Catching up with Les Femmes- Hitting the Road part 2

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A new criterium race started this year up in the beautiful Washington Park rose garden that overlooks downtown Portland. This race could be compared to the long running Mt. Tabor  series that tests even the strongest climbing legs. Kim, Margi and I tried the four part Rose Garden Circuit series on for size in April. The course is a 1.2 mile loop, starting on a sweeping downhill, over speed bumps past the playground and then a very sharp left turn. This was the crash zone. After the turn, the descent continued with a view of the reservoir on the right, not that you would notice it a high speeds. The bottom of the  hill brings the rider to almost a complete stop for a hard left back up hill and the climbing begins, taking you back up the twisting road to the parking lot below the tennis courts. Shifting down before the turn was key.

With most spring races in the Portland area, we had rain to contend with. This made for a slick and dangerous  course, especially in the turns. Kim was the first to try out the race, showing up on her bike to cheer on a friend, only to find herself jumping right in to the cat 4 women’s race at the last minute. She also earn herself a 3rd place finish.

Margi and I teamed up for race 2. Rain held back until right before our race, making the road very slick. Pro racer Sue Butler and Ironclad crit crusher Brianna Walle were in attendance, making the race more exciting. Margi raced as a 3, I signed up as a 40+ 3 so we weren’t really racing each other. Off the line I went out hot, feeling good and planning to put it all out there. At the first corner on the downhill I was right behind Sue entering the turn when my wheel slid out from under me and I went sliding across the pavement. The race flew past me as I jumped up to remount and chase back on. It took me a couple laps but I caught my group (not the Sue and Brianna group), and Margi and I started working together to drop a couple of Sorella ladies. By the last lap we had done our job with no one in sight behind us, and rode through the finish together. I came away with a ripped skinsuit, road rash and a great night of teamwork with Margi to show for it.  Margi got 5th in the combined 1/2/3 field and I took 2nd in the 40+ 1/2/3’s.

I soloed race 3 and 4, getting rained on in both and not getting that same ‘I feel awesome today” feeling again. No more crashing though others were not so lucky. One Team S&M racer even went to the ER for stitches in his arm.  My main competition, Laura Trace (unattached), won the entire series and I was never able to catch her. Unfortunately, I think the rain kept some racers away, leaving me with only Laura to chase. I took 2nd overall for the series behind Laura.  Maybe next year we will get a few dry Wednesdays for this fun and challenging race.

Photo Credit to Victor Duong, Pat Malach/Oregon Cycling Action and Jenn Leonard.

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