I had raced the Wente Road Race once before as a Cat 4 and so all week, I tried to mentally prepare for how tough the hills were going to be as a Cat 2. I read a Sea Otter race report during the week written by a pro woman who had raced in Italy for a couple of years. I love reading other people’s race reports – especially pros- because it really motivates me. Plus, I’m always intrigued to hear how others approach racing and how they overcome obstacles.
I checked the Wente pre-reg list a couple of days before the race and I was very surprised to see the aforementioned pro woman’s name on the list. Fabulous, I thought. At the start line, I spotted another pro cyclist and a couple of seriously strong women. It’s always a fine line between optimism and reality. I never want to have pre-race negative thoughts, but at the same time, I know that pros are ridiculously strong. As the chit-chat came to a halt and pro 1 and pro 2 initiated a break on the first time up the hill, I was excited. I thought someone closer to the front would initiate the chase. At some point super strong woman 1 tagged on and the three ladies started riding away. I decided to try to chase. I assumed that a couple of people would go with me but when I finally looked back, there was no one there.
Naively, I thought there was a sliver of a chance that they could be caught. A couple of minutes later, I wasn’t closing in but instead dangling. A group caught me a couple of minutes later and again I thought that if we worked together we could chase them down. While there was a sort of half-effort at working together, it became rather obvious that it wasn’t going to work. It turns out that pros are really strong and in the end, they put around 10+ minutes on us.
So, the 8 of us turned into 7 and rode along. There were 2 women from each of 3 teams and one team had a rider up the road in the break. I was sort of antsy and as a result probably put in more effort than a rider without a team should have. As we neared the final climb, the pace slowed considerably and we rolled into what would be the most painful part of the day. I struggled on the first steep section of the hill and suffered a shifting adjustment glitch which cost me a few seconds. As the grade eased, I tried to accelerate as much as possible. I passed one person and caught someone right at the line finishing 4th in the break and 7th overall. I’m not thrilled with that result, but I enjoyed the race and I am definitely motivated for the next week of training.