I missed the first Rose Garden Circuit Race last week while I was in San Francisco, so I was really excited to give the course a try last night. Curves, climbs, off-camber corners, so fun!
The women’s 4/5 field was 9 strong and I had no idea what to expect from the group. At race start I struggled to clip in as I haven’t been riding with my road pedals in the last few weeks, so it took a moment to remember how to use them. Then we were off! I trailed the group a little through the first couple of corners, just getting my bearings and watching how they handled the course. The hairpin left turn at Reservoir 3 really was wicked, with some potholes and bad pavement in the turn in addition to being at the start of a climb. A few women struggled with their shifting on the first lap.
By the first climb I was up front with two other ladies, riding a nice line into the second lap. We stayed together back through the off-camber curves and into the hairpin turn, then one of them crashed on the turn thanks to that nasty pothole. I gapped the other front rider on the climb and had a solid lead at the start of the third lap. And that’s when I dropped my chain shifting into the big ring. Damn. I couldn’t get the chain up while pedaling and had to pull off and stop to fuss with it. Everyone passed me.
Chasing the pack I caught a couple of them on the climb and thought I had a chance to make it to the front again, then my chain dropped again on the fourth lap. I pulled over, everyone passed me.
I chased back on one more time, catching a few riders and had no idea where I was in the field at all. By this point I just wanted to make it through the final lap without a mechanical and finish strong. The last climb was tough after spending so much energy chasing the group in the last two laps, and I decided against sprinting for the finish because the only rider ahead of me was racing Masters 4/5 and wasn’t part of my field.
Lesson learned: when you’re your own wrench, you only have yourself to blame for race day mechanicals. It looks like I have some drivetrain maintenance work to do this weekend!
Unbelievably, I finished 4th out of 7. I’m looking forward to giving this course another try next week! It was technical but really fun!