So, the plan going into the Hunny Bop was to get Sara into a break, possibly with me. We're both "breakaway riders" and Sara has been working her tail off for the team, so it was about time we gave her the chance to shine. And shine she did !!
The race started with a full field ... we didnt have the entire HPC squad out there but we had a full Kenda team, Artemis brought out their heavy hitters (except Erin... we neither confirm nor deny that Robin pulled a Tonya Harding on her), C3 brought a couple strongwomen and, of course, Team CycleLife sported a nice squad of 5. The racing was hot and heavy (much like the weather) from the get: attacks went out one after the other while the flat, open course contributed to high speeds and barely any time to drink, eat or call home. Before the race, sponsor Michelle (Teaism) told us she wanted to see us controlling the race. We heart our sponsors, so we obliged.
Pretty early in the race, Kenda sent out a solo attack. Sara and I drifted toward the front as the field chased and when we got to about 20 meters of catching Kenda, I sent Sara off. I knew that if I went with her, the field would chase so she went solo. The field, not realizing that Sara was a time trial specialist, waited to react. Kristy Scheff (HPC) finally jumped and went across clean to Sara and I silently celebrated that Sara would have some help - Sara is a 3 and they were scoring separately so Kristy (Cat1) was a good pairing.
Our plan worked and had a great chance for success. Teams took turns sending one-off attacks throughout the rest of the race - thankfully, no one really organized and Team CycleLife did a phenomenal job (if I do say so myself) of patrolling the front and marking the potentially dangerous riders. Mel did a nice job setting tempo a lot of the time, Leslie went with a few dangerous moves to sit on, Robin stayed in good position and powered her way to win a prime.
Me ? I was glued to Sonja (C3) and Rachel (JuicePlus) because I knew they both had the potential to launch clear ... kudos to both riders as they did not make it easy for me - it was like a full-time job ! I must've been incognito the entire race because the announcers called me every member of my team EXCEPT me ... "there goes Leslie Jennings" ... "Melanie covering Sonja" .... "Robin Zimmerly chasing Rachel". Eh, at least they had the right team !
Team CycleLife kept the field in check and competitors were growing tired with the laps winding down. A 60 min crit for us in that heat seemed like eons ... I dont know how the big-boys did 75 minutes without melting. I have learned to drink during these hot races - if for no other reason than I'd like to avoid falling off my bike with 20 mins to go in a race.
With a few laps to go, Artemis rider Amanda made a hail-mary attempt to bridge up to the break. I think the field was too tired to respond and our general thought was that if we went with her, we'd bring the entire field. If she made it, she made it (and she did) ... if not, it was a valiant attempt. Leslie indicated that she needed me to drive the pace for the last two laps to keep things safe (ie prevent the inevitable mushroom-move as everyone stared at each other). I went to the front and drove it for all I had - it was fun to come across the start/finish to get the bell hearing that I had the entire field strung out. That is always a great feeling ... That and the fact that I know that my girls can close the deal. Amanda did make the bridge and finished 2nd to Kristy, but Sara did a phenomenal job through sheer determination to bring home 3rd overall, 2nd in her category. Leslie took advantage of the fast closing pace and took the field sprint for 2nd in our category, 4th overall. Melanie and Robin were not far behind, both placing in the top 10 overall.
Me ? I crossed the line about 1/2 lap behind the rest of the field, tired, spent and happy to be able to give my all to the team. Nice job, Ladies ... a great day for Team CycleLife and another race in the books.