The 9th annual Texas State Road Race Championship took place this year in September at Ft Hood under the race direction of Andy Hollinger. It’s normally a 33 mile no-center-line rule loop but was modified for 2017 due to construction. This year it was an out-and-back course that was 34.5 miles. Racers do either 1, 2 or 3 laps.
The Category Championship events take place on Saturday; the Age Group Championship events take place on Sunday.
As I’ve done for the past several years, I raced both days. On the road, I’m a Cat 3, so I raced in the women’s Cat 3 event on Saturday (which was 69 miles total, or 2 laps). On Sunday, I raced in the combined women’s Age Group wave in the…gulp…45-54 year old division for 1 lap.
This race is known as a tough, hilly road race with challenging climbs, wind, free-range cattle, great scenery, along with the occasional sighting of helicopters & tanks.
While the Women’s Cat 3 field on Saturday wasn’t huge, it had fast, experienced ladies. It was an awesome change of pace to do this LONG (69 mile) road race in a morning timeslot (thank you, Andy!) since in previous years, the Cat 3 women raced in the afternoon.
Lap #1 was hard & fast with an unexpected attack in the feed zone that had me scrambling along with Margie Monroy (who did me a HUGE favor by working hard to bridge us back up to the main field—thank you again, Margie!). Things became even more tough on the 2nd lap with the eventual 1st & 2nd place finishers escaping the main peloton.
As sometimes happens, the remaining ladies in the main chase group just couldn’t get ourselves organized to catch these ladies. So, when the main group made it to the finish line, we had a sprint finish for 3rd-5th place on the podium. I came in 2nd in the group sprint, behind the wickedly-fast Natalie Pruitt, so that translated into a 4th place on the Women’s Cat 3 podium.
Sunday’s race was only 1 lap with a combined field of ALL women’s age group races. Team ATC had the biggest presence with strong riders across all age group competitions. Shortly after the start, the ladies of ATC moved to the front to set the pace.
It was no surprise that 2 of the strongest riders from Team ATC (Kat Hunter & Christie Tracy) broke away from the main field at different times & later joined forces to win their respective age groups: both are stellar time trialists at the national level.
On my end, I felt great the entire race: I spent much of the summer riding in the mountains of Colorado & dropped quite a bit of weight during the past year. And my coach (Chad Welch) has had me on a pretty intensive program since he started coaching me last November. So, that translated into my feeling great on all of the climbs.
Unfortunately for me, I hit a small, random rock in the road about 6 miles from the finish & flatted. After a rear wheel change, I did my best to chase the main field. But, I couldn’t quite make it up to them by the time they sprinted for the finish line so I came in solo a bit behind the main field.
After I finished, I texted Chad to give him the news about my flat: I was sure that I came in last place since I didn’t see anyone behind me & I knew I didn’t finish with the main field. I was bummed but I couldn’t be too upset. It was just bad luck: I’d had a great road race season with several wins & multiple podiums (not to mention that Leadville belt buckle!).
Then, about 10 minutes later, someone told me I should check the results anyway since I might have still made it onto the podium. I wasn’t convinced, but I decided to hang out & wait for results to be posted.
Well, much to my surprise, I came in 2nd in my age group field. What I hadn’t realized is that, with the combined age group fields, we had lost all but 2 people in my age group in the main pack. So, even though my flat caused me not to in finish with the main field, I still took 2nd place in my age group. So, my mood went from feeling bummed & a bit disappointed to sheer happiness! And, just as exciting, Margie had won her race in the sprint finish!
So, 2 days & 2 podiums at Ft Hood was a great way to wrap up the Texas road racing season. Now…onto cyclocross season!…