Central NH Road Race / Bow – Women’s Cat 4

Submitted by Nancy Labbé-Giguère

Last year, Bow was the first road race that I did. Jeremy convinced me after a group ride that I could do fine. I was a bit septical about it since I had only been riding a road bike for 2-3 months, but I finally decided to go. It started to rain heavily a few minutes after the start. At the end of the big hill, a small group of 3-4 women escaped from the rest of us including me. I completed the first lap of 3 laps and the big hill showed up. My left calf cramped and I finally decided that it was over.

This year, I was not excited about Bow due to last year’s result and my Tour of the Hilltowns experience. It was already August and I hadn’t raced that much but Charles wanted a ride and was motivated, the starting time was 11h00 and the weather forecast was okay, so I decided to show up with the objective of at least finishing the race.

We started with a neutral roll out the first time up the big hill; and I was staying close to the front and trying to relax and drink water when it was possible. I was not sure where exactly we could start racing so I was afraid of missing the break like last year. When the steepest part of the hill started, I moved to the front, keeping a good pace and seeing nobody at my right or left. I was happy to see the KOM sign and that I was the first to pass it but surprised that nobody tried to pass me. Then I remembered that there is no KOM competition for the cat 4 women. Some women yelled GAP and I noticed that we were only 6 now. The fast downhill started and a couple of other women joined us later. The organizer (NEBC) did an excellent job of indicating the upcoming left-right turn, so I did not have to worry about getting out of course. I stayed at the middle-back, trying to relax until the end of the first lap. The long climb started again and I was at the front early, riding to my pace, looking at the GPS and trying to encourage myself that the downhill would be coming soon. I was happy to see the END sign and I was first at the top of the hill again. I noticed that some were left behind and I was in a group of 4 now + 2 masters. We started to work together and the speed increased on the downhill and the flat section. I accelerated to see if the group could get smaller; and I started focusing on the end or the solo. The second lap was over quickly and saw that my water bottles were getting empty.

The climb started and Christina from MRC (another cat 2 in cyclocross-mtb that decided to start road racing this summer) decided to attack right at the beginning of the climb when I was not ready for it. Nobody jumped on her wheel and she got a good gap quickly and I was just looking to the GPS and hoped for the end of the first steep section. At the top, somebody said 30 sec. gap. I was happy that it was only 30 sec. and she started to be visible again. It gave me some energy and I started to ride faster. I was getting closer and closer but did not catch her yet. The master’s field passed during the downhill section. My race was probably neutralized but I was just thinking to go as fast as I could to join her. I finally saw the car for the first time and found that the car was stopped with Christine behind and probably disappointed. A woman said that we would have caught her anyway. We rolled to the end together. I attacked, noticed that a cat 4 woman was not with us anymore, and stayed at the front trying to drop more people. On the uphill finish (25-30 meters), I was still at the front full speed, Christine suddenly passed me, I tried to stay on her wheel but my foot and calf was cramping. I could not accelerate, my cadence got very low because I had selected a gear that was too big. Finally, I finished third and was happy for my first podium of the season but disappointed at the same time. I will work to improve my strategy for the next year. Andy T from Quad finished 2nd in the cat 4 men’s race.

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