Friday, May 13, 2011

Wente RR, PG&E Crit, Berkeley RR

Wente Road Race

Michele Heaton


Thursday night before this race I got sick with some kind of intestinal bug. Downing pepto bismol and electrolyte drinks the night before didn’t have me real confident it was going to be my day. When I woke up it seemed I was better, just worked over and surely dehydrated. The wind was whipping around in Santa Cruz and it was hard to fathom what that meant for the race, as it’s always windy there even if it’s calm here. Amy and I were sure not to call each other as we probably would have decided against going.

At the start line I counted 18 women, several of which I knew to be very strong climbers. I sat around 5th wheel and as we came around the turn before the climb there she went (winner.) I got on her wheel for a short while as everyone began to gap behind me. One of her team mates came up, I fell back to the others, and basically that was the race. Those 2 got away and won. Only lots more happened in between and it would have probably been a different race had there not been a terrible crash.

I got dropped on the climb, I caught back on, I got dropped again. I was just behind the shattered group when I came into the “hay bale” corner. A guy was frantically motioning me to slow down. Coming around the corner I see a sickening sight. Laurie Furman, a very experienced Cat 1 and former NRC racer was motionless on the ground at the last hay bale. I slowed and asked myself whether I should stop? Immediately I see 2 of her team mates stop and another turn around. I know there is nothing I can do and she will soon have 4 team mates with her. I made a mental note that I really like these Sycomp women.They all stopped for their team mate. Personally I think the most horrifying thing would be to have a serious crash and be LEFT ALONE. I keep riding, very distressed, asking myself if I want to continue. As I hear the ambulance coming I think about how much I hate this part of racing. I catch up to 2 Velo Bella riders ahead of me. They eventually drop me and up the road there were the 2 leaders, a gap, chase group of 3, 1 rider that joined the 2 ahead of me, me solo and the rest behind. So for 1 1/4 laps I road solo, having that familiar mental battle with myself, “do I want to continue? Maybe I will feel better tomorrow and can ride hard then instead?”

I told myself it’s good mental excersize to carry on and finish through the obstacles because we often want to quit in a race. Just do it. As I came around to the hay bale corner on the 2nd lap there was a fire truck at the top of the hill and many races had been stopped altogether. I saw my group a few riders up and rode up to those 6 women. We were stopped for about 15 minutes as they had air lifted Laurie. The whole thing sickened me. When they let us go again they gave 2 minutes to the first 2 and 30 seconds to a group of 3 in front of us. They didn’t ask for a gap from me, which I thoroughly appreciated as I was just interested in riding with others at this point. I assured those 4 I would not try to take a place from any of them. I decided to work for Amy to help her get a better place since it wouldn’t be right to try and beat any of the women in front of me. So I helped catch the 3 in front by 30 seconds, then one of them overlapped a wheel and went off the road (but was o.k.) I kept telling Amy to sit in and save her energy but she was a crappy listener so at about the start area I just went to the front and did my last effort with a huge pull to the final corner (dropped 1.) I pulled over and wished them all well as I limped up the final climb for 8th place. This race was not my shining moment but I was glad to finish and glad to try to help Amy at the end. She had a great race and got to cross that race off her bucket list in style!

It turned out Laurie fractured C6 and C7, her scapula and several ribs. She is going to be o.k. but obviously has a long road of healing to get back. These crashes stay with me for quite some time. I don’t take this part of our sport lightly.

Tri Valley Velo Crit.



My 5th Crit. and first time racing the Open Pro123 category. I have a lot to learn about criterium racing. I really like the non stop action and top end efforts. I’m tentative being close to other riders in corners and sandwiched in packs. Of course I create a lot of work for myself staying at the back and away from wheels that don’t seem solid, especially in windy races like this one. This is obviously not an efficient way to race, but I didn’t want to create trouble or gaps for those behind me. I prefer to stay back while I am learning the ropes. I had to expend a great deal of energy to move up from the back after the corners and close gaps from dropped riders. The longer the race went on the more comfortable I got, so I know I have it in me! Amy and a few others worked hard attacking etc. making the race tough. The first 10 minutes I was really suffering but I felt better as the race went on. With about 5 laps remaining a Dolce rider had a pretty good gap to the group and it looked as if she might make it. Amy did some serious work to bring her back with less than 1 lap to go. We were flying. The race was 60 minutes of pretty constant attacks, hard enough that about 6 women were dropped pretty early and more on the final lap. I was happy to finish with the final group, albeit last of those, 8th out of a field of 18. I enjoyed watching the winner Mary Maroon power away from all of us in the finish. Impressive!!

Berkeley Hills RR



What a grueling race! In an adrenaline rush moment after the Sat. Crit. I talked Amy into this climbing race. I had decided not to do it since I had no one to race with, but a rider from another team I really like was going so I thought, why not? Although I wouldn’t be “fresh” I wanted the race experience.

We weren’t even to the parking lot before Amy was cursing at me when she became aware of the “hilliness” of the area. She said it’s been nice but I was officially no longer her friend.
We definitely were a little crazy to attempt this one after a challenging 60 min. all out effort the day before. I wouldn’t recommend this for those of us no longer in our 20s! As it turned out I had fun and was glad I did the race. The first time on the main climb we lost 10 riders. I was the 10th up the climb, off the back and just barely able to fight my way back. Before the turn into the headwind several riders had also fought their way back bringing us to 14. Next time up the climbs pretty much same thing. I just didn’t quite have the kick to stay with the leaders, chased back with the help of one awesome descender I was working with. Final section of slight rolling uphill I had the notion to go but didn’t. My legs were starting to cramp but I knew it was unlikely I would beat many of the 13 remainders up the final climb (after 2 times up, the writing was on the wall.) As it went I didn’t go but someone else did, and she won! It was a smart move. Too much hesitation from the group, no united chase, good for her. I almost went with her move too. Shoulda woulda coulda. I cramped on the final climbs and limped to the finish, 2nd to last of the lead group (12th.) Although I’m mad I didn’t go with that inner voice I was glad I did the race for a few reasons. I like racing with the Master’s women and was happy to finish with the lead group in a race that is really suited more towards a pure climber. I like getting the experience, getting to know my competitors and seeing what I need to work on. I got to experience a much different feeling descending as Steve had removed one of my spacers and my bike felt SO MUCH MORE STABLE! I couldn’t believe the difference. My bike didn’t wobble in the front wheel. Oh yeah, last year I suffered leg cramps the entire last lap. This year only the finishing climbs. Yeah!! I am improving on some things.

1 comment:

Jim Langley said...

Nice job out there, Michele. Those are tough races and you did great. Way to go!