(photo credit: Stephanie Jacobs)
When we left our host house today, it was raining. We had poured over the forecast, and it left us expecting just about any type of weather for the Menomonie Road Race today. There was a chance of scattered, isolated thunderstorms practically across the whole state.
By the time we arrived in Menomonie, things had dried up. No more rain, and the roads were dry. We saw clouds rolling in, so we knew the weather could change at any minute – and it did.
As we were standing on the start line for call-ups, it started pouring on us. We rolled out in a torrential downpour, but within 15-20 minutes, the rain had stopped. By the time we finished racing, the roads were pretty much dry save for a handful of scattered puddles. The sun came out early on in our day, and the heat combined with the post-rain air made for a really, really muggy day of racing. It was so stifling it was hard to breathe.
You might wonder why I’m spending much time talking about the weather when we raced a 76-mile road race today. Surely, I have more exciting things to talk about than rain clouds and puddles. Much to my chagrin, I do not.
This is a hard course with quite a bit of climbing, and in the past, it’s set the scene for some great racing. We expected more of the same today, and we went in with the plan of racing aggressively. It seems we missed out on the memo circulating among the other teams who all appeared dead set on a bunch sprint. Optum wanted to keep things together for race leader Carmen Small. Exergy and the other teams with sprinters were content with a field sprint. Despite our best efforts, we could not get a solid break up the road.
It certainly wasn’t for lack of trying that we ended the stage in a sprint. Every single one of my teammates launched attacks and went up the road solo. Personally, I had several break attempts. Megan Guarnier had the longest ride up front, and she ended up getting the most aggressive rider jersey (again!) for her efforts. Veronique Fortin attacked on so many climbs that she dropped herself a few times. We were all just putting it out there.
In the end, I think we overdid it a little. We weren’t able to do much to help Sam Schneider at the finish when it came down to a sprint. Theresa Cliff Ryan (Exergy Twenty12) was well-positioned in the finish circuits, and I saw Sam had put herself on Theresa’s wheel – which lead me to think she was well-positioned, too. I was right behind Sam and had made the decision to let Sam do her thing when Specialized-lululemon teammates Emilia Fahlin and Loren Rowney came flying up the hill and through the last corner. They ended up going one-two with Emily Collins (Vanderkitten Focus) rounding out the podium.
In hindsight (always in hindsight), I should have jumped in that final corner, too – and I should have put Sam on my wheel. At the time, I thought I was doing all that I could – and honestly, I was gassed. All of us were. We had worn ourselves out trying to make something happen and were left with a bunch sprint in the end. So, not the day we expected out there, but we gave it everything we could – which is really all we can do.
Stillwater tomorrow – click HERE to watch us live beginning at 11:45AM (CDT).