This year, I was looking forward to the race again. Then, I saw the start list.
My gut reaction was... "oh, crap... this is going to be HARD!" Which, I might add, is a good thing! But, as a non-sprinter going up against the likes of Amy Cutler, LVG, Deb Leedale-Brown, Lauren Dag, and Kristin Lotito... I was not sure what would happen. Nonetheless, I was determined to race hard and aggressive. And, with a lot of solo riders in the field (only Comedy Central and EPS had more than one rider, I think), I knew that working with Meredith would be to both of our benefits. She got off the front early in the race and snagged a prime, so things were already looking good!
The race was super aggressive, which I love! As expected, Lauren launched some strong attacks to try to stay away. The group would let her get a gap and then slowly start dragging her back in. One attack saw me try to bridge up to her... as I got closer, LVG came around me and we kept up the pace. But, with three strong riders up the road, the peloton decided that we needed to come back into the group.
Things continued fast and furious up until the end of the race. As we crossed the line with two to go, my legs suddenly felt great, so I launched. I got a nice gap on the field and immediately turned on TT-mode. I was feeling great and when I came through the start/finish and heard the bell, I knew that I had a slim chance of holding them off to the end. I just put my head down and kept riding as hard as I could. As I took the final turn to the finish, I heard the whir of rear hubs behind me. I jumped out of the saddle and took the final hill with everything that I had. Amy Cutler came around me just as I crested the hill and I just kept up the best I could. I managed to hold off the rest of the stacked field for 2nd place!
Even as I write this, I'm a bit shocked at the finish. I'm thrilled by it, but still can't quite believe that it worked out like it did. It will go down in my cycling resume as one of my best races to date.