Monday, March 1, 2010

Bridging the Gap... When it Matters!

Saturday's race was all about gaining more experience on the Fork Shoals race course (a variation of the South Carolina Road Race Championship course) and preparing for the last weekend of the Greenville Spring Training Series (March 6th & 7th).  The race consisted of 3 laps on a 15 mile loop starting from Fork Shoals Elementary in Pelzer, SC.

We had a great group of women from my team to the line, and more than 30 women racing.  Unlike last weekend they started the entire field of women together.  Some of us were a bit nervous about racing with the Pro, 1, 2, 3 women, but we didn't really have a choice!  Plus, my boys showed up to support me so I was going to do them proud!  Thanks to April at The Living Pixel for capturing one of them in this shot!!

The course is pretty hilly with 6 memorable hills in a 15 mile loop.  As a Cat 4 woman I just wanted to stay in the pack as long as I could.  It was really great to ride with the stronger women.  They are more focused on team strategy and controlling the race.  Every once in a while a couple riders would try to jump out and create a break and the women on the front would pick up the pace of the entire peloton to reel them back in.  We spent a lot of time speeding up, braking, speeding up, braking, which frustrated some of the women.  Me?  I was thankful to have someone else setting the pace and doing all the work up front.  It enabled me to stay on a wheel and save some energy.

At the end of our second lap the pace picked up I got dropped at the start-finish line.  The hubby and puppy, along with many other friends were there cheering me on to catch the group.  I was trying pretty hard but  couldn't bring myself to the pack.  Finally my legs recovered enough and I got up the first two hills pretty quickly and had the group in sight.  With all the practice I've been doing in group rides to bridge the gap between me and faster riders I knew I could do it.  So I got into a harder gear and kept my cadence up.  As I approached the pack with my small victory in hand... the field was neutralized and we pulled over to let the Pro, 1, 2 men around us.

I was a little mad at myself for using up all that energy to catch back on... when I would have caught up to the group anyway... but I was also very happy to prove that I could bridge in a race situation!!  Plus, the neutralized field gave me more time to recover.

There are two big hills about a mile before the finish and we took them a little slower on our last lap.  I could tell everyone was saving their energy for a field sprint at the end.  As soon as we made our final turn the paced picked up quickly.  I kept pedaling as fast as my legs would go while riders passed me on my left and right... I ended up finishing 13th in a field of 20 Cat4 women and was definitely happy with the effort!

Of note, one of my teammates in her very first race took 7th and my team manager took 9th (just two weeks after sustaining a concussion in a crash)!  So proud of my team on Saturday... We had seven girls start and six finish the 45 mile race

Performance Details for the Fork Shoals Race


  1. All of your work is really paying off!!! Keep it up and you will be leading all of us :))))

    Looking forward to this weekend!!

  2. Great Job Nikki! You're doing awesome!