After the last several weeks of racing and training, I was looking forward to the rest week leading into the first USGP races of the season in Louisville, KY. I am trying to be better at actually resting on my rest weeks, which is tough since I end up booked at work, but I have been making the time for yoga classes, massage and relaxing dinners. This week was a short one because we packed up the car and headed to Louisville on Thursday morning.
The plan was to drive to PA and stop for a while at Bald Eagle State Park so that I could go for a ride and we could shake the car out of our legs. We found the park on the same drive last year. It was a beautiful sunny day and we made it to the park in time for a ride, relaxing lunch by the lake and Matt was able to catch a nap in the sun!
We spent the night about 3 hours from Louisville and had only a short drive Friday morning to the race venue. I was able to get right onto the course to preview it and do my pre-race ride. It was pouring rain but the course was mostly dry because the grounds used to be an old golf course and they are designed to drain the water away. The weekend forecast was sunny and warm and the rain ended as quickly as it came.
Despite a lack of elevation change and limited topography, the course designers did a stellar job of creating a course that was both technical and fast. There were multiple sand pits, two run ups, and twists and turns creatively using every small change in the terrain. I was excited to race the next day with hopes to finish in the top group.
We finished off the day with a stop at a great vegetarian restaurant a few miles from the race venue. If you’re ever in Louisville, be sure to check out Zen Garden. Another great find was the Crescent Hill section of Louisville. Right around Halloween, every house on Hillcrest Avenue is decorated to the hilt with every imaginable spooky scenario. One of our favorites was the house with the gravestone that said RIP 401K.
Right off the starting line I was in second place through the first set of twisty turns. I moved into the lead coming into the first sand pit so that I would not get stuck behind any crashes or traffic jams. I kept the lead for a bit longer and was then joined by four other racers. These were the top racers in the field, all full-time professional racers and very fast! I worked very hard to stay with the group holding onto 5th place for 2 laps before the other racers began to attack one another with accelerations. I fell off the pace and dangled in the middle for a bit until I could see another small group coming up to me. I decided to join that group in hopes to recover a bit and perhaps get back that 5th place spot.
Unfortunately, I had used up most of my energy in those first few laps and hung onto the group as we came into a sprint finish for 5th through 8th place. I took 8th for the day, a bit disappointed, but learned a lot by taking some chances in the frist few laps.
Lessons learned from Saturday’s race:
Leading a super strong field around on the first lap = not super smart.
So my plan for Sunday was to be a bit more conservative in the first lap and allow myself to settle into the race. In the fist lap, I settled into the top 10 and worked my way up to the top 5 racers. This time, I was with the same group that I had finished with the day before and we were collectively holding onto 5th through 8th places again. I was determined to race a bit smarter and place higher than the day before, so I worked to stay with the other racers and tried to find places on the course where I was stronger. It came down to a last lap move that allowed me to take the final corners faster and moved me into 6th place as I came into the finishing straightaway.
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Thanks again for your support,
Photo by Ben Ross Photography
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