Monday, April 26, 2010

Cherry Blossom Classic: April 23-25, 2010

Although I really wanted to do the Bear Spring mtb race this past weekend, Coach K and I had decided long ago that the Cherry Blossom would be better for my fitness, so I agreed reluctantly. I warmed up to the idea and then set the goal that if I had to go, I would try to win. After all, the prize was an all expense trip to Nature Valley GP in MN, racing on a composite team. I have raced Nature Valley once before, but alone, and strictly for fitness and experience. Perhaps racing on the road with a team will change my opinion of road racing all together?!? I think I will always prefer the dirt, but this past weekend was actually fun. More so due to our amazing hostess, Erin Ford, and hanging out with Tim, Melissa, P. Dowd and Erin. That made it a lot more fun! So, here is a bit about the weekend.

Friday, stage 1: Columbia Hills Road Race, 55.8 miles.
One of the two strong teams there attacked out of the parking lot. Not your usual road race start, but fine none the less. It was actually a race. I played nice. Didn't pull a whole bunch, per my usual mtb brain. On the last lap, however, I got out front on the descent so I wouldn't get dropped. Yep, descending on a road bike in a pack is not one of my strong suits. I took the last corner way too hot, Melissa jumped and was gone, I played catch up but could only get as far up as 6th place. All the same time, so gotta work on that sprint. It was great to see Melissa win and holy cow, does that girl have a jump.

Melissa with leaders jersey after stage 1.

Saturday, stage 2: Orchard Run Circuit Race, 46.8 miles, 8 laps.
This was a climby little course. Short, fast with wicked cross winds. It was downright scary the first time descending, as I second guessed using my deep dish tubulars. But I got used to the slight drift. It was a fast race, some attacking and at some point, Robin got away. Not exactly sure how that happened, but she was gaining time on us every lap. We tried to organize. I sat on the front a lot and not always by choice. But whatever, it didn't bother me, because I figured Robin was riding alone, so I would work as hard as I could to try to reel her back in, especially since I knew it would take a miracle to beat her on the TT. On the last lap, the first climb after the descent, I jumped and got a small gap, so I decided to give it a go. I didn't catch Robin, but I did put a minute on the field and it saved me from having to sprint uphill at the end. I got to pedal up the finish, then watch Melissa clobber the field on the sprint for third.

Podium: Me, Robin, Melissa.

Sunday morning, stage 3: Eight mile Creek Time Trial, 10 miles.
Considering I had never done a TT on a TT bike, and this would be my 4th TT ever, I was as excited as I could get for the TT. I was also scared. I had worked hard the day prior in case I didn't TT very well. On my borrowed bike, compliments of Erin Ford who is 6 months pregnant, it went fairly well. My goal was to not get caught by Robin who started 30 seconds behind me. Well, she caught me, but I also caught the two in front of me, so I really had no idea how it went. I knew there were some really good time trialists that had started earlier. Imagine my surprise when the results came out and despite losing 30 seconds to Robin (who, btw, won this race last year, including the TT), I placed 2nd. It must be the bike. Like magic.

TT podium.

Sunday afternoon, stage 4: Cherry City Criterium.
It was your basic 4 corner crit downtown in The Dalles, OR. It was only 35 minutes. I figured I could suffer through it. Hopefully be in the right place at the right time. Well, the time to be in the right place is with 2 to go and 1 to go and then at the end to sprint. I failed. Miserably. I was in the wrong place, not far enough forward, decided not to risk injury, played it safe and then finished 19th. It was my first crit of the year and my 6th ever. But I think it was my worst one ever. I thought with experience you were supposed to get better. Well, there was no time difference and I knew I had 2nd overall tied up, so I watched Melissa clean up and get the win from the back.

Overall GC placing 1-5. Missing one gal. Great job to the CB crew!!!

I placed 2nd in the GC overall, so no, I did not win. I knew going into this race that winning would take extraordinary measures or extremely good luck. Being the runner up is the next best thing and I feel that the weekend was a success, both in gaining fitness and experience. And apparently the winner is not able to go to Nature Valley, so it seems I may 'win' even with my 2nd place finish. It will be a new adventure, racing on the road with a team, some organization and a visit to the family to boot. Plus, there is a US Cup race the weekend following in WI and I've always wanted to ride the mtb trails in Red Wing. It seems I may get my chance. Funny how things work out.
Post race burgers and Big Jim's. The racers with their lovely (pregnant) hostess, Erin Ford.

Post race bliss. Oh wait, that is after we ate our food. Here we are still waiting!

And how can I forget to mention how Tim's races went. I knew I forgot something. Unfortunately we always raced at different times and never really got to see each other race. He did awesome. The Masters 40+ category is FAST! It never ceases to amaze me. He finished 9th overall GC in his category, 10th overall. (There is a really fast 50+ guy in there). With several strong teams and Tim racing alone, he held his own, won the chase group field sprint on stage 2 and was in the mix on stage 1. He rode is new TT bike for the first time in a race. Here is how he did in the 40+: Stage 1, 7th; Stage 2, 5th; Stage 3, 1o; Stage 4, 18th. Check out the stage 2 finish pic below. Uphill sprint. It was brutal.

1 comment:

Serena said...

Sue - Well done. You continue to impress. We missed you guys at Bear Springs; you racing Mudslinger?