The Ol’ Gapping a Teammate Trick

Page Valley Road Race: Women’s Cat 4

The road race is mostly false flats, punctuated by two nasty climbs–the steeper, unsurprisingly, leading up to the finish line–and a deceptively sharp left-hander that took out an untold number of riders. Also unsurprisingly, it was very hot for all the BRR riders racing in the afternoon. Yay for neutral water!

The heat and the hills didn’t stop the BRR Cat 4 women from executing team strategy and, once again, putting a rider at the top of the podium.

At the beginning of the race, the Cat 4-only field (inexplicably?) stretched out into a single file line, with Leah sitting second wheel and Ellen sitting third. The rider doing the pulling (at a comfortable pace) was the only representative from her team, so Leah let her do all the work, sticking to her wheel like white on rice, even when she attempted to pull off the front. Someone further back was apparently unsatisfied with the status quo, and, as she moved past, Leah let a small gap open and waved Ellen on to cover the move. But it was a false alarm–she, also the only representative from her team, just wanted to take a turn pulling at the front at a comfortable pace. With the single file line reassembled, Ellen was third wheel and Leah fourth, followed by two ABRT riders.

When the first climb hit, Leah stayed on Ellen’s wheel for a little bit, then, as it got steeper, sat squarely in the line of riders and slowly let a gap open up. Ellen was paying attention, saw the gap and turned on the gas, jumping past the two riders in front. By the time the ABRT riders saw the move and started to sprint past Leah on the hill, it was too late. Ellen’s acceleration and Leah’s deceleration had opened too big of gap for the ABRT women to be able to reel Ellen back in on the steep gradient.

No one saw Ellen again until the finish line. She TTed the remaining 25 or so miles, and finished five minutes (!) ahead of the next rider. ABRT took second and third. Leah had gotten pulled a lap early (along with almost half the field) and got to cheer Ellen on as she crested the final hill, escorted by her own personal police vehicle, motoref, and neutral service car.

And then Ellen got stung by a bee in the face on way back to the parking area. Because that’s life, apparently.

But, as it turns out, this race was also the MABRA BAR championship, so Ellen took that too. Along with a basket of local veggies, bike-part earrings, a bottle of local wine, and a pie. (Am I missing anything?)

Huge thanks to the race organizers for offering a women’s Cat-4 only field, equal prizes, and making everyone feel welcome and at home.