The morning started off sunny and warm as we packed the car for the final day of racing. Unfortunately, as we neared Cloquet, the clouds thickened and our car was dampened with drizzling rain. Nothing, however, could dampen our drive to get Jacki into first place for the GC.
My stomach turned as the wind whirled around us as we tried to warm our bodies on the trainers. All 3 of us, in a line of black n white Faras under the camper awning, readying ourselves for the race to come. The rain came down harder and harder as the temperatures dropped, making me question whether I really wanted to race another day. Luckily, it let up before our race, with enough time for the 50+ to dry up the course with a few quick laps.
The race began pretty smooth, with Barb leading the pace. Within a few laps, Jacki was already off the front for a few laps. Unfortunately, Amy and I were on the back of the pack when she took off, so we did everything we could not to get dropped in the pursuit...we had nothing left to counter when we all regrouped and the pack reformed again. Lap after lap, the group got more aggressive as we neared the bell.
When it finally rang, the energy in the pack became like a neon buzz...vibrating between us, electric in the cold, damp air. The climb after turn one was relaxed, each person contemplating their finishing move. As we ascended the second climb, you could hear the cadence increase and the gears drop in preparation of the decent. Sitting in 4th at the top of the hill, my mind was ready to win the final sprint. As we neared the bottom, I lost a place or two, but it was my rear wheel sliding out on the final turn that ended that fleeting thought. I spent the finishing stretch doing everything I could to at least retain my place in the pack. Luckily, I was able to nab a gal on the line with my final burst of energy leftover from the long weekend.
I ended up taking 5th in the crit (a few finishers in front of me were part of the 40+ field), taking 6th of 12 in the GC. Top 50% baby - my goal was met!!!! And what a blast it was! Jacki took 1st overall, and Amy came in right behind me in 7th. What a time it was racing with my new team!
Jay, however, was the big winner for the day! As the rain started again, the 35+ Masters sat on the starting line debating the length of the race. Once nothing could be solved, they reluctantly pedaled into the cold drizzle. Not 5 laps in, Jay spun his glasses along the wet pavement to me since they were doing him more harm than good. Lap after lap, though, he was sitting great and riding even better. With only 2 to go, Jay took off on a solo flyer and kept it going. The field couldn't catch him, as he bombed the wet downhill, prepped to slide out at the bottom, yet ecstatic when it didn't happen. As I waited impatiently at he finish line, I kept my fingers crossed that he'd at least keep the bike upright. To my surprise, Hwood rounded the final turn solo and rolled it in for an uncontested win, with enough time to open his rain coat and solute! And did I mention he did it all without his glasses?
Check out the finish...[warning - you may want to turn down your volume. Supposedly I can be pretty loud]
Way to go baby! I am so proud of you.
Tone & Crew, thank you SO MUCH for putting on such an amazing race! That was BY FAR the best race weekend I've ever had. Can't wait til next year!