Location: Iron Hill, PA
Date: August 2, 2014
Riders: Deborah Leedale-Brown, Colleen Gulick and Alli McCabe
From the perspective of Cat 4 rider Alli McCabe who rode in the Amateur women's race...
The weather was looking iffy Saturday afternoon leading up to the Amateur Women's Cat 4 race at Baynard Rustin High School in West Chester. Luckily the wind died down and the sky remanded cloudy as the race began. The field was comprised of some very strong Cat 4 women, which made me wonder what would happen with only 8 of us. Our first lap was slow which we had all agreed on as they were not allowing pre-laps before the race. On the second lap Gabby from Somerset Wheelman launched an attack and I made sure to chase her down immediately pulling the field with me knowing that she is strong and could hold a break away. The race was full of ups and downs, attacks and regrouping. I attacked 3 times. Once on a slight hill and twice passing the start finish and into the first turn however, nothing held since everyone was responding quickly to the fluctuations in speed. As we came into the last 2 laps Break Away Cycling launched an attack on the hill and I lost my 3rd wheel spot and fell to the back of the pack where I fought for my spot. Ultimately, I finished 8th, but was proud of my performance and excited to have raced such a fun race with some great women!
From the perspective of Elite Rider Deborah Leedale-Brown... After no women's race last year, this was the much anticipated return of a women's Pro/1/2 race at the Ironhill Twilight NCC programme. The race did not disappoint, it was an evening race with a start time of 6:45pm and the crowds were everywhere on the course, with a weather forecast that looked dubiously like it would be wet, it ended up being perfect conditions, dry and cool! The race attracted many of the heavy hitters and so I was expecting a fast race from the gun, and that's what I got, not helped by an immediate $200 cash preme on lap one. The race set out at a phenomenal pace and to quote some stats from both my garmin and other fellow racers, we covered the first 12 laps at over 26mph pace that is with braking at corners, my HR never went below 179bpm for whole race and some of the wattages being put out were over 250 average for the whole race!
So with that kind of race there were many riders shelled pretty quickly, I had no chance to see what was happening behind the whole focus was on staying in and making sure I did not get caught behind any gaps as I would never have got back on. After 12-15 laps the race settled into what would be the final finishing group, there were constant attacks and then eventually a breakaway happened and it stuck, I felt the peleton then slow a little and so the breakaway gap was growing, I even got onto the front at this stage in the race with 8laps to go! The final laps of the race was where the confusion started, I could hear the announcer saying if the breakaway caught us this would not be good and as we passed through the start/finish and were told we had two laps to go, that is exactly what did happen, the breakaway had caught us and so part way around that lap I could see riders such as Laura Van Gilder and Amy Cutler pass by. I like many of the riders I subsequently chatted to did not realize in time that this would then be our FINAL lap and so with the uphill corners 3 & 4 navigated safely the pace suddenly ramped up and the riders were jostling for positions - this was the sprint finish and so I reacted as quickly as I could finishing in 21st position. A little disappointed as I felt my finish could have been stronger without the confusion but I was in the same position as many of the other riders too. All in all I was pleased to have survived such a strong race, the experience was great to line up against such competition and it felt great to have a good crowd watching, I even heard my name being shouted a number of times during the race. Hope this race continues on the calendar for 2015.
I could not finish up this report without a shout out and thank you to Barbara Statton who was my friend, team mate and all-round soigneur during the weekend of racing and when we both got stuck in the parking garage elevator for nearly 30mins post race, she even found the funny side of that too, as did I, although it was not the best post race activity I've done!
Alli McCabe-8th place Amateur Women's Race
Deborah Leedale-Brown 21st Women's Elite race
Colleen Gulick- 12th Women's Elite race