Joe Martin Stage Race | Race Recap
Joe Martin Stage Race. It’s not for the faint of heart. The courses are hilly, and the talent is national.
The Breakaway Cycling Elite Women’s Team took on the Cat 2/3 race with 3 riders- Ava Hachmann, Cassie Cardoza (guest riding from Isocentric), and I. Saturday, we had a hilly 56 mile road race in the morning and a 3 mile, twisty uphill time trial at Devil’s Den in the afternoon. Sunday we had a criterium with the infamous climb up Church St.
The road race course features a couple of steep 5-8 minute climbs, stair step rollers, several smaller climbs, and some fast flat sections. We decided if nothing happened early in the race, we would try to get a break going before the last climb. It’s called Hell’s Kitchen, and it’s positioned about 16 miles before the finish. The first break went less than 10 miles into the race, with Faith Montreuil (Gray Goat Mobile) and Ali Parsons Towle (Gear West Cycling) getting off the front on The Wall. A chase group formed with all 3 Breakaway riders and about 5 others. We were able to pick them both up before we got to the feed zone at mile 33. Shortly after that, Ava started to attack in the perfect spot, hoping to get off the front before Hell’s Kitchen. We did not want the field to be together in such a selective climb so close to the finish. I countered Ava’s attack, and when she countered again, she got enough of a gap that it didn’t immediately close. Jaime Larmer (Elevate Cycling) bridged up to her, and I slowed down. The group never organized, and they got further and further up the road. I took Hell’s Kitchen with the chase group. Shudder. Pain. (I set a 5 minute power PR.) Three more riders got away on that climb, and I was in a group of 4 through to the finish. Results: Ava won and got a 10 second time bonus. I took 7th, and Cassie 15th.
After the road race, we went to a cabin close to Devil’s Den that Tiffany Dixon (our team director) rented and had stocked with food and recovery tools. We put our feet up, ate, and I made a few adjustments to my handlebars. I was excited for the time trial, not because I’m particularly good at riding uphill, but because I had a power plan for the course that Brad Schrag (BCT coach) created using Best Bike Split. The last time I did that time trial, I employed the classic Cat 4 strategy of going out too hard and blowing up before the finish. The plan helped me in two ways. First, the time trial flew by because I was so distracted keeping my power on target. Second, riding smooth and steady, I set a 10 minute power PR. Ava’s goal in the time trial was to lose as little time as possible to the smaller riders (she’s 6’0 tall). All three of us hit our power targets and finished mid pack. Ava lost 41 seconds to the new GC leader and moved into 3rd place.
We arrived at the criterium Sunday morning ready to rally around Ava in hopes of getting her back onto the top step. The course is either uphill or downhill, with a finishing climb up Church St. As we bombed down Dickson St. on the first lap, the bumps on the brick crosswalks caused my hastily tightened handlebars to roll forward, so my hoods were pointing down. I rolled to the wheel tent to get them adjusted, but I was not eligible for a free lap (free laps are only available when there is a mechanical caused by the course, not rider error). With my race over, I decided to let the peloton lap me so that I could jump back in to help Ava. *PLEASE NOTE – It turns out, this was against the rules. The referee went over the rules at the start line. With pre-race nerves I was not listening and had no idea. Don’t be like me. Listen to every word the ref says at the start line. Also, don’t adjust your own equipment before a race if you’re not a bike mechanic.* The GC leader got off the front during the race, but we let her go thinking it would be too hard to get 41 seconds back on her. Another rider got off the front in the last lap. She was over a minute behind Ava in GC, so we didn’t chase. Ava was able to hold on in the pack and retain her overall 3rd place GC standing.
It was a fun weekend made more enjoyable by the excellent race support we got from Breakaway Cycling. We aren’t pros, but we were treated like it. Thank you! Also, thanks to Cassie Cardoza for guest riding with us. She fit right in with our squad. And finally, thanks to our awesome sponsors for making our team possible: