Sunday, Aug 4th, I drove south towards Kankakee and proceeded to get lost along following a beautiful river looking for the ABR Two Rivers race course. My luck for the day turned when Project 5's Marilyn Powell pulled alongside me and re-directed me to course.
I heard last year there was only 1 woman at the race, but this year, there was an ok turn-out. Some 4 or so for the 40/50's and another 4 for the open. We would be racing together, however, the open was doing 3 laps of an 18 mi course while the 40/50's were doing 2. I had signed up for the 40/50 race not realizing the difference. My attempts to convince the 40/50 to do 3 laps were unsuccessful, so I changed to the open.
Within a couple miles from the start, we quickly formed a pace line with everyone taking turns pulling through. The pace wasn't fast, but the atmosphere was friendly and supportive for the newer racers.
Liz So was in the open race. Her cyclocross fast twitch muscles were twitching. She was not satisfied with the pace. She tried desperately to get one of us in the open race to jump with her early in a break. I wasn’t ready to go anywhere yet, still trying to warmup. Noone else seemed inclined to take up her offer so early in the race.
Well, not even ½ lap into the 3 lap race, Liz jumped - attacking on her own and getting a gap. Our group continued the paceline, keeping Liz within reach. As we went on, the 40/50’s racers were less inclined to pull through, so the three of us in the open race, myself, teammate Katie Isermann, and XXX’s Sue Wellinghoff, traded turns. Nearing the end of lap 2, the 40/50’s asked that we keep out of the way of their finish. Ok. They lunged ahead. It was fun to watch their lead-outs and sprint efforts. Congratulations to Imelda March on her 40+ win with Shannon Pookie-Keaton and Ginger Stephens right on her wheel and to Marilyn Powell for the 50+ win.
Continuing into the final lap of the open race, we weren’t sure if Liz was tiring or not. She was doing a significant amount of work staying just off the front. We got our answer when she reintegrated with the group with ½ lap to go – she was still strong. Looking at the 4 of us, I decided it was not in my best interest to wait for a sprint finish. My teammate, Katie, on the other hand would do well in that situation. So, I started attacking. Each time, Liz was attached to me like glue. I did get a slight gap after one attack, but with a cry from Liz that I might have unfairly crossed the centerline to gain the advantage, I sat up. As the four of us lulled into a pace that made it difficult to keep our bikes upright, I attacked again – but this time I held it out there for a good bit, got a gap, and put my head down to time trial to the finish.
Along the way, I kept looking over my shoulder for the ever-charging Liz So to be on my heels. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. Katie did win the field sprint finishing 2nd and taking home the Cat 3 IL State Championship jersey.