Race Report from Rachel Scott
Hugo Road Race & Uni Hill Criterium
5/14/11 and 5/15/11
SW3-5th place & SW123-5th place
HUGO-Does the sun shine in Colorado? I’m just wondering because I am tired of racing in the wind, snow, sleet and cold temps. In the south, I’d already have a serious farmer’s tan(synonymous with cycling tan) and be sweating in 90 degree temps. But I digress…
My first road race over 55 miles-Hugo. This was to be a 78 mile sufferfest with terrible winds, lackluster scenery, and of course gloomy weather. In attempts to find a carpool with my teammates and fellow racers, all those that I contacted vowed never to do Hugo again. Ignorance is bliss I suppose. Luckily, worked something out with a Rocky Mounts SM3 rider just prior to Jenny contacting me about a carpool.
Hugo, a destination about 2 hours away and resembling Kansas landscapes, had uncharacteristically decent weather(winds only gusting to 17-20 mph and temps in the 40’s with no rain/wintery mix…yet) in comparison to years prior. Before even slipping my kit on, I was ready to be done. Since I’ve been racing most weekends, there’s been little time to get 4+ hour road rides in(with the exception of some mtb rides>4 hours), so I was a wee bit nervous wondering if my legs would cooperate for the miles and hours in the saddle. We’d soon find out!
I lined up with the SW1,2, and 3’s as well as the SW35+ women and the SM55+ men. Very weird that we could work with all of our starters, including the men. This would eventually decide our race. We had about 60 starters, 22 of which were women, for the single-looped road race.
Once the official blew the whistle, I skedaddled up to the front to avoid any mess. I should have stayed there as the pace wasn’t too bad and we had a tailwind(the only tailwind of the day and it certainly didn’t last long enough). After turning the first corner, the pace picked up significantly and then about 8 women took off-me included-and pacelined for about 6 miles until the rest of the field caught us again. I stayed as close to the front as possible but tried to avoid the wind-well, because there were about 40 miles to go. We formed echelons all the way across the road, so clearly the strictly-enforced yellow line rule was tossed out the window.
So I jockeyed near the front and wasted some energy in an attempt not to miss a break. We turned another corner into an intense headwind, and I was sick of working so much. I casually moved to the back after some guys neglected to inform us of some cones coming up (one of which I crunched and the other I had to bunny hop, but kept upright and calm) and that’s of course when it happened. A break went of the front, and I was boxed in. Sh*!. I tried to talk some folks into going with me because some a-holes would get to the front and stop pedaling causing the break to ride off into the wind. I got sick of it, went to the front with another girl, and she and I PULLED about 40 other men into the wind to try to catch this break. Again, stupid mistake because the guys FINALLY decided to pick up the pace and I was maxed out from trying to chase. I was in no-(wo)man’s land-I hate that feeling; however, I managed to get with a good group of the riders that got either spit out the back or came up from behind.
We had about 7 girls who shared very equally in pulls and only 2 guys out of about 7 who would pull with us. I did my fair share of making them feel like wusses for hitching a free ride and not pulling through, especially since we carried them to the line for the last 30+ miles. Who cares if you hurt-we all hurt! Pull or fall off the back until you get a group you can match the pace with. AND DON’T YOU DARE TRY TO OUTSPRINT AT THE 1K MARK IF YOU HAVEN’T DONE A LICK OF WORK! No one likes a wheelsucker. We aren’t even in your category or gender for that matter. I thought this was a gentlemanly sport? I guess you can tell I’m still a little upset about that one.
I cramped at miles 50 and again at 73 or so. I rode through it and lucked out that it didn’t keep me from turning the pedals. Once we got close to the line, I went for the sprint but was in a bad place and couldn’t come around Susan from ProDesign. She had a great sprint considering all the miles we had just pulled together chasing the lead group.
So my first, and more than likely last Hugo experience. Oh well, you have to do it at least once. I nabbed 5th for the day and managed to not get race gut-a small victory in and of itself.
Stats: 20 mph average
Distance: 78 miles
Starters: 58(11 in my category)
Winnings: no race gut
Points: 2 points towards 2 upgrade and BAR Points but unsure just how many.
UNI HILL-Rain. Dad-blasted rain and near-freezing temps. I’ve raced several crits in the rain, but I’d prefer temps and conditions to be pristine, especially on a technical course simply for safety reasons. Though I’ve never gone down in the rain(only on a pristine day actually), I’ve seen countless others wipe out.
I carpooled out there with our talented photographer Chris Case-who placed 9th in the P1/2 race. I met Joan and Vera and promptly registered, pinned and set up the trainers. Talked strategy briefly, but with the strong field present, it would make for an interesting day of racing regardless of plans. Plus the course was still a little damp, had nearly 8% grades for half of it and bombing downhills into some corners filled with man holes. We prerode a couple laps and despite not being able to get my heartrate up on the trainer, it spiked just doing 1 lap on the crit course. Good gravy.
So lined up behind the 2 pro Map My Ride girls and again just hoped more for safety than a placing. With the whistle, I clipped in quickly and took off hard for the hill. I was sitting 5th or 6th wheel and hung there until the 2 Map My Ride girls rode off into the sunset never to be seen again. I pulled a little too much in the first 10 minutes trying futilely to chase. It hurt like hell, but I always want to die in the first 20 minutes of a crit.
Finally settling in, Therese of ProDesign was in between the 2 leaders and our chase group. She eventually got in with our group of 4 girls and we took turns through the corners and hills. Amber from GS/Boulder caught on too and I have no idea how she pulled through by herself. Man, I wish I could TT like that.
Anyways, continued in the same manner until a rotting, massive tree branch hit the course almost crushing Vera! Very weird hearing it crash and watching it splinter. A few of us girls managed a nervous laugh through gritting teeth. It must have been an omen because Therese hit the deck along with two riders in front of me shortly after in a corner after a descent. I skid around narrowly missing the crash with Vera screaming at me to “Go, Go, GO-move Rachel!” Which helped considering I had to chase my arse off to catch the 3 girls in front of me up that stupid hill with images of that crash burned into my brain.
Finally caught up after a couple of laps and sure enough, as soon as I did, another girl in front of me who I had been trading leading the descents with nailed a curb (not sure what happened because she seemed more technically sound than most), and I could hear nothing but bloodcurdling screams for the next 3 laps. Her kit was ripped from her body, she was holding her arm as if she broke her clavicle, and her face was bloody from faceplanting into the curb. Again, very lucky to have missed that crash but it definitely affected my performance as I took the corners a little bit slower, thus making me lose the 2 other girls in our group.
Coming into the last lap, I managed to outsprint another rider for 5th place(who also did Hugo the day before) and won literally by throwing my bike at the line…barely.
It was a fun race and confirmed that while I still get uber nervous for crits, I truly love that style of racing, especially more so than road races. Celebrated post race with Vera, her BF Patrick, Jeff whom I had carpooled with the day prior and surprised me at the race, Alec of Big Ring, Illegal Pete’s baby-sized burritos and the impressive P1/2 race.
Stats: 18.04 mph average
Distance: 15 miles
Points: 2 points towards 2 upgrade and BAR Points but unsure just how many. Only 1 point away from a Cat 2 woot-woot!