Rough Rides at RATL with Ry and Rae

Team Mandalore’s RATL #4 lineup was Ryan (mens 4, masters) and Rae (womens 4)… The first hot day of the year brought smiles and dehydration to all. The team donated prizes to the juniors racers prime laps, which was probably the highlight of a day that went pretty rough for our crit racing friends. First, a few notes on juniors prizes, then a report from the Mandos.

The local juniors race usually splits into 2 distinct groups – the teenagers (fast!) and the under 12’s (doing their best!) so we opted to donate $10 in prizes and split it two ways. Both groups got stickers and patches from us and we included a $10 note for the older kids and a box of 50 Dunkin Donuts donut holes for the younger kids. Did you know you can get FIFTY DONUT HOLES FOR $9.79? Now you do. It’s true that one junior complained she would rather have $10 worth of hummus (Rae’s response: you need to put that request in before you are on the start line) and many of the kids stopped by the possum van to say “thanks!” Kids deserve good stuff- that’s a primary function of our team.

Next up, a recap from Ryan:
So RaTL Week 4 was easily the best weather of the whole series, would that also mean the best racing? Well, yes and no! After three weeks of the same old entry-level racing, as far as what you can expect with regards to race tactics, etc., week 4 saw the first successful break away attempt in the Men’s 4/5 field… But I didn’t make it into the break away … On the contrary, My early efforts are probably what the break away “broke away” off of. See, my plan this race (after learning?? in the first three races) was to conserve my energy early on and not take any turns on the front until at least half-way through the race. Is that what happened? No, no it was not! I summarily led the race for the first three laps. Was I being aggressive and riding off the front thinking, “This might not work, but at least I’m making the race faster and trying to pose a threat”? Again, nope! I was simply riding at the front, doing all the work for the pack without getting any kind of advantage… So, when I tried to (finally) recover and drift back among the pack, the strongest racers attacked me and I was unable to respond, and was probably blocking anyone else who wanted to attack. SMH Well, I did recover in the remaining pack as we picked up a couple break away members who fell off and ended up nabbing 2nd in the group sprint of this group and 7th overall in the race.

The Masters race this week was a bit more tame. There were no break away attempts that got more than a few seconds before being closed down, but the quality of riding was a bit more sketchy. More people were being reckless (or at least less careful in the pack) I got into a few situations where I thought I was going to crash, none which actually caused me or anyone else to go down, but I did suffer two broken spokes as I was squeezed in between two other racers and my wheel went into another bikes frame as it was rolling along. I saved it and didn’t go down, but my front wheel was a casualty and I had to pull out of the race. On the good side, I have learned to adopt some smarter strategies for riding in a group like that, making myself bigger to let others know I’m there (using my elbows when needed) and trying to avoid those kind of situations in general. All-in-all, a good racing weekend although I would have liked to do better in each race. We’ll have to see what the series results have in store, but overall I’m pleased with my performance in this series. In the Men’s 4/5 field, never did I place in the bottom 50% of the field. In the Master’s field I have some work to do. Ok, that’s it RaTL recap done!


And from Rae:
This week’s womens field was numerically improved with 7 racers in the 1/2/3 category and 7 in 3/4! It was awesome to line up with so many friends, old and new. I figured the group would split up pretty quickly, as the Velofemme ladies have been launching attacks no later than the 3rd lap, so I was prepared to fight for 4th or 5th place with the other “womenopausal” riders. My friends Kim & Mary Beth are just about my pace and I was stoked to have a good group of 3 to work with. We had some newcomers (3 ladies actually doing their first race ever!) and they all turned out to be real quick.

I had a long work week – I’m a manual labourer part time when I’m not teaching art- lifting rocks and digging holes is like doing weighted squats for 12 hours a day 3 times a week! My hammies were do sore Saturday morning, I considered skipping out all together, but then I remembered I made our friend Sara a promise to sign up for every single race just to increase the number of women participating. You can’t moan about the lack of women as much as I do then skip a race. Plus, with EOTT coming the next day, I was worried that if I didn’t race, I wasn’t going to ride at all, just putting off the inevitable shite performance by 24 hours.

I had some solid 18-20mph laps towing Mary and Kim before my little crew settled in to trading positions between 17.5 & 18 mph. With 3 laps to go, I got the world’s worst cramp in my right hammy. Like, did you ever get a cramp in your foot that just dropped you to the ground? It was like that, but in the back of my thigh. And twitching. I glanced over my shoulder to make sure there was no traffic behind me and dodged to the side of the road, trying not to crash from the pain. When I passed the timing table, Ana yelled to me, “Rae what’s wrong?” I yelled back “Hammy cramp. Really bad! I’ll ride it out.” So my third to last lap was a 15 mile per hour whimper fest- I chugged my Nuun (glad I left my bottle on, sometimes I take it off for racing) and by the time i got back to the finishing hill I was ready to sprint again. I finished alone, as strong as I could, for an eventual finish of 6 out of 7. But I finished my laps. And Kim waited for me at the finish line, a tradition I hope we will keep up at all the races we attend together.