Our drive to Sedalia was calm--no tickets, no wrong turns--I was a little surprised. We pulled up to the Hotel Bothwell and found a tight space to park. The hotel was like stepping back in time and the desk clerk was a little too excited to see four ladies checking in together. We got our room and found out we weren't on the "haunted floor" but were on the fifth floor and the elevator was out! The bikes definitely weren't spending the night in the room now! Our room was actually pretty spacious and comfortable for as old as the hotel was. What was really nice is that we could actually see the race course from our window.
Kelly got ready for her race and Steph, Ashley and I walked the course taking note of the corners and pavement. The sides were four or five blocks long with a little rise/fall and the ends were only a block. The streets were nice and wide. There was a grate in turn two that was coned and large pot hole right before turn three, but otherwise it was beautiful. We watched the Masters' race and Steph got chatted up by a creepy guy with no teeth.
Around 7PM we got ready to head for a warm up. I made sure to do about five or six hard efforts because I had a feeling we'd start hot. There were nine of us (Steph, Ashley, Chris, Aubree, Becca, Shari, Kelly Skinner, Michelle Jensen) in the race. I'd raced against everyone but Michelle Jensen--Steph said she's a great racer and someone to watch. The whistle blew and Michelle took off. I jumped right on her wheel and held on tight. We slowed down after turn two and moved into a compact group. We passed the start/finish and there was the prime bell. The first of nine for our race. I had no intentions of going for it, but wanted to stay close to the leaders. There was some positioning on the back side and we hit the front straight and the sprint was on. Without really thinking about it, I found myself out of the saddle going for it. Chris passed me like I was sitting still and took the prime. We regrouped after the start/finish. By that time, my head started pounding again. It did off and on through the race, anytime I exerted hard effort. That lap I took turn two poorly and went wide. I corrected just in time to avoid hitting the curb. I readjusted and calmed myself. We passed the start/finish and got another prime. This time I just sat in and stayed with the group. We regrouped and headed back around and another prime. I again just stayed in the pack for that one. We had about two laps of "normal" racing before the prime bell went again. This time it was a t-shirt prime. As soon as we rounded turn two, Shari just rode off the front. No one looked like they were itching to catch her, so she was just riding away. I decided I might as well see what I had so I took off. I jumped on her wheel and we had about a hundred yard gap on the pack. I told her we had a gap and to take off. I followed her wheel through turn four. With about two hundred meters to the line I jumped and gapped her. I stayed away from her until midway through the back side. She caught on and we got caught by the pack just after the start/finish. We had a few more calm laps before the prime bell started going again. I didn't give any real chase for any other one but made sure I stayed with the group. Several girls tried attacking throughout, but no one got very far. It all came to the last lap. Chris jumped as soon as we turned the corner. I was sitting about third wheel. I was able to hold onto them, but couldn't make up ground. Ended up with 5th. I felt like I knew what was going on in the race and could see move unfold. I physically felt like I was able to respond to the attacks and didn't have to hope someone else would cover them for me.
Post race we stopped to talk to Aaro and he had great news for me--the guy who had sponsored the t-shirt prime felt like that wasn't enough, so he gave Aaro $25 for me. Score! We were all hungry so we parked the bikes and walked to Subway. We watched the Men's Pro/1/2 and ate dinner. My next stop was the Mich Ultra tent. My team kit made me a big hit in there! After showers, it was near midnight by the time we got to bed. I think I woke up with every little noise and looked around to see if it was a ghost. No such luck though!
We had breakfast the next morning at the hotel, but the coffee was less than stellar. We agreed to pack quickly so we could find the Starbucks on the way to Otterville. We missed our turn to Otterville, but realized it pretty quickly, so we were right on time for the race.
I was a little more nervous about Sunday's race for two reasons. First, simply because it was a road race. Second, because I hadn't been able to locate a course map/profile. I had been told it was rollers with one steep climb near the end. I hate going into a race blind though. I could also feel that Friday's migraine was still lingering. We had seven girls in the race and all of us had done Saturday night's crit. At the line Michelle asked how we felt about working a pace line through the first lap and calling "game on" for lap two. Everyone readily agreed. We formed a rotating double pace line right from the start. About 10 miles in, Steph dropped back. She had been struggling, not feeling well physically, for the last three miles or so. We sat up and had Ashley drop back to pull her up. She said if she fell off again, to go on without her. It was about then when my headache returned. As long as I kept my head up and my heart rate below 160, I was ok. Any hard effort and I could feel my heart beat pounding in my head. The steep climb came about 21 miles into the lap. I was totally unprepared for it. I got caught behind someone who was going slow and almost fell off my bike trying to turn the pedals over and get around. I made up my mind I would be on the front for that one on the second lap. Just before the feed zone we started talking about lap two. We decided to work together until mile 12 and then race full out. I got two fresh bottles in the feed zone (my first time ever taking a feed!) and we started out again. My head was still bothering me on climbs, but I was set on finishing with the group. We got to mile 12 and no one made a move. We still rotated through. We hit a little climb about mile 42 and the group started to break apart. Shari went off the front and Aubree fell off the back. Michelle gave chase to Shari and I stayed on Michelle's wheel. The five of us came back together but Aubree was gone. When I saw the steep little monster in sight, I moved to the front of the group. I took the hill pretty aggressively and got a small gap on the group. (little did I know that everyone else small ringed it). I guess Shari thought I was attacking because on the downhill she flew around me. I jumped on her wheel and stayed there. And everyone else stayed on my wheel. Shari tried to shake us, but no one would take a pull. She would slow down, but no one went around. She kept looking back at me and I just smiled at her. I knew I was in no shape to take off and stay away. We were about a mile about when Michelle easily moved to the front and ramped up the pace. Ashley went along side of her. We hit the hill to the feed zone and the paced quickened even more. I was still holding on at that point. We turned the corner and started the little hill to the finish and the sprint was on. I tried to go but couldn't stay out of my saddle. I was able to hold onto Becca's wheel but had nothing left to go around her. My head was killing me and my legs were rubber. Ashley was able to zoom ahead of Michelle and take the W.
I found some shade and got my helmet off. Once my heart rate/blood pressure dropped, I felt well enough to walk back to the car. Getting into flip flops also helped as well. Steph and Kelly were wonderful enough to walk the cooler back from the feed zone and I began to take on as many fluids as I could. It took a good 30 minutes for me to feel semi-normal. We packed up and were St. Louis bound. A much needed stop at Chipotle in CoMo refueled our tanks. The races were great, the road trip was fun. These will be definitely be on my radar for next year.