Aliquippa once was a vital little industrial town along the Ohio River northwest of Pittsburgh but now there's not much to see -- but there is a local race organizer and a 2.5 Km "Industrial Park" that was enough for a nice little crit today. Ten women toed the line, including three women from an eastern OH team, Stark Velo. The race organizer committed to paying out the full top 10 places for the women's race which meant everybody took home some cash.
A couple of laps in they called a $10 prime - on the back stretch the bunch slowed and I found myself second wheel behind Mary Ellen, one of the Stark Velos. She jumped out of the last turn and I knew to get on her wheel - when she seemed to fade just a bit, I made a run at her wheel, went hard up the left side and kept going, and going, and going, for a loooooong sprint for that prime. A few laps later, the bunch eased up again, and I started chatting with one of the newer women racers, encouraging her to race the Tuesday night women's training crit, when another Stark Velo attacked hard up the left. DANG ! Here I am doing my ambassador for women's racing thing and an attack goes up the road. Ironically, the woman I am chatting with manages to get on Stark Velo's wheel, but I do not. I pull like a demon for half a lap then pull off hoping one of the other independents is on my wheel and can help, but no, it's the remaining two Stark Velos, who sweetly and correctly decline to help me pull their team mate back. Myself and two other riders try for several laps to close the gap to no avail. As we seem to reconcile ourselves to racing for 3rd, I make one last effort, manage to get a gap, and end up pulling the two Stark Velos with me. So now we are two up the road, and we three and I am outnumbered. As they should, they race well as a team, alternately launching attacks which I chase -- one of them up the road, the other sweetly attached to my wheel. The last lap I am in between them, the one on my wheel attacks and gets third, I manage to get past the other for 4th place. They raced so well as a team, I was happy to be part of it. Lesson learned - no chit chat during the race !