uphill, the first half of the course is pretty flat and the second have has mostly rollers with a few short, steeper second. The finish is a falls flat that lends itself to a sprint finish.
I’m always pensive descending in a large group so it’s no wonder I was pretty much dropped on the downhill but they slowed approaching the steepest climb. Of course I was completely dropped on that first climb. I could see a group way ahead when I got onto the flat section and had to work my tail off to catch back up. (Those time trial events are paying off!) I was happy to find that three of the 4 racers I caught were teammates.
Once I had a chance to recover we all worked together, with two other racers, pacelining through the first two laps. Along the second lap we thought it would be interesting to try some team tactics to try to drop the other girls. They seemed to be growing tired and it would be better to drop them now and not have them stealing a better place finish from one of us.
Our first casualty was a teammate. We saw she hadn’t hung on with us over the climb to the start of the third lap. We decided not to wait for her, knowing that she wouldn’t want us to. (After the race we found out we made the right call.)
Then we tried to drill the pace a bit to drop the other riders. On our first try it worked well but then our pace eased up a bit and they were able to catch back on. It also didn’t help when I started getting cramps in my calves due to the effort.
So then we tried to sit back without pulling through to see if we could tire them. Upon another surge by a teammate, I got dropped. I was able to get back on but unfortunately I brought the other riders with me.
Then 1 1/2 miles from the finish my left calf seized! At the top of the first of the two-step climb I had to dismount the bike to stretch it out or I wouldn’t be able to finish the final climbs. I saw my teammates and the two other girls ride off without me and I couldn’t do anything about it.
After a brief stretch I got back on the bike and prayed it was enough of a stretch to get me to the finish. It was.
I crested the last climb and had sight of the final 1+ kilometer. I buried my head, anchored my hands in the drops and dug deep. I looked up and saw a rider in front of me and dug again. When I looked up again, I was closing the gap. So I kept on digging to close the gap and actually passed that rider right before the line.
I finished the race 11th out of 16. My teammates finished 8th and 9th and I know I would have also finished in the top 10 if it hadn’t been for my cramp.
It was a fun race and I had a blast. It was especially liked trying to work some team tactics, even if they didn’t stick. I hope to be back again next year!