The final stage begins with a neutral start in downtown Redlands up until the firestation. A neutral start means we have to ride behind a car, and a referee on a motorcycle. They get to dictate the pace. At the firestation, the riders are let loose. Ironically the pace some of those girls dictate is a heck of a lot harder than that big red convertable. I love it. (Check out the picture on cyclingnews: http://www.cyclingnews.com/races/redlands-bicycle-classic-ne/stage-3/photos/166641 )
There's a long twisty climbing section through some nice neighborhoods. Then there's the feedzone. An uphill false flat. Then it goes downhill, there are some turns...we get back to the firestation...and UP UP UP again. We did 11 loops before racing back to the downtown finish.
Thank goodness for that feedzone. We had 7 opportunities to grab bottles from our staff. They were filled with eload Heat Endurance Formula, and they stuck a pack of gel onto the side of most of the bottles. At the beginning of the race I felt like I was bordering on cramping. I thought I'd be stuck riding like a warrior for the rest of the race with my legs seizing like they had minds of their own. The balance of electrolytes in the eload products saved me, thank goodness. No cramping. Just pedaling.
My teammate Denise Ramsden rode that race like a superstar. She was in all of the breaks. Some got reeled back in. I made sure to be in the final break, and I fought to stay there. I knew that if I let up for even one pedal stroke, I would be toast. Off the back. I pushed hard and kept up with the break's attacks up the final uphill sections. That's the thing with riding: pushing harder than you think you can for just a few seconds can save you a heck of a lot of trouble in the long run. That's because once you're dropped from the group, good luck riding yourself back onto it again with nobody to work with and draft off of. You'll be all on your own afterwards, dealing with the wind resistance by yourself.
We (the 9 riders in the breakaway) got downtown with just under a minute gap from the other riders. I stayed out in front for the final couple of downhill kilometers. Denise got a 3rd place finish. AWESOME. She took home the Best Young Rider's Jersey for the Prestige Series (there are 3 more races to come in the series). Juvéderm-Specialized-Mazda earned 4th place for the best team competition. We tied with the times of the top 3 teams. Good job girls...what a way to race!
9th in Beaumont
5th in the crit
3rd in Sunset
Leader in U23 Prestige Series