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Saturday, May 13, 2006

2006 Road Race

The DII women's road race consisted of two 28.4 mile laps with a strong wind and steep, short hills. The first lap was almost entirely uneventful. By the end I was bored enough to wonder why I had even bothered racing... I mean, I could be studying for my finals or writing a blog post or SOMETHING that was interesting and useful. There was one MIT rider off the front by herself, but she went off at the start of the race and I was sure whe would fry and we would catch her. At the begining of the second lap, Rj and I were riding on the front and Mara came up and said, "You know what I'm going to do, don't you?" And I knew exactly what she meant because there was a hill coming up that stairstepped- the perfect place to drop people because people were tired out by the time they hit the second step.

So Mara attacked, and I sat on her wheel and at the top of the hill there was a group of 8 of us. Working smoothly together we quickly caught the MIT girl. 8 was still too many, we (Mara & I) wanted a more selective group. In other words, we wanted Mara off the front by herself so she wouldn't have to sprint against anyone for the finish. So I attacked several times as we neared the hill that I knew Mara would attack on. The strong girls in our group worked to chase me back and I hoped to tire them out that way so that they would have less energy to keep up with Mara's attack.

So we hit the attack hill, another, longer hill-flat-hill again kind of hill. Knowing Mara was going to attack I got Caitlin's wheel (a strong rider from RPI, yeah, I don't know what RPI stands for either) and held on as best I could, which was not good enough. I crested the hill in fifth and by myself. With Mara off the front by 15 seconds and the chase group of three right out of my reach. I was in no-man's land, desperately trying to catch the chase group, knowing that I would fry if I sat out in the wind alone. I was about to give up on chasing and started to look around for riders close behind me to drop back to when I saw Caitlin drop off the chase group. One rider I can catch and I picked up the pace to close the gap.

At the top of another hill I was just about to catch Caitlin when we came upon a bunch of cars in the road and officials waving at us to stop. So we stopped, along with all the other DII women and waited, and waited. There was a big crash in the DI field at the bottom of the hill and a couple of girls were helicoptered to the hospital so we had to wait for all the ambulances and helicopters to clear out. After about 40 minutes we got to restart... in the order that we had stopped, pursuit style. There were only 6.6km to the finish at this point so it was just a mean time trial and spring to the finish. Mara started, 12 seconds later two other women started, then 18 seconds after that Caitlin and I started, and the rest of the field in a similar fashion. Caitlin and I worked together time trialing and didn't catch anyone or get caught. As we neared the finish (about half a mile), Caitlin pulled through and I pulled up next to her and we had a conversation:
LV: I don't want to draft you.
C: Me neither.
LV: Let's ride in side by side.
C: sounds good.
LV: No game playing.

So we drag raced in to the finish and I managed to out sprint her for fourth place. Mara won, Jane got 13th and Rj got 14, so a very good showing for Whitman!


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