The Poolesville RR is not just another race for me. Last year, it was a defining day for my decision to switch sports. Getting ready for the Poolesville RR made me reflect on the past year.
The 2010 Poolesville RR was the first crucial stepping stone that got me into road racing. Last year around that time, I was still heavily involved in Adventure Racing and road cycling served solely for training purposes.
That morning in May last year, I decided to do a road race. I remember standing completely nervous and lost at the starting line with the Cat 3/4 field not knowing what to expect and hoping I just wouldn’t get dropped in the first few miles.
I was wearing mountain bike shoes, reflectors on my helmet, riding an over-sized bike and probably broke another thirty Velominati rules. Good times. (I posted the race report below).
This year was a different story. Over the past year, I moved up two categories and gained some invaluable experience. Teammates, riding buddies, and even competitors during a race helped me along the way to become a better road racer. I was curious how this year in the Cat 1/2/3 field would play out.
Having basically taken off the entire week for recovery from Speed Week, I felt really good going into the race. Since the field was small (about 14), I joked with Lindsay that we won the race to the starting line (still SpeedWeek in mind)…first row.
Race started and the pace was really mellow for the first half. We all stuck together. I tried to get away on the gravel section and one of the hills but both times I got caught.
The most crucial event happened in the third lap entering the gravel section. I was third wheel turning onto the gravel. Suddenly I heard someone crashing behind me. We kept going and looked back after about 200m realizing that the crash took out half (literally!) of the field.
There was only five of us left. Two riders could be seen in the distance behind us but never managed to catch on so there remained only us five. We stuck together until the finish…sprinted and got second. Congrats to my teammate Lindsay for the victory!
2010 – Race report
NCVC represented by: Sam Rynas, Rebecca Lowe, Catherine Miller, Monika Sattler
Time: 12:40 start, 32 miles, 3 laps
Field size: 16 (7 women in Cat 3 and 9 women in Cat 4)
As this was my first road race, I had no expectations whatsoever except not to get dropped in the first half of the first lap. The race hadn’t even started yet and my heart rate was threatening close to my lactate threshold and I anticipated hyperventilation in the first 10minutes of the race.
I started out somewhere in the middle to the front and was able to keep the pace with the girls. No major events happened until the dirt section when one girl wiped out. The first lap I decided to take the left lane of this section because everyone recommended that. The field spread out a little but at the end of the dirt section everyone was together again and we collectively fought the upcoming hills.
The group stuck together and I stayed glued to the rear wheel of one girl in front of me. Apparently she didn’t like that because she vocalized her anger…I will spare you the details. During the second lap, I found myself suddenly in the front pulling, and the people behind me wouldn’t pull through. I didn’t want to waste too much energy so I slowed down to 14mi/h until someone got sick of it and passed me. Approaching the gravel section the second time, I chose to ride the right side of it. I actually liked that side better and just bunny hopped the worst parts.
After the second lap, I was pretty exhausted and I expected being dropped every second. However, the pace in the third lap didn’t get faster and we always slowed down at the right time; good for me, so I stayed with the group. Getting a little too excited I got first into the dirt section and my plan to pull away was pretty much set in stone. What I didn’t take into account was that I blow up after 1/3 into the gravel section and within 30 seconds I was passed by 10 people. Apparently, I slowed down so much that even the competitors behind me had to cheer me on to pick up the pace again. Despite my failed attempt to attack the group, the girls slowed down the right time and I was able to catch on. The last part was fast and it seemed like everything would come down to a sprint. Around the last corner, Catherine and Sam pulled the trigger by drastically increasing the speed. Some girls came around and I followed them ending up 5th overall and 2nd in my category and a new PR for my max heart rate.