Nutmeg Classic Crit - Women's Report 6-21
Nutmeg Classic Crit:
Women 30+/ 14 starters
Rebecca Wellons – 1st
Susanne Delaney – 4th
Loraine Warner – 11th
Kristen Neagle – 13th
I had planned to be smart about this race, being that the field was stacked with people like our very own Rebecca Wellons and Susanne Delaney and since I had a cat 4 race later in the day (my first time racing 2 in 1 day). So I figured I would sit in and just try to stay with the pack for a pack finish. Instead I was a complete moron at about lap 3 when the pace was pretty mild. Some stupid neuron in my brain fired and said, “hey, things are pretty boring here, how about I attack?”. So I did, without much success except to speed things up. Then Susanne, I believe, counter-attacked, and I held on for maybe another lap or two, but trouble was ahead since the pace didn’t slow and I desperately needed to recover. Sadly I fell off the back and about 1 lap before the finish, I got lapped. So I suspect that the results on bikereg are incorrect, most likely I finished last. Lesson learned, stick with the plan for these kinds of races.
Women 40+/ 18 starters
Katherine Snell – 6th
Cathy Rowell – 7th
Kathy Martin – 14th
Annette Kennedy – 15th
Julie Lockhart – 18th
After learning at Cyclonauts and Hartford that being on the front in a crit can be a bad thing, I went into this race with the simple strategy of hanging in the middle of the pack watching the wheels I knew would be the competition. At the risk of getting called a wheelsucker, or worse, I planned to save my energy until I really needed it. I would then try to catch any breaks that went off and work with them to get ahead of the pack. That turned out to be a good strategy for the day as I wasn’t feeling as strong as usual. We were started with a 1 minute gap between us and the 30+, mostly Cat 1&2 field. After a few laps, Cathy Rowell launched an attack and I went with her but we were pulled in before we could get anything going. There were a couple attacks that ended similarly. The race slowed a bit during the last few laps with Cathy stuck on the front (like I was at Cyclonauts) and then the USI gals launched an obviously planned attack on the climb of the last lap. A bunch of us went with them but they were able to make it stick through the sprint to the finish (they finished 1st and 4th). I managed to keep my sprint up to get past Cathy and a few other gals to finish 6th.
I was supposed to be resting this week, but wasn’t doing a very good job of it ;). I figured that a 10 mile race couldn’t possibly be that hard, right? Unfortunately, according to my stats, I spent 11 out of 26 minutes in my anerobic zone, and the remainder at LT! Maybe if I hadn’t been pulling so much????
Before the race, I convinced myself that I could TT the whole course. So, on the whistle, I attacked. Unfortunately, there were a lot of strong women in the field, none of whom were letting me away with that tactic. It’s also not a technical enough course for that, I learned. So, for the first few laps, I did the standard pull everyone around…
About halfway through, the prime bell rang. Annette rode up next to me and told me to take her in for the money. I had to reply that she needed to get ON my wheel vs. beside it for that to work (in fact, I think I may have called her a ding-dong!). So, I put my head down and went, figuring I would go as far as I could and then she was on her own. Unfortunately, the one time I did manage to look over my shoulder, Annette wasn’t on my wheel. We tried, though!
I did rotate through a few times to catch some rest, but found myself back on the front with just 1.5 laps left to go. As we went into the uphill (where I was planning on an attack), a group led by Carole Decourcey sped by on my right. I jumped on that attack, and passed some of the riders (very excited to see Kathy Martin in there!). Going into the last corner, I was in fourth position, and started the sprint just a little too early, getting passed on the line by two racers, including Katherine (way to go!). I defintely had fun, and definitely got a workout. But there was no resting ;).
I had been looking forward to Nutmeg all season. I love the course and it holds a special place in my heart for my first ever pack finish last year. Unfortunately my husband came down with the flu a couple of days before the race and I woke up on race day with a completely stuffed up head and sore throat. I didn’t have a fever, so I decided to go to the races anyway and see what happened. It was my first time in the 40+ field and there were a lot of strong women there. I just tried to stay focused, pay attention, and follow good wheels. On the last lap Carol Decourcey and a few others attacked on the upslope and I jumped on her wheel. Unfortunately she got gapped on the finishing straight, but it didn’t matter because I couldn’t hold it and got passed by a lot of folks before the line. Lesson learned – went too early this time.
Women cat 4/ 21 starters:
Katherine Snell -7th
Loraine Warner – 9th
Caroline Cardiasmenos – 13th
Kathy Martin – 15th
From the beginning, the Category 4 race was very different from the Master’s 40+ race. We were started with only 30s between us and the Category 3 field. Some of the younger, more energetic and less experienced women were raring to go and kept the pace high with multiple attacks. Despite having done the earlier race, I was able to stay with everybody, occasionally resting near the back and then moving up front again out of the final turn (there aren’t any real corners on this course) where I could use my considerable inertia to keep my speed through the turn. After several laps, we closed the gap on the Category 3 field and rode through them. I attempted to use the confusion riding through to get on a break but didn’t have quite enough gas. Then, after being suitably embarrassed, the Cat 3 field ended up riding through us causing more confusion. During the melee, a group of three Cat 4s managed to break out ahead of the Cat 3 field and unseen by me, a further group of three Cat 4s attached themselves to the back of the Cat 3 field. I did know that positions 1-3 were ahead of us and I got on front a couple times to try and get the pack to catch them. That was like pulling teeth and was ultimately to no avail but to expend valuable personal energy so I rested during the last couple laps hoping to win the sprint for fourth place. On the last lap, one gal launched an attack on the top of the hill which I immediately followed out and out-sprinted her into the corner to finish well ahead of the pack. On finishing I was disappointed to learn about the hidden Cat 4s who had just finished with the 3s meaning that I was now 7th instead of 4th. We tried to protest but the officials had claimed that they were separate from the 3s when they saw them . Oh well – that’s bike racing ;).
This was a tough race, or maybe it’s cause I was tired from the 30+ race. Regardless, the 4s were feeling frisky with a 35 minute race (lap cards would come later, like a cross race). I stayed at about 2nd to 3rd wheel for the first 20 minutes of the race covering all the accelerations and attacks from the girls on the front. I wanted to be with the break if there was one. The timing was bad for me in this race, though. I was getting tired and hoping to see one of my teammates come up and help cover the accelerations/attacks when the bell rang and a prime was called for the cat 3s which were just up ahead. I expected the 4s to back off, since I believe this was the purpose of the cat3-only-prime lap. So I let myself drift, except that the 4s responded with renewed force. “What the?!?!?” Oh crap! I had drifted to mid-pack when we collided with the 3s and mass chaos ensued, lots of shouting to get the 3s to move over. In retrospect I should’ve anticipated this and moved to the front of the pack to keep an eye on any breaks that got away. Sure enough I saw a group of 3 take advantage of the situation and surge ahead (smart move on their part). I cursed the situation as the 3s got riled and came back around the 4s, and there was no where to go to try and chase the 3 that got away. What I didn’t know was that there was a sneaky group of 3 cat 4 women who melded into the cat 3 field and then stayed with them for the duration of the race. The whole time I kept my eye out for lap cards trying to figure out how much time we had to potentially chase the break away, which Katherine came to the front at one point and tried to get the pack to chase them, unfortunately everyone was happy to sit on her wheel. When they finally showed the lap cards it was at an astonishing 2 to go! No way to catch them now. On the final lap, the attack came on the short hill, and I was stuck at about 8 wheels back, but I was able to overcome some real-estate in the sprint and finished 3rd in the field sprint, and what I thought, was 6th place. I would’ve been happy with that, except I saw the results showing me as 9th and found out from some spectators about the group of 3 4’s that sat in with the 3’s. Not fair Katherine and I tried to contest it but the officials said that the group was staying off the main cat 3 pack, which isn’t what my friend observed from the sidelines. Oh well… A good work-out anyway…. Great job to everyone who raced, and a special thank you for coming out to support a race that offered so many women’s fields, and therefore directly supporting the sport of women’s bicycle racing. You ladies rock!!!
My goal for this race was to finish with the pack (for my first time in a non-training race). It felt good to succeed at that, even though I know the course itself helped. I welcomed the skills-building that came with actually being with the pack. For instance, I noticed that I got shot off the back on the downslope turn on several laps and had to sprint back on; I think I was taking the turn narrow or too wide each time, so I was ending up in the wind. On the other hand, being with the pack the whole time was a bit scary as the riding was more unpredictable than I’m used to; I had to be more vocal than I liked at times. In the end, I had more juice than I expected for the finish and wish I’d pushed ahead to a better position throughout the final lap. I gained several positions in the last straightaway but I was already too far back in the pack to get to the front for the sprint.
Before the race Loraine told us that Katherine was going to try some attacks and that we should try to block, but I was ready for a nap as we hit the start line. I never did feel comfortable enough to get to the front, and I just sat on wheels and sheltered in the middle of the pack. This time when we came around for the finish I tried not to go too early but instead went too late – I passed several folks on the way to the line and had more to give when I got there. I’m still learning. I would have liked to have done better in both races, but given that I wasn’t feeling well, I think finishing solidly with both packs is a decent result.