Purgatory RR Victory!

So, I am doing a terrible job of regular blogging, but I am either too busy to write, or too bored and uninspired. On Thursday at the track I wrote a great blog article in my head, but by the time I had to time write it on Friday it was gone. My brain is like a sieve. A very coarse sieve.

This is more of a two-part post, one about my recent race at Purgatory and then a bit on my current USAC category standing. The latter will be the latter, contrary to middle school introduction style.

Purgatory Road Race, Thanks Green Line Velo!

My second race of the season is in the books! It was a bit of a mid-minute decision to do it, starting to consider it the weekend prior and pulling the trigger mid-week. I guess their marketing technique of tweeting threats all day every day was pretty effective. Plus, GLV gets it right as a team in general. The men’s squad is just a bunch of young, fit, personable dudes who I don’t actually know how they DO on a bike, but they are pretty omnipresent. So, I decided to do this race, so obviously I did hard workouts Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, rode a bit too long on Friday, and was too cracked for openers on Saturday. I spent Friday and Saturday worried about my sad legs. I tried to compensate with food. Then my sad legs just had to carry around an extra few pounds. Plan backfired. When I got to registration Sunday morning, the ole legs were sad even walking up the stairs. This, mixed with the registration of a few pretty strong riders made me less confident.

So, legs felt sad leading up. On the bike? Legs also sad. I felt like I could barely pedal into a hard effort. I definitely had zero pop, and on top of that, I had scratchy eyes and sticky throat. UGH, BODY, WHY ARE YOU NOT COOPERATING!! To add to it all was the self-induced stress to do well as a follow-up for my win at Sunapee.

The race was 55 miles, 5 laps of a course with a lot of descending and one major climb that was pretty short, but punchy. It felt like there was more descending than climbing, but something tells me the two were about equal. My garmin said there was 5400′ of climbing, but the race map said something closer to 3750. Technology is the actual worst. The worst of the climbing was right before the finish of lap. There was a right hander that turned up to a steep pitch, which flattened out a bit and then went up again as you saw a 1k to go sign. 1k until the finish on the finish lap. The hill levels a bit and you make a sharp left, only to reveal more climbing. Near the top of this climb you saw a sign for 500m. Now, I am not too good at math, but after a painful climb, it is insulting to see you have 100% of the distance you just went before you are done. Or before you see 4 to go. But, fear not, the last 500m is flat – false flat. Then, for the laps that keep going, there is a nice descent before a gradual uphill feedzone, and then more descending. I think you descend until that climb, actually. M.C.Escher had a hand in this course design.

The neutral rollout pushed me nicely to the back. It was packed tight up front, but everyone gave enough space in the back. That’s where I like it. It’s a bit yo-yoey, but you are guaranteed to be out of the wind as you can go to either side of the pack easily and follow wheels at will. With 27 women the field was a nice size: the back wasn’t too far from the front, but no one cared when someone wasn’t in the wind.

I spent the first lap entirely at the back. I was pretty worried about the yellow line rule. I care for two reasons: it’s a rule you can be disqualified for violating, and it’s a rule you can be killed for for violating. It was my first time doing the race and I had never seen the course. The tech guide said there were roads with no center lines where the rule was still in effect, but then there were some roads where the rule was not in effect. When in doubt, just stay right. Easier said than done when the field is all over the place. I generally go against lemming mentality, but I had to follow suit on some descents or I would have been gapped off, so I had to go left to get around some slow descenders. I was nervous about it, but it turns out that was an okay section of road to take the whole road. “the more you know”.

Once the second lap started, I was more worried about positioning, not sure if something would happen. I would try to work up the group, but it was a bit nerve-wracking in the narrow lanes. The pace up to this point had been painfully slow. A few punches were made on the second lap, but I was at the back and couldn’t tell who was driving them. But, nothing materialized until the final climb of the second lap. I saw it happening and knew I was too far back to make this easy. Plus, I had no pop and the hill was steep. Luckily the effort on the hill spread the field apart and it was pretty easy to move around. I put my head down and moved from about mid-pack to the front. By the time we made the left hand turn I could see two girls up ahead with a little gap and maybe three or four chasing. “chasing” as the pace is limited by the grade of the hill. I hop from wheel to wheel, unsure if I was drafting or just looking for the motivation of wheels to pick off for the climb. I came to the top of the climb as I passed two Farm Team riders and became the leader for the chase. I put it in the big ring and tried to pop the other riders off my wheel. That was successful. As I crossed the finish line seeing 3-to-go I was solo chasing the break, closer to the field than them. They put in a lot of distance on the descent already. I tucked and pedaled, and it took me to the end of the feed zone before I latched on – about a mile of chase. I yelled “I need some recovery, but if we get organized and work hard we will stay away”. I could see the field, I was totally unsure if they would organize to catch us. There were two teams with a lof of players, Farm Team and Green Line Velo. A moto rode up to us and told us we had a 14 second gap. That meant nothing to me. The three of us, Stephanie Wetzel (MidAtlantic Colavita’s Women’s Team) and Cheryl Clark (Team Velo 5) and myself, organized a paceline. It took a while, as it was more of an Indian Run for a while, with the last person sprinting to the front. We had to calm down and get the one pulling off to slow down so they could slide to the back.

Holy crap was the course more fun when you could pedal and descend freely and work hard! TIME FLEW! We all worked to push the pace at different times. Cheryl took some monster pulls, and soon, we had over 5 minutes on the group. We took a little breather. I took my first feedzone feed, with Aaron Hubble handing me a coke and then Ryan Kelly (both ENGVT Untapped) handing me my bottle (this did not go smoothly, as I had one hand on the bars and one hand trying to take TWO objects). I was unsure how the finish would play out. For the last lap, we were more relaxed and a bit chattier, maybe relieved that we stayed away? I was unsure how a sprint finish would play out, but I knew I couldn’t get away on that course. And I also knew I couldn’t attack on the hill as my legs were so flat. I was in third going up the hill. My legs were so much owwy! I thought to myself “stop now, feel happy, get third”. I got out of the saddle and closed the little gap that had opened. Oh, a little flat relief. I can do this! We make the left hand turn. I once again decide I should give up. I get out of the saddle instead. I MADE IT UP THE HILL! YAY ME! Oh, what is this, Stephanie let a gap open up in front of her? I CAN GO AROUND!! Yessss second. Gogo gadget big ring. There is a headwind. I am not in it. I peek my head around. Hellooo finish line. If I get there first I am the first done. SPRINT, GO NOW! Woo hooooooo I wEeEEeeEn! Weener! Too bad the cars are another two miles up the road…


The three of us put 10 minutes into the field. The first 22 miles with the field averaged 19.1 mph. The next 33 miles averaged around 22 mph with just the three of us, but the lap we got away we averaged over 23mph over the 11 miles. I spent 51% of the race in my endurance HR zone, 21% near threshold, and 20 in tempo. Not the hardest effort, but the organization and push of the break was so nice and made the race quite a pleasure.

Thanks to Coach Kyle at Finish Fast Cycling for killing me. And to Nick for dealing with my being a constant diva. And to Danielle for the ride. And to that guy who hit me with his car a few years ago for funding my entry to this race. He is now my sponsor. #SettlementStipend

So, I won overall, but, as I am cat 3 I was scored and paid out separate. You know how for women’s equality the women always say that they pay as much to race so they should get equal payout? I paid as much to race, raced for equal distance, and beat people, but still got paid less. That was stated in advance, and I anticipated my displeasure with this and tried to upgrade to a Cat 2 before the race but was denied.

I have been accused of sandbagging. I will explain my situation. Here are my results as a Cat 3, with the points according to USACs upgrade point charts, found here:

Event Name Category Place Pts Fld Size
Myles Standish State Forest Road Race Women C1 C2 C3 3 Race too short, no points. 21
Mystic Velo Criterium Women Cat 3/4 Open 1 4 14
ECCC Conference Championships Road RACE Women Collegiate B 1 Collegiate B does not count towards upgrade 11
ECCC Conference Championships Criterium Women Collegiate B 1 Collegiate B does not count towards upgrade 10
Lake Sunapee Bike Race WOMEN PRO-1-2-3 1  7 13
Purgatory RR W P-1-2-3  1  7-8 (depending on if combined field is counted or not)  27

To go from a cat 3-2 a woman needs 30 points. Note that in my collegiate races I won the A/B combined fields, where the rider numbers are more than double listed here, but those points do not count  as I was a B racer which is counted as a Cat 4 and will not count towards my upgrade. If the Myles Standish race is counted as a crit, maybe I can get 3 points there. So I have 21-22 points, depending on if Purgatory is counted as a combined field, which I bet it will not as the rules state those that score the fields separate are given separate points. So I am dicked not only on payout, but also on points. I will need win one VERY large 3 field in the next road race (50+ cat 3’s, impossible) or win at least two more races of equal size in order to upgrade to a cat 2. [I should note my results have Killington, but I excluded them as I broke my damn hand, finished off the back (though still beat people) and they have me as a DNF for day 2, but I didnt even start. So that is weird.]

Rules are rules. The unfortunate thing is the arbitrary timing of deciding to follow these rules. Many racers that are now 2’s got their upgrades with no wins or too few points. Less points than I have now and no wins in 3 fields, even! So, I am not frustrated that I am not getting “special treatment”, just frustrated that so many others have and I am falling victim to poor timing. It is like your favorite coffee shop adopting a keyed bathroom door policy, where for the first few times you have to go you go straight to the door and are obviously frustrated when you find it locked though unoccupied. But, I have come to terms with needing to race to get the points.


Okay, now I have to be done with this post because I need to figure out why my garmin won’t sync. I have tried two laptops, two phones, bluetooth, ant stick and USB cable. The only tablet it would ever sync with has met it’s maker and now I will never have any data  for the rest of my life. Go figure.

*update, my device synced after 3 different cable attempts. Check out my strava file from the race found on my homepage in the footer widgets!!


  1. To get my upgrade and the points, I was doing 15-20 races/season as the majority of the other women that raced on the road in New England. There wasn’t a lot of payout 5 years ago for the cat 3 women. If you do math, 27 starters at 50$, the field barely paid the prize list. Complaining about payouts is quite lame when you are an amateur cyclist. If you are Evelyn Stevens, it is different. Several sports don’t pay anything to amateur. The GLV had the right to pay more or less some fields and it was annouced clearly. I don’t have problem with people living the pro lifestyle but I don’t think it is very considerate money complaints. Maybe you should get a job.

    1. Hiiii Nancy. I am indeed going to keep racing to get the points, but as I stated, it is frustrating given I have more points now than many I know who have upgraded in the past.

      Regarding the payout, I’m not complaining about the amount at all, or really “complaining” about getting paid less, as much as being transparent in knowing my anticipated and realized frustration. Also I wanted to point out the irony that women are always complaining about equal payouts as men despite different races, distances and times, but they defend different payouts for those in the exact same freaking field. My vote is if it is one field, treat it that way. I know it was advertised as it was, I graciously accepted. I registered, didnt I?

      Now, to address your wanting me to get a job. Please, do hire me. I apply for many jobs a week, but with no luck. Granted, I am being picky looking for jobs that validate my 7 years of higher education, but I am trying. I haven’t gotten desperate enough to settle for just any job, but I do try to be realistic in my racing by staying close to home for road races and trying to walk away with more cash than I started with. Because the option is there and race promoters are generous enough to pay, I’m going to take full advantage. I wish I could be so baller I could say “no, please, keep your chump change. Your $50 is nothing to me”. But for me it’s the difference between racing again or needing to wait till I scrape up more race funds. I am a fully self-supported racer right now, not even riding in team kit, no bike shop discount, no free gels. I chose this lifestyle.

      I don’t ever, anywhere, claim to be “pro”. I am not a professional bike racer (yet). I do not live the pro lifestyle, and I am not eloquent as clearly I have come across as entitled, which I am not.

      I will race my races. I will get my points. I will pay full entry. I will accept the payouts. I will hold the community up to high standards and I will speak freely regarding my feelings. I will respect the feelings of others and hope for the same respect in return.

      Thanks for reading and for your input! I’ll try to be more clear about my meaning in the future.

      1. You can look on road-results.com and you can figured out how to get a cat 2. Not everyone had spectacular results but have the point barely. Experience helps in most case but it is going against you and fighting the governing association on internet won’t help you. I think they are worried because you have done maximum 5 races.
        Also, in 2011 or 2012, the field size was a bit bigger than today but not that much and it is a struggle for everyone. New came to the sport but a lot more stops racing or moved out of New England. It is a problem with women cycling, not payout. Even the men cat 3 is not full and it is a novelty. It was good that Rebecca Wellons showed up and maybe more people will discover that they like racing again.

        I have a team but I don’t get anything free like almost everyone. Yes, I had discount in bike shop due to be a good customer and friendship with owner overtime. I had to lead group rides to get too. A lot of people that obtained free stuff or discounted work in the cycling industry (shop, sale rep).

        I am sorry that you had trouble with finding a job that it is interesting for you. Unfortunately, college degree is not a guarantee and I hated when school sold job market perspective better than the reality is sometimes.

        1. Cool, thanks for the dialogue! Hopefully road racing continues to grow. I hate not being a larger contributor but you’ve always gotta watch out for number one and cross is my number one, you know what I mean? Not sure what my next race will be this year, but you will see me out there again! For sure for the Tour of the Hilltowns, I was sad to miss it last year.
          See you on the road!

  2. Hi Rebecca,

    Just found your blog and have been enjoying it very much!

    “I was pretty worried about the yellow line rule. I care for two reasons: it’s a rule you can be disqualified for violating, and it’s a rule you can be killed for for violating.” — LOL. I’m totally going to steal this.

    As a Cat 3 you should have been racing as a collegiate A, that’s why your ECCC points didn’t count. As a B you actually did that race as a Cat 4. But I guess you’ve probably figured that out already.

    Cheers, keep up the hilarious blogging!

    1. Thanks, Portia.
      yea, I know now about the Collegiate B, but again, number of races was a hindrance for even that upgrade. Too little too late!
      Thanks for reading, I aim to please.

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