I was thrilled it didn’t rain at all for the race. The weather forecast people lied (but what’s new). Joined Evan and Co. for the early morning ride to Turlock, had a good warm up and was off to the starting line right on time. Still, I need to get used to showing up a bit earlier since there are always those announcements. Missed them, but oh well. Just then, I also realized they had combined the P/1/2/3 racing fields simply due to numbers. My plan for the race was to stay in the front group and to see how things developed. This would be my longest RR (46.5 mi) so I was especially excited. I like the last road race I did (Bariani) so I was hoping for another enjoyable race.
The field moved out at a really slow pace and no one chased after the one Metromint girl who created a big gap for herself. I kept calm and quiet and didn’t make any efforts to change the pace or close the gap. Truly just sat in for the entire first lap. It was actually pretty annoying how slow the pace was. It sped up when we got to the prime section but then it went back to the same old pace. Actually, I think the pace did speed up when one of the Cat 1 girls, I had raced with at OTF, took the reigns. Slowly the Metromint girl was pulled back into our midst.
When we reached the feed zone I handed one of my empty bottles to Evan’s dad but told him I didn’t need anything since I really wasn’t working hard. The second lap was much the same as the first. We almost had two crashes due to the course marshall on the motorcycle. He told us to go single file 2x to let the men pass and by doing so he completely killed what little momentum we had. The second time it was really inconvenient since he slowed us as we were descending and getting ready for one of the longer climbs.
The tempo sped up a lot on the last couple rollers. A few ladies made attacks, but they didn’t last long (it did show me how much power many of the riders had left in their legs). I knew I had to quickly get up to the front if I wanted a chance at placing. Right after the puddle section I took to the outside and made my way to the front of the group (was positioned in the top 5 riders). It was good since people rushed out of the final 90 degree turn and more attacks happened in the last 2 miles before the finish. I was in the front with 200m to go and went for it. The finishing straight is a false flat which was just perfect. I went for my sprint, pushing the usual big gear (I know I need to work on being more efficient with my lower gears ). Head down, pedaling fast, I suddenly heard the terrible sound of carbon bikes becoming roadkill. A couple riders went down (or at least that’s what it sounded like). I turned my head to check, couldn’t tell what had happened, turned to the other girls on my left and shouted “do we keep going?”…argh, what a lousy beginner’s mistake. The girls on the left just started pedaling faster. I realized my mistake and tried to sprint back to first. Lost my stupid first by an inch (AGAIN!). Happy I didn’t crash, but mad I didn’t get first. In the end, I should be happy with my result. Got second place and got a big jar of honey. Now it was off to another 2.5 hour ride home and to rest for Sunday’s Santa Cruz Crit.