first 2006 race report!

Altoona Road Race, Altoona, IA (not to be confused with the real Altoona)

Last night Nate, Gilby, Andy, Alix, and I hopped back into the same bigass broken-down van and drove to Des Moines for the first races of the season. This morning was the road race - 5 laps of a four and a half mile circuit (the boys' races were longer) with a short but steep hill coming up to the finish. 21 women started the race, 19 finished. It was an open field, too, which can be a little demoralizing. Seeing as I'm a lousy Cat 4, I feel like it doesn't count when a Cat 2 beats me, but in an open field in a foreign place (yes, Iowa is foreign, you should come here sometime) it's impossible to tell who is what. At home, of course, even in an open field I generally know what category everyone races and who I should worry about beating, but apart from two Bellas and my own two teammates I'd never seen any of these women before. My plan is to google everyone who beat me and see how many of them really count.

Anyway, we lined up and rolled out, and not much happened for a while. I've been in neutral starts that rolled out faster. Nothing at all really happened until the end of the first lap, when we hit the hill and the field started to break up. I stayed with the lead pack until the third time up that hill, then I found myself trailing a little and unable to recover enough to catch back on. After a while I gave up and waited for the two behind me to catch me. One of those two was my teammate, Alix. The three of us worked together for the fourth lap but when we hit the hill again I shelled them both and found myself alone for the entire last lap.

Which is never fun. I was glad when I came around the last corner and started up the hill for the fifth and final time, but of course the men's 4/5 field chose that moment to catch me -- they'd started just a minute or two before we had -- and I was trapped on the very edge of the road behind some other dude who had gotten lapped and who was going obscenely slowly. I wasn't in any danger of being caught by the next girl back, nor was I close enough to the front pack to be particularly worried about them, but I really wanted to pass this guy anyway. No such luck though; I was apparently invisible to the 4/5s and so I had to crawl up the final hill and just pray that they would finish passing me before the finish line so that the officials would at least see me.

And they did, just in time, and I waved at the officials just to be sure they knew I wasn't a 4/5 being dropped, and that was that. The orange-clad girl I'd worked with for Lap 4 crossed a bit later, and then Alix after that, and Alix and I turned back and started doing a slow cool-down lap going backwards so we could see where everybody else was. Gilby came in a few minutes later and apparently went straight to the van to wrap herself in a blanket and shiver. We finished our cooldown lap in time to watch the 4/5s come in, with Nate in 10th.

When the results were posted it turned out I came in 8th, out of 19 that finished (2 DNFs). No idea how many of the first seven were cat 4. If I ever get that information I will, of course, share. Otherwise known as "tooting my own horn."

Then the men's 1/2/3 race went, and the rest of us stood and watched that. We also had the outstanding pleasure of watching some dumbass in an SUV drive straight through the wheel pit and wreck four or five pairs of wheels. Sarah Stratton caught it all on camera, and Sarah, if you're reading this, I highly encourage you to post that picture. The cops were called and a report filed, and hopefully everyone whose wheels were destroyed will get reimbursed. Otherwise, we all know the driver's license plate number and they will be hunted down and killed, I'm sure.

Anyway, I'll let Andy tell his own story, but he did well and came away with some actual Phat Cash (not to be confused with the "phat cash" I won last year, which turned out to be a water bottle). We went back to the hotel to drop off the bikes and get cleaned up, and then we stuffed ourselves with Mexican food and I was naughty and had a margarita even though we're racing again tomorrow. (Last time I drank the night before a race, I got dropped in the first two miles and rode the entire race alone. I did, at the time, say I would never do it again, but... but... but margaritas!)

And now we're sitting here doing nothin'. Sit tight; barring tornadoes there should be another race report tomorrow.

Update: after mucho googling, it appears that (apart from one woman who appears to be a fairly high-level triathlete, but not much bike race info available, so who knows) only one Cat 4 woman beat me and Alix. And that one happened to win the whole thing, and her days as a 4 are obviously numbered, so I don't feel too bad about that. So way to go, me and Alix.


Blogger Sascha said...

Way to show off the team colors girls! You Rock!

4/01/2006 7:54 PM  
Blogger Shawn Kielty said...


4/01/2006 10:22 PM  
Blogger Bobster said...

Bien Fait Ladyvelo! You go girl!

So just so I can unerstan my English the term Bellas are any rider of the female persuasion that we don't know?!

For instance, I've gotten smoked by the same Bella two weekends in a row.

BTW my wheelmen buddies were totally impressed that y'all did over 500 miles during hell week. So congrats in more ways than one!

4/02/2006 12:41 AM  
Blogger the old bag said...

Way to go Annie -- TX pays-off!

4/02/2006 9:35 PM  
Blogger annie said...

No bobster, Bellas are members of the Velo Bella team. Sorry for the confusion.

4/03/2006 8:05 AM  

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