Wow… I’m not sure where to start. (You may want to get a snack before you sit down to read this)
Probably with last Saturday, when I jokingly asked Maggie Finley (triathlete and likely the fastest woman on 2 wheels in these parts) if she was going to race this weekend, and she replied that she planned on going to the Arkansas State TT. Fast forward to Wednesday. Casey Malone has convinced Maggie and Los Locos teammate Sue Wampler (a world-ranked amateur triathlete) to race on the Marx and Bensdorf Women’s team. Other women that she’d recruited for the weeknd included Cara, Joy,Ã‚ and myself. Originally, I was just around to help teach them some road racing skills and strategy- all of them are very capable athletes, but they just needed a bit of direction when it came to the mass start events, but later Casey asked me to race with them as well. Wednesday was our last time to meet up and ride together before the race.
I only had a few meet-ups with some of the girls before race day, and we mainly worked on pacelines, and I told them about various race strategies so that they’d have some sort of idea of what to expect on race day. We talked breifly about sprint leadouts, but I figured that until you’ve been in a few sprints, worrying about a leadout is one of the last things you want to be doing in your first race.
I was incredibly excited for the weekend, because just from a few rides, I could see that everyone involved had something to bring to the race.Ã‚ SO… here’s the report:
Once again, the officials decided that they wanted to try and make us race with the 50-60 masters men, even though the race flier stated otherwise. Once again, we made a start line pact to roll slowly the first couple of miles and let the men have their race and we’d race our own. Those guys are notorious for chasing down the attacks of the women and dragging the entire field with them. Our race was also shortened a lap… which, in the 11:30 heat of the day reaching nearly 100 degrees without the heat index, was much appreciated.
The race was generally uneventful for the first half of a lap. Once we hit the rollers on a longer stretch about halfway through, we started popping off some attacks, though nothing stuck until the same place on the next lap, when Maggie rolled off of the front with the little sister of Jo Markam from Kenda tire. With a 2-”team” break going up the road, it was up to the others to chase. However, they didn’t really have the cooperation to do so. Maggie ended up dropping Lil’ Markam going up the steep hill about a mile before the finish line and winning solo.
So it was up to the rest of us to negotiate the field sprint for 3rd. Coming into the last turn, I told Casey (who can sprint like the dickens) to grab my wheel, and I got behind Sue and told her to ride a hard tempo out of the corner and as far towards the finish as she could go. She freakin’ ROCKED it. That gal is a freight train! Around 600 yards out, someone tried to attack up the right side of the road- I went after it in hopes that it would give me a few more yards before I needed to give Casey the slingshot. Unfortunately, the attacker died out quickly and I was left out in the wind to finish the leadout from about 500 yards out. I went for it like the 200m sign was my finish line, and managed to pull Casey away from the group far enough that she was able to take the loooooooong sprint up the hill for 3rd place. Gassed, I rolled in on the back of the group, cheering in excitement.
Your standard 4 mile out & back w/ rollers. I improved a lot from my time last year with an 8:46, and won. Woohoo! Too bad the TT omnium points aren’t very awesome, because getting 12th in the road race only netted 4 points to go with the 25 I got for the TT win. Overnight, I was placed 3rd overall going into the crit.
We had a solid plan for the race- Maggie, Sue, and I were going to play dueling banjoes with the group early in the race and have Joy, Cara, and Casey join in as the group tired later in the race. Apparently, some of our competitors caught wind of it and were plotting against us. I launched first, and was caught within a lap.
Next, Maggie came to the front a accelerated away. A couple of women attempted to bridge, but were discouraged when no one would help their efforts. Maggie got further and further away…
I was somewhat amused by what happened next. Rather than consolidating their efforts in an organized chase, our competitors chose to attack each other. Each time, someone in M&B kit was on it like stank on sh*t.
At one point while I was riding tempo on the front, someone tried to attack me when I sat up to take a drink of water
After that, I sat a few wheels back and let them play cat & mouse for a few laps. Eventually, coming out of turn 4, Jo Markam got frustrated after a failed attack and tried to encourage another person to pull through by slowing down and swerving to the inside. At that moment, I saw the planets in the counter-attack galaxy align and launched myself out into the headwind towards the start/finish.
I was hoping that I could bridge to Maggie and work with her, but instead ended up flogging myself for the remainder of the race to finish in a solo 2nd place.
You can see a lot more photos on Ryan’s Blog
Even with the 2nd place finish, my omnium standings remained the same (3rd). Two podium spots for the team! The race this weekend renewed my enthusiasm for road racing. Not that I want to go back into it full-bore, but I had more fun with this team than I think I’ve ever had at a race. It also helped that Jimmy Reed (the head honcho w/Marx & Bensdorf ) was incredibly happy with our performance and enthusiasm.