words by Celia Riechel
photos by Erica Robbins
I think everyone’s gotten the day-by-day reports from the guys on GMSR, but lest you think RSC went unrepresented on the women’s side, here’s a recap of the weekend from the women’s 3/4 field.
Day 1: Time Trial
I spent the warmup experimenting with what Matt called “imaginary aero bars” and nearly swerved into a cow pasture. I ruled that hand position out but tried all the others during the actual time trial, which squirming about may or may not have cost me the 1 second by which the winner beat me. 2nd.
Day 2: Circuit. Where My Troubles Began.
I anticipated a field sprint at the end and my plan was to just hang out, work on good positioning, finish with them and then really try to make up my 1 second in the road race. But there was a crash after the sprint competition, in which I was lightly involved. I put my chain back on, hopped back on my bike and began chasing the field, leaving the pile of other crashees to sort themselves out. The chase was hard, became harder as I realized I had a flat. I kept riding but after about 6 or 7 miles, on a descent, I stopped.
Someone would be by with a wheel. Nope! I sat on the guard rail, dejected and hungrily licking the sticky remains of a gel packet, unable to recall a single line of poetry.
30 min later, a race official drove by and said she’d get my wheel. She said I was out of the time cut, but if I finished the race I could explain what happened and I’d be allowed to race the next day. I contemplated eating a large shiny green dragonfly that I’d caught beneath my foot. In 15 or 20 min she came back with my wheel.
I pedaled in an hour after the field finished, then back to the start and talked to the head referee guy who said I’m fine to race the next day. 30somethingeth (last).
That evening, just to be sure, I went to the race HQ and confirmed with the same head guy that I was not time cut.
Day 3: Road race. Purgatory. Salvation.
At sign-in, it says time-cut by my name, but the USA Cycling person says she doesn’t know, I can ride and it will be figured out later. I ride, am a bit tired from my flat tire time trial so just save energy until the end. 2nd to that same darn person. Not what I wanted, but I’ll take it.
Later the guys noticed my name didn’t appear on the results list at all. Bad. We try to find the race officials but can’t. The day before, by some stroke of random luck, Alex ran into an acquaintance of his from car racing, Liz Campbell, who was a motorcycle official. Phone numbers exchanged. He called her and so began my rocky salvation.
It was not simple. Apparently the race officials had determined I was an illegal rider and the sign-in official was claiming I’d blatantly disregarded her direction and raced anyway, and as a consequence they were contemplating revoking my license. Yikes!! Liz kindly instructed me on the fine art of writing a detailed description of the events, key word “protest,” key element having the names of the officials I’d talked to. Then Alex and I delivered it to Liz after 9pm in the dark outside a party the officials were having. Liz would get them to discuss it asap, but still no certainty on the outcome.
10:30pm: Miracle! a phone call from Liz, who says I can race the crit in Burlington. The head ref had just forgotten about talking to me. You know.
Day 4: Burlington criterium
Last chance. It started fast, but with so many corners it seemed like someone would stand a good chance of staying away. Almost immediately half the field was dropped, including the GC leader. A few attacks early but nobody could put any distance on the remaining field.
I attacked about 5 laps in, stayed away for about 1 1/2 laps then went back to the field, just figured I’d stay in a good position until near the end and try again. Right after we crossed the line with one lap to go I just went like mad for it and although I haven’t perfected (or actually ever tried) the fine art of looking behind me, I did get away from them a bit. Or maybe it was just a giant leadout for them. Two of them just caught me at the line, by less than a half wheel.
3rd. If only I’d remembered to pull up on the pedal!
This race was sooo much fun, even if I didn’t quite pull it off.
Single-person breaks did work in other races: the guy who won the men’s 3 race just kept getting faster, nearly lapped the field.
Day 5: I wish there was a day 5!!!
So to recap: 2nd, last, 2nd, 3rd. GC: last, one hour back.
Check your bike after a crash before you hop back on it and ride away from support vehicles to make sure it’s okay.
USA Cycling has rules. It is our responsibility to know them.
Knowing an official helps, too.
Written Protests are required.
Get names of officials who tell you things.
Bring extra food and maybe a copy of War and Peace in case you get stuck sitting by the side of the road.