Sunday, August 7, 2011

Crossroads Classic race report

Located in and around Salisbury, NC, this series involved 4 days of racing for the women, with fun courses, friendly riders, tough competition, and both a leaders competition and a sprinters jersey for the series. Lots of teams were represented, including Missing Link, Kenda, Hincapie, Iron City, ABRC, and Pain Pathways just to mention a few.

Thursday's Salisbury Criterium 
8-corners with a short up and down over a 0.9 mile course. This was my favorite course of the weekend, it was a fast technical, but not sketchy, with enough straight away to move around without making the course slow. It was fast from the start, many attacks, many gaps, and a trimming of the field size after the first few laps. Sarah Tussey (Hincapie) showed her strength with some very hard attacks that seemed to always be times when the field was hurting the most. Eventually Tussey got away from the field with two other riders, Stephanie (Iron City)  and another rider (ABRC). Tussey went on to drop both of the other two riders and solo away for the win. The other riders stayed away from the field to finish off the podium and grab up sprint points. I was in the field for the sprint and jumped first before the last corner, but not hard enough, Sarah Fader (Pain Pathways) was on my wheel and sprinted passed me like I was standing still, another rider (Hincapie) also got around me before the line. So, I finished 3rd in the sprint and 6th overall. I also snagged a few sprint competition points, but I realized pretty quickly that fierce competition was going to be between the two Sarahs.

Friday's Statesville Criterium 
This course was supposed to be an "L" shape, but due to construction it was changed to a short 4-corner race with a few ups and downs. I felt pretty good on the corners until I clipped a pedal chasing Tussey on one of her monster attacks, which she was pulled back on, only to launch several more times and end up getting off solo. Fader took just about all the primes. Tussey lapped the field and then led-out the sprint, which Fader won for 2nd place. I did not ride well in the last few laps and ended up in a bad spot too far back going into the sprint, 8th place finish for me. .

Saturday's Road Race
recovery ride in the paddle boat after the road race
This was one of those courses that is just boring with a small field, 42 miles of rolling hills. Combined with the leaders points race and people marking other people it was not much of a race, group ride with a few attacks until everyone tried their luck in a sprint finish. I have been known to attack in this situation out of boredom, but this day I was actually really excited about sprinting after an easy race. With less than 500 meters to go the motor ref rolls up to our field, now moving pretty fast (and me with a good position, for a change), and tells us something no one could understand. This was followed by a flash of yellow, I assumed it was someone sprinting and the motor ref was trying to tell us we could use the whole road now. I immediately went left to get in the mystery sprinter's draft. As soon as I did this I heard a chorus of men's voices yelling at me to get out of the way and a rush of large non-female riders coming up all around me. This all happened in less than 1 second, so it was very scary and confusing and a miracle that no one was destroyed in the sprint. I backed off but then realized how close our finish was accelerated onto someone's wheel nearby to try and salvage the sprint. With 100 meters to go we were packed like sardines with mid-field men who were no longer sprinting, so we were stuck in whatever position we were in. I think the quickest minds to realize what was going on probably had an advantage in this finish. Fader won the race, and that's what I would have predicted without interference, but for this one she really had to show her quick thinking and reaction to the situation. I think I fared better than some people who really got stuck in the back, this race was just frustrating because we did not get to finish properly. I later learned that the moto ref told us our field was neutralized (with less than 500 meters to go) until the men passed... hahah!

Sunday's Salisbury Criterium
This is a nice 4-corner criterium with a small hill... well it felt small in the first half of the race... it felt a lot longer towards the end! I attacked the first prime and got it, but couldn't hold my gap for very long. Next lap an Air Force rider, Peggy, attacked and no one reacted, she immediately got 20 seconds. By the next lap she had over 40 seconds, and at one point she had over a minute. The field was not riding steady or really trying to pull her back at all, it was short hard efforts and seemed more focused on the overall points race than the day's crit. After one hard attack up the hill a group of four people got away including Tussey, Fader, Stephanie, and someone else. The group was not working together, Fader wanted a field sprint and Tussey did not want to pull everyone around, but the field was not working together either and so the break stayed away until the last few laps. With three to go I decided to try and bridge up, I was off on my own for part of the lap, but the field caught up with me right as I finished bridging up, which also happened to be at the bottom of the hill. I fell off and had to sprint back second time, this time it was bell lap and I caught up with the field about 5 seconds before the sprint started. What would have been a really hard sprint for me anyway turned into an impossible sprint. I managed to stay ahead of a few people in the field for 9th place in the race. The winner was Peggy, the early solo break, Fader won the sprint and Stephanie came in 3rd.

My overall result was a consistent, but not fabulous, 6th place finish after four day's of racing. The leader jersey went to Fader, although she was technically tied with Tussey, who took home the sprint jersey. Next up for our team is Chesapeake Crit and Tour of Millersburg.

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