Jan Bennett's Race Report
Megan Baab Memorial Race Recap
The first race of the season is always surrounded in excitement. Being in the middle of January, it is also always a bit chilly. The morning of the Megan Baab Memorial road race in Copperas Cove, TX was no exception. I was excited to get the season started and to test out my winter training. There were over 30 women registered for the Women’s open race, with the vast majority of those being new 4s as well as a handful of experienced racers that I hadn’t seen since the end of the season in September. Seeing that many new racers toe the line on an open race for the first time brought a little smile to my face and some warmth to my heart.
At the start, we were told that Boris Robinson of T3 Multisport had graciously offered to donate the funds to give the women an equal purse to the men’s P/1/2/3 race. This was a very pleasant surprise and was greatly appreciated. My thanks go out to Boris!
The race started out pretty tame. There was a bit of jockeying for position and it was obvious that there were some nerves for the first race of the season, let alone the very first race for some. On the way out there were a couple of light attacks to try and steady the field some. The real action started right before the turn onto Harmon Road. This is a unique race as there is always a section of gravel on Harmon. In years past, attacks have been launched in the gravel, or right before it. This year the attack was on the climb right before the turn. Emily VanDyken (Velo Gold Racing) launched an attack up the hill with Melinda Spratt (FCS|Cycling: p/b Zngine + Mr. Restore) following. Since Melinda is a teammate, I was able to relax and watch to counter any other attacks that might be a threat to the current break. The only member of the break that was missing at this point was Pro Lauren Stephens (Team TIBCO II). We all expected that she would be (in) the break whenever it happened and we weren’t let down. Lauren let the break establish its self just a bit up the road and then launched her attack in order to bridge across.
At this point, those of us who were left on the front of the pack knew we wanted to get away from the rest of the peloton before the gravel section. In years past, this section has been a great place to flat, crash, or break away. We didn’t want to take a chance on the first two if we could help it. A few of us gathered steam and started loosely rotating in order to push the pace and form a bit of a gap. Being that Melinda was still up the road, I didn't want to pull through as I wanted to be sure and give her the best chance at staying away as possible. I also knew I would have to conserve since Jenn Mix (787 Racing), Michelle Montoya and Kim Jennings (both of Bicycles Outback/LifeVantage), as well as Eryn Wike (ThinkFinance Racing) were all in this group. With two team members in this little break, the next 15 miles would be about conservation as much as maintaining a safe distance from the rest of the peloton.
As we came upon the gravel section at the end of Harmon we picked up Melinda. She had fallen off of the break and dropped back to us. Even though she didn’t have the legs for the break, she was a great asset to have as she took plenty of pulls and would push the pace when needed at the front while I was able to sit back and rest. Knowing Lauren would be well off the front and the rest of the group had pretty much resigned themselves to race for 3rd, I didn't need to do much work with Melinda there. Now that she was out of the break and back with us, I allowed myself to pull through on rotation only to help keep the pace consistently high enough to stay away from the rest of the peloton.
We turned back down the finishing stretch of the race with about 8 miles to go on HWY 1113. The biggest climbs of the day are on this stretch of road. A bit of posturing started taking place in the group of 6 of us. Jenn and I started to look back and noticed that the rest of the peloton was starting to catch us. Jenn launched an attack uphill with about 4 miles to go. I had somehow ended up boxed in on the yellow line behind Michelle and Kim and was looking for the best way out. I backed off momentarily and managed to bridge across to Jenn (no relation to Jens Voigt to my knowledge). Once I reached her we started to rotate in order to stay away from the chasers (Kim, Michelle, and Eryn). With about 1k to go, after an amazing solo effort to bridge to us, Kim caught on.
We all sat up momentarily to start the posturing game for the final sprint. At around 275m to go Kim launched a small attack to the line. I tried to drop in behind her as best I could but Jenn was already there and had claimed the spot next to the yellow line. Once I saw the 200m marker, I kicked, went right, and took the sprint for a solid 3rd place.
Needless to say, I was elated to be on the podium. All of the hard work over the winter has started to show. I am excited and looking forward to the rest of the season ahead and can’t wait to see what it holds.
My thanks go out to Speedy Ace Training for pushing me to the next level in my training and racing!
Full results from the race can be found here.