Race Report by Anna Barensfeld
Ever a trooper, Andrea pulled up bright and early Sunday morning to pick me up for the 3.5 hour drive down to Harriman State Park in New York for the Bear Mountain Spring Classic. We loaded too many wheels and not enough coffee in the truck and were off before 7am.
We rolled in with time to spare and had a relaxed warm up. No jitters; just the anticipation of a hard day’s work in the saddle, and the desire to be at the winning end at the finish line! Lots of P/1/2 women registered for this race and we were curious to check out the competition. Few familiar faces from New England at the start line; Clara Kelly, Amy McGuire, Beth Miller, Melissa Ross, Anna McLoon. Lots of Mid-Atlantic talent to test out.
The weather was perfect and the roads were smooth but the peloton felt extra jittery. I coudn’t wait for the pack to break up! After a couple miles we had a fast, straight downhill and the brake pads they were a burnin’! Due to a bridge out on the usual course, we had a 180 degree turn at the bottom of the hill so the bunch eeked out a nervous nelly left-hand turn and then the race was on – straight back up the hill! I knew a selection would happen right away so I motored up the left side of the group straight to the front and sure enough a group of us got a gap pretty quickly. By the top of the hill (about 2 miles) 12 or so of us were away. We quickly formed a paceline to establish the breakaway. A lot of people I expected to have been there were caught behind; the only riders I recognized were Beth Miller and Anna McLoon. Andrea was missing…but not for long. Her legs just needed a little warmup. She buried herself to bridge up alone within a few miles, and we were joined by another two people to make a final break of 15.
The course was essentially an out-and-back rolling 20 mile loop so we eventually turned back and passed a second group of about 15 not far behind us. We didn’t have a huge gap and they in turn were followed closely by the rest of the peloton. A couple riders of the 15 in our little breakaway were just hangers on and a despite a few accelerations we couldn’t really shake them. We didn’t have time to screw around though, and had to work steadily to keep the pace up to stay in front of the next group. Heading into the downhill the final, 3rd time our little group seemed to be taking it a little too easy and I was looking forward to the best part of the course! A smooth straight downhill deserves to be taken advantage of. One of the riders commented on the uphill on the other side– “You really like descending, don’t you?” Well, I certainly do enjoy it…but more importantly, we have a gap to maintain!
After the 3rd time up, we eventually were down to 8 and that’s the way it stayed until the final short uphill to the downhill finish. It was clear that everyone was strong and no one would be able to get away on an attack. Martha Buckley, Beth Miller, and Anna McLoon all looked well within their limits. The pace dropped on that final uphill as people started to play position games and Andrea started setting the pace at the front. From about 8 miles to go I was thinking about nothing but the final sprint and setting up for it; whose wheel I wanted to be on at what moment. The road leveled off about a mile and a half from the finish; with one mile to go, one of the smaller riders tried to launch an attack but she was easily swallowed up; Martha Buckley and Anna McLoon chased her down. Andrea got on their wheel and I was right on hers. Anna went early, maybe 750 meters to go; Martha went after her; Andrea was still on her wheel. I jumped around with about 200 to go. I felt strong and thought it was good. Too early and not fast enough! Two riders came around to my left and passed me before the line! A third was coming and I threw my bike at the line and felt she edged me out. Photo finish shows I clearly gained the line before her for 3rd place though. Andrea held on for 6th.
Road racing is exhilarating, addicting, and unbelievably frustrating. You can feel on top of the world strong for 50 miles and lose it by a couple of feet at the end of the day. You’ve got to put it all together on race day; fitness, tactics, mental toughness, teamwork, nutrition, equipment, the whole nine yards!
Thank you, CRCA and Alan Atwood for putting on a great race!
Thank you, Andrea for giving up a sunny Sunday, driving 7 hours, racing, and delivering me to the finish line!
Thank you, LadiesFirst Racing sponsors for making it possible!