Race Report by Maria Hyde – Brumble Kermesse; Westerly, RI

Rumble in the Brumble. This race included a lot of firsts for me. Due to inclement weather canceling every race weekend since moving up to the Great North (New England), I had not gotten a chance to test the legs since last year’s Florida State Road Race in October. So, this was my debut to the New England racing scene as well as my first race of the season. Additionally, this being April in not-Florida, it was a chilling 45°F. The 44 mi road race consisted of four 11 mi laps that skated the coast and winded up around Watch Hill Road. A relatively flat course, the 15 mph winds added a dimension to the race to compensate for the lack of climbs.

26 women rolled up to the staging area. The lineup consisted of three teams – Green Line Velo p/b Zipcar, Velo Classic p/b Stan’s NoTubes, and Sunapee/Buchika’s/Continental – and a handful of teammate-less troopers. Since the rest of DelaFina resides in the warmer and sunnier regions of the country, I was a part of the hodgepodge of unattached riders for this New England series race. As soon as the pace car began to lurch forward, I could tell the teams were going to forces to reckon with, but hopeful that three teams of at least three women on each would neutralize one another.

About 3 miles before end of the first lap, Green Line launched the first attack. A NoTubes rider jumped on and soon I see a Sunapee zoom by me. With one girl from each team in the break, I knew that if they were not shut down quickly, their teammates left in the pack would be thrilled to see them be up the road and out of sight. Before I could really weigh my options, I found myself chasing hard before the gap got any bigger. Catching up to them, I brought the others with me. We were one big happy pack once again.

The second lap had a few short-lived surges but nothing had the slightest chance of sticking with the massive headwind blowing us around. It was not until the last turn before the straightway going into the third lap that two Green Line racers attacked, swinging around from behind. It was like déjà vu at its finest, but this time the break consisted of two Green Lines and a NoTube. I jumped, figuring that I’d have the field riding on my tail. Two things happened that surprised me: 1) I actually caught the break which had a good 200 m on the field and 2) I only brought one girl with me. We quickly organized into a tight echelon to gain a safe distance from the pack. Things were actually going well as we entered the third lap. However, it soon deteriorated and as the rotation waned, the distance from the field did as well. We were caught. Another few miles go by and I find myself in the front rotation – which I really should have seen this coming – but as soon as I pulled over and flicked my elbowed, it might as well have been a signal for the deciding move attack. This time the break included two Green Line’s, a NoTubes, and was led by two other strong cat 1 racers.

The break got further up the road and gained distance quickly. A Sunapee racer approached me and offered to work together to chase but it was too little too late and we were absorbed back into the pack shortly after our feeble attempt to bridge. By then the break was out of sight and the race was pretty much set. The field sprint was a peculiar experience because, unlike the grandiose overhead banner that marks the finish line in Florida races, the finish line was a black mat that spanned halfway across the road. As we hunkered down for the final sprint, I positioned myself well behind a strong NoTubes racer but before I knew it – or anyone really – we were rolling over the black mat, our chip times clocking in, fractions of seconds apart. We all kind of missed the sprint.

I ended up in 5th in Cat 3, which sat okay with me, considering I didn’t really see the finish line until it passed below me. The satisfaction lay in my confidence to chase down the break three times (successfully bridging the first two times). This was the first in that I wasn’t among fellow DelaFina racers, and I had to hold my own. I could have sat in for the ride and quite possibly had the same results, but this was the first time I actively worked to rein in each attack. At least it made the race more eventful than letting the break go midway through the first lap.

Every race adds to the bucket of experience and the Brumble Kermesse was a different kind of race for me. Kicking off the season in a new region, with a new set of brilliant racers, and a newfound confidence in my bridging effort, there is a lot of opportunity for growth.

Cheers to firsts.