Fort Cherry Road Race by mj

Since I didnt make the trip out to Michaux this weekend like originally intended I decided Sunday morning to go check out the new Fort Cherry Road Race in McDonald, PA.  The womens field reached the double digits with about 13 riders including 2 juniors, which was a nice group for the first time event.  

We headed out for a 1/4 mile neutral start until our first right hand turn then it was “game on”.  I seriously thought I may get dropped as soon as we made that turn, but I was very happy that was not the case.   This stretch of road had the most climbing in it.  I think we’ve all seen worse, but it was still just enough to leave its mark and spread out the field.  I would fall behind each time, but did everything I could to get aero, low, tight to the bike, whatever and try to catch up or keep up with the pack down the other side.  From that point it was fast and furious for a few miles until the next turn where I’d start to fall off again.  I am evidentally pretty inefficient with my turns and I’d lose some ground each time.  I’d try and speed it up again once straightened out and catch any wheel I could find.  

The pace was too fast for me to ever make it to the front and pull any.. my bad.  Thats always my intentions at the track or any road scene, but I couldnt pull it off yesterday and was basically hanging on for the whole race.  Towards the end of lap two I fell off a little more than in the first round but with the help of Rachel (Steel City Endurance) we worked together and caught back up to the pack.  Whew! Thanks Rachel!  The group definitely slowed down a bit before the start of lap three which helped the scenerio too.  Not sure, but possibly a slight rest or recovery for the front girls before they pick it up a notch for the final lap.  I think we were all anticipating lap 3 to be the fastest and toughest and it was just that.  The pack spread out even more on that first climb and Rachel, Christa (Sette Nove) and I fell far enough back that we lost the group.  Unsure if Christa knew we were close behind, in my most out of breathe, painful attempt I tried to speak cresting the hill, Rachel.. Christa.. (gasp!) lets work together.  (gasp!)  We lined up and throttled as best we could over the other side trying to keep the front pack in sight.  We worked pretty well together for never doing that together before (outside of the crit), but being at such different levels (me being the slowest of the trio) we rotated through as best we could.. until I couldnt keep up any longer. 

A motorcycle pulled along side us and warned of the mens groups approaching from behind.  This was the second group to pass us for the day and we exchanged words thinking this might be our chance to catch the front girls ahead!  Not by drafting because we know it was not allowed, but possibly the guys passing their larger group would slow them down enough (like we experienced already earlier) to give us an opportunity to maintain our pace and catch them!  Christa or Rachel (its all a blur) came around the front of me after the men passed (looking effortless as usual) and picked up the pace and… pooey, their gone!  I am dropped like a bad habit and watch them pull away as I start to sound like I’m in child birth.. hee hoo hee hoo  heeheehee hoohoohoo!   Since that didnt speed me up any I caught a few final glimpses of them before everyone was out of sight.  Well, it was fun while it lasted.  I reach the last intersection by me-self and make the left turn to climb back up to the school and finish.  I thought (hahahaaaa!) that maybe I could regain some ground here if any of the other girls tuckered out keeping up with the bunch, but once I reached the climb, stood up to try and maintain a strong pace up up up I possibly made it about a 1/3 of the way when the roadway felt like an oven and I thought my head could pop right off at any moment, so I quickly gear down out of my big ring and tried to find a pace that didnt include passing out or throwing up.  I happily reach Gary at the finish line.. I think 8th place for the day.   24 miles, 1:13 time, 20.6 mph average.  It would have been nice to finish with the group, but I am still happy with my performance.

I join a few of the girls in a very appealing shaded, grassy spot where we fill up on some most delicious ice cold water, recap on the good, bad and ugly of the race and enjoy the feeling of surviving another race together.  I am really glad I made the trip down.  Its always great to hang with the local race scene since most mtb events are out of town.  I hope the event was a big enough success that it is able to become an annual event for the Pittsburgh area!


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