Year after year this race rattles peoples nerves. Even the skilled offroad types are shaken, physically, by the rough cratered surface of mile+ stretch of pot-holed, sharp gravel, washboard section along the creek. It's a decent course but the size of the potholes is obscene and downright dangerous, but despite the treachery, it's still a MABRA classic.
We originally planned to have half the team do the Women's open and the other half do the women's 3/4 race. Zim was out sick and Mel decided not to do a double, which left Z all to herself to survive the crashfest of the women's 3/4 race. At the end of the first lap of the W3/4 race there was a small group of maybe 12 riders that survived and the rest of the 45+ rider field was blown apart, literally if you think about it with all the flats from the potholes. Z smartly called it a day and headed for home, dusty and frustrated.
In the W123 race a different story played out. It was a small field of 20 or so comprised of the main forces that make up the MABRA women's scene - Team CycleLife, HPC, Kenda, Joe's and a few strong individual riders. The race was pretty safe and fairly calm since there wasn't as much of a need to dive for position heading into the gravel.
The main storyline of the race was a strong surge at the end of the gravel on the second lap led by Kenda's Heidi G, HPC's Lorena, and Kelly's Susana. They were riding smooth and steady while the rest of us were battling the potholes and dodging the water bottles left behind while also trying to make up ground or stay on a wheel.
Once the dust settled and we were all back on pavement again, the damage was already done. Two teams were represented in the break being pulled by one of the strongest riders in MABRA. Meanwhile Joe's and us CycleLife girls tried to set up shop at the front of the field to bring that break back, or at least get some riders to bridge up, however Kenda did their duty and were able to pretty much screw up the rotation and any hopes to get enough horsepower to get the field going forward.
A new chapter began in the race story as we passed Heidi from Kenda now on the side of the road yelling she had gotten a flat. Now there were only two sets of legs in the break, and finally we now had help to try to bring the break back. The Kenda girls were our enemies only a few minutes before and now they were our best buds since they were determined to get back in the action. Although this time, we had HPC to disrupt the flow of forward momentum at times.
Heading into the gravel on the last lap there was some jockeying for position but we all made it onto the dirt just fine. And the story once again takes a new turn. The pace picked up with some strong pulls around the potholes, and some hard hits dead on too which cost Wendy (man those things really give you a jolt). However, in the middle of the pothole field there was Lorena holding her wheel - which meant now there was only one up ahead, and no teams represented.
At that point it should have been back to square one with all players back in the game and all chips in. Although this time the teams were not full strength with the race having taken it's toll on the field and legs. Going up the little riser after the gravel only a group of 7 riders remained together for the chase.
Kenda and CycleLife continued to try to work together, but HPC either didn't realize they no longer had a rider up the road or they were content to just race for second. In the end it was a frustrating cluster of tired legs and weak pulls, despite a few hard surges by some of the riders. Joe's Janet and HPC's Kate were content sitting on the back waiting for the sprint. We strolled around toward the finish and were raring down for the final stretch. Leslie offered a great leadout in an effort to help Mel get a placing good enough to get upgrade points, sacrificing her own chance to take the field sprint. In the end, Mel was not on the wheel and was not able to stay on as Kate Flore came around Leslie to take the field sprint.
And the ending to the story was that Leslie did get some cash. Mel did get some upgrade points. But we all got tired and dirty.