Tuesday, October 03, 2006

CCCX #2: Bella Loca Does it Again!

For the second edition of the CCCX series, MattyWabbit and I headed out to Fort Ord under heavy clouds and threat of rain. Knowing there are many possibilities for terrain at the East Garrison area, Matt and I speculated on what sort of course we would find. Steep hills? Sand pits? Tricky corners? Long flat sections? We arrived early and rode an easy lap, and found all of the above, including a very long pavement section running the length of the course with the finish line atop a steep little hill 2/3 of the way through the ashpalt.

Stella parked across from us, and announced that she was sick. I was busy pulling a cooler out of my van and taping a sign "Free Beer" onto it, but chose to let that be her only pre-race clue that I myself was feeling a little out of it, having enjoyed my birthday party the day before with a number of fresh strawberry daquiris. I was keen to win another box of strawberries, so I kept my liquor induced blahs to myself. Missing from the start list were the Giant Strawberry ladies, Mel and Josie, who probably would have really enjoyed the course. I spotted Shelley riding around not long before the race start, and figured she must have been a little out of it too, since she didn't have time to braid her hair. That made three out of three of us most likely to ride at the front showing up a little less than perfectly prepared.

The fun started with a fast pavement section quickly diverted into a gravel double barrier section, then a nice set of rollers on the pavement before we dove into a long sandy descent. I was watching the Lobster pair, Stella and Shelly, at the front as we approched the drop, when suddenly Ann Fitzy came blazing up the side and I took her wheel and dove in right behind her. Great teamwork and perfect timing from Ann off the start to give Velo Bella the advantage heading into the tricky section of the course.

Stella and I traded places a few times on the opening lap, and Shelley caught up as soon as we hit the pavement. It was the three of us, as I expected, and I knew they would have an advantage with the two of them each having great strengths on this course, Stella flying around the technical parts and Shelley having great speed on the straightaways. I tried a few surges to test the group, but came to the conclusion that the pavement section was long enough for the Lobster team to regroup and catch me if I made an escape. So I saved my efforts and let the girls in green set the tone of the race, and eventually Shelley attacked hard enough to shed her teammate and it was just the two of us.

With three laps to go, I started working my brain a little harder than my legs, keeping Shelley moving to build a gap on Stella and devising my final lap strategy. I had saved my powerful efforts for when I knew they would count the most, and put it down on the final half of the bell lap to build a few bike lengths lead over Shelley heading into the paved finish. I didn't have much room, but it was enough to hold my lead over the line. While the race wasn't as fast nor as aggressive as the first round of the USGP series will be next weekend, it was a great test of my mental game and strategy leading into the national level events.

It was great to see so many Bellas on the course, especially our Original Bellas Sabine and Laura, and our National Champ Betty Jordan - that gal needs to rock her stars and stripes! I'll be busy this week, building up a new race bike, finding something to do with my fresh box of Giant Strawberries, and flying out to Boston to meet up with the elite Bella squad.

Sarah Bella Loca


Post a Comment

<< Home