WWCGP Race Reports
Intro from Jenn, LLV Pres.:
Long gone are the days that I traveled to races by myself. I love having teammates. From carpools and conversation, to debating what layers to wear for a race, to working together on tactics and sharing well-deserved post race/ride meals, being a part of a team enhances the experience of riding and racing. But the very best, is knowing that your teammates share your passion and empathize with the struggle and joys that come with bike racing. Live Love Velo brought 6 racers to the Women’s Woodstock Cycling Grand Prix this past Saturday. They ranged from complete newbies, to developing and experienced racers. Below are excerpts from the team’s race reports. Struggles and joys…we’ll let you share, too…
From newbie racer, Karen:
I had a great day!! Rode my hardest ever…. what a beautiful backdrop and well-organized event… just a pleasure… my first time to race (in my 5th race ever) with the team…. what a terrific bunch of women!!! So thrilled to be included!!
The first 14 miles we sat in and the field was going so easy… not sure why??? Very frustrating!! I was toward the back…. kept trying to get up to the front, but couldn’t get through (my lack of racing/ group skills once again hampering me!)…. then the first climb at mile 14 broke the field apart… I rode solo pretty much the whole way after that… hooked up with Christine a couple miles before Mt. Mead…… rode with her most of the way up the climb… we didn’t crest together, so I was solo on the final stretch to the finish (which was nice… I had the whole road to work on my descending/ cornering skills)… those hay bales were pretty funny!!! Like that would have slowed my fall into the ice cold river by much,… hahaha!!! Just a great day overall!! I’m having so much fun and learning so very, very much!!! What a terrific opportunity and adventure for me….
From Christina, racing WWCGP for the second time:
I am not going to lie, I had severe race anxiety leading into this one. I’ve been riding stronger thanks in large part to the coaching of Jen Gatz, but oh, there’s that mountain…..
Come race morning, I felt better once we actually started. I was remembering the roads from the year before, and remembering that I rode them with a small crew last year as I fell off the pack early on. This year was different. I was hanging on but still not positioning myself well. At 14.5 miles in a climb separated the field and I got caught in the middle. I saw the lead pack take off and a small group of 3 or 4 behind them and I tried to catch up to no avail. I continued to ride as hard as I could and eventually my teammate, Karen, caught up to me. For a few miles we rode together and hit the base of Mead Mountain. The climb was as brutal as I remembered but I had more in me this year. The marshals had all been super friendly on the course but I have to mention the sheer honesty of one of them. A few tenths of a mile into the climb I passed a marshal and exclaimed, “slow and steady, right?!” His response, “you ain’t seen nothing yet!” This climb stretches on for two miles and each time you think you’re nearing the top the road turns and you see another long stretch of uphill. At the 1k mark there’s a sense of relief until you keep going and realize that 1k is ridiculously far when you feel like if you move your hand slightly off the bar you may fall backwards or over. Let me tell you, 250 meters is no joke either. But then it’s done, you pass the Tibetan flags and you’re heading for the sweet downhill where bales of hay are supposed to stop you from going off the road! That’s where Karen takes off and I go a bit more cautiously. I felt a sense of relief as I knew the worst was over and I “conquered the Cats.” The next 5 miles or so was a fast straight section where I flew through to the finish feeling good. My teammates all rode strong and I did way better than the previous year – progress is progress!
A short but sweet nugget from Kim, an avid mountain biker. This is her second season racing and her first time racing WWCP:
After 13 miles in a somewhat jittery bunch we rounded a corner to meet the first steep hill. I thought that this would be the first place the field would shatter, and it did but, with a hard effort, I was able to keep touch with the lead group.
From Amy, the humble winner of the cat 4 race:
Mount Meade is a wicked climb and probably THE reason I returned to the WWCGP this year. I distinctly remember the year prior feeling as though my heart would burst out of my chest on that climb. I was so looking forward to returning to it for reasons that are probably best explained while lying on a leather couch to a certain kind of medical professional. Referrals welcome. I anticipated that I had built that climb up in my mind and upon actually doing it again I would find that it was not as challenging, that I was more fit than last year, more experienced, etc., etc… WRONG! I mean really wrong, not just like that pixie cut in 2005 (don’t get offended, it’s adorable on you ladies – me – I look like a linebacker) or thinking my missed period was because I was stressed out. I mean wrong, really, really wrong. PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: I was an adult in the previously mentioned incident and married, er…well… almost married, anyway.
Moving on: What I learned last year, in my first season of racing, was that race recon is advisable. This is how one does not mistake a crowd gathered on either side of the road to be the finish line and unwittingly go for the final sprint alone. (Thank God I am not a celebrator; that would have been at least twice as embarrassing.) So I reconned the crap of WWCGP this year. Okay, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, I looked at the profile and map maybe half a dozen times. But relative to what I have done previously, that is reconning the crap out of a race. (BTW – I think I just invented two new words according to my spell check – reconned and reconning. How do you like me now, Webster?)
So, because of my extensive race recon, I knew exactly where Mount Meade began and where Mount Meade exactly ended. I am not sure however, how my odometer was stuck at 25.3 for at least an eternity as I was climbing it. And I am also not sure how I made it. What I am sure of, however, is that every spectator on the side of the road during the course of my 2.28 mile climb knew I was suffering. I know that they knew because, well, I told them. As I said, I remembered distinctly the year prior feeling as though my heart would burst out my chest but what I don’t recall is gasping for air and actually wondering if I some primal instinct will take over and make me stop pedaling before I actually kill myself trying to climb this hill. The good part is, I think I know what it is like to run from a serial killer and I think I could do it. Serial Killers, if you are out there reading this blog because amongst your extracurricular interests is women’s cycling, just try to catch me.
When I got to the climb, it was my intention to climb it at my comfortable pace, not attacking it, slow and steady. I am pretty sure that’s not what I did. I happened to be among the first couple of girls in the lead group when we started the climb and I think I intended to hold my place there provided it remained comfortable for me. Somewhere along the line, that sort of went out the window. I guess I was “comfortable” and decided to make myself “uncomfortable.” I broke out of my little group and started to do what I guess I thought was my climb. A little faster than what the women I was with were doing but steady. Well, for the record, I hated my climb. It hurt. I couldn’t breathe. I wanted to stop. At a certain point, I stopped hearing heavy breathing behind me, and the only panting I heard was my own. At that point, I tried to get myself to take it back a notch and settle my breathing but I could not make my body stop. I have heard that the mind quits before the body and I definitely proved that to myself.