Cafe Racers represented last weekend at the Sterling Road Race on Saturday in Sterling, MA. The 24-mile women’s race presented another great opportunity for the team to work together for strong results.
The Cat 4 women’s race started from Sterling Middle School at 8:40am; we rolled in from a warm-up ride at about 8:30, at which point Lauren and I both decided we needed to go to the bathroom. Run! Running down a linoleum tiled hallway in bike shoes is like stiltwalking on an icerink. We careened into the bathroom, completed the operation, and skittered to the start in time to…start at the back. The race was neutral to the start/finish line just up a hill from the town center. While riding to the start, I tried to neutral-y creep up towards Cait, Lauren, and Kristina, who were in the middle. (Joy seems to have a knack for starting at the front, saving herself all the hassle of moving up through a erratic and accordioning back.) Then the race really started. We rode all jammed together for a while.
The group stayed together through the first lap, thinning a bit towards the end of Route 12 as it tilted uphill. Around the bend into town, The Hill turned sharply up. And then…an attack! Did this count as lap 1 or 2? Whatever, people were going, so I went VRROOOM!!! One woman and I pulled ahead through the steep section and hauled through the gentler-but-still-uphill section beyond. I glanced at the woman…whoa! the muscles on her legs popped like heroic sculpture. “Great!”, I thought, we’ll stay away from everyone for the rest of the race. Nope! The road flattened and then UberWoman switched to afterburners and left me, too. For a while I tried to catch her…not happening. Should I slow down and wait to get caught? I looked behind me, saw nobody, so just kept going. Maybe I could stay away (how many laps?) and keep 2nd. I rode most of the rest of the lap by myself. It was sunny and butterflies fluttered everywhere. I tried to ignore them because this was time to be serious. The main group caught me right as the course turned back onto Route 12 and I caught on the 3rd or 4th wheel.
Written by Kristina Donehew – 3rd place finish
The Sterling RR truly presented both a challenging and rewarding course. It was absolutely beautiful yet had just enough rolling hills and a climb at the end of each lap to keep you on edge and remind you that you were, in fact, in a bike race. The first lap was incredibly sketchy – the pace was unsteady and nervous riders swerved from one side of the road to the other. As soon as we hit one of the first descents, I saw what appeared to be an attack but turned out to be erratic riding. We made our way through the first lap and hit the climb – the group hammered up the hill and a small group consisting of 2-3 riders broke away. At this point my lungs felt like they were about to explode, my legs were shot, and we hit a false flat – ugh. All I could think about was, “How in the world am I going to do this two more times?” It was then that I just decided to try and finish with the group.
Finally, the group seemed to settle down and find a relatively steady pace. On lap two and part of lap three it was evident that Celia had broken away with the girl off the front. The group continued to ride fast, but steady. I started to feel better and better and felt really good the second time up the hill. The group stayed together this time, and worked to catch the leader, who was well out of sight. As we hit Route 12 we all ran over a water bottle which came out of nowhere. At this point everyone was getting nervous vying for a good position. I got pinned in at one point and thought I going to be stuck…luckily I found an opening got outside and rode hard up to the front again.
As we approached the final turn of the last lap (before the hill) I got into a great position and the thought of “going for it” entering my mind for the first time – before this moment I had never considered doing anything other than working for my teammates. As we approached the final somewhat uphill turn, Celia just took off and I decided to try and hang on to her wheel. She ended up slinging me right up to the bottom of the hill and next thing I knew I was vying for second place (an incredibly strong Cat 4 had already won the race by 4+ minutes), and as I approached the top a girl in a black and white kit flew right by me (I was too busy exhausting myself to know which team she represented). I was more than pleased to take third, and see that the other Cafe Racers finished strong, with three of us in the top 10!
Thanks to Pete Banach for taking these great photos.