Race Report from Rachel Scott
Superior Morgul Classic Crit and Road Race
5/28/11 and 5/29/11
SW 3- 1st place and SW3-2nd place
CRIT-Let me preface this post by saying this: I have the most selfless teammates ever. From Vera giving me her gloves in the snow for the Cherry Creek Time Trial to all our ladies coming together for our Ride for Reading event to this epic race-which I’ll go into detail later about Joan saving my race-our women are top-notch on or off the bike. I truly mean that and am so thankful to be on this team…
So for those reading this post that aren’t aware of this course or have yet to see American Flyers, here’s the synopsis from the website:
The Superior Morgul Classic is two days of bike racing culminating with the historic Morgul-Bismarck road race. The Morgul-Bismarck is a well known 13 mile loop that was originally featured as part of the Red Zinger and then the Coors Classic in the seventies and eighties. This well loved and respected course is a favorite of local riders and will be featured in the Omnium for regional, national and international riders to experience.
This was a must on my calendar to earn some upgrade points since scoring the women separately, not to mention getting a discounted entry via the Handlebargains deal the month prior. Beginning with Saturday’s crit, I had no idea how many(or few) Cat 3 women would show up. As usual, our field was combined with the SW1/2 women with several big players including Cari Higgins of PB & Co.Twenty12, the MapMyRide.com/Primal pro team and several other strong staples in the CO racing scene-which is pretty much everyone. I wasn’t feeling the greatest having had only 3 or so spotty hours of sleep the night before and general fatigue from an insanely busy work/social week. Rolled up two hours prior and completed my typical race prep routine: get registered, grab safety pins and hunt out an innocent bystander to pin my skinsuit, eat a banana, and pee at least 5 times prior to my warm up. I found Berta and Kat of RockyMounts and warmed up with them, moaning incessantly about my prerace nerves and asking myself rhetorical questions as to why I race each and every weekend if I get such anxiety. I’m sure I was pretty annoying but they seemed to tolerate me.
Determined to get a great spot considering I’ve started 3rd row in each of my 123 crits, and of course, missed the group coming around and lined up in the 3rd row…again. Starting on a hill, this would be interesting to see how quickly the ladies in front would clip in to give me a halfway decent start. Not the best, but I grabbed a good wheel and slowly navigated up near the front. Clearly not soon enough because before I could even catch my breath from the first few laps, a break had formed off the front of 3 never to be seen again. WTF?
So instead of chasing using (wo)manpower from the bigger teams present, with the exception of a few good attacks thrown in there, the pace didn’t pick up as much as the previous week’s Sonic Boom. I know this to be true because I actually spent some time up front instead of sucking wheel. I also didn’t burst any blood vessels in my eyes this week or suffer from incredible ‘track hack’ as Vera puts it.
The course started you on an uphill, which is the same one we finished on, and through a series of what appeared to be a giant S of driveways and alleyways through a neighborhood into a bombing descent out of a right-hand turn into a right-hand turn up the hill to the finish. Fun course, not too technical, nor too flat either. A little bit for every strength. There were some sprint, QOM points and cash thrown in for primes, which I didn’t focus on due to the fact I wanted to podium to get my upgrade(which I didn’t get points for my USAC races dadgumit!).
So when it came down to the final three laps, I made sure I conserved and moved up on the downhill and in the corners where I felt comfortable. Coming into the last sprint, I really just needed to make sure I was the first Cat 3, so I went for a l-o-n-g sprint and came out 9th overall of the 23 starters and 1st Cat 3. I was happy with my placing considering all the 1’s and 2’s in my field. Joan also helped by keeping me out of the wind and surfing through the crowd to get me a good placing.
Place: 1st in my cat(9th overall)
Starters: 23(4 in my category)
Winnings: $65, 5 extra sprint points for the omnium and the race leader’s pink jersey
Points: BIG FAT ZERO considering we were one girl shy of having a large enough field to earn some points.
ROAD RACE-I’m still unsure whether to be happy or upset with my performance. But the focus for this race shouldn’t be on my performance, rather my teammate’s incredible knack for putting other’s first. Joan and I lined up together since they were starting our group of six Cat 3’s with the 1/2’s again. Some girls came out with fresh legs, but all in all, it was the same key women who dominated the day prior.
The 13.3 mile loop has 750 vertical feet of elevation gain with significant grades and the finish at the top of the ‘Wall’(which we actually did 5 times) for 4 laps. This was the first warm day of the year, and I paid dearly for it despite my southern blood. The day before, I was exhausted from the effort and lack of sleep, not to mention running a few errands post race. I didn’t really rehydrate at all nor eat anything significant for dinner-just wasn’t hungry and simply too tired to eat. NEVER again. It’s much better to force something, anything down than to experience the pain of leg cramps.
We started out and I wanted to stay near the front for the wall. I made it up with the first group with all of us still together. I pulled probably a little too much and the sun started to burn the clouds away. After feeling pretty comfortable on that first lap, we hit the hump and then came up to the wall again. This time, things started to shake up a bit. Three girls broke off the front and a chase group comprised of some super strong 1/2’s and me the lone 3. Joan wasn’t there, and I was shocked. She’s a helluva better climber than I am. My group worked together but not harder than the three girls in front of us apparently because their gap grew, and we were caught by a few other stragglers on the descent before the hump. Luckily, Joan was there but so were a couple of strong girls in my category.
Lap 3-that’s when things started falling apart. My cleat was loose on my right foot and I overcompensated with my left leg to keep from pulling my shoe from my pedal. That combined with the heat and lack of hydration, my legs started to disintegrate. It started with my left calf and then spread to my left hamstring. I had hoped it would go away after the wall, which I fell back on and luckily Joan waited to pull me up to the group. I told her that I didn’t think I could finish and she would have none of it. If I just simply finished, I was in the money. I didn’t want to look like a loser, failure, or anything of the sort, especially since I’ve never had a DNF not to mention how embarrassing would that be in the freakin’ leader’s jersey!?
She kept telling me to sit in and hydrate, which I began to do and shove Powerbar gels in my mouth. The pain never went away as it usually does and eventually migrated to my right hamstring and quad. Crap. My pedal stroke was completely unpredictable and cornering was ridiculous with my quads locking up each time I put weight on a leg. But Joan was there and wouldn’t let me quit.
Round 4 up that stupid wall. I cracked. Joan saw it. And while she had the legs to keep going, she didn’t. She waited for me and PUSHED ME UP THE WALL. Literally. Not only that, once over the punchy hill, I thought the group was gone. They looked so far away and my legs were toast. Joan told me to eat and sit on her wheel. She pulled hard and I could barely hang on. We ended up catching Anne who was just off the back of the main group. They were in our sights and with Anne’s descending skills and Joan’s strong pulls, we were able to catch up to the group coming into the hump. Joan also grabbed a powerade for me in the neutral feed because I could only grab a water with my placement. Shortly after the feedzone, that’s when we dropped the other Cat 3, and I managed to stay with the group coming into the last climb. I knew I’d fall back but I was there and was nearly done. I told Joan she better go if she had the legs after hauling my lame ass around, and she made her way up the front. And then Joan did what she does best(on the road that is), and hit the wall hard. She held onto it too and got a 5th place finish in the P1/2 field!! I could see Amber, the only other Cat 3 in the field, looking back at me and realizing she had the V, so she fell back a bit too. I limped in about 1 minute behind the field and my legs immediately seized. I have ridden through cramps but never for over an hour and a half at the speeds that we did. This would NOT have been possible had Joan not been there. I would have had to pull out or finish at minimum 1 hour back assuming I could even finish.
I still am in awe with how selfless Joan was to potentially sacrifice her race to help me finish and accomplish my goals. That’s what teammates are for and I cannot wait to cat up and help her in upcoming races(assuming I’m strong enough to do so). I can think of no one else more deserving of praise than Joan that day. She had an incredible race. I on the other hand, after drinking 3 large electrolyte recovery Powerbar beverages, 3 bottles on the bike, a 32 oz nalgene, a Mix1, and three beers, I peed once following the race. Clearly dehydrated, and probably not smart drinking those beers or going for a 3 hour mountain bike ride the next day. But you live and learn. Next time, my nutrition will be much better and I’ll get that wall next year! I just hope it’s me leading Joan out for a big V!
Stats: 19.02 mph average
Distance: 53.5 miles
Place: 2nd in my cat(16th overall)
Starters: 23(6 in my category)
Winnings: $75, $90 for the omnium(if I got 1st, still not posted)
Points: 2 points towards 2 upgrade and BAR Points but unsure just how many