Time to rally for the Mariposa Women’s Stage Race. For those of you new to NorCal Women’s racing, the MWSR is a replacement for the legendary Kern County Women’s Stage Race. Kern served as a training ground for many in the current crop of NorCal women making a mark on the professional peloton, including Shelly Olds (Tibco), Olivia Dillon (Now/Norvartis), and Alison Tetrick (Exergy 2016). It was a real hardwoman’s race that provided a taste of the type of challenging courses and gruelling condidions experienced at races like Hood, Gila, and Cascade. It made for great racing (and spectating, trust me!). It also provided an opportuntity for the ever stronger Women Masters racers of NorCal to have knock down, drag out fights for bragging rights in their age groups.
Well, the original Kern is no longer, but it returned last year as the MWSR, which will be running again this year from May 17-19. Last year the new race courses proved themselves, with a back-and-forth battle in the 1,2 field that was eventually won by Molly Van Houweling and her Metromint teammates. The category 3 race saw the emergence and dominance of Amy Thornquist (Pinnacle p/b Argon 18) on a set of courses well suited to her (many) strengths. Both riders are set to feature in the 1,2 race this year, and bring strong teams of contenders along with them. But with little Women’s racing going on in NorCal that weekend you never know who will show up (any pro’s out there who were left out of the Tour of California TT with an itching to confront Thornquist on that 7 mile Groveland hill climb?!!)
Below are some maps and firsthand impressions of the individual courses, but to get the lay of the land take a look at this:
Pretty straightforward 10 mile out and back TT. For those familiar with the Kern TT, this one probably rolls a little more, but does not have any single climb that is quite as distinct as the one at Kern. The roads are quite smooth. Last year the fastest rider was Van Houweling, with a 23:54 on her second try after a flat stopped her halfway through the first. A nice cool down in the river at the start/finish aids in rider recovery.
Saturday hill climb: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/76760818
Riders will descend down into the canyon for the start of this hill climb on Saturday morning. This is probably the most beautiful venue, but it will also be brutal. As you can see from the profile, it will go from the gun, with the steepest bits in the first mile or so. The road is narrow but not particularly rough. Last year the fastest rider in the 1,2 field was Kelly Crowley with a 35:42. But the fastest time on the day was set by Thornquist with a 34:39.
Saturday circuit race: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/76761300
A nice little course that aims to recreate the beautiful Walker Basin stage of Kern. This is designed to be the stage for the sprinters in the group, with (if Kern is any guide) relentless sprints for substantial bonus seconds on nearly every lap. I have seen riders like Shelly Olds and Jane Despas gobble up more than a minute in time bounus sprints on the equivalent stage at Kern. This race includes the only small patch of true velopromo pavement the whole weekend, but it is nothing like what riders encounter at Madera or Copperopolis. Last year, it did not live up to its sprinters billing in the 1,2 event. Van Houweling, smarting from a 3+ minute whipping by Crowley in the morning’s hill climb, managed to break away solo, distance the pack by over 3+ minutes, and regain her GC lead.
A tough course. It starts with a smooth, very fast, and non-technical descent from the start. This was the site of tragedy last year when Suzanne Jane Rivera crashed into the back of a stopped vehicle and died from the injuries she sustained. The descent is followed by a rolling section, and then a slow-grind, on heavy but well-maintained pavement, to take back all of those lost heightmeters by the finish. The does not have any super-steep pitches like the Iron Mountain Road Race at Kern, and a large group made it to the finish in last year’s 1,2 race with Rikke Preisler of Metromint winning the sprint to the line. I never saw a group finish at Iron Mountain, but Bootjack nonetheless offers a tough final day in the saddle. No rider should give up hope (or count her chickens) until this stage is in the bag.
One final thought on lodging: As you can see from the map that identifies the location of each course, there will be some driving involved. Getting to the TT from the Bay Area on Friday should be no problem. But riders who want to stay nearby on Thursday night should probably choose Merced or Modesto, rather than trekking all the way to Mariposa on Thursday and back to the TT on Friday. It would be fine to stay in Mariposa on Friday and Saturday nights, although riders should be certain to budget enough time to get to start of the Saturday stages on the twisty, but beautiful Highway 49. Mariposa is a nice little tourist town with good dinning and lodging. Riders could also stay in Groveland as some did last year, but hotels there are limited and already mostly booked.
Booking hotels now is probably a good idea, as things might fill up with Yosemite-bound tourists.
Hope to see you at the MWSR!
Powered by Facebook Comments