My plan was to hammer up the hills, see who was around to work with and go from there. This strategy, much to my surprise and delight, kept me with the front group for the first 50 miles. It was so much fun. There were about 20 of us. Several of them were women I had met at other races. The women, unlike male racers I understand, are very chatty along the way. It was so great to be sailing along with the peleton. The weather was as good as you could hope for in April- comfortable temps, overcast, a bit windy especially as a storm threatened later in the day, but nothing too horrible. I stayed in the middle of the pack as much as possible, and would drop back only a little on the big hills. There was one time I got in the very front by accident and found myself next to the ultimate winner, who had been pulling all day.
"Man, it's really windy up here."
"No kidding," she laughed.
"Wow, and you have been pulling all day."
"Yeah, I'm kinda dumb like that."
"Well, this is too hard for me, I'm going back there...but wait... cameras...smile!"
The bad part came on the sandy downhill just before Meetinghouse. I dropped back a bit on the previous hill and started the decent in the back. Suddenly a cloud of dust- bikes and bodies were flying. These women that I had been chatting with all afternoon were on the ground crying. It was really awful. I barely had the heart to go on.
I found myself at the top of Meetinghouse with 2 other women. One of them organized us into a paceline and we worked together like that, picking up another woman that had gotten dropped. Then, on the last series of climbs I dropped off and at the top found only one woman. "Is this torture over yet?" I asked her. I let off a whoop and we took off.
I pulled mostly because I just wanted the pain to be over. She kept saying, "Oh my god, you are a machine!" We picked up a third women that had gotten dropped and were sprinting to the finish. I realize now that I might have been able to sprint past them both and not helped them at that point. At the finish line I was out of gas and they went around to cross before me. We finished minutes behind the winners. I was 11th and my time was 3:34 for 64mi- not a bad result. Victor Jr and Sr came running up to congratulate me. Sarah was there too and gave me a hug. It was an amazing day.