Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sturbridge W3/4 Race Report

W3/4; 34 miles; 3rd place

I kicked off my road racing season at Sturbridge, personally very pleased to find the race course so transformed that the 17mile loop ended with a 3mile stair-like climb rather than the infamous crash-prone downhill sprint to the finish. There were over 30 women starters, many of which included teams from CT, NY, and NJ. I was the sole IBCer for this race, but not so lonely as the chatting through 4-mile neutral start up the climb allowed some time to get reacquainted with friendly riders I knew well last season (including CT women who rode solo last year but banded this year as CVC-Subaru). The official start/finish was at the top of the climb. Already winded from the neutral start, the field got off to a slow but relaxed start. The speed picked as we coursed through descents, and then through a set of rollers. This was a fun course! CVC-Subaru stepped on the gas by launching a series of well-timed attacks, just before reaching the climb again. By the time we reached the top, there was a woman (EPS/Riptide) off the front a bit and the remaining peloton had been shaved by half. Through the 2nd lap, a dozen or so of us maintained the gap by working together and keeping a good tempo. Towards the end though, we allowed one NCC woman to pull us to the base of the final climb. Well that NCC'er had more than enough to jump and take the lead through the climb for a well-deserved victory. A second woman jumped at the base, and I quickly realized that I missed an opportunity to get on her wheel. I couldn't mend the gap and so I paced up the remaining hill amid a cluster of women, pacing myself and waiting for an opportunity as we approached the finish. At the sight of the 200m marker, I jumped and pedaled through the burn, fighting for a 3rd place finish. I was pleased with my season opener, and look forward to working on those uphill finishes.

I also want to give a big thumbs up to the promoter (MN) on a safe & well-organized race. There were many volunteers (Thank you!). Evidently, safety was a priority. The course was fun and road quality good; it had few turns and they were well marshaled; there were police & EMS; and the pace vehicle drivers knew what they were doing. The W3/4 field also had SRAM neutral support. I look forward to racing these events again next year.


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