Photo: Peter Kraiker, © studiofstop.com
Another challenging course at Centennial Park that had racers going up and down a ski hill. It was crazy to see the twists and switchbacks that traversed two sections of the hill - very steep ups and downs made for tough racing. Luckily the rain stayed away and the strong winds actually helped to dry up the course. Still muddy but not super slimy mud and generally rideable. We watched the earlier races as the men dismounted to make it up two sections that were too steep and slick. Much to our delight they decided to open up some fresh grass for the Elite races giving us plenty of traction. No puddles also meant we'd stay cleaner. There was also some technical twists on the flats at the bottom of the hill which I always feel super slow through. As we prerode it I was getting dizzy and just hoped I could see straight enough by the end of the race not to ride into the tape!
A bit colder out today though and the stiff head wind had us all shivering on the line as we shed our leg warmers and jackets. I didn't have a great start and was out of the top 10 coming into the barriers. I picked my way through riders as we got to the ski hill and moved into the top 5 as we weaved our way back down the switchbacks. Rebecca, Natasha, and Dawn were ahead of me in a small group as I tried to make it up to them. Dawn fell off and I passed her going up the hill. The long steep section was pretty brutal - you had to stay seated or you risked your back wheel slipping in the muddy grass. I was wishing I had a 34 tooth chainring instead of my 36 and maybe a 27 in back! Natasha then passed Rebecca and I could see that I had a good chance of moving into second place if I could continue to ride hard. The next time up the hill I came around Rebecca and tried to close the gap to Natasha. I was making up ground on her on the hill but she was much faster than me through the technical turns on the flats. Photo: Peter Kraiker, © studiofstop.com
At one point the gap was down to 14 seconds and I was trying to make up the time. Rebecca had fallen behind me by maybe 20 seconds and as we came through on bell lap I knew it would be nearly impossible to make up the ground on Natasha. I tried to focus on riding powerfully and smoothly through the course and hold onto my position. The last time up the hill was rough but I made it and came across the line 30 seconds behind Natasha. Very pleased about the second place finish and making another trip onto the podium.
Photo: Jon SafkaIt was also really nice to ride a clean race in that I never crashed! A bit of a rarity for me in these UCI races and it felt good!
Anna and Kaitie both rode really well and came in 6th and 8th respectively.
Photo: Jon Safka
There was also an overall classification for the race which had a nice payout and my finishes were good enough to put me in 2nd. Thanks to the event organizers for putting on such fun races and having such a great prize purse. All three of us will be leaving with lots of pretty Canadian dollars!
The bikes were mostly clean after the race so we didn't have to go through all the trouble of cleaning them as thoroughly as on Saturday. We loaded the van up and watched the mens race as the rain started to pour down. It only lasted a few minutes but it made the course that much tougher for the guys. They are so fast though and Johnson won by over a minute.
We had a great dinner out with Anne and Malcolm afterward and then came home for the much talked about cupcakes. They were just as good as Anne promised! Thank you both so much for all of your great hospitality all weekend. It was so much fun to hang out with them and to have a cheering squad at the races!
We leave tomorrow morning for the drive back to Wisconsin. It was a great weekend of racing and thanks to Bob at Planet Bike and the other sponsors for making it happen. Next up will be two USGP races in New Jersey this upcoming weekend. Hard to believe there is only a month of racing left in the season before nationals!
Last but not least - Happy Birthday today to my mom! Thanks for putting up with all of my crazy bike racing mom - I love you!