06 Jun

Liberty Classic 2011

I don’t know where to start….about how Killington threw me off or about how unexcited I was to do Liberty Classic or how awesome it was to finish just a few meters behind the World Champion? Let me start from the beginning….

The Killington Stage race last week totally threw me off my game. I never was able to get into my competition rhythm. On top of that, I was never in so much pain going up a mountain. With 10 miles to go in the last stage, my feet became numb which developed into pain every time I put pressure on the pedals. It was the same feeling/pain you get in the winter when your freezing hands are suddenly are exposed to heat. I was out of the competition going into the final climb.

So I was not really looking forward to another painful event. I had low expectations for Liberty Classic with the only hope I could finish it pain-free. Also, Lindsay was doing a great job being excited for both of us.

125 racers started Liberty Classic. I never raced in such a big field. The biggest was maybe 70. Pro teams like HTC, Tibco, Juvaderm, Colavita, showed up as well as the current and a few previous World Champions ….it was a UCI race and had definitely the spirit of a BIG race.

The course was a 14.4mi circuit with two notorious climbs, Manayunk, aka the wall and Lemon Hill. A lot of spectators came out on a Sunday morning at 9am to watch us race in downtown Philadelphia. We had to have a minimum team of four riders, so our composite team consisted of Lindsay, Emily Thurston, Laurel Larsen, Emma Swatman and I.

Manayunk was truly a wall, super steep that spread the field apart. Lemon hill had no effects on the race and was not as exciting as I had expected.

The race started at 9:10am and we did a parade lap around the fountain and then the race started. I was told by about 20 people that there was a certain spot to watch, when the road narrows from four lanes to two. It was known for big crashes but nothing happened this time.

We went up Manayunk for the first time and the field didn’t separate up the hill but a Juvederm rider got a gap and soloed for the next 70km. In the second lap, I suddenly saw Laurel attacking the field and getting away. She was at some point out of sight and even got some QOM points at Manayunk until she got caught. That was an impressive move from her!

In the peloton, nothing exciting really happened up to the second time up the wall. We were at the steepest part of the hill (17% grade) when a girl in front of me crashed/fell over. That forced me to put my foot down. Since there was no way for me to get on my bike, I ran up the hill getting some ‘cross training in the middle of summer.

It was exhausting running up and I still had to get on my bike and get up to speed. I lost a lot of time. While I was clipping in a spectator yelled to me that this was a cycling event and not a running event.

No time to comment on this, I awkwardly hopped on my bike and gave everything to catch the group. It took me the entire downhill section plus maybe another mile and I was finally back. That cost me a lot of energy. I just hoped that this wouldn’t happen the next two times because I wasn’t sure if I would make it back to the field another time.

The next two climbs up Manayunk were relatively smooth. I was somewhere in the back but always managed to get back to the peloton. The pace picked up once we got on the last 2k, one more time around the fountain and then the last 200m.

It was a tight finish crossing the line as 42nd with the same time as the winner. Emily got 20th, Lindsay 26th and Laurel 65th. It was a fantastic race and I can’t wait for Airforce Classic!

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