After sitting on the fence for a few weeks, I finally decided to take the trip up to Mass for the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic...and I'm glad. I learned a ton, including:
1. Time trials are the best events EVER
The weekend started with a 10 km stair-stepping TT. Not much to say except it hurt. a lot. I rode in at 20.54, good enough for 4th for the day.
2. It is possible to survive a 50 mph descent. in the rain. in a cat 3/4 field. (And getting a call-up ROCKS)
We woke up to torrential rain and cold temps on day 2...but the officials started the 37 mile road race on time. My 4th from the day before earned me a ticket to the front as they did call-ups for the first 10 spots. I gotta admit, getting a call-up and having everyone think you're a badass (Ha fooled them!) is pretty addicting. We took off down the descent at 45-50 mph...I, of course, had a death grip on my bars and let myself glide immediately to the back in typical Zeigler fashion. Fortunately, it wasn't the type of course that allowed for break-aways, and the field stayed more or less together even through the climbs and QOM sprints. After 3 laps, we headed up the mountain in the final climb of the race. The front group took off, with local superstar Amanda Watson (Artemis) among them. I rode it conservatively, thinking it pitched more aggressively than it did. I know better for next time!!! I slipped to 13th in the GC with a 22nd place in the RR...Amanda jumped up to 10th in the GC. The highlights of the race included: (1) me running over a freshly killed squirrel and having it fly at Amanda behind me. (2) Christina Briseno's (C3) crazy save when a girl tried to squeeze between her and another down the descent. JFC's abounded.
3. Circuit races can hurt.
I'm used to nice, relatively flat circuit races like Carl Dolan and Tysons in these parts. The Fitchburg circuit race on day 3 was anything but flat. A double climb into the finish hurt every single lap of the 11 lap course. I'm talking standing up, easiest gear, throwing my body towards the front of the bike, wheezing type of hurt. Again, not much exciting happened in the race...it was about survival and punching through the turns and hills for most of us. Christine was a rock star and pulled me to the front at one point. I finished with the field for 15th and stayed 13th in the GC.
4. Getting caught after a ballsy flyer and finishing near last is waaaay more fun than riding in with the pack.
By day 4 we were all pretty toasted. The crit on the final day was not terribly technical...though a set of tight turns at the back of the course was a little rough. Everyone was breaking through them, forcing us to sprint out of the corners on every lap. The field stayed together and I knew I didn't have a chance if I just sat in. With 2 laps to go I took off. No one chased me at first...the points leader was a mere 12 seconds off of the GC leader and no one was going to make a move if they didn't. Christine yelled for Amanda to get to the front and slam on her breaks...haha, I'm sure she got some looks for that one! Finally, one of the points leader's teammates reeled me in, and I was caught in the final set of turns. It was so worth it though. I left the race knowing that was everything I had left. I finished 29th on the day, securing my 13th place in the GC. Oh and Sonya Evers (C3) finished 7th in the pro crit!!!!
Fitchburg was an amazing weekend and learning experience. Serious props to my surrogate teammates Amanda Watson, Christine Briseno, and Sonya Evers. It was great to work as teammates with people who are usually my competitors.