I was a little disappointed with the turnout for the A's today. There were 7 of us on the line to start, including reigning champ of race #1 Sarah Kerlin, her teammate Ann Fitzsimmons and Lauren Constantini of Sycip, a chick I battled with many times last year.
The course was really loose and in my opinion pretty technical, but I'd done it before without crashing and so I figured I'd manage again this year. As usual, I got a terrible start. It was a long stretch of pavement leading up to a nasty, very sandy downhill into an off-camper left and over a big tree onto rough single track. I moved up to third wheel before the downhill behind Stella and Sarah, but everyone behind me attacked and swarmed us just before the downhill. Now I'm in last place and Stella and Sarah have already opened up a significant gap on the rest of the field. Luckily, after all the technical stuff there was a long straight away to make up some time and I was able to latch back on to the leaders.
Stella and I had talked a bit about strategy before the race and we were both disappointed with the result last week, so the plan was to tag team Sarah and if one of us got away with her, we would just sit on. We stayed together for the first 2 laps and coming through the start/finish with 3 to go I attacked. I got a gap thanks to Stella playing the team tactics just right and it took a while for Sarah to get back on my wheel but eventually she did.
Now it's just Sarah and I with 3 laps to go. I knew Stella wasn't far back so I sat on Sarah hoping Stella would catch up but she kept the pace high enough that we ended up staying away. Coming through with one lap to go, Rob yelled at me to sit on and wait for the sprint. Ideally, that would have been sweet and I might have been able to outsprint her at the end, but she attacked at every opportunity on the last lap. Her technique was so much cleaner than mine that she would be back on the bike 2 seconds faster than me at every transition and ultimately that's what cost me the race. I chased her down until the end, managing to cross the line a few seconds after she did, but it was very clear who the winner was.
In hindsight, I should have been throwing down attack after attack with 2 to go instead of sitting on so much. I also need to work much harder on my skills because frankly it's annoying not being able to clip-in and watching my opponent slip away. It was really fun battling with Sarah though and awesome to have such a strong teammate to work with and one that knows the sport so well. Had it not been for Stella's pre-race tips, I would have been in the dirt more than once. Had she not been sick, we would have been able to work Sarah a little bit harder and hopefully come up with the win. Next time...
Thanks for reading. -Shelley