A former state road race course, the flyer boasted “400 feet of climbing per lap.” The loop was 4.05 miles within a section of the scenic Cleveland Metropark system. The backstretch was rolling with a large downhill (+45 mph) and an uphill finish on a false flat. Last year, I had taken third, so I was eager to do better.
With a 7am START time (due to park requirements), I honestly didn’t expect much of a turnout. Last year, we had four and all went home with some cash, always nice. This year, again with the prize list at $175, 4 deep, we had 7 which included Sally Price (Cat. 2) and Jane Evely (#1 Cat. 3 Crit rider in the USA right now) from Tritech and my loyal comrade in arms, Catherine. Tritech is our biggest competition, and I honestly never expect to beat them. I just hope to hang on and end in the mix.
We were to do 5 laps, or about 20 miles. The start was slow and I pulled most of the first loop, which was admittedly dumb. I should have held my cards a little closer on the uphill. I took the week off after Wilkesville and my legs have been feeling great ever since. I managed to stay in the saddle for the entire hill every time but the last.
We shelled a girl off the back fairly early, I think on our first climb up the big hill. There was really no point in me pushing the pace. I knew I couldn’t outride or outsprint Sally and Jane, so I just rode in, letting that hill do it’s job, leading occasionally, but trying not to do too much. Thankfully, Annie Malouin, from Eastern Suburban Medicine out of Pittsburgh, seemed happy to pull, so we let her. I know, not entirely fair, but not terribly race savvy on her part either.
So none of us really pushed the pace until the bottom of the hill the last lap, pretty boring really. I was surprised. I expected Jane or Sally to attack at some point. They certainly had power and numbers on their side.
Catherine & I
For they had one other rider there, Judy Carroll. This woman is a phenomenon. She is a 60-year old national duathlete dynamo who kicked my tail all last season. She is a domestique extrodinaire and will take a flyer off the front if it helps out the team. Otherwise, she sits on the front as much as possible and pulls for Jane & Sally. Every team should be so lucky as to have a rider like her around.
So, in the final group, there was Judy, Catherine, who had recovered from a dropped chain and chased back on again during the last lap (GOOD JOB!!!), Sally, Jane, Annie, and I. Having ridden so comfortably up this hill the previous four times, I figured now was the time to act. I had watched Sally stand to climb each loop, but that was her style. Jane had as well and honestly looked a bit winded at the top during the last go round.
So I attacked. I actually started in my big ring and shifted down after the first quarter, still spinning, but in as high a gear as I felt comfortable. I stood for the last quarter and felt the power start to drain from my legs as we began the false flat to the finish. Honestly, I couldn’t get myself into sprint positioning and still had my hands on the hoods when Sally came by me. I picked it up as much as possible, but wasn’t able to catch her.
I was very happy with my finish. I did one place better than last year in a larger and comparable field, and I came away with enough cash to get myself some new riding gloves that I badly need. A huge thank you goes out to Charles Howe for putting on such a great race year after year. It is truly one I look forward to, not only because it is a great course in a beautiful area with bagels at the finish, but because he pays out the women just like the cat. 4 men, which I think is AWESOME! It certainly makes a difference in whether or not I decide to drag myself out of bed that early, and I think it made a few other girls heave themselves out as well.
I'd also like to give a large "thanks" and plug to my personal sponsors, Michelin tires and Velocity wheels. Both products have certainly proved their worth this season thus far!
Next week is TeamColumbus’ Sugar Grove Race, the next in the Ohio Grand Prix series, so stay tuned race fans!
1. Sally Price – Tritech
2. Becky Leidy – Summit Freewheelers
3. Jane Evely – Tritech
4. Catherine Scott – Summit Freewheelers
5. Judy Carroll – Tritech