By M.M. Blomberg
“THIS WILL NOT BE OVER QUICKLY, YOU WILL NOT ENJOY THIS”.
This movie quote from ‘THE 300” is my sentiment for the day. While EZ Orchards (Salem) may have sounded like a nice little place for a nice little race, today was nothing but speed. Rain overnight left the mostly flat course slick in the muddy sections, but long grass and gravel flats (and false flats) made higher speeds possible. Morning racers were cautious in the slippery 90 degree turns through the orchards and many chose running the hill after the barriers because traction was at a minimum.
By the afternoon, and no rain all day, the course was tackier but way more chewed up. Many learned the hard way to watch their speed in the turn just before the barriers and one gnarly turn in the orchard between apple trees. Note to self. Don’t crash here.
With such a light attendance in the morning races, I asked race promoter how many Master A ladies signed up. “Not too many” he replied flatly. We only need two for a race right? If nobody showed up I could just race in the A’s.
Then A racer Tina Brubaker (Speedvagon , BAR winning Cat 1 and famous former member of Cyclisme Racing Programs when it was called "b.i.k.e. - Serratto) arrived.
Now we have a race!
But by , my Master A competitors had signed in, and my suffering would be condensed into 45 minutes instead of and hour.
Maybe next time Tina. (You are a heroin of Lore always at Cyclisme!)
Sizing up the tiny field at line up, new faces meant new challenges. And you know I love a challenge. Racing as a Cat 4 on the road all summer, I expected this to be a fast race similar to a criterium. Off the line my game plan is to get way out ahead and out run them. We can dream can’t we? New face #1 Stephanie Uetrecht (WebCyclery, Cat 1 Mtn bike) decides to join me out of the shoot. She is strong and fast. Working together, we take turns in the lead. Ignoring my husband’s advice, I give riding the run up a try after the barriers and fail. That’s OK. Just get back on her wheel and we can keep our gap. Peeking over my shoulder, I see a familiar blue and white kit long off in the distance. In lap 2, I am pushing hard behind Stephanie, waiting for my chance to take over again. Chunky sections around the orchard slow us down but we make up for it on long flat grassy bumpy roads. In the previously mentioned, “don’t crash here” section, she takes the slick rutted left turn before the barriers way too fast and goes down hard. YES, MY CHANCE. Nope. Like a fishing bobber, she popped right back up AND was shoulder to shoulder with me at the barriers. By lap three, new face #2 (Life Cycle, Cat 2, also rolls in the A races today) passes me in the apple trees. Ok, I can pace her. That works for a while until another party guest arrives. Jan Moss (Sorella Forte, Cat 3) over takes all three of us with lightening speed and Heather chases thinking that is her rabbit to catch. Having chased Jan at PIR this summer, I know better. She is also Master 45+ and not in my race. Must not to blow up in lap 3. I am in 3rd position by lap 4 when another uninvited guest knocks. Sarah Tisdale (Sorella Forte, Cat 3) finds me before the barriers. Knowing she is great to pace on the road, I jump on her wheel. Just when I think I’ve topped out my heart rate, we push harder. Most of this race is spent in my big chain ring, sprinting out of the saddle on the flats. One lap to go and Stephanie is just ahead of us with Heather in the lead but we can’t seem to close the gap. Sarah and I hit the final turn onto the long gravel road and I out sprint her (25+ mph I swear) to the left turn before the barriers. Left, right, dismount, up over the hay, I am almost there! Uhhuuuff. I trip on the last bail and loose control of my bike for a moment. Sarah is right next to me now. Wrangling my bike, I decide to run, not ride to the finish. Chancy move. Sarah tries to remount and ride it home. The finish is only 20 feet from the hay bails but her chain locks up on the remount. I out sprint her on foot through the finish line with bike in hand for 3rd. Recovering past the finish line, Sarah high fives me and says, “I thought you were cooked, but I kept seeing you behind me.” Smiling I replied, “I was just drafting you.”