This was a small, but well-done event just a short drive away in Oxford, MS. After the crit in Collierville last week, I’d talked to Eric from Absolut Racing about maybe teaming up with Debbie Milne (his teammate and local legend) at some races. I was excited- DebbieÃ‚ just won her age group at Master’s Natz last week, and racing with her is always a battle (which, more often than not, she wins).Ã‚ It’d be nice to stop chasing her and start helping her…
So on Saturday, Ryan and I drove down to Taylor, MS (just South of Oxford) for the circuit race. When we got there, I saw Debbie on the way to registration. We talked for a few minutes and decided that working together would be fun, so they leant a kit to me and we made a few plans.
The course was a 2.something mile loop around the small Plein Air neighborhood with a little headwind and a little hill. It started and ended on the streets within the loop- at the beginning of the race, we made a “parade lap” to the loop, and at the end of the race (this is an important detail for later…) we turned off of the loop and had a long straightaway to a 90 degree turn and another long straightaway back to the start/finish line.
When the race started, a prime was announced on the first lap- a free night/dinner at Sam’s Town Hotel & Casino. Since we were on a loop away from the start/finish area, the “finish line” for the prime was a tent & strip of tape on the road near the entrance/exit of the course. Once we were on the back side of the course, Debbie attacked the hill. I was happy to sit in for the chase. Debbie won the prime, and we were getting a little close to her at the start of the 2nd lap when the chase started to break down (there were only 3 other women there besides Debbie and myself ). Jo (from Kenda) made a hard effort to bridge, and when she started to fade, I saw my opportunity to counter. It worked swimmingly. Within a minute, I made it to Debbie’s wheel with no one in tow. We paced ourselves and put a large gap between us and the other women.
I wasn’t sure exactly what Debbie had in mind for the end of the race. She may be a teammate, but I knew she still wanted to win (as did I!). Once we were on the last lap, I figured that if she wanted to drop me and win, that she’d off me at the hill where she’d gotten away earlier. However, she didn’t. As we rounded the last turn of the main loop, she jumped… I followed, but she got a pretty good gap. Then I realized what was happening- she was sprinting for the prime line- NOT the real finish line located two more turns off of the course! I laid into the pedals. By the time I passed her, she thought she’d won the sprint and had sat up. As I charged past, she was saying something to me wondering if I was mad… (I guess it is odd to think that you’d won & see your teammate flying past you and careening around a turn off of the course loop). I had no idea when she realized what was going on, but going through the next to last corner, I got ahead of myself and accidentally upshifted twice instead of downshifting. When I stood up, I felt like I was pedaling in a bad dream- you know- the type where you’re trying to run from the serial killer with the ax, but you can hardly move? Yeah… it was like that. I finally got the pedals turning and rounded the final corner. I could hear people yelling at me to GO, but I had no idea where Debbie was. I kinda thought that she was still soft pedaling in from the course. I put my head down and pushed as hard as I could… just as I crossed the finish line, she shot past me on the right… she was most definitely NOT soft pedaling in from the course…
She was pretty mad at herself for not knowing the course. I was amused at the irony of someone in a national championship jersey getting second place in that situation (btw- she is so modest that she didn’t want to wear the jersey, but, at the request of the crowd, left the starting lineup to change into it before the race).
After having a snack and some water, I swapped my training wheels back onto my bike and headed out to ride back to Oxford via a loop through Water Valley and Paris that I’d found on Map My Ride. It was a long, hot journey. I’d forgotten my wheel magnet, so I’m not sure exactly how far I went, but it was probably around 45 miles. Once I got back to Oxford, I wasn’t sure how to get to the hotel, so Ryan met me in the Ole Miss campus and drove me back the few miles to the hotel. Including my warmup time, course pre-ride, the race, and my long ride afterward, I had nearly four hours of training for Saturday (I can’t afford to sacrifice any training volume with the upcoming endurance races!)
We capped off the day with dinner and drinks in the downtown area of Oxford.Ã‚ Somehow I ended up with a rubber frog named Steve in my purse. Good times.