Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Joe Martin Stage Race

Sorry for the delay in getting any race updates here. I sort of took a break from the internet during the race and didn't get a chance to write up any entries.

I absolutely love this race every year and was really looking forward to this year's sure to be fast edition. Therefore on the drive down I was a little upset with my scratchy throat and congested head. I pretty much started to lose my voice on Wednesday and was popping Zicam and drinking tons of water to try to prevent myself from getting any worse. Darn it - haven't been sick all year! :(

We had a great group put together for this race - Catherine, Christy, Denise, Jess, Kat, Krystal, Silke, and myself. We all had fabulous host housing arranged while we were in Fayetteville and I stayed with Marion and Carolyn again this year. These two seriously win an award for coolest, most generous hosts ever.

They stocked the house with so much amazing food and cooked up so many incredible meals for us - quality calorie replacement wasn't an issue at this stage race! Plus they have the two sweetest Daschunds I've ever met - Samantha and Sally - here they are tuckered out from a long day of cheerleading.

So . . . to the race report.

This race starts out with a 2.5 mile uphill time trial. With the talented field this year we all knew that time cuts were a possibility. We didn't really expect this year's winning time to be nearly a minute faster than last year's though. Team Type 1's Allison Powers rode an up the climb in an amazing 9:37 which made anyone above 12:02 face the cut. Unfortunately 13 girls were cut including Catherine, Christy, and Jess. It's really too bad that all these girls paid the entry and traveled so far to race their bikes only 2.5 miles. I'm not sure the race was made any "safer" by cutting these riders. Hopefully next year this stage is a prologue and a time cut isn't enforced.

I managed an 11:16 on the course and given how stuffed up I was and the difficulty I had breathing I was happy enough with my time. Four seconds faster than I rode last year and it put me in 41st on the stage. Denise was our top finisher with a fast 10:48. full results here

Friday was a 64 mile road race that included 25 miles of rolling hills before the main 10 mile climb (although it wasn't all entirely up). I was feeling better than Thursday but my head was still congested and I knew that I likely wouldn't be able to stick with the lead group up that climb. I was popped 8 miles in and got into a group of about 15 riders. We were pretty disorganized at first but finally got into a good paceline and ended up finishing just under 5 minutes behind the lead group of 30 riders. Both Silke and Denise were in that lead group and finished 20 and 22. Results

We were treated to a fabulous team dinner by Marion and Carolyn on Friday night - here's the chef hard at work. It was so much fun to all get together and hang out at their house. The fajitas were amazing - I need that recipe for your pork Marion! After dinner we all crashed on the couches and enjoyed some Food Network programming. And what Kenda dinner would be complete without one of Kat's amazing cookies! :)

Saturday was another road race - 70 miles. The clouds rolled in as we got ready in the parking lot and we all prepared for a wet race. About 5 miles in the drops started falling steadily. The race was pretty aggressive and lots of attacks were flying. I had good positioning and was playing around at the front of the race when I heard on the race radio at mile 25 that Denise had a flat tire. Before this race Denise was 20th GC, Silke 32nd, and I was back at 43rd. It was important to keep Denise up in the group so I dropped back to try to help her. Kat also did the same but the group wasn't slowing down any and it took a bit of time to get the flat changed. We could see the caravan up ahead and we worked to try to get back to the main group but they kept slipping further away. We were at a minute back for several miles and then slowly the gap opened. The three of us and a Veloforma rider pacelined knowing that it would take a miracle for us to catch back on and instead we had to focus on making the timecut and getting to race on Sunday. We rode pretty well together and kept the pace high. When we were 10 miles from the finish the moto told us we were 9 minutes back - I knew we were safe as the cut was likely to be about 20 minutes. A very frustrating day for us all - 45 miles of riding with just the four of us and we finished 11 minutes down on the field. Bad luck but a good team effort. Silke was riding well and even took a solo flyer near the end of the race but finished in the main group. Results

Sunday was the crit - a technical 8 corner course with a climb at the finish and a fast cobbled descent every lap. Generally the pack splinters pretty quickly in this race and the main field is fairly small. The rain started about an hour before our race. Ick - not a fun course in the rain. Luckily it stopped raining about 20 minutes before our race but the roads were still a bit wet. After a false start and a "practice" lap we were off and the pace was fast. Positioning was key and I was doing alright but had a hard time getting up to the front third of the field. After 20 minutes I was popped from the main group and joined a chase group that included Kat and a few other riders. We continued to ride and ended up being pulled with 5 laps to go and finished 4 minutes back of the leaders. The main group shrunk to only 25 riders and Denise rode like a rock star on a neutral bike and finished 17th. She went down in a weird crash off the line and rode the entire race on a bike that wasn't hers - nice work! results

All in all a really fun experience for the team despite some bad luck. I was pretty frustrated by my cold too and hope to knock it out of my system and be back at full health soon. Thanks to Paul and Mike for all of their help in the team car and getting the bikes all ready for us everyday.
Mike always "loves" the rainy days when he gets to go through and clean the bikes!

And another huge thank you to all of our wonderful host families - especially Marion and Carolyn. They were such a huge help in transporting us to races, helping us set up our team area before and after the races . . . and did I mention the food!? :)

Next up is some Wisconsin racing this weekend with a local road race on Saturday and a crit around the Capital Square in Madison on Sunday. Should be fun - thanks for checking in!

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