I didn't plan on doing Wente. 10 hours in the car returning from Utah on Friday and Cat's Hill Saturday weren't optimal prep, but when the new Mr. Cameron Mitchell (just changed his name there, sneaky huh?) said he wanted to race, I felt I had to be supportive. And how convenient, his race started just minutes after mine and we'd only have to get up at 5am to make it.
Sadly, the women's P12 field has shrunk to a tiny version of its once mighty self, so there we were, just 6 of us lined up to take the start at this awesome NorCal classic. Marissa had Ivy and Christina joining her, making it a trio from JLVelo. Tanya was doing some training for her World's qualifier so she was there for Thirsty Bear. And then Brooke Danaher was a new face, having recently moved back to the Central Valley from Seattle.
We rolled out along the flat start and already the wind was ripping. With such a small group, there wasn't going to be anywhere to hide. Plus it was cold...in Livermore! We rode tempo the first time over the climb and immediately reduced the group to 3: Tanya, Brooke and me. Two more laps riding around in the wind and I did a little attack after the hard left that leads to the Bump climb. You know the one where you have to slow down and try not to hit the dots, then it goes into a slight uphill. We lost Tanya there, so then it was just me and Brooke. She preferred to sit on, which is slightly annoying but ok. I took some digs on the climbs, testing my legs and seeing if I could tire her out a little. I couldn't remember the last time I'd ridden 60 miles so I wasn't sure that trying to ride away was the best tactic. Then again, my sprint isn't legendary, but I took my chances. We cat and moused it in the last couple Ks leading to the finish, but once the line was in sight - and I heard Mr. Cameron Mitchell yell GOOOOOO - I unleashed my almighty burst of speed and took the win. Afterward, I told Tanya what happened, about how I'd really put down the watts with my blistering sprint, to which Todd added "said Amy never." Thanks honey, I love you too.
The best-laid plans of mice and men...and Mike's Bikes women...well you know the rest. It's bike racing, and things change faster than you can say "gravel in a corner."
We lined up with a strong squad ready to lay down some serious tactics and set ourselves up for a 1-2 podium at Berkeley Hills Road Race. This wasn't unrealistic considering we comprised almost half the field and have been on a roll this year. All I could think was "this is going to be fun!" What could be better than 70 miles of aggressive, hilly racing with Diana, Sara, Zanna and Mel?
Our best-laid plans went awry early on, as a patch of gravel less than 10 miles in claimed various carbon bike parts and large swaths of skin from Mel, Zanna and Diana. Sara kindly stopped to assist with cleanup, and that left me (lucky and feeling the need to avenge the gravel) rolling on with the now seriously-reduced field, after a quick brake caliper fix.
Almost everyone else was solo, and I knew attrition was going to be the name of the game from there on out, so my tactic was just to ramp up the pace over each climb to see who we could snap off. On such a windy day, no one was going to be able to re-attach. After 3 laps of this, I was left with Brooke and Eleanor, both of whom seemed pretty content rotating through until the last time up Mama Bear, when I went to the front again to wear them down a bit before the final climb. I felt good, and fairly confident in my uphill sprint, so figured that unless one of them decided to go early, I'd wait until I hit those finishing cones and then hard charge for the line. And that's how it went down. Both waited on me, I chose my spot and sprinted for the line to take it.
The big lesson: bike racing is unpredictable and you often have to do a quick change of strategy. I would have much rather raced with my teammates but it was nice to get the win for them. Many thanks to the Berkeley Bicycle Club and all of the volunteers who put on this beautiful race. Also, the prizes were legit - I won some new wheels!