Thursday, May 21, 2009

Michele Heaton - Brisbane, Wente, Panoche RR

Best part of racing so with team mates! Here's a brief re-cap of my 3 races so far this year.
Brisbane. Cat. 4 with Kimi. She was awesome..taking control of the descent each lap and moving both of us forward safely into good position. My favorite move was when she went right to the front and set everyone up for good cornering (something our category needs work on). It set the stage for the rest of the race. My role was to come around and block wind for her on the hills. I worked on staying top 5-10 or so wheels. Last lap 3rd wheel behind 2 Sugar CRM team mates. I launched early as I am not a sprinter. Thought for a moment I was by myself but overtaken at the line by a savvy sprinter! Fun race.

Wente. Cat. 4 No team mates. I knew this would be a tough race for me as I am not a pure climber. My goal was to stay with the leaders, chase after the climb to catch if necessary, and if not try to form a group to work together. Turns out my estimation of myself was pretty close. In a full field the selection was down to 11 after the first climb. Note to myself...NEVER be so far back at the beginning of a climb. I was marking the woman (who ended up winning) and she was sitting at the back. It took a lot of energy to dodge all of the popping riders which was a waste.
After getting dropped towards the top of the climb I was able to chase back on when we started descending. Dropped again on the next climb. A woman named Kameo caught me and we worked together well. She was very smooth and really strong on the flats and descents. Then we picked up two young women that had been dropped from the leaders. After they sat on our wheels for many miles I very grouchily yelled..ARE YOU GUYS GOING TO WORK OR WHAT! Turns out they were happy to but didn't know how and were trying to stay out of our way. Both first time racers. After we realized this both Kameo and I gave them a quick lesson in pace lining. After approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes of working pretty well together (with no lead group in site) low and behold there were the leaders! I counted all 8 were together (our group had passed 1 dropped rider). They were clearly easing up as they approached the final climb. One of the women in our group gave a great pull and I gave the final one to catch them right before the climb to the finish. Incredibly gratifying to catch them with our "motley crew!" These women had become my sisters! I was dead from my final pull and my legs were dead as doornails on the final climb but I was happy with my 10th place finish within seconds of the winner. Kameo was able to pull off 5th or 6th. One of my sisters crossed the line in front of me and threw up...the other right behind me. This lowest placing ever was my proudest race so far!

Panoche Cat 3/4 1st race with Amy. Best part. Racing with Amy!

Everyone out there knows the worst in an oven is not
fun! Small race is down to 5 after the climb at mile 11. I felt
comfortable on the climb and felt I could respond to anything. Amy,
being a crit. racer was not having a good time but she had made the
first selection. I got everyone to start working together and told Amy
to sit on my wheel and take very short pulls. When it was my pull I
would slow the pace. I knew if she could make the climb she would be
formidable on the way back. She did an incredible job and I had to
tell her after the race I think the "climbing thing" is all in her
head. I started to cramp and really suffer dehydration on the way back with about 18 miles to go. By now we were down to 3. Me, Amy and a Dolce Vita rider I had pegged at the start to be our toughest competition. All she had to do was hit one climb and I would have been toast. It served her well to be with both of us though as we were stuck doing most of the work. When my legs starting cramping I hand signaled to Amy. Me... no! With about 3 miles to go both Amy and Dolce quit coming around. I was committed for the final pull and lead out. After the race Amy admitted, yes, that was the slowest lead out she ever had. I tried my best and, quite frankly, was happy to have survived. Bonus, Amy 2nd and me 3rd. Am I saying this was fun
again? My coworkers think I am ill (with the exception of Datsa...who is married to Vlada!)


Satin Matt said...

Great teamwork & great race reports Michele!

Jim Langley said...

Nice racing and report, Michele. Finishing so strong at Panoche is really impressive. You're awesome!


kimisudsy said...

Congrats! You're such a strong rider, I'm so impressed by your racing, always an inspiration to ride with you. :)