King’s Valley – Race report
The Willamette crew went up to Kings Valley for the 50 something mile road race on Saturday. The day was wonderfully warm (it hit 80 when we were finishing) so get this – no arm warmers! Our pasty little arms were all out!
The Poplollies had a fabulous race. Kori finished 2nd and Christi 5th in a long, uphill sprint finish. YES!!! Michele and I technically finished in the main first pack, though we got quite strung out over the last 200m. I was 13th and Michele 15th. Tara, who would have been right with us, got picked off on the 2nd lap by another rider. She is recovering nicely, though has many black and blues and some road rash on those pasty arms that saw the sun (and the road) for the first time this year yesterday! The field was 52 women strong, with all categories together. The pace was surging, with accelerations on the uphills, some attacks, but nothing organized or strong enough to stick. So, we were a pulsing and surging pack of racers with some sketchy moments and the crash Tara was taken down in. Congratulations again to Kori and Christi for great efforts throughout the race, and especially at the end to contend the finish sprint! Way to go Poplollies!
Banana Belt #1 – Race report
Getting up at 5AM on Sunday creates a special kind of day. Ours started very foggy and cold, but Doug promised it would be sunny at the start. How does he know these things?
We left just 15 minutes later than we had planned. Getting 4 bikes and 4 wheels on top of the car, even when you practiced the night before, takes time at 5:30 am in the cold fog. Ask Doug about that. We made good time to Hagg Lake, to find it sunny and cool and meet about 60 people waiting in line to register. No exaggeration here. They started all races about 25 minutes late, and almost no one got more than a 5 minute warm up around the parking lot. This is not good for the nerves of pre- 40 year olds who take about their age in minutes to warm up. Kori got a flat in the parking lot before the start, with a tire issue, so we had to find the wheel car to get a wheel for her before the race even started! Things were a little hectic to say the least. (Ok, note to self. Leave earlier and pre-register online.) Thanks to Doug for getting our bikes off the car, put together, tire pressures checked, brakes checked, computers checked, trainers set up (but went unused), bags by each of our bikes. I am thinking that he must be studying pit crew process for women’s cycling. He really had it dialed in for us! He hates to make a box lunch, but he can set up a whole Poplollie team to race! Incredible!
Luckily the first lap served as a warm up at a moderate pace. Somewhere in the 2nd lap Kori went AWOL from the pack. We learned after the race that the pit wheel she got was not working properly, so she limped back to the start line and had to abandon the race. There was one big exceleration/ break attempt in lap 2 on a long hill that Michele and I both hung onto somehow, but it did drop about a 3rd of our group. We both expected the attacks to continue, but they did not. We recovered and hung in. We expected the same type of attack on the last uphill mile to the finish, but it never came. Our little peloton electrified over those last 4 miles, steadily increasing in speed,, but there were no all out attacks. Michele and I found ourselves in good position going over the last hill to the slight downhill finish. A little shocked, we both just turned it on and sprinted to stellar 3rd and 6th place finishes. Go Poplollies Go! We were the only team with 2 people in the top 10. Yeah team!
Sarah has a stellar race as well. After running 18 miles on Saturday for marathon training, she was politely asking questions about what happens when you get dropped. We told her she won’t find out, (we just knew), but did explain what we knew about the process. She started maybe 5 minutes after us in a large field of 4’s and Masters. She rode in the front quarter of her group for the whole race, climbing very strongly and taking in all the sights and sounds of her first road race. She helped lead the peloton up the hills, but got passed on the downhills. We are going to help her with that! A slight downhill sprint finish did not serve her well, so she was bumped back to 11th. Another excellent ride and race, and another great placing for the Poplollies!
As some of you might know, I asked Norman to help me create a training plan for the 6 weeks leading up to the Willamette stage race. Thus, last Tuesday night in the barn he informed me that he would like for me to ride 2 extra laps after the race on Sunday. Now I asked for this, so even though I was a little stunned, I had heard about this type of thing happening. You ask the coach for advice and a plan, they give it to you, then you are not sure you should have asked? Anyway, I sort of tried to get out of it by carpooling to the race, but then Norman got to Sarah and Michele and convinced them to join me! So after our race, still full of adrenaline, we took off our numbers, refilled our water bottles, took food in our shirts and headed back out to do 2 more laps. INSANE you think. Well, yes, it was insane. (But it was sunny!) The cool thing was that we saw several other groups out doing the same thing, so we felt like we were working under the guidance of an excellent coach, that really knows what he is doing, who wants us to be as successful as we can be. So many thanks to Norman! We are listening to you, learning from you, and hope to race really fast at Willamette for you. We still think you are insane, but we are listening anyway.
Hope you enjoyed the story. It was a long and tiring day, but wonderful. It was sunny. We met new women racers from other teams, they were all so nice! And we had fun.