Gateway Cup: Le sigh, our last races of the road season

The forecast was calling for rain, heavy storms, downpours in St Louis. I had been looking forward to these races for some time but the weather kept me from getting down there until Sunday. But down there I went, picking up slimCady and John W from the St Louis airport then making our way to the Hill. LPV had to debut our new kits after all. 

We finally have our kits!

Sunday’s race was at the Hill, a fast rectangle, downhill towards the start/finish and up on the back side; not quite enough of a hill to break legs but enough to wear down riders if attacks were aplenty. slimC and I didn’t really have a gameplan other than holding good position and if given the opportunity, help the one with the legs for a good finish. There were some big cash primes and a few attacks but for the most part, the pack stayed together until Kenda rider, Gwen Inglis, and Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) eventually escaped. We expected that the overall series leader would be on a short leash, but LVG’s move drew no reaction from the field whatsoever. As Cycling News put it, “While it seemed inconceivable that the field would allow Van Gilder to ride away, there was no concerted chase from behind.”
Still, LPV stayed in the game til the very end.The pace got hot towards the end and the final time up the hill sorted the pack out. I was too far back on that last time up and lost touch on the second to last turn but with that long downhill finish, I worked my way up to a 13th place. slimC finished strong in 22nd.

slimCady looking fierce at the Hill.

After the race, we joined in on the Hill’s celebration and watched the Pro1/2 men, cheering on fellow Chicago racers. We then made our way to our generous and outrageous hosts’ house. Kim and Kees, along with Nikki Cyp, were fantastic helping with cleaning of kits, making of food, and providing of laughter. Fantastic. A huge thanks to you guys!
Monday’s course was a figure 8; technical turns and changing inclines! This looked fun. We planned the day so that we arrived at the race with just enough time to get ready, warm up, then toe the line. No unnecessary time to stress out or dilly-dally. Of course this was the time a series of unfortunate events decided to toy with our lack of spare time. So, unfortunately, 5 minutes into our warm up, I got a flat. Ok. slimC hauled ass back to the car to get supplies; no problem. Then, unfortunately, the valve on the spare tube broke off. Ok. slimC hauled ass back to the car to get another spare. I now feel anxious and start moving towards the car, or neutral support, or whatever. I couldn’t find the car or slimC so I’m looking at the clock and getting more and more anxious. Then a fortunate encounter with fellow Chicago racers saved my day! Tracy Dangott (aka LPV angel) swapped wheels with me, saving loads of time and stress (now at ~15min to race start). THANKS AGAIN! I wiped some of the grease off my hands then rolled around to find slimC who was also frantic trying to find me. We got it together just in time for staging. Whew.
So, I didn’t miss the race! The course turned out to be super fun. It was wide enough but fast; each turn crept up a lot quicker than expected so positioning became important. The racing seemed more aggressive this day so the pace stayed high. I noticed slimC looking really good holding position towards the front for a good chunk of the race, marking riders and following the right wheels – yeah slim! Again, the pace picked up for the last laps and I just concentrated on not losing position and moving up if possible. As we came towards the last corner before the finish, I realized I was right there in the front group. I then realized that I would be there for the final sprint (!). I had a goal of finishing in the top 10 and missed that goal by one spot. I’m pleased though. It’s been a long season of getting stronger and learning how to maneuver in the P1/2 field. I’m finishing the season feeling fast, more confident, and looking forward to next year.
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