Monday, May 26, 2008

Lake Sunapee Road Race – May 17, 2008 – New Hampshire

In a clear break from tradition the Lake Sunapee Road Race took place under sunny skies and near perfect temperatures. The dreaded gnats stayed away and there was a faint smell of balsam fir in the air. Does it get any better than that? Oh yeah, there was a long line for the men’s bathroom, but not the women’s! A rare occurrence and hence absolutely worth mentioning.

Just under 20 starters, including Independent Fabrication/Kempner riders Zoe Owers and Silke Wunderwald, lined up for the women’s P123 race, a full minute ahead of the women’s Cat. 4 field. The initial pace was set by NEBC and Silke spent some time at the front as well, but apparently the Cat. 4’s were committed to actually have a race and within only a few miles from the start the P123 field was neutralized to let them pass. Determined not to engage in a tug of war between the two fields, Silke went to the front and picked up the pace just at the right time to take advantage of a widening in the road that allowed the field to re-pass the 4’s. Leading into one of the many rollers of the course, she accelerated to put some distance between the two fields, and then again on the following two rollers, but didn’t manage to break up the group.

A little more than halfway through the first loop on one of the more substantial climbs of the course, Silke attacked and this time finally managed to open a gap on the field with Mary Zider from NEBC quickly bridging up. The pair continued to ride a hard tempo to widen the gap, but eventually settled into a more sustainable pace for the last half of the second loop. Zoe, mindful not to cut into the lead of her teammate at the front of the race, continued on in a chase group and used her years of experience of riding at the pro level to carefully balance the pace to also maintain the distance ahead of a second chase group.

Leading into the last climb to the finish line, Silke’s attempt to overtake Mary in the final yards of the race was foiled when a group of pro men that finished just at the same time and the resulting traffic didn’t leave her enough room to come around Mary quickly enough. Zoe finished strong in her group, sprinting her way to a 5th place overall to close the day with two solid top 5 finishes for the team!

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