Race Report - Ken Woods Road Race

7:52 PM

The smile before the pain...

Two weeks ago if you had asked me if I was going to race the Ken Woods Road Race I would have laughed - with over a foot of snow on the ground and more on the way, a road race just seemed like an insane thing to do.  But when we warm up, we warm up - and Saturday was predicted to hit 72 degrees.  Add to that the fact that my team was mobilizing to get a large group of women out to the race (many of them first-time road racers) and I was sold on a nice, 21 mile race.

They day was simply awesome - a warm, sunny day and eight Birchwood women ready for the challenge.  Hey, we were half the field!  Those of us with some (meager) racing experienced shared everything we knew about Ken Woods - the course, paying attention to the wind, where the road was dangerous with pot-holes, and where to attack. 

Given my lack of fitness, my goals focused on hanging on for as long as I could, making a few attacks to liven things up, and simply having fun.

The race was a lot more fun than I expected - road racing always makes me so nervous because you can find yourself in a crowd of rather sketchy riders.  But everyone communicated well, no one did anything too dangerous, and there were enough attacks to keep things interesting.  A few of the attacks were even started by me - the field was a bit too willing to turn the race into a knitting club on wheels because of a strong head/cross wind, so a few of us tried to thin the field for our stronger teammates as we moved into the middle part of the race.

Of course, I was dropped eventually.  After a brutal shift at the front, I quickly realized I had miscalculated my efforts and burned too many matches.  Rather than drifting back and catching on, I found myself drifting as the field split apart...

...luckily, an angel appeared in the form of a teammate, and I was able to grab on to her wheel as she sped by.  In a couple of miles we picked up another teammate who also got spun off on a hill, and we worked together for the rest of the race in a three-person pace-line.  If I do say so myself, we looked quite pro with our well executed pulling. 

The race ended up a huge, half-mile-long hill, and our little group busted up at the bottom.  As I looked ahead I could see the official car was tailing a rider who was struggling, so I picked a good pace and headed up...only to be overtaken by a giant oil truck...who then slowed to a crawl behind the official car...who was slowed to a crawl behind the rider I wanted to overtake.

So, I couldn't pass on the left of the oil truck (breaking the center line rule right in front of the official car would most likely get me disqualified)...what to do?  There was about a two-foot gap on the right of the truck, and the gravel shoulder looked firm (just in case), so I carefully made my way by the truck on the right, always keeping an eye out just in case I needed to make a quick exit to the gravel.  Luck was with me again, and the truck driver maintained a nice and steady line.  The rider tried to stay with me when I passed, but she quickly tired and dropped back.  From there it was a short sprint from the crest of the hill to the finish line for a glorious mid-pack finish.

The best part of the day was when I found out my work was helpful, as two of my teammates made the podium.  In all honesty, I'm not a big fan of road racing, but helping out some friends was definitely worth the painful effort!

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