Today was the Giro Di Coppi down in Montgomery County. Kathleen was racing in it as a Cat 4 so learning from last time's lessons, I brought my bike down to spectate. We got there early so Kathleen could pick up her numbers and pay her 1 day license fee, then went out to warm up (she was warming up, I was just going for a ride). This a pretty rural area of Montgomery County, so lots of farm kind of action for the day.
You can just see Kathleen in the distance, dropping me like a bad habit, but I did catch up a little while later.
Then came race time, here is the Cat 4 field rolling out of th start/parking/registration area.
Kathleen's in the black jersey with the yellow flashes and white band in the middle. So I took off for the other side of the course to catch them as they came through. Unfortunately I was interrupted by a work phone call, and missed them, so back to the start area I went. The Cat 5 Men rolled through first.
Then the Cat 1/2/3 Women
Then the stragglers from that group.
Then the Cat 4 Women rolled through, hugely reduced field already, unfortunately that included Kathleen.
But she and another gal came through a short time later.
After about 40 minutes the front of the Cat 4 Women came through again, even less of them this time.
Kathleens partner from the first lap went by, and a little while later Kathleen rolled through at the back of this group of stragglers from all 4 races that were running at the same time.
A bit of a wan smile as she rolled by.
So then that is where the bullshit part of the day came. I started seeing other women from Kathleen's field coming back to the start area (the finish was up the road about a mile or so), and so I rode over to ask what was going on, I thought they were racing 3 laps of about 13 miles and this was just the end of lap 2. The gals said that they got pulled because they were behind. No mention of this being the plan or rule prior to the the scorers at the finish line saying they were doing it. As a postrcript here, it turns out they were pulling the men as well, Kathleen led the 20Twenty womens ride this morning, and one of the race officials was there, so Kathleen got to talk to her about what went on, and she said that they were pulling men as well. Apparently it's due to police overtime, etc. Again, it would have been better if they had hipped everybody in to that when they started.
I met up with Kathleen making her way back and I got the basic report, the course was very hilly (here is her strava map and data from the race), at the start, the organizers started the 1/2/3 women but held the Cat 4 women for about 45 seconds before starting them (they were supposed to start all together). So right out of the gate the Cat 4 women at the front tried to close the gap to the Cat 1/2/3 women in front of them, and the whole race starts with a brutal climb up to what will be the finish line eventually. Last time Kathleen raced there were seperate referees for each field, one at each end of the peloton, and the rollout was neutralized (no racing) for a little bit to get the group going. Today there was no referee at the back of the 1/2/3s or at the front of the 4s so no neutral rollout until some referee showed up (probably the back guy from the women) and got in front of the Cat 4 women to slow them down.
Having survived that scene she said that the hills were super steep and the more experienced gals hit the first hill after the finish line hard so she was shelled almost immediately. She spent the next lap trying to work her way back to the group with the other gal in the picture above, but eventually on the second lap couldn't continue at that pace and they split up. Her assessment was that she burned too many matches early trying to stay with the group as they charged after the 1/2/3 women, and given the hilly nature of the course she was at a big disadvantage compared to the smaller gals (less mass to haul up the hills).
So in the end it has been interesting, she seemed to enjoy the first race more, they seemed to be more interested in having new folks there, and welcoming towards them. They also didn't shortchange the women on refereeing, they got treated the same way as all of the men's fields. One good experience 2 weeks ago, and one not so good today. Kind of telling that I was chatting with the course marshall in the photos above, and he was saying that the MABRA has trouble attracting women racers, after today's incident, I am not entirely suprised at that observation, maybe they should re-think how they treat the women, people respond better when they aren't treated as second-class citizens.