Sea Otter Stage Race & Wine Country Classic RR and Crit
Monterey and Santa Rosa, California, 1999
Sea Otter started with a Time Trial. It was supposed to be on the Laguna Seca car racetrack starting at 2pm Thursday, March 18th. At 11am Thursday with my bike still needing mechanical work, Allen Lim our team director called me. "I don't have the numbers yet. It's a madhouse here at registration. The TT is on the bike path outside Monterey. It's flat and 5 miles. Gotta go!" Oh brother.
I didn't bring my TT bike. Shelly Orem lent me her TT bike, Aleka her Zipp front wheel, and Myke B, the mechanic, switched my stem so I was a bit lower. Still, I was pretty high up. That's the point of this new set up Andy Pruitt has me on. I am higher up so my hip remains open rather than cramped up.
Probably unrelated to my lack of aero positioning, Saturn dominated. Anna won, Emily 2nd, Lynne Bissette 3rd. Kim B. from Cox Atlanta Velo 4th, me 5th, Dede 6th, Linda Jackson 7th, Karen Dunne 8th. (The last two I'm not positive of.) My legs still felt pretty bad.
The RR is on a very tough rolling 18 mile-course, with a 1.5mile climb a few miles from the finish. We did three laps. With Saturn covering the podium, they spent the day keeping things together. Lynne sat at the front showing her strength with a moderate pace to dissuade any attackers. Saturn quickly covered my no-legs attacks. Jeannie Longo's teammates made some attacks and were quickly covered. Jeannie Longo dropped out early. No one else seemed that interested in getting away. The race ended in a field sprint. Saturn had a group of riders up front. Karen Dunne took advantage of that to win. Maire Holjer 2nd, Jen Evans 3rd, Anna Wilson 4th, me 5th. With bonus seconds for 1st through 3rd this put me in 6th overall.
In the circuit race the next day on the Laguna Seca speedway nothing notable happened until Saturn started attacking with five of the 12 laps to go. With three to go Anna got away at the bottom of the climb. She remained in sight and, in fact, quite close for a few laps while riders tried to bridge up to her. With a little more than one to go, the pack gave up and the gap widened. At the top of the final climb someone attacked, spreading the field out considerably. It was a great attack because it surprised everyone waiting for the sprint finish for 2nd. The attacker got away with a few others. I tried to bridge up and ended up just towing the field to them. Then it was time to sprint. I don't even know who won the sprint. Anna of course won the race and the stage race overall. I remained 6th.
The last time I did the RR in Santa Rosa it was flat as a pancake. Big surprise for me this year. I rode the course Friday and discovered a steep 1.5-mile climb in the 11-mile rolling loop. After the first climb Elita attacked and countered. A three-person break got up the road. We weren't in it. Cori Book chased at the front and started others to do the same. Another break got up the road. Again, we weren't in it. I tried to bridge and got caught at the base of the third climb and got dropped going up. I chased with a group and caught back on a bit past the start/finish. Yet another break (Pam Schuster, Anna Wilson, and Odessa Gunn) was up the road. This seemed to be it. On the final lap, Linda Jackson attacked and Dede went with her. Linda got to the top of the climb without Dede but she stayed away from the field, which was down to 10 people at this point. I got dropped and chased with Erin Veenstra and Belinda Heerwagen. We could see the field just ahead but we couldn't catch. Belinda ended up in some trouble on the descent and dropped off us. Erin and I continued and never caught. I finally went early in the sprint and did so against a pursuiter and got caught. Really I went way too early.
Anna won solo, Pam 2nd. Linda caught Pam for 3rd. Dede 4th solo, Odessa 5th solo, Susy Pryde won the sprint for 6th. I was 15th.
The big issue in the crit was the road turtles. They were all over the road. I tried to ignore them and consequently spent a great deal of time riding over all those damn bumps. Saturn was aggressive from the start. I kept quiet and back until things strung out and started breaking up. I moved up and caught Dede who was away. Shelly Orem had started (that break in a totally great attack.) A Timex counter-attack went and Aleka was beautifully right on that one.
The only other promising move came by Emily Robbins who got off with 2 to go. I bridged to that and she stopped working. I tried to continue on figuring dragging her around and getting 2nd was better than being caught with one to go. We got caught. Then the sprint. I had drifted way too far back after being caught by the field and worked my way back a bit in the final lap. Aleka ended up 7th and Shelly was right up there too.