This weekend was the final stop of the USGP series in Portland, OR. I am sad and finding it hard to believe that the season is wrapping up next weekend with Nationals in Bend...I am still hungry for more!! But this weekend I saw Portland like I have never seen it - sunny! It was cold, a bone-chilling cold due to the humidity, but it is always a relief to avoid pummeling rain.
Saturday's course was a bit changed from years prior, with the addition of some fun s-turn sections which were wicked in the tacky conditions. It starts with a long and flat pavement section of at least 500m which is a total drag race, and seems to never end, before finally hitting a right hander into grass and sometimes mud. This section was probably the slickest part of the course, as there were two mini mud slabs and ruts. With the stampede on the first lap, as soon as we hit this section it became a game of twister, as it was a herd going mach-schnell into a slipn' slide. Probably 10 people back, I narrowly avoided some flailers, and powered onto the straight section, grabbing a wheel in front of me for the next fast turny section. We were then led into a whoopty-doo section before a steep run-up. Here, I was sitting 7th wheel maybe and was able to move up to 4th or 5th through the run. As we finished our first lap, I found myself with Nash, Dunlap, and Sydor. Dunlap attacked as we turned off the pavement and I hopped on her wheel. Nash countered through the slip n' slide section and I grabbed her wheel and we distanced ourselves from the two Alisons. The rest of the race I had Nash within shouting distance, but could never quite reel her in.
The race went by by quickly, as I seemed to think I had 2 laps left when we were on our final lap. On the final lap I had a bit of a second-wind and had a glimpse of hope at shutting the gap down. But Katerina kept powering away and as I rounded the right-hander onto the finishing straight I saw her glance back before saluting yet another victory.
I was happy with the race, as I feel I am on a good trajectory, feeling stronger weekend by weekend. This was an improvement to stay closer to Nash, but there is always more work to be done!