Monday, April 20, 2009

Charleston Races 2009

My team has quite a history with the Charleston races. We have a lot of wins here. We are also the reigning winners 4 years over of the famed Alpaca prime. So, we look forward to this race every year. For me, it’s my favorite race on the calendar cuz it’s a weekend away in Charleston…well, technically we stayed on Isle of Palms, but you get the picture.

Last year, we had a host house for the Ion Village race. The house was 1 block off the race course and the Hanson’s provided lots of food and drink throughout the day for us. They hosted us again this year and they did not disappoint; they even had beer on ice for after the races. I sense a long lasting relationship developing.

One big downer this year: no Alpaca Prime. The Alpaca industry must have been hit hard by the current economic conditions.

This year’s Women’s Open race brought the toughest field I’ve ever seen at this race. With Pro’s like Rebecca Larson (Jittery Joes), Erica Allar (Colavita) and Laura Bowles (Vanderkitten) on the start line, the race was sure to get lit up quick.

And it did. In fact, I got caught not paying attention and found myself behind a group that couldn’t keep up through the turns. As soon as I saw the gap, I fought to bridge up to the main group but couldn’t quite get there into the wind on my own…I got close…so close I could smell it, but simply couldn’t quite get there. I sat up and waited for the chase group behind me. Unfortunately, of the 8 riders in the group, only about three of us were willing to work on the chase, so it was fruitless. I suppose some of them were thinking that since they had teammates up the road, there was no reason to chase. I didn’t see it that way – half the field was up the road and we had been dropped. To me, this wasn’t a breakaway situation. Plus, I wanted to ride with the Pros just to say I could do it. But, we never bridged the gap. With 2 laps to go I attacked into the wind coming into the cobbled corner. I ended up with a significant gap and stayed there for about ¾ of a lap, but got chased down. Because of that effort, I knew I wouldn’t have a remote chance at a sprint out of this group at the finish.

I finished way down in the standings, but didn’t mind so much cuz I did a lot of work in the chase group and I felt good about my attack – hey, ya gotta test the legs at some point, right?

Sunday was the SC State Crit Championship and other than getting yelled at by the Official at the start line, my team and I had a great race. I alone attacked 4 times and my teammates each had multiple attacks as well, so we were having fun lighting up the race a little. My first attack came on a prime lap. The field was sitting up so I went for it. As I started the attack, I heard the nasty sound of gears slipping and carbon fiber hitting the ground behind me. In the confusion, I got a little gap on the field and coming into the finish for the prime, I looked back to see Erica Allar on the front of the group chasing. As I stood up to sprint for the prime I heard her say, “You got it, you got it” meaning she had no intention of contesting the prime with me. A Beamer had a different plan, though. She came out of the pack and nipped me at the line for the prize. Oh, well…some other time, then.

As we came around to where the wreck happened, the rider who crashed, Jennifer Petosa, was still on the ground knocked out cold. We slowed down to get around her and then the officials neutralized the race. We were neutralized for 3 laps and even came to a complete stop behind the ambulance while they loaded Jennifer and took her to the hospital.

Upon restart, the nervousness within the group was hard to ignore, but after a few laps we worked through it and the attacks started again. With 4 to go, I attacked off again and I have proof:
This time I brought a Beamer with me. We had a decent gap for half a lap before getting chased down. With one lap to go and knowing there was no way I was gonna place in a mass sprint, I attacked for my fourth and final time. I knew I wouldn’t get far and I didn’t. I was chased down, again, by Erica Allar, who then went on to win the sprint. My teammate, Christina took second, so it was a good day for us. I’ve never attacked so much in a race before. It felt really good to be able to do so and made the race a lot more fun for me.

I have since received word that Jennifer is ok – no broken bones or head/neck injuries, just a lot of bruising and a lot of road rash. OUCH! Here’s what we suspect caused the crash: as I started my attack, Jennifer tried to follow me. As she was putting the torque into her pedals to sprint, her chain broke, forcing all her momentum toward the ground. As one rider put it, “I’ve never seen someone hit the ground so quickly. She was upright and then she wasn’t.” OUCH! I wish Jennifer a speedy recovery.

1 comment:

jbiker said...

Wow... was googling myself and found this... seems so long ago but I haven't been able to ride since...that was a bad injury and then a month later hurt myself at work (neck injury).

I didn't ever hear it explained quite like that... wow, guess it was quite the wreck. :( It's too bad because I was so enjoying that race!