After a mix of experiences in the first 6 criterium races of the TOAD series that ranged from okay to pretty demoralizing, I was looking forward to the back-to-back road races on Days 7 and 8.
The Fond du Lac course was a flat-ish 10-mile circuit and there seemed to be an agreement among the omnium contenders to treat this as a rest day. I sat in patiently and tried to stay near the front–a place I didn’t spend much time during the crits–alert for moves as well as tips that more experienced riders were dishing out to their less experienced teammates. Holding position was tricky on the narrow roads and centerline infractions became so frequent (across all fields) that the local sheriff felt it was unsafe and one 10-mile circuit was cut from the race. Even the bell lap was pretty tame, but the lead out for Pepper Palace went a little too early causing a lull before the final surge led by Sam Schneider. Sam (Tibco to the Top) ended up third, while Amy Cutler (EPS p/b Shebell Shebell), who podiumed at Schlitz Park the previous day, took the win by inches from LVG (Mellow Mushroom). I waited a while for results to be posted, and two chocolate milks later found out I was 13th, which meant I was in the money. Finally!
I would also finish 13th after 12 laps on the 4.4-mile Road America auto racing course in Elkhart Lake, although this race played out quite a bit differently. Again we had a slow start, but by mid-race things were starting to get animated. After a series of moves by ISCorps, Pepper Palace, and Specialized Columbia, it seemed right to try to keep the action going. I made an attack and was joined by Kelli Richter (PSIMET). With Kelli’s former teammate, Jeannie Kuhajek (Vanderkitten) blocking, our gap grew to 45 seconds. Kelli and I had time to talk during a neutral period in the race while the men were overtaking. Although there was still half the race to go, we decided to give it a shot. We couldn’t see anyone behind us on the track until we started going up the big ramp for the third time alone. The field looked to be gaining, and the feed zone at top of the ramp would be a good place to reintegrate. We shut it down and I did my best to latch onto the group. At first, recovering from that effort seemed unlikely, but the pace settled down and I managed to rest enough in the next 4 laps to stay in decent position for the finish: one final sprint up the big ramp followed by 200 meters of false flat. During my recovery period, Alison Tetrick (Exergy 2016) escaped and stayed away to win solo. Sam Schneider won the field sprint, but couldn’t put enough places in between her and LVG to take over the leaders’ jersey. Unfortunately for my break-mate, Kelli punctured in the final lap.