Race: Turkey Hill Country Classic
Date: May 6th
Location: Washington Boro PA
Rider(s): Deborah Leedale-Brown & Shaina Kravitz
This race has long been on the calender as a fun hard hilly road race with ice-cream and chocolate milk at the end, and this year it returned to the calendar with a full CAT women's race that would also take on the Gamber Wall. So what more fun did we need!
The original weather forecast of low 60's and partly sunny with chance of occasional shower seemed to vanish as we drove closer to the race venue, it got colder and the skies turned darker, by the time we arrived it was windy and only in the low 50's and already starting to rain. The women's field was a strong contingent of riders, plenty of good climbing and sprint legs in the mix and bolstered even more by the day of arrival of Laura Van Gilder. Its always a pleasure to race alongside a true ambassador of women's cycling. Once Shaina and I decided we pretty much had to put all our clothing items on to keep warm, the rain began and most of the women's field were trying just to stay dry as their warm up.
As the race began, the director informed us he had shortened it by one lap so we were now doing 4 laps instead of 5, the race also ran as a handicapped format so the CAT 4/5 started with a 2:30 head start and so if we did not catch them they would win the race. The whistle blew and the rest of the field started, everyone was happy to push the pace along, to not only catch the riders up the road, but also to try and warm up. The course is very open and with the winds it gave us a mix of gusty cross winds a back section of strong headwinds but the finish segment was all tailwind. This was definitely a course that a breakaway could form and be successful and in the car up our plan was to make sure that Shaina got into any breakaway as she was the strongest climber of us both. The first lap was mostly about settling in and seeing the course, the really wet roads made for some slowing in the corners, especially the ones at the bottom of steep descents. During lap 2 the first real attack of pace happened and that seemed to split the field in half, both Shaina and myself were comfortably in the lead group and the pace continued to push to catch the lower CAT riders still up the road. The final lap saw us real in all the CAT 4 riders and on this lap our course changed direction to ride up the Gamber Wall, a pretty steep 17%, relatively short pitch of a climb. This was where the lead pack was going to separate and the climbers in the group would be putting on the hurt. Shaina was actually on the front at this point and doing exactly that stringing out the riders as we climbed Gamber. At this point I found myself being popped off the back with the surge in pace, but since it was Shaina putting on the hurt I was happy. After Gamber there was another section of hilly road then the final three climb finish stretch. I was pretty gapped off the lead group at this point and in no mans land but I could still see the riders and the orange helmet of Shaina. I just kept driving on and slowly I seemed to be pulling myself back to the lead group. As they rounded the final corner that lead to the last 2 miles of the course, one rider crashed out on the still wet road, this caused a slight slowing and I was suddenly back into the group. We had three significant hills left and then a twisty slightly downhill/flat finish. The strong tailwind meant for a fast finish and once the final hills were climbed the riders started to spread out across the road, Shaina and I were to the left of the bunch with some clear road up the left side, I shouted for Shaina to go and I jumped on her wheel, the strong tailwind meant everyone was moving fast and as I came around Shaina we were almost at the line and my sprint legs were certainly fatigued from the hills. It was a strong field sprint and not strung out at all, everyone crossed the line with very little separation. Happy to be done and needing to get warm meant that we did not go searching for our icecream, maybe next year.
Deborah Leedale-Brown 5th
Shaina Kravitz 6th