At Winter’s Road Race I get race on the roads and climbs that I often train on. But, despite it being a home race and it being the district championships, I was feeling end-of-season complacency. That changed after talking with Mel in the morning and she said “we deserve to win this” and I had to agree.
The course has three loops that start with a straight windy section, then transitions to rollers and the main 5 mile Cantelow climb that also rolls but finished with a steep 0.5 mile section before a technical descent. Then a twisting, false flat downhill that runs about 10 miles to the finish.
The first lap was uneventful until the Cantelow climb where Illi Gardner (San Jose Bike Club) took to the front and rode super strong up the climb. This shed many of the girls and by the time we finished the descent there were about 10 racers left. The pack rotated until the flat head wind section on lap two when Tiina Aardemae (JL Velo) attacked and Mel bridged up to her. The pair gained distance as everyone else took time to get organized before bringing them back on the rollers. Heading into Cantelow climb, Mel attacked again and stayed away until the top of the climb forcing others others to set pace up the climb.
Strong attacks came throughout lap 3 from Molly Van Howling (JL Velo), which given her time trial prowness, we were sure to mark. At the very bottom of Cantelow, Mel attacked again (she is tireless!), when that was chased down, I counter attacked and brought Illi, Hanna Muegge, and Megan Ruble along. We worked together up the rest of the climb to get distance on the racers behind us. Then on the final steep pitch, I attacked and was by myself over the top. Given how often I do the Cantelow descent, I knew I could get even more time on the descent. At the bottom I put my head down and hoped that there would be enough disorganization that I could keep the gap even with the fast road. The plan worked, and I came across the finish on my own. Hannah won the field sprint, and Illi came in third.
This race was a great way to finish the season. On top of her motivational words before the race, Mel did so much selfless work and attacking to perfectly set me up on the final climb – it was incredible and I was thrilled that our plan brought us the win.