Ronde Von Manor – Saturday 3/27
Apparently women cyclists all across Texas picked today to sleep in, because only 6 racers showed up for the Women’s Open race at 8:55am this morning, despite the warm, dry weather forecast, close proximity to Austin, and smooth & fast course.
The race was a fairly short 35 miles on a fast, rolling circuit with one short kicker, one ~mile long very gradual rise, and an uphill straightaway finish.
Though the field was small we had a competitive race. Sheri Rothe, who I knew to be an aggressive rider from last week, started things off with an acceleration on the kicker. This knocked two riders off right away. The four of us motored off with a paceline. The AT&T team figured in again with a rider in this break (Rheannon) and a rider in the two behind. Rheannon, consequently, was sitting pretty and put in hardly any pulls. The fourth woman seemed to be working hard but by the time we motored through the start line for lap 2, she backed off her pulls as well. I asked Sheri if she was just sitting on our wheels or if she really was tired. She told me Michelle was on antibiotics for a sinus infection and didn’t feel well. That explains the labored breathing. So Sheri and I were working, Rheannon was sitting in, and Michelle was sort of half a body.
I attacked on the kicker hill. Sorry Michelle, but time to jettison you. I wanted to test Rheannon. I knew Sheri would either match my acceleration or bridge up right away. Well, she didn’t and I was away. I got a nice healthy gap – enough to disappear around the sweeping corners – and thought I could make it stick. I was drilling it, but Sheri and Rheannon were working together and I could see them down the road. I spent 2/3 of the lap away but they started closing it down on the gradual downhill leading into the finish, and caught me just as we turned the corner for the final lap. Grrrrrr.
Looking back, I should have counter-attacked almost immediately. But I was content to sit in their slipstream until the kicker hill one last time. We had sort of a peace established and it looked like we were going to just motor together to a sprint finish. Sheri got out of the saddle for a slow climb, saying “I’m not attacking guys! Just getting out of the saddle to climb” and I just sat and spun to observe. Rheannon started slipping back. I spun up to Sheri, who continued up the hill steadily. Rheannon continued to slide backwards. At the top I said to Sheri, uh–looks like we oughtta go! Rheannon was done.
Pretty uneventful from there on. We took equal and strong pulls. I wanted to attack her at 2km but I made myself wait for the sprint. I couldn’t make myself do it…it didn’t feel sportsmanlike (I know Larry, you’d kill me for that). At 300m we started playing cat and mouse but I just swung right and went. She didn’t have an answer for the sprint.
Sister race Ronde von Manda tomorrow, and that will be it for my Texas tour. The race community here has been so welcoming, friendly, and genuinely interested in who I am and where did I come from !?– but I’m pretty sure they’ll be glad when I’m gone!