Deciding to race Leesville was a last minute decision. I had just made it up to Tahoe for some altitude training and wanted to stay in one place, but my friend offered to pay the gas to get there -so I thought why the heck not. So began the typical race day, waking up well before dawn, eating oatmeal on the go, making the 2 ½ hour drive to some small, random town –all for the glory of winning a coveted Velo Promo t-shirt and partaking in the post-race watermelon feast (seriously, who would pass up the opportunity of feasting on watermelon?!).
The race began very tame; there was about 15 miles of straight, flat road before any terrain change. It was then that things began to heat up, literally and figuratively. As we began to climb, the sun beat down on us and the asphalt, resulting in a distinct feeling of being baked in an oven. I went to the front and began to set a hard pace up the climb. One by one riders popped off until it was down to Tiina Aardamae (JL Velo) and myself. This was still somewhat early in the race, and the rest of it basically came down to us trading pulls. The last hour of the race seemed to go on forever, and we did not have a count down until we reached the 1 km mark. At that, point it boiled down to being patient and waiting for the sprint. Currently, I have been facing difficulties with timing my sprint, but this day it came naturally. I began sprinting when it felt right (I know, super broad way of describing it), I attacked hard, and kept it up until I crossed the line in first. Afterwards, I happily ate my weight in watermelon while trading war stories with the ladies.
Martinez Classic is a new race on the NCNCA calendar. With 8 corners and a little bump of a hill, it made for fun and aggressive racing. I was flying solo for this race, and the goal was to look for breakaway opportunities. I found most of these opportunities after primes when the field would let a couple riders go up the road and duke it out for the chance to win a free breakfast at a local cafe, a free sandwich at another local restaurant, wine, and IRC tires! I attempted to go for those free meals, but was always just short, so stuck with countering after the primes to open up gaps. After the first prime, a substantial gap opened with me and a few others, but it lacked the motivation to keep up the pace.
I spent most of the first half of the race attacking, counter attacking, or covering attacks. At some point I had the sudden realization that I could not maintain that for the entire duration of the race, if Judy were around she would have told me to chill out way before this point! I did chill out -much later on, and resorted to something that is very difficult for me, being patient. A solo attack would go up the road of either Mikes Bikes or JL Velo, I would sit top three wheel and wait for members of the opposing team to chase down the single rider up the road. This provided me a much needed break, and in the remaining laps I attempted a couple more efforts to get away.
The peloton was all together starting the final lap. I was sitting second wheel to Emily Matheu (JL Velo) who was laying down the hammer. This was all good except I knew with the final sprint being very long that 2nd wheel was not ideal, Emily would pull through the turn, pull off, then it would be me on the front with a block and half to go until the finish. I was trying to figure out a work around when, on the second to last corner, there was a crash behind me. After that, everything happened really fast, and just how I predicted. Emily pulled off after the final corner and I had a long way to go until the finish line. I began sprinting way to early and when I began to die off, Mary Ellen Ash (JL Velo) sprinted around me and I crossed the line 2nd. Still lots to learn on timing my sprint, but happy to represent my wonderful team on the podium!