|- by Laura Weislo of Spin Cycle/Triangle Radiation Oncology|
Habitat Wake Cycling Challenge
Cary, NC, May 24-25, 2003
This was the second year my new team, Spin Cycle/Triangle Radiation Oncology, has held this race, and this year we added a criterium. Since our team is relatively small, this meant triple duty for everyone. I was lucky and got the coolest of race jobs - picking up, driving and returning the pace car. This year Saturn of Cary loaned us a sweet new cherry red Ion coupe. After driving around in this feisty little number all weekend, it was kind of a letdown to get in my 1997 Saturn wagon... maybe it's time for a new car. I also got to work registration, which is really fun because you get to meet all the riders. Oh, yeah, and I snuck two races in there, too.
I was a little disappointed in the turnout for the women's race. All the men's races had over 25 entrants, and the Pro 1,2,3 men had almost 60! But, alas, the women only had five in the 1,2,3 and six category 4 racers. In my field it was me, Patty Shoaf (Hammergel), a duathlete who is just returning to racing after knee surgery, Kathleen Gleason who is just returning to racing after having a baby in January, and her two teammates Suzie and Lisa.
The race started at a leisurely pace, but I really wanted to get a decent workout in, so I attacked on the first hill. Patty countered, Kathleen put in her own attack, and pretty soon the three of us were off the front. Our little breakaway was doomed from the outset, however, because Kathleen was only going to work if both Patty and I worked. Otherwise, she was content to sit on and wait for her team mates to bridge back up. They did. Then Patty and I tried to isolate Kathleen again with some solid attacks, but couldn't shake 'em, and with 2K to go, we were crawling along at 20kph, playing cat and mouse.
By the time Lisa and Suzie started to lead out the sprint, all the cat 4 women had caught back up to us just in time for the sprint. With 250m to go, Patty and I decided we wanted to occupy the same bit of road and wound up body-checking like a couple hockey players. I got the wobbles for a moment, but recovered to jump on Patty's wheel. Good thing I practiced those bumping drills this winter! She powered away from me up the hill to the finish, and I managed to get past Kathleen for second place of the 1,2,3's, but Amber Kreiger came past me to win the cat 4 race. After a cool down and a bit of lunch, it was back to work at registration and then driving the pace car for the Pro 1,2,3 men.
The next day was the criterium in downtown Raleigh. This time I worked registration all morning long and got to meet all the cat 5 and masters racers. After the start of the last masters race, I got dressed and on the trainer to warm up for my race. As I warmed up, the clouds grew darker and darker, and by the time the masters were done, the first drops had begun to fall. When we started the race, it was a downpour, and the roads were now rivers. At least our field was a little bigger - seven! Patty, Kathleen, Amber, Suzi and I were back, and Liz Hansen (Fuji) and Hope Ann Snyder joined us.
Patty attacked on the first lap to get things going, and I was pretty happy about that because it was too chilly to go slow. We took the turns pretty gingerly - everyone intent on keeping their skin intact. After a few laps, the rain started to let up a bit, and the announcer called a prime. I decided to use the prime to test out a finishing strategy. Unbeknownst to my competitors,
I had a bit of a home court advantage. Our club uses part of this course for sprint practices in the winter, and I've been around the last turn about 600 times at full speed. I jumped halfway between the last two turns, and sprinted up the middle to take the Road ID gift certificate, but wasn't happy with the bumps in that part of the road.
For the next few laps, I was happy to sit on wheels. Liz Hansen took the next prime - some nice Pearl Izumi shorts, and then kept the pressure on. She really had us on the ropes, and with 5 laps to go, I started tasting breakfast again. I was glad that Kathleen had enough strength to get back on, as I unabashedly played wheel-sucker. With 3 laps to go, they called another shorts prime, and I decided to try out a better finishing line. This time I would take the last turn from the far right side and cut in left for the finish where the road was smoother. It worked! I got the shorts and then settled in for the finish.
There was a bit of cat and mouse yet again on the last lap, then thankfully Suzie went to the front and picked up the pace. Patty was on her wheel followed by Kathleen, and then I had to move up on the downhill before the second to last turn. I took that one wide, moved to the right and punched it - racing Kathleen who went on the far left to the last turn. I had to get there ahead of her... it was going to be close... I got there with a bike length to spare, and cut in to the middle for the last turn. The wide line was much faster than the tight inside line and I was up the hill and across the finish in first place! Yay! What a great feeling! To win in front of my friends and teammates at a race one mile from my house was fantastic. Even better was the race going smoothly for our team and raising a good chunk of cash for a great cause - Habitat for Humanity.
So, I think my form has returned! At least I hope so because this weekend I race the Cap Tech classic and the Clarendon Cup, both National Calendar races, and then the following week is the Liberty Classic in Philadelphia. Yikes!
Wish me luck!
More info about Laura can be found at her personal website