(photo credit: Wil Matthews / VeloNews)
I could hear the rain all night, so I wasn’t surprised when I woke up to drizzle and mist. The weatherman got it wrong this weekend in Providence. We never got the projected 80°F and sunshine. Yesterday’s clouds, slightly lower temps and light rain gave way to a wet, cold morning. Although the course had begun to dry up by mid-day, it was definitely slicker than the first day of racing.
The course was fairly similar to yesterday, so the conditions were the biggest change to familiarize myself with ahead of my start. It didn’t rain much in the afternoon, so the conditions changed quite a bit between pre-ride and our start as the course continued to dry.
My goal today was to get a better start than my ill-fated acceleration off the line on Saturday. I know I’m riding relatively well, but I’m missing the front group because I can’t dial in my start. When the splits start to happen, I’m not where I want to be. Instead of fighting to make the selection as it happens, I’m working my way up to what eventually becomes the chase group. I need a better start to give myself a better chance for the results I’m chasing.
Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, today was more of the same. Another bad start. Another first lap making my way from 16th place to 13th place. By lap two, I had advanced from 13th place to 8th place and made contact with the second group. By that time, the front group had ridden away from the rest of the field. Katerina Nash (Luna Chix), Katie Compton (Trek Collective), Helen Hyman (Kona) and the ever-impressive Elle would duke it out for the podium.
Despite my disappointment, I stayed focused on the task at hand and steadily picked off riders one-by-one. With two laps left to race, Nicole Duke (Marin-Spy), Mo Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill) and Courtney McFadden (Bicycle Blue Book) had taken up the chase as Katerina and Katie traded blows at the front.
Courtney distanced herself from Nicole and Mo shortly before I connected with them on the bell lap. Shortly after I caught them, I kept my head down and began chasing Courtney like mad. The chase proved effective, and I eventually closed the gap to Courtney on one of the last grassy sections before we hit the pavement to the finish line. I came into the pavement section first and held on for fifth place.
I later learned that Katerina did the double, soloing to her second victory of the weekend 12” ahead of Katie, 31” ahead of Helen and 47” ahead of Elle. Although my teammate missed the podium for the first time since CrossVegas (she’s been on fire lately!), her consistency earned her the New England Verge Series leader’s jersey.
Looking back on the race, with the exception of my start, I had a good race – but it’s a frustrating experience because of the slow start. I dug so deep in those last couple laps, that I start dry heaving as soon as I crossed the finish line – a first for me (in 15 years of bike racing!). It took me a really long time to catch my breath. Physical proof to back up my assertion that I had given it everything. There was nothing more that I could have done.
Overall assessments – I’m somewhat pleased with the weekend. Of course, it could always be better. Unless I’m winning, I’m always going to dissect and analyze – even when I’m winning, I dissect and analyze. There’s always room for improvement. Always. In my case, I need to find a way to get myself off the start line faster.
Right now, three hours post-race, I’m completely spent both physically and emotionally. It’s been a hard, draining but wonderful weekend. Now, I’m ready to go home and spend ten days at my house, in my own bed and riding on my own roads before I head off to Europe for the World Cups in two weekends.
I’ll race at home next weekend, which is always a treat – Colorado Cross Cup on Saturday and Boulder Cup on Sunday. Everyone in Providence missed out on a chance to celebrate Amy Dombroski tonight at Valmont at an event organized by her family, and I think we’re all looking forward to coming together again in a place that was important to Amy – that’s important to a lot of us.