By Lesley Baldwin
After a taste of road racing during the Spring Series, I was keen to try out the real deal, and on Sunday June 24th I rode in my first ABA sanctioned road race. Actually, it felt like less of a race and more of a nice hard ride on a beautiful morning with some kindred-spirited cyclists, but that’s okay. There were 7 women on the cat 3-4-5 start list when I signed up, but when I arrived at the line, there were only 5, including myself. Within minutes of our very casual roll out, we were down to 4. We had a nice 2-by-2 ride with some introductions and friendly chit- chat. Around the 15k mark, my bladder was ready to burst (bad timing with the pre-race coffee) and I proposed a pee break. Although I’d *heard* this wasn’t uncommon in large pelotons during lengthy races, no one else had ever heard of such a thing and some where a bit skeptical…”is this a trick?” Trina asked. Finally, everyone was on board and we waved the commissaires past. So much better! And what a civilized way to ride a “race”!
Once we started up again, we continued on our fairly leisurely pace – to be fair, I sat in second wheel the whole time and it was fairly windy so perhaps it was not so leisurely for the girls at the front! Once we turned onto Hwy 770 things picked up a little and the group reorganized (not that there are many ways to organize a group of 4, but whatever…). We got to the hill and all stayed together on the down hill. Trina led the uphill and I just tried to keep pace; when I looked back, I realized we’d gapped the other two. Hooray! I was glad it happened without really having to launch any kind of attack because it felt like too friendly a group for that! Once we realized we had a good lead, Trina and I decided to work together to try and double the gap on the second uphill after the turn around. It worked. Again, she set the pace on the uphill and I followed suit. This time it was considerably harder and if I’d been in the lead, I’d definitely have let up a bit, but I wasn’t going to let her gap me too!
At the top of the hill we started alternately pulling and taking turns breaking the pretty serious wind we were riding into. The effort was considerably harder on the way home, but we were going much more slowly! We kept checking to see if the other girls were on our heals, but all we could see was the commissaires car. We hated to have them catch us after the big gap we’d made so we decided to ride a little harder. When I thought we had about 8km left, I started to hammer it a little knowing I’d have a better chance at a long hard finish than at a short super-hard finish. Then I had second thoughts and backed off…. Lame, I know, but after her performance on the hill, I was pretty sure she was quite a bit stronger than me. Plus, we were just having a nice Sunday ride, right? Just after that, we saw the “1000m” sign, but weren’t sure we’d read it right. “Was that 10000m or 1000m?” Neither of us knew! I think she spotted the finish tent first and she started to turn things on. I responded but couldn’t go as hard. She flew over the finish line a few seconds before and we made a 1-2 finish. Fun, but hardly as exciting as a cyclocross race. Hopefully there will be more ladies and more action in the next race!