Page Valley Road Race: View From 2nd Place

Shelley Deveraux, our fearless leader, pulled off a second place finish in this notoriously hilly road race. Four Bike Rack women raced the Cat 4 with Ericha crashing out on the first lap due to wet pavement and taking a corner too fast and taking Shannon down with her. Shannon was able to continue with some road rash while Ericha  babied a fractured humerus. Leah and Shannon were both pulled at the end of lap two of a three lap race, but convinced the referee to let them finish a third lap, both finishing strong. Read on for Shelley’s race report!
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First part of the first lap was nice, nothing too jumpy. Hannah of DVR attacks on the first big climb, 4 of us follow suit. It took a little while to get organized but eventually we settled into a nice group of 5.
For once, I was helping organize folks in the rotating pace line. Except there was something a little different about this one. Kind of like….we were trying to shell people at all costs instead of establish a  solid break. Must have been that MABRA Road Race championships thing. The pace  was not slow and we took no breaks on the hills: according to the Strava compu-gods, my time on that 2nd lap was ~ 36 seconds off some of the lead 1/2 women. 2nd lap, we drop one girl right away on the first climb and the DVR + mystery mountain biker girls pull away. Mary from NCVC and I bust ourselves trying to catch up, taking quick short pulls and really moving on the downhills, despite that rain. About a mile later or, we closed the gap. Did they slow up knowing that a break of 2 might have burned out? Did we catch them on our own merits? Heavy questions. Either way, very little could be perceived as mercy from our group in that 2nd/3rd lap. And it made me very, very concerned about my legs going into lap 3.
shelley_page-valley-300x169The 5th girl we’d dropped on the hills caught us eventually (I suspect our neutralization due to Masters Cat 5 had something to do with it), the pace line was re-established, and no one showed weakness. A few miles and face full of rain and tire spit-up, we come to that last climb. Hannah of DVR takes off with a little over a mile left, and the rest of us just kind of stare in disbelief for a second. I think she got up to a 30 second gap at one point. The rest of us come to our senses and regroup, trying to close that gap as much as possible. The 1k sign comes into view, and knowing that lap 2 wasn’t so hot, I try to get as much distance between me and the field as possible. As everyone else pointed out, that hill was steep enough to roll backwards on and it was incredibly easy to lose position in the last 200m. The gap grew, despite the combination of checking under my arm + battered lungs + totally dead legs. I guess that last match wasn’t so water-logged as I thought it would be. The cruelest trick was putting the finish line just around the bend, out of site, robbing our weary eyes of at least a visual motivator of end-in-sight. But turns out everyone else was as tired as I was, and I took 2nd for the day.