Purgatory Road Race

Race Report by Ann D’Ambruoso

It was a hot Saturday for racing, but that just meant extra bottles
were packed in the car as my husband John, our friend Scott,  and I
headed out to Sutton MA for the Purgatory road race. We arrived with
plenty of time to prep, got registered and number pinned. I rode
around for about 25 minutes, but ‘warm-up’ didn’t really seem
necessary as the temperatures were in the upper 80s. A crash in an
earlier race delayed our start, but fortunately there were plenty of
trees providing shade and I refilled my bottle in the middle school.
We set out with 2.5 mile neutral start and then raced 5 laps around
the 10 mile course. I wasn’t sure what to expect with a small field of
women (only 9 starters), but the course made most of the decisions
for us. Almost from the start, Martha Buckley from MIT set a brisk
pace up the first hill. Then, the pack stayed together at a gentle
pace the remainder of the first lap until we reached the base of the
climb. Again, a brisk pace up the hill from the very start and I was
out of the saddle trying to stay on the wheel in front of me. We were
charging up the entire hill, past the sign reading “Welcome to
Elevation 666′ “. As it leveled off at the top there were only 5 of us
together and we spent the next 20 miles working a steady paceline.
Right before we ascended the hill on our 3rd lap the men’s field
passed us and I hesitated for a moment when Martha charged up the hill
again right on the tail of the men. That turned out to be the crucial
error as I couldn’t rejoin the 3 girls in front of me so I found
myself alone in 4th place for the last 20 miles of the race. The heat
and almost endless rollers (not much flat on this course) were
progressively tougher as the day went on. I finally crossed the finish
line, still in 4th and very happy to be done. I drank 4 full bottles
of electrolyte, but still ended up feeling dehydrated.  Thanks to
excellent feeds from John and our friend Scott. Green Line Velo
put together an awesome race for their first try, with more course
marshalls than I’ve ever seen at a race. Nice! I went home tired but
happy to have gotten another race under my belt leading up to
Fitchburg.

Ann D'Ambruoso at Purgatory - Photo courtesy Pete Banach

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