Coming quickly through the ranks of the local road racing scene and into prominence last year, first-year professional road racer Katie Hall thrilled NorCal bike racing afficionados who spectated the women’s Pro National Championship road race on May 26th. Her move to solo away from the field on the Lookout Mountain climb and then steadily hold off the chase group played an intrumental role in United Health Care teammate Alison Powers’ eventual win. The NorCal Cycling News caught up with Hall after the Nationals hype died down to get her perspective on the day.
NCCN: Was your attack and long solo off the front in the Nationals road race the “team plan”, or was it more opportunistic?
KH: It wasn’t exactly the plan but it wasn’t too far off either. The plan was for Mara to go the second time up Lookout Mountain. The pace started off real hard and I was suffering pretty bad around 10th wheel, but then the pace suddenly slowed. I thought, well this isn’t the plan, so asked Mara if I should go, and she said yes. I attacked with the idea that I would make it hard and the other teams would chase me down allowing Mara to attack and get away. I think maybe everybody else was thinking the same thing, and didn’t want Mara to get away on the climb, so let me go. I say it was still the plan because we race as a team where anybody can win, and where the players are relatively interchangeable. We still had somebody off the front forcing the other strong teams to chase, enabling us to counter and win! So I think we executed the plan pretty successfully.
NCCN: What was going through your mind while you were up there by yourself? Were you in the dark about what was going on behind you?
KH: I’m on the TV! No, just kidding. Keep steady power on the pedals, keep your head down. That sort of stuff. I talked to Rachel (our DS) a couple of times so I knew that Tayler (Wiles, Specialized-Lululemon) had attacked out the chase group and that Alison was well-positioned in the chase group with Evie (Stevens, Specialized Lululemon) and Megan (Guarnier, Boels-Dolmans).
I looked back once on the descent to see if I could see anyone coming and both my contacts flew out of my eyes so I couldn’t see the whiteboard with the time gaps. I heard the moto ref say “1:05 to the peloton, 40 seconds to the chaser”, so I knew Tayler was coming but I didn’t hear any gaps after that, and was so surprised when she blew by me that I nearly missed her wheel.
NCCN: No contact lenses throughout that key last segment of the race? Yikes! Were you pretty happy with your 5th place finish, or more so about the instrumental role you played in the story of how the race went down, and really animating things?
KH: I was most happy to contribute to Alison’s win. I sometimes forget that my teammates haven’t already won every bike race there is to win, and that winning any NRC race, especially the National Championships, is still a really big deal. Seeing how happy Alison was to win her first road race National Championship and knowing that I helped to make that happen is way more satisfying than getting 5th place.
NCCN: Was your Nationals race the highlight of your season so far as a first-year pro, or has there been more exciting or satisfying days?
KH: Yes, Nationals was pretty awesome, but racing in the Vuelta e El Salvador might take the win. El Salvador was lots of hard mountainous days in a row, and we met the nicest people there. Although any day where I get the chance to race my bike and manage to put in some good attacks is a good day in my books.
NCCN: Random humorous last questions: if you were stranded at a train station in Bangledesh with another racer in the women’s pro peloton who is not on your team, who would you want your buddy in that humorous fictional pickle to be?
KH: Eileen Mazzochette. She mostly races in the local scene, but she’s really resourceful and organizes people well and always has a good attitude. Like the time we lost the bolt, bearing caps, and pulley wheel to a rear derailleur in the fall leaves on a mountain bike ride at Annadel State Park. Everybody was hopeless that there was going to be a 10 mile hike-a-bike out except for Eileen, who was convinced we could solve the problem. In a short time, we found all the missing parts, put the pulley wheel back together, and continued on our merry way. If I’ve got to be in a pickle as you say, she’s one I’d want there.
Headline shot of Katie climbing the steep pitch of the Kent Street Hill during her solo breakaway courtesy of Jono Devich.
Stay tuned for an upcoming interview with Pro Nationals road race fourth place finisher Tayler Wiles. The Specialized-Lululemon NorCal resident was also a huge player in the story of how the race went down.
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