What is worse than sandbagging? Special Guest Blogger!

I don’t have a team blog, or a team for that matter. I have a road bike I bought used for $500 when I started riding bikes four years ago. For training, I ride with my friends. I race road bikes on Saturday and mountain bikes on Sundays in order to push myself and to take my mind off of graduate school. This is my first race report. I guess it is the first time I have been inspired to write one, or I should say inspired to write my own in response to one.

There were seven women’s Cat 4 (including myself), and two women’s Cat 1/2/3 at the start of the Barbour County Detour in Phillipi on July 3rd. We began the race as a combined group along with the men’s masters’ field. Doing this always insures that the women’s Cat 4 riders get completely “strung out” from the beginning of the race as we get dropped from the main pack. I held the pace of the main group as long as I could as we travelled up the 2 mile climb out of downtown Phillipi. Tina Kirk was the only Cat 4 rider in front of me as I fell off, and she managed to hold on just a little longer putting a 30 yard gap between us. She crested the climb with a men’s vet rider and they begun to work together. Behind me on the top of the climb were two Steel City Endurance riders, one Cat 3 (Patty George) and a Cat 4 (Stacie Truszkowski). I decided to wait and work with them to catch Tina. I turns out this is where I made my fatal mistake. I incorrectly assumed that Patty, who just upgraded to Cat 3, had every incentive to catch Tina. Surely she wouldn’t want any of the Cat 4 women to finish before her. I made it clear to the Steel City girls that I wanted to trade pulls to bridge the gap, Tina was in sight and in my estimation, easily catchable if we worked together. However, it soon became apparent to me that Patty was just there to pull Stacie along, and Tina fell out of sight.

Because Betsy was the only other Cat 1/2/3, Patty could peddle with one foot and pick her nose the entire race and still get second. In terms of placement, she had nothing to lose. By this point I didn’t think I could bridge the gap by myself, because I knew Tina had at least one other person to work with. So, I decided to just sit behind the Patty and Stacie. Patty is a super strong rider and she spent a majority of the time in front. However, because of our unaggressive riding “tempo” we were actually caught by another Cat 4 rider (Nina La Rosa) who was riding by herself. My frustration grew, and I finally made an attack to bump up the pace. This worked and I was able to drop Nina. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get away from Patty, and I wasn’t sure if there was a big enough climb in the Detour to pressure her to leave Stacie behind. If could get away, I was pretty sure Patty would be able to pull her back on the flats. At this point I just decided to keep riding my pace. I attached up a small climb and put a sizable gap on them. I also passed a men’s Cat 4 Steel City rider, who had started five minutes ahead of us, riding with one other guy. I knew the guys would most likely catch me on the downhill, since they were much larger than I. However, I was surprised to see Patty and Stacy come around with them. We rode on, and then they dropped back a little again before the long downhill back into town. At the bottom, they caught me at the little riser before the final turns. I knew I was pretty much f#$k*d. They are way too smart to get in front of me even though I slowed down. I just tried to go as hard as I could as I made the right and then left turn before the straight away. Patty led Stacie out behind me and Stacie ended up passing me right at the line. The official said I beat Patty on the line, but it was really close. So in the Cat 4 standings, Stacie got 2nd and I 3rd. Patty was second in the Cat 1/2/3 race (Betsy was 1st), but if you combined the women’s field, Patty got 5th overall.

I’ll be the first to admit that Stacie and Patty raced within the rules. However, this event left a very sour taste in mouth. I am all about working as a team, in happens all the time in cycling. However, this approach was very unsportsmanlike in this instance. Normally, if a faster rider decides to ride with a slower rider, they have to give up their place in the standings. This wasn’t the case. Patty was automatically in second. If she hadn’t just moved up the Cat 3, she would have taken 4th in the Cat 4 race. But, if she was still a Cat 4 I would assume she would be chasing Tina down. Since she moved up, she was able to meddle in our race the entire time and collect her 2nd place in the Cat 1/2/3’s (with more prize money than Tina’s second place in the Cat 4 race) and then go home and blog about it. Really? It is hard enough to be a female Cat 4 racer in WV without crap like this. The fields are small, we start the race with some of the fastest men around, and we often end up riding the entire distance by ourselves. Frequently, people ask me why I do it. I tell them that life is just better when you have something healthy to compete in. In fact, I’ve never won a race. I’m just happy to be part of the competition.

But, how do you compete with negative racing?

I can’t say this experience was all bad. I learned a lot, and some good things came of it.

1. I got riled up enough to write about something other than science.

2. I learned Betsy is bad “teammate” for not hanging out in the Cat 4 race J

3. My actual name was used in the Steel City Endurance blog this year instead of being referred to as “the other girl”

Ride fast. Race fair. Respect other riders. Promote women’s cycling.

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