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Pilarcitos #2 ~
"Women swingin big at the 'stick"
That's what i call bike racing...
The Pilarcitos rematch between LalaLloyd and hardShell looked to be on-stage for this week's slugfest. And from the sounds of the crowds at Candlestick, everyone was looking forward to seeing who'd be the last chick standing.
Lloyd took the opening lap fast - i mean, gut punch fast. She opened up a 20 second gap before hitting the pavement and was stomping on the pedals like she had a bit of a message to send. Many heads were turned by that first lap speed, causing us to wonder if Rachel wouldn't make this a runaway solo show. But, a three rider chase group formed quickly behind with Olds, Stella Carey, and Mel Metzger driving hard through the start/finish.
We spectators would wander over dusty-duffy grassmounds in search of different viewspots to drink in the acton. Midway through the 2nd lap would see Lloyd bent over her Bianchi, yanking in frustration on that damn chain.
This lil' spoonful of mechanical drama put the race back into contention as Olds would throw down a hard charge and make the solo juncture across to Lloyd. The two up battle between these beauties was set again!
It seemed every technical section would find Lala surging hotness through the dirt, sprinting over barriers ... digging hard to open up just that breath of space between the two. But inevitably, ominously - the RockLobster rider would claw her way back to Rachel's wheel. There were few spectators without knowledge of this duel ... we all knew the race would be won by Lloyd if she could generate enough gap by swishing it full-gas through the difficult dirt sections, or won by Olds if the two came together into the long paved sprint. From the 180 dirt drops to the sandy double barriers, the crowd would swap prognistications as they jogged back and forth between sections. It was up in the air as to who would have the upper hand on that tense, fatigue-ridden final lap.
And suddenly, off the pavement would storm Olds alone, Lloyd nowhere in sight. A flat, a crash? No - it would be another chaindrop for Rachel ... freeing up Olds to ride the final lap solo and for the win. Olds would ride powerfully, if a bit nervously (and we all know how that feels) for the final minutes and capture her first Elite cyclocross win. Impressive and heralding yet another big rider to come from the NorCross region.
The battle behind was close and always in question. Fellow RockLobster rider Stella Carey was never caught by the chasing field ... but wasn't ever comfortably far enough ahead to lay off the accelerator. Josie Beggs made her way through a sluggish start to bang hard on the door for 3rd, always on the heels of Carey. Sound veteran she is, Stella would see the advancing Giant Strawberries rider and drill it deep to keep the gap open.
Just behind Beggs would take place one of the more impressive rides of the day. Erin Kassoy, the diminutive Velo Bella rider, also suffered from a slow start and was running the ugly side of the top 10 in the opening minutes of the race.
Lap after dogged lap, the VB rider would connect and then pass competitor after competitor. It was a display of both strength and technical ability that saw Kassoy move up to claim the final spot on the Pilarcitos podium.
Just behind Kassoy would finish a sprinting Lauren Constantini ... victim to a few bobbles herself, but also riding with determination and grit ~ a true fighter.
Overall, it was unanimous that this year's Candlestick course was difficult and well-designed. As Sabine aptly described, "this was a race you had to be thinking, every second, every turn."
... oh, maybe that was my problem.
Blogs that suck time
Monday, October 23, 2006
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