After a summer of criteriums and one very painful attempt at a road race at Dunnigan Hills, we all headed south to San Ardo for redemption and something other than hellish winds. Just like last year, San Ardo did not disappoint.
Lorri got to the line early and staked out a place for the Velo Girls, which was super key once we got going. Unfortunately, I managed to put myself at the back in a crappy position, like always, but after doing that repeatedly at Superweek, I stayed calm and hoped to get myself out of it later. And thanks to the fabulous line of Velo Girls keeping the pace in check and controlling the race from the start, it all worked out!
As we headed out into the first lap, I spent most of the my time near the middle of the pack, just sort of hanging in there and trying to move up when I could. With the narrow roads, it wasn't quite as easy as I had hoped, but the fact that Velo Girls were in complete control of the race (thanks ladies!!!) meant that I didn't have to worry too much about bad positioning. It also meant that my lungs got to wake up and decide to start working, which wasn't necessarily a given at the starting line (unfortunately, I'm allergic to fall in California).
The pack pretty much stayed together for the first lap and I just sat in at the middle-back and tried to get all the systems running. As we came through the town again, the pace increased and people started putting the hammer down. The cloud cover meant we didn't have to drink as much, so I avoided the feed zone and the pack continued to string out.
Just as we were about to hit the hills on the second lap, two riders went down, which strung out the field even more. At that point, Beatte (Early Birds) attacked and started pushing the pace. Dana and I held on and tucked in as a smaller group came together and started attempting to work together. Not too long after that Katie came flying up the side after recovering from her bee sting (very bad ass!) and the pace picked up again. With three Velo Girls in the pack of ~15, we did our best to sit on without having to work too much since Katie and Dana had been at the front for huge chunks of the first lap.
After we made the turn back into town (10-12 miles to go), we ended up being neutralized more than I thought possible (though it was super cool to watch the P/1/2 women fly by us) and the pack began shuffling for position. Katie took off with a mile or two to go and did a fantastic job of stringing out the field.
I found myself 2nd wheel as we headed over the bridge and then managed to jump on Beatte's wheel, behind Ann from touchstone. As we made the turn into the final stretch, Beatte went left around Amy and I tried to follow, but Amy also headed left, making things a little more interesting. I tried to get back on Beatte's wheel, but my quads were screaming, so the battle for the win came down to Beatte and another woman, while I happily settled for third.
Although I would have loved to win, pulling out a third with only one half functioning lung was pretty sweet. And I definitely could not have done it without all of my amazing teammates taking care of me! Hopefully now that I've amassed all my points I'll be able to return the favor and pull them around to victory!