by Kristabel Doebel-Hickok
I overheard a racer in Sunday’s field say something like, “there is no better way to learn than to be thrown into the fire.” That pretty much sums up why I was at the Merco Classic Stage Race. It was my first stage race, individual TT, and experience beyond the local SoCal races.
Stage 1 was the MID road race, which sounded the least daunting of the 4 stages; except that it would be my first glimmer of higher level of competition. I started at the back so I could just watch what happens for a while. Unfortunately, I found that moving up in such a huge field (60+ racers) is not easy and it’s hard to really follow what’s going on from the very back. I spent most of the race moving up a bit by riding on the outside of the pack and then giving up wheel after wheel to return to the back of the pack on the relatively flat sections and trying to climb hard on the steep section although the super rough road made that quite the challenge. I held my own in the first main pack after the break, but felt a bit lost and uncertain of my role among such loaded teams and constant shuffling of wheels. I finished 16th, 3’25” behind the leader. [Read more…]