What a weekend! Headed down to Iowa City for a great couple days of racing. I've been looking forward to these races for awhile. I did them last year and they were so much fun - a great 52 mile road race on Saturday and a fun criterium in the downtown with a wicked scary fast corner at the bottom of a hill followed by a short kicker uphill on the next corner. Lots of crazy/exciting/scary things happened this weekend. Let's start at the beginning. BEWARE - this is going to be long.
Saturday morning Monique and I made the three hour drive in the rain to the road race. Somehow the rain let up as we got closer to Iowa City and the cool and windy conditions were certainly better without the precipitation. We had a great team for this race. Catherine came over from Kansas, Jess from IL, and then Mo, Jill and I from Madison. A solid field of 25 riders with Team BH and ISCorp being the other largest teams with 3 riders each. We wanted to be aggressive and try to get a break off. On the first of our 4 laps the fun began as we began to attack. The field had many strong solo riders in addition to the teams and nothing was sticking for very long. It wasn't for our lack of trying! I am so proud of how every single Kenda rider raced. One would attack and a break would last for a bit or things would be strung out and once we were back together another teammate would launch. It was so much fun! Near the end of the first lap Mo had just attacked and once things were back together I went off the front with Jill on my wheel. We had a gap and worked it for a couple minutes before we were sucked back in by the field. I didn't see Mo after that and didn't realize she had slid out on a tough off camber corner while Jill and I were off the front. Bad news.
The remainder of the race consisted of the four of us consistently trying to get a move to stick. There were many small breaks and even some valiant solo efforts by both Jill and Jess. Catherine was involved in so many moves off the front - her tough perserverance is amazing! At one point I was in a break with Kaitie from ISCorp on the last lap and I thought we were going to hold it. Five minutes later we were back to the whittled away group of maybe 17 riders. I began to wonder if all of our attacking was just a waste of our energy as we were all pretty tired. I was just hoping that everyone else was pretty tired too!
As we got down to the final miles things started to bunch up. I was not feeling very snappy and decided I could be of the most use by going to the front and trying to string things out a bit for the other girls. I got up there and sort of felt like I was going in slow motion but I think I at least disrupted some of the other teams plans and brought the pace up. As the line approached Jill attacked on the right with another rider on her wheel. With the line still probably 200m off she couldn't hold it and the swarm of riders came around her and Catherine popped out to take the win ahead of ABD's Jessie Prinner! What a race!
We had so much fun racing as a team and to get the win was a huge accomplishment for us. Catherine is so strong and is such a smart racer - it was excellent for her to come across the line first. Every one of us raced so aggressively and well together. It was great to feel like we really controlled the race even though our plan to get a break off just didn't come to fruition. Great team chemistry and a hard race and it was nice to hear positive feedback from other riders in the field. Jill rolled across in 10th, Jess 11th, and I watched in all unfold and finished 16th ;)
Soooo . . . after the finish we see Mo in street clothes and it looks like she's got an ice pack on her hip underneath her pants. Not an ice pack. Mo landed so hard on her upper thigh that a humongous hematoma was starting to form . . . and it kept getting bigger. We've all landed on our hip before and gotten road rash but this was different - it looked like Mo's leg was going to give birth -
We cleaned up ASAP and asked a local rider who is also a med student where the best ER was and off we went. Jess and I sat with Mo at the University of Iowa Hospital as various nurses and doctors came to marvel at the growth which was now nearly the size of a football.
After the head of trauma surgery saw it things got a little more serious and immediate surgery was necessary to keep the incredibly stretched skin from dying. Within 20 minutes she was in surgery for "hematoma evacuation". Basically an artery kept bleeding inside her leg and a huge mass developed. They needed to remove the somewhat coagulated blood by making a small incision rather than just administering a local anesthetic. She would only be out for about an hour but it was critical that they do it immediately to prevent her from needing a skin graft. Needless to say it was a long day. Everything went well with the surgery but Mo would have to stay in the hospital for monitoring until Monday. Immediately post race she was hoping to race the next day - now she was in the hospital being told to stay off the bike for a month. She's a trooper though and she's going to recover and be back attacking for us soon enough.
Wow - how scary is that?! We crash so often and get hematomas on our hips - this was just a fluke accident and things got out of control. Excellent medical care from the hospital though and we were fortunate to be so close to the University Hospital rather than out in the middle of rural farmland.
So Sunday's race we were down a rider but more determined than ever to have a great race for Mo. Scattered storms were forecast for the day and a light rain fell about 2 hours before our race. There's a scary fast corner at the bottom of a steep little hill with about 5 spray painted "avoid" potholes/cracks and in the wet conditions some riders were sliding out in earlier races. Luckily things were drying up for our race but safety was on all of our minds.
After 2 laps of riding the course at a steady pace and making it through safely I decided it was time to play. On the third lap I attacked on the uphill and was solo for maybe a lap when I saw two riders coming up on me. Kim Eppen from Mercy and my superwoman teammate Catherine. Perfect. We began to work together and I saw the field maybe 15 seconds behind us. We were going to have to work hard for a few laps here if we were to solidify our gap. We worked well together and soon the group was no longer in sight. Catherine urged me to try to get the win today and to attack at the end of the race.
Thanks to Robin for the picture!
With about 6 laps to go we saw the group ahead of us and we soon lapped back in the field. There was a bit of confusion about whether anyone was off the front of that group and whether the main field could work with us. By 4 laps to go we confirmed that we were all just one big group and we could utilize the help of our teammates in the main pack.
Jill and Jess played things perfectly. I told Jill to attack on the hill at 2 to go and that I would be on her wheel and go with her. My hope was to ensure the win for us and also place another rider in the top 5. Jess strung things out before we got to the hill and then Jill went and I desperately tried to stick to her wheel. She turned the gas on and we had a big gap. I asked her to just push through a few more corners and then I came around to give her a break. Up the hill again we needed to keep the pace up but I knew our gap was good. Jill crossed the line ahead of me to take 4th and I got the win. As we expected and hoped Catherine crossed the line ahead of Kim to take 2nd. And Jess snagged 10th!
Another fantastic day for Team Kenda! We had so much fun racing together and to see the execution of our tactics play out was phenomenal. Everyone played their role so well and to get 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 10th was better than we had hoped. What a great weekend of racing!
And I won some flowers for Mo! We called her immediately after the race with a report and the good news. I'm actually writing this entry from the hospital visitor computer lab! It's Monday morning and we hope to hit the road in a few hours and make it back to Madison this afternoon. Thanks so much to Mercy rider Robin for letting me crash at her place last night!! Also thanks to Mark and everyone else for putting on a weekend of great racing. I always look forward to coming to Iowa City to race.
A pretty crazy weekend - a little bit of everything! The team chemistry is so great this year and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season. Some more local races in Wisconsin this weekend before I head to Arkansas for my first NRC stage race of the year - Joe Martin - the following Wednesday. It's going to be a tough race but we've got a great group together for it and I'm so excited for the event.
Thanks so much for stopping by and check back for pictures on Tuesday once I make it home and download them!