The North Star Grand Prix Stage 5: Mankato Road Race

Today started off perfectly! I woke up early enough to eat and properly digest my breakfast. Got in a nice long warmup, and made my way to the start line early. Side note: While I was warming up, there was a woman with a confederate sticker on her truck, I let out a sigh of relief when she turned in the opposite direction... The way the confederacy was setup... confederate symbols make me real nervous. 

Anyway, I was ready to crush it. Neutral rollout was still over 20 mph, but this time, I WAS READY. We made it to the race start, and I had found myself a nice protected spot in the middle of the pack. They were keeping it relatively mild, and I wasn't mad about it. There were a few surges, but nothing unmanageable. Someone got away and went up the road, Marie Soleil-Blais went after her. She's easily identifiable by her pedal stroke. The pack stayed steady. We went over a few rollers here and there. 

I decided I was gonna try and eat some chews. You would've thought I'd won the race. I ate food, and didn't feel sick. I was pumped, it was great! I'd drifted to the back of the group, but I saw Amber Pierce not too far in front of me and decided to stick to her wheel. I figured she'd find her way back towards the front. I was right. I tucked back into a protected position. 

I was feeling incredible. I kept reminding myself that I could do this, that hill was not going to get the best of me. I refused to let it happen. 

We made our way to the QOH climb. Valerie Lane Hill. The front of the pack slowed and we all clogged up behind them. I managed to get in the right gear and pedal my way to the top. Never thought living on an 11% driveway would pay off. But alas, I did it, I was still in a good spot, HECK YES!

I motioned to shift back into my big ring and then I dropped my chain. It was jammed in there pretty good so I had to stop. I couldn't get it out, This was probably the worst spot on the course to have a mechanical. 

After what felt like forever (i bet it was a few seconds), a marshall came over and helped me get my chain back on. By that point, everyone had gone by, and the caravan was coming through. 

I was livid. I started to chase. I made my way to the caravan but the moto kept honking at me to  move. I was certain I was allowed to use the cars to move up one by one, but he was persistent, and I was no longer sure. I was out in the wind. I couldn't keep up. 

Eventually I spotted some women a little bit behind me. We started to work together. I geared down to climb a hill, but couldn't shift back to my big ring. My front derailleur was knocked out of alignment when we put my chain back on. FML. I spun my way around the rest of big circuit and made it to the small circuit. I went around until i was close to getting lapped. I was pulled and placed. 

After the race the mechanic for the Chicago Women's Elite team graciously re-adjusted my derailleur. 

Tomorrow is the last day. It's been a series of unfortunate events, but I'm still in good spirits. I'm ready to approach tomorrow as yet another chance to get it right. The Stillwater Criterium has a really nasty hill. I'm looking forward to suffering to the best of my ability. 

Send good vibes. I need them. 

Ayesha McGowanComment