Being the French press snobs that we are, Ryan and I brewed a batch and headed to the breakfast area of the hotel. Good thing, too, because they were out of everything but decaf and didn’t seem to feel the need to make more. I had some Kashi hot cereal with whey protein and a cup of yogurt w/a spoonful of peanut butter. It’s a really good pre-ride breakfast because it’ll stick with you a few hours!
Take my bike to the mechanic to get a once-over on the shifting. It wasn’t wanting to get into the lowest gear… which I’d need later in the day. Turns out the new DR hanger was not straight, but he used his 3lite mechanic skills to eyeball adjust it and get the low gear working.
When I get changed and try to clip in, I find that my right cleat is stuck open. Most likely due to standing around in the gravel waiting for one of Ryan’s teammates to change a flat during our pre-ride. Speedplay cleats are notorious cloggers. So, I headed back over to see the mechanic. He took my shoe, and in the process of trying to straighten the spring out, it broke! I did NOT bring a spare (bad on me :( )
As the “A” race is pulling out of the parking lot, I’m installing some Time pedals on my bike while the mechnic is installing his cleats on my shoes.
The race was a blast. The first 25 miles was somewhat of a relaxed pace. Everyone jockeyed for good position going into the first gravel section, and Shannon, Ashley, Whitney, Casey and I all hit the rocks in good form. Watching Casey tear it up through the dirt was fun- I’d been a little worried about her when she mentioned a couple of weeks earlier at VOS that she didn’t have much off-pavement experience. You couldn’t tell today… she was hauling all sorts of ass!
After we emerged from the first 8 miles of gravel, the guys in the pack started getting pissy. Apparently, a few people had gotten away early, and they were whining to each other that noone would help the chase. They even started whining that they were “giving the ladies a free ride.” I told them that if there was a woman up the road that we would have already chased it down and countered. Then they tried lying to us and telling us that there was a woman in the break… um, yeah… that’s pretty pathetic. Even worse- at one point, Tim Moore from Memphis Velo went for a bridge. NO ONE responded. Shannon took the opportunity to bust out of the group and bridge to Tim, and someone yelled, “We’re all about to get chicked!!” and she was immediately chased down. Seriously, guys?? Really?!?
The second gravel section came at about 65 miles into the course. This one was short, but had a steep, nasty hill (it was the part we pre-rode the day before). The pack was shattered. Casey and Ashley stayed with the riders in front and the rest of us were spread out down the road. Once we hit pavement again, I worked with another woman to catch up with Whitney. Whitney and I made the executive decision that it was probably not in our best interest to chase the lead group down since we had another woman in tow (with others gathering behind us).
Eventually the chase group came together behind us (as well as Shannon). The guys wanted to go… and actually looked motivated this time. I sprung into action… my strategy at first was to use non-traditional chase-disruption tactics- I began to make small talk with the guy up front who was driving the pace. I asked him where he was from (New York!), commented on the weather, told him about the snow in Memphis and how people couldn’t drive in it… we spent a solid 3 or 4 minutes chatting at the front of the paceline… going 18-19 mph! Of course, the guys behind us eventually called me out for flirting and came around me. I sat in on their rotation and was generally unhelpful. They got more annoyed and made the mistake of hanging me out to dry in the headwind on the front. This is what I live for! I sat up there and held a pace just under my FTP (thank you, powermeter!) for a loooong time. It was just fast enough that none of them wanted a piece of the wind. The break was safe.
The third gravel section was my favorite as far as road surface. It was slightly more hardpack dirt rather than slippery sand/rock, so the hill, though steeper, was less stall-worthy than the previous. Even though I was pretty tired from the wind, I ended up being one of the first few up the hill after Whitney, Shannon, and the other woman who had been chasing with me after the 2nd section. I was with a couple of other riders about 50 meters behind Shannon when we got out of the gravel. We started to chase, but soon after the guy next to me got squirrelly just before a bridge at the bottom of a descent. There was a big pothole just in front of the bridge- it was either hit him or the hole, and I chose the latter.
BAM! Double pinch flats. Front and rear rims were on the ground before I got across the bridge.Ã‚ I rolled up to a fork in the road, got off my bike, and got to work (luckily I’d brought two tubes/CO2s). While I sat there changing tubes, people passed in little groups. I got everything back together about two minutes after a group with a couple of other women passed by. After getting the blood flow back to my legs, I started to chase.
By mile 99, I’d caught up to them and was sitting about 15 meters behind them. They were chatting and casually pedaling at around 16-17mph. I decided I’d try to catch my breath then attack around them without letting them grab my wheel. Of course, as soon they saw me, they started with that “UP UP!” shiz… I’m not sure if it was them or the guy with them, but they found the energy to grab my wheel. I went to pull through and they stayed on my wheel until I slowed to almost a crawl. When we approached the finish, I had nothing… they sprinted up the last hill ahead of me and took 7th and 8th place. It’s OK. They didn’t have any teammates that kicked a metric crap-ton ofÃ‚ butt! Casey not only won the women’s race, she was 3rd OVERALL for everyone in the B race. Ashley was 2nd, Whitney was 4th, and Shannon was 5th.
The guys were the same story- Christian was 1st and Andrew D. was 2nd.
WOOHA! Hopefully I’ll find some photos soon. There was also a guy with a helmet cam. Hopefully his youtube videos will surface soon.