The Women’s 3/4 team for this race was Trudi Schindler, Shelby Walter and me (Amy Rice). Trudi is our seasoned veteran, I am new to racing this year and this was Shelby’s first road race so we both relied heavily on Trudi’s description of the course, suggested strategy and overall racing wisdom. We had a field of 44 women, so this was a very large field for the ladies.
The morning started out with some pretty moody, petulant weather. We went from warming up in the sun to being pelted with freezing rain and hail 10 minutes before start. After being sufficiently freaked out by the race director, something about corkscrew turns on frozen ice covered roads, we were off. Race was to be three laps on this 14 mile out and back, and the basic team strategy was to stay together as long as possible, tuck into the middle of the peloton and let others do battle with the elements and wind.
The group held together until the first climb. On that first climb we lost about half the field. On the second climb the lead group was whittled down to just 9 and I found myself without Trudi or Shelby. With the wind blowing a solid 10 – 15 miles an hour we quickly fell into a pace line with each girl taking 30 – 60 second pulls. We passed Trudi at the turnaround, she was closing in on us. And Shelby a few minutes later, she was looking strong and wearing a big smile. About 4 miles before the last climb Trudi and two others chased down our lead pack and she immediately set about to making sure that we were well positioned for the last climb. After taking a pull she had me slide in front of her so I didn’t end up at the back. I asked Trudi “when to I go for it, what’s the strategy?” Her reply was simple: pour it on as soon as we started climbing, give it everything.
So true to Trudi’s strategy, as soon as it started kicking up, I battled my way to the front of the pack and picked up the pace to my breaking point. I knew there were at least four strong climbers from what I had seen on the previous laps but wanted to make the break as early as possible. Hannah Swan, from team Strive, grabbed my wheel and the two of us took off up the hill. We stayed together until the top and I could her breathing getting closer as she tried to come around me in the last 500 meters to the finish. Although I had given everything on the climb I leaned down into my drops and sprinted for the line. I held her off and crossed the line first, I was somewhere between the worst agony I’ve ever known and floating. My first thought was “I didn’t know I could do that”.
I turned around and cheered on Trudi coming over the line 7th for the Cat 4 and Shelby finished in the top 2/3 of the field on her first road race!
Overall it was a fantastic race. It was wonderful to have two teammates to work with and such a blessing to have a veteran like Trudi to guide and inspire us both on the course and off.