So it turns out that there were actual, you know, people at the DINO Spring Tune-Up. Most-of-the-time adventure racers Jayne Prater and Chikage Castle, as well DINO regular Bette Gumerson, were all present and insured that there was in fact a separate women's wave. Jayne was the sole Cat 1, so the rest of us made up the Cat 2 field.
I had a pretty horrible morning trying to get to the race, because the Garmin couldn't find my destination and Google maps misled me yet again. After a panicky couple of hours of driving, I arrived at the race 45 minutes before the start. After signing in and getting dressed it was close enough to start time that I was afraid to take the chance going for a practice lap and not getting back in time, so I had to rely my memories from 2006 and 2007.
The start was the most civil I remember since the DINO Spring Tune-Up of 2006 when the three of us beginner girls went to "Oh you go first" mode when siren went off. Today we jockeyed for position, but it didn't feel nearly as hard as it normally does. Jayne was first to the singletrack and Chikage was in front of me. She's normally a crazy-fast starter, so I was kind of surprised at the opening pace. As soon as we hit the doubletrack, I passed her and thought, "Holy crap, I'm LEADING a race with, you know, people in it." No longer sucking is weird...
I built up a pretty sizable gap, and even though I struggled on the rooty ups and downs that make up the last third of the lap, I maintained my lead until hitting that section again on the second lap. At the bottom of the steep, rooty hill that serves as the gateway to that section of the course, I was trying to granny gear and to keep my effort below completely cross-eyed level, but one of the expert men caught me and the trail was too narrow to let him pass without stopping. Unfortunately, once I stopped, I couldn't get going again and had to run the whole thing.
I struggled really bad through the techy section and Chikage latched onto my wheel as we went through the start/finish for the last lap. I tried going hard to gap her again, since we were in the section where I lost her before, but this time she was sticking to me like glue. I was completely gassed and was afraid I would crash trying to lose her, so I let her come around. She gapped me while I got my composure, and although I got within a bike length of her on the last pass of the steep rooty hill when I was able to ride a lot more of it than she was, the effort of doing so left me kind of useless for sealing the deal.
So there's the tale of how I almost won an actual race. The worst part is that the race director switched the race from two to three laps AS WE WERE LINING UP, so if we'd ending it at two like we were supposed to, I would have won. That's not really fair, because she might have gone harder if we'd been doing two, but it's still frustrating. I also have some regrets about having to run the hill and about giving up too easily when she was on my wheel, but the fact of the matter was that I rode well and I was actually in contention. That's still pretty cool.
In the end, my only real regret is that I didn't ride the sick drop that I said I was going to. It's a lot more tricky than it looks in the picture, and since I didn't do it at a composed effort level before the race, I was afraid to do it with lactic acid on the brain during the race. It was fun to go back to Avon after a three year absence, because it confirmed that my claims that it is the hardest course on the DINO circuit are in fact true and not the crazy ramblings of beginner chick who it once reduced to tears.
So tomorrow I road race with the newly formed Cincinnati Velo Bellas, which should be fun, and then it's back to work prepping for Syllamo's Revenge. I'm getting excited since I now have a bit more evidence that 2010 might finally be my year. I just need to refine a few things, like my killer instinct.