Monday, May 5, 2008

Solo and Incognito in Philly

After the sufferfest at Poolesville (see Mel's post below), I decided to take a quick trip up to the Memorial Hall Criterium in Philadelphia to play with some of the out-of-district girls. It was my first "solo" race of the year and I had forgotten how much I really enjoyed racing out of town. Dont get me wrong, we're really lucky that we have such an active, competitive and close-knit racing community - but sometimes its fun to see what the other districts are up to.

When we got to the course at 9am, it was only in the 50's. I was unprepared - no long-sleeve layers, no knee warmers. Good thing I didn't race until almost 2- by then it was in the mid-70's and sunny. Better yet, the course was FLAT and FAST ... 4-wide open corners on a rectangular course. Nice headwind on the back-stretch, which gave us an awesome tailwind on the front. Awesome! I knew some of the girls that were lining up with me, but most of them did not recognize me in my new colors. Incognito is COOL.

Verducci had half a dozen riders in the field, as did Human Zoom. A few other teams had a couple riders here and there several other solo riders. This was good for me because I knew other riders would work with me in a break or to chase back dangerous moves. I sat in for a lap or two, trying to gauge my legs after the prior day's efforts. I was feeling pretty good, so I decided I was here to play. I went to the front and started covering moves - Verducci and Human Zoom sent riders up to attack and I made sure I was in everything that looked dangerous. If I didn't make the move initially, I drew inspiration from LJ's many awesome bridge-moves and shot clear of the field to bridge up. There were several breaks that might have survived, but the two teams did not want to work so everything came back. With 3 to go, an Ambrosio's girl took a solo flyer and it looked like the field might let her go. With the tailwind to help, I jumped across and joined her going into the windy back-stretch. I should have known that the two teams wouldn't let that stick and they caught us coming into the bell lap.

I was in terrible position and thought it was all over - but I sat on and tried to get a few seconds of recovery as we rounded the turn onto the backstretch. The field got antsy and started things halfway down the backstretch. This was going to be interesting ! Coming out of the last turn, I stood up and started my (slow and painful) wind up. It was good to start my sprint from the back because once I got rolling, I was flying past my competitors, which made me go even harder. It was a long sprint, which is good for my strengths on the bike. Given a few more meters, I would have picked up a couple more spots. My spectators told me I finished 5th or 6th, but I watched their last race before I went to check.

File this under lessons learned (again): 1. when sprinting in a tight group, better to be nearest the camera. 2. always check the results during protest period. They had me listed as 9th, but I passed several of the girls listed ahead of me...a couple of them came up to vouch for me but I knew I didn't have a legit gripe since it was my fault for not checking. I know better, but it was very cool of them to try to make things right.

Despite the finishing gaffe, the race was really well run, VERY laid back and just plain fun. I missed my girls but it was fun to go solo and incognito. What a great way to spin the legs out, to reset the mental batteries and enjoy a sunny day in a beautiful city. All positive energy, I loved it !

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