Apple Fest Race: Montrose, PA, Sept 13, 2008

September 14, 2008 · Print This Article



(almost) Always the bridesmaid, never the bride…$25 cash for 2nd place woman is a pleasant treat.  Paid for the entry fee.  But I thought I could have won the whole shebang.  

The Apple Fest Race is a funny, homey, little USCF race with the men and women combined.  After the race, you can feast on home-made cookies, lots of fruit and drinks, all for a short 26 miles of “endless hills.”  It’s also amazingly full of booty to take home:  QOM winner gets a jersey.  Cash prizes paid to 5 places deep.  AND any woman breaking the course time record gets an extra $150!  After breaking my lifetime PR from five years ago by 24 seconds at the club time trial this week,  I felt nearly guaranteed that it was MINE.

On-line registration ended at 10:30 Friday night.  As of 10:15 there were a measly 7 women including me signed up.  I recognized some of the names, but not all and began to wonder if I was being too confident.  When I looked again after the cut off time, one new name had been added that made my blood run cold:  Elizabeth Tyrell.  No!!!!!!!  

Betty is a seasoned racer (somewhere around 54 years old) and wears a stars and stripes jersey for her national champion time trial and probably road racing success.  Katina and I had just raced with her a few weeks ago at the Chris Thater Crit, and while she didn’t finish ahead of us, it was she who really pushed the pace the whole race.  She has won crits by going off the front and then lapping the field.  Still she’s from Downstate…a flat lander…

So the race starts, fast downhill and the field was nicely solid and rode predictably.  I went to my usual place, toward the front, and tried to sit in and just take advantage of the testosterone of the leaders.  All was well, and the first KOM/QOM was to come at around mile 9.  Young Eli (sp?) from Ithaca, with his bleached, formerly pink fluff ruffling in the wind on his seat tube to show his support of the NY Bellas turned to me and chirped, “you got it!” and I believed him, because I hadn’t seen any women in ages.  There were maybe 200 meters to the line and I turned my head to the left, and who do I see, but Ms. Stars And Stripes herself, quietly moving up and passing me!  Verdammt!  And she kept going…I started to lose contact with the leaders.   Betty was dangling, but still hanging in there…  I was done.

The rest of the race, I was with a small group of four - one was the men’s NYS Time Trial Champion, who when I asked why the heck he was back with us, said he was sick.  We worked a ragged paceline and on the last hills all fell to one’s own pace.  I had a small test of my conscience when I realized I was dropping one of my club friends, Rich, who is usually a very good climber - I thought, should I just wait a little for him and we can ride the last mile together or should I just keep pushing and see how I do on that course record, even though Betty’s surely already gotten it?  No karma points for me - I chose the latter and left my pal in the dust wobbling up the hill with cramps in his legs.  Bad choice - I was off the record by a minute.  Betty broke it by two minutes.

Typical for Betty, when I congratulated her on her amazing ride, she replied, “Oh, if you had just managed to stay on a little longer, you’d have been there with me, all they did was sit there and roost the rest of the race!”  How can you begrudge a sportswoman like that?  If someone’s going to win and it’s not me, I want it to be down-to-earth, no pretensions, unassuming, and always cheerful Betty.  And the QOM jersey would have been too big for me anyway.

Here’s a Youtube clip of Ambassador to Women’s Cycling Betty Tyrell.


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