TESTING THE WATERS- Het Meer 9/7/13

Insert your own caption

Insert your own caption

Plotting, watching and assessing. How is this game played in the unfamiliar waters of Vancouver Lake Park? Camping out on a tiny wooden stool someone dubbed my ‘traveling podium’, mental notes were made as I watched strong racers try to escape their pursuers on the long gravel straight, enduring the pain coursing through their bodies from the seemingly harmless uphill run in the sand.  Leaders did not stay leaders for long. The rider that used others to draft from moved into 1st position race after race.  Deviating from my normal ‘hole shot’ mentality, I formed a new plan of attack for my first race of the season.

THE BEACH!!!!!!

THE BEACH!!!!!!

 Het Meer in Vancouver, WA. is fairly new with its inaugural race kicking off in 2011 as part of a new series of Saturday races. This year it continues to gain steam as part of the Grand Prix Erik Tonkin series (GPET).  1.9 mile relatively flat course is off-set by small off-camber turns, sharp corners to pavement transitions, a long road  and…..the SAND. After many face plant photos struck fear in the sand-curious crowd last year, a “raker” was posted at the transition from grass to beach to keep a deep hole from forming at the launch point. Riding the waters edge was the easy part. It’s the run back to dry land that wore down riders.

Heather, Mielle & Amy at line-up

Heather, Mielle & Amy at line-up

Five master A women on the line. My longtime nemesis Amy Rice/ Lazy Tarantulas, sporting her easily-won GPET leaders jersey, is the spider I want to drop in the sand trap today. Heather Vanvalkenburg/Upper Echelon is known for her speed on flat road and track, so who knows if this course will favor her skills.  Racing on a new bike and I’m feeling frisky

Sand Surfing

Sand Surfing

Whistle blows and I have my sights set on “sitting in” and letting our series leader set the pace on the long gravel road.  Left turn on a long, bumpy single-track trail surrounded by bumpier grass and out of sight of any spectators. Following Amy, Heather and new-to-master A’s, Ellen Smith/Lazy Tarantulas with Holly Kotsovos/Tireless Velo behind me and the pace feels slower than normal.  Over barrier #1, around the playground bark chips, our train spins at a moderate pace to the barriers by the finish. Pace myself. That is the plan. Moving ahead of Ellen on the beach I move in behind Heather, still trailing Amy as we shoulder bikes and trudge up the deep sand. Looping back around to the long gravel road I notice Heather is letting a gap open that I am not comfortable with. Hitting the single-track, I make my move into 2nd position to shut down the gap and hit a bump. CLICK-A-DUH,SHHHHHS. My chain popped off my single chain ring (new bike) and slid down the crank  arm. “ ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” I said aloud as Heather rides calmly away.  Ellen finds me trying to unkink my chain, “Mielle are you OK?” to which I reply ‘Yeah’ in a disgrunteled tone.

Laurie at the Barriers

Laurie at the Barriers

CHASE, CHASE, CHASE! Race announcer Luciano makes some comment over the PA system about my current position to the crowd and I tell him I dropped my chain as I ride by. Snaking around the off-camber tree, a group of Team S&M guys are cheering for me and doing THE WAVE.  How do you not smile when people are doing the wave?

Photo courtesy of RetroShift

Photo courtesy of RetroShift

 I catch Ellen quickly and overtake her, eyeing Heather up ahead.  “Hey Mielle, why are you riding like this is a Grand Fondo” yells Sean from Trusty Switchblade, “Go get Heather”.  Oh I plan to do exactly that.  Surfing the shifting sand, Heather is reeled in on the beach. No idea where Amy is now.

Heather and I are together on the road as she tucks in behind me to recover. Single-track is no problem but dismounting for barrier #1 my chain pops off AGAIN. Holy Crap. Really?  “COME ON” yells Heather with encouragement, but like Alberto Contador, she rides away. 

Chain back on, my brain is doing the math. Do I pit and get my other bike with 1 lap to go or chance it? No pit, just CHASE, CHASE, CHASE!  Heather is caught again but my spider is out of sight. Dodging slower girls awkwardly carrying their bikes, I move in front of Heather on the sand run-up which sends my heart rate sky high.  Through the trees to the gravel road and up go my gears. I am suddenly alone to run it home as Heather has given up the chase. DON’T DROP YOUR CHAIN is running through my mind. My stomach tightens powering through the single-track but it is a clean run through all of the barriers and bark, rolling in for 2nd place.

 The good news is I felt super (thanks C-Velo Performance Cycling Studio), and my Sellwood mechanic will make sure I am not dead in the water at the next race.

Remy and Erik at the Sellwood support tent

Remy and Erik at the Sellwood support tent

Les Femmes results for the day:

Audrey earned 9th, Laurie 13th and Remy just wanted everyone to know her new bike was awesome but the rider needed work. 

Photo courtesy of:  Klaus Ochs   http://portfotolio.net/klausochs, 

RichRosko/Hammer Velo

Adam at Retroshift   http://www.retroshift.com/Post race chin wag

Post race chin wag
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