Submitted by Cindy McNett
I competed in the women’s cat 4 race in Auburn on Saturday, which featured 3 eleven mile laps and 2 KOW (king of wall) primes on laps 2 and 3.
We reached a sharp descent just after the start and then the wall, a steep uphill. Dawn Peterson climbed uphill like a mountain goat and reached the line at the top first (she thought lap 1 counted). Around the turn and down the stretch she accumulated a lead, the group got organized, and we reeled her in. Wiith no one (other than me) willing to pull, we slowed to a crawl. I was being used, but wasn’t smart enough to care at that point. Pull to the left to let someone else go through, and nothing would happen. Pull to the right, they would still be on my wheel. Finally I slowed down to about 15 mph, Dawn took the lead, and we had the semblance of a paceline.
Dawn wanted to break away from the main group with me. We tried it, but I thought it was still too early in the race with a lot of headwind for just 2 riders to deal with.
As lap 1 came to a close we climbed a long grade through the apple orchard, with a quartering headwind. I found myself being a sucker again, pulling uphill and even pulling down hill (yikes). Sure enough, Dawn bolted uphill again to take the KOW, while I reached the line second about 5 inches ahead of Andrea Notopoulos.
Five of us pulled away from the main group finally and started to work, but not hard enough to overcome the slow pace of lap one and hold off the Cat 5 men behind us. A car pulled up to tell us something about slowing down to let them pass. Our pace car slowed way down, and there we were, stuck. They passed us, then we passed them! It was comical.
Ending lap 2 I knew I had to get my act together, starting with saving some energy. I sat behind until the KOW, then stomped up that hill and took it.
As lap 3 drew to a close, I found myself pulling Dawn and Andrea up the grade to the finish line. This may have been a strategic mistake with these two strong riders. I thought it would be better to make them work very hard to outsprint me from behind going uphill (my advantage), rather than trying to outsprint both of them on the small dip down to the finish line (my disadvantage).
I held them off until the top of the hill, where Dawn slipped by me, going wide so I couldn’t jump on her wheel. She won by several feet, with Andrea right behind us. Dawn and I also tied for KOW points. It was a fabulous workout on a gorgeous day, as well as a little chess game on wheels.
On Sunday I managed to get myself up to Belfast for the TT. Just focussed on working hard and steady. With no diversions or activity, it’s easy to just zone out and fall asleep on that long, straight section of Route 1. I thought I was doing well… until I saw my time. Chess, Erin, and Michelle did so well – Congrats!!