Thursday, February 22, 2007

Pine Flat Reportage

by Tracie

Pine Flat is a race for climbers. It’s a race for girls who eat salad for dinner, put safety pins in their arm warmers to keep them from sliding down their boney limbs, and seem to have bikes filled with helium. It’s for the girls who can glide uphill without breathing hard and crest the top of a grade without going cross-eyed.

I’m not one of those girls, but I am a pretty damn good wanna-be. I wanted to use the race for training and to see where my fitness was at, so I said Bring it ON.

The field was fairly small by most race standards, but just hitting double digits it was pretty decent for Pine Flat standards. The players were Kelly, Pat and Maria from Touchstone; Lisa Penzel, Jen Joint, Tracy Lillig, Jane Despas; and Erika, Liz B and myself from VB.

From the gun, two of the girls decided to attack their way up the neutral promenade driveway. “Shit. If I get dropped in the first 500 feet on a neutral driveway, things are going to be pretty damn rough” I told myself.

Things mellowed out for a while and Jane Despas seemed content to sit at the front for pretty much ever. If she wasn’t on the front, she was off to the side of the group riding by herself in the wind. Normally I would roll my eyes at such behavior, but knowing it was Jane Despas and that she could probably ride out in the wind all friggin day and still kick my ass, I just shrugged it off and appreciated the draft.

Mostly the pace remained pretty comfortable, although there was a longer roller where things got pretty fast and strung out. Jane the Train was up there putting the hammer down. I remember realizing that we were going pretty hard, and then realizing that to my surprise I wasn’t about to get dropped. “You’re going to have to try harder than that if you want to get rid of ME, pansies!” I yelled at my competitors in my best british accent. At least I did in my head.

At one point, we stopped for a pee break. I won’t go into great detail but I can say that I witnessed a pretty infamous occurrence here at the pee stop and can vouch that everything I’ve heard from follow vehicle drivers is true. Very true.

Somewhere on the flat section, Pat Ross’ rear shifter cable broke. She had a choice of 53x12 or 39x12 and kept mashing along with us. That woman has some serious power and made it over a couple of rollers that I would probably have fallen over on given her gearing. At the toe of the climb she bid us farewell and later as she zoomed by in VeloBob’s pick-up yelled some words of encouragement.

It was fairly obvious throughout the race that the Touchstone girls were doing everything they could to keep Maria out of the wind and fresh for the end, so I wasn’t really surprised when she attacked up the early part of the climb. I hung onto the group for a while before things shattered, and finished up the rest of the race alone.

All in all, it was a great day’s training. I am pretty pleased with where my climbing is at and feel like I have a better idea of what I need to work on. It was great to have Liz in the race too as she knows how to read a race and was a great resource. A big congrats to the Touchstone girls for a well-earned win.


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