Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Madera Stage Race 35+

by Erika Donald

I've done this race maybe two times, but never with Bella teammates.

Crit: 35+/4
We raced with the 4's in largish field (35?). I was very happy to see Andi Smith at the start of the race and to find out we were racing the same field. We all lined up to start but Linda had disappeared. (Chit-chatting with Monica N.) Linda's arrival at the start with the officials about to blow the whistle and various people shouting for her to turn and go caused a little bit of a disturbance but off we went. For the first 5-10 laps I went for a few primes that were in fact not primes but the jangle of bystander's cowbell. Andi Smith, however, went for one of the two real primes and won it. (However, the officials forgot to count the prime changing Andi's overall placing going into the last stage from 2nd to 1st.)

It was a pretty safe race with good riding. In the last few laps one rider felt the need to warn everyone to "be safe, ride safe" as we entered each corner which may have added more stress than calm, but we all stayed upright. Linda, too, got to the front and strung it out which she does often and well when she sees things bunching up.

TT:
Windy and yucko. Came past Linda off her bike with 1K to go offering it to Soni who had flatted. Now I know how much LInda hates (hates!) time trials but seriously, if you're having a mechanical and you're in a good position overall and you need a bike (one on the small side) Linda's your go-to Bella.

RR:
Waiting in line at the portapotties, I told Andi and Linda I'd go get our placings. I came back with illegible scribblings running up and down my digits that I tried to translate to them: "Andi, you're in sixth, no you got six points, no wait that's a five. Or a four." A few minutes later, Andi appeared with clearly written notecards for both me and Linda with placings and names. Now, that's how it's done!

Going into the race a Left Coast Rider, Meredith Nielsen (with six teammates) was in first, me Andi and two others were in second. Our plan was to attack and attack to get away. First rollers, Andi shot off the left side and we dropped a couple of riders. We continued attacking while Left Coast countered. Andi was relentless as well as a Webcor rider and a 3BRT rider. Nancy Lewis was always there to provide a powerful motor but after two laps of trying we saved it for the sprint finish.

As soon as we hit the rollers, Andi attacked and took a Left Coast rider with her and I watched her get a gap. I didn't feel I had the legs to go with anything at that point, but I felt myself getting pulled right along with the rest of the field as they chased after Andi. In attacking so far from the finish, Andi sacrificed herself, caused the others to chase her and I got a free ride to the line and crossed in first. What a great teammate!

Thanks to Andi's move I moved from 2nd overall to 1st. Andi finished overall in 3rd or 4th overall. Linda came in 15th.

One note: Always remember (as I didn't and Linda reminded me in the car home) to get your teammates placings and winnings if they leave early. Especially so, if they sacrifice themselves in the end so you can win.

I had a great time racing with the Bellas and look forward to more fun.

Erika

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