Today was the Garrett Lemire memorial criterium. It was a mile long course in Ojai. There was a hill, making it potentially interesting, with a tight turn at the bottom that my coach described as "crash central" in the past. The really bad part about it was the 7:01 am start time!!!!! I guess the theory is that not that many people are interested in watching womens 3/4 racing...so they make it at an hour when all non-insane people are still happily sleeping! Alas, my day started at 4am! Thankfully I carpooled with my teammate, so we could complain about going to a race this early together.
So it was so dark at registration that they were using FLASHLIGHTS so that we could see where to sign our release forms! Thank goodness we were preregistered...as it was also so cold out that the ballpoint pens had trouble working. And even leaving at an ungodly hour, we were still a bit late....having less than my desired warm up time on the trainer.
Ok. so on to the race. We rolled out at precisely 7:01am, a field of about 25 or so. It was a 3/4 race, and not being scored separately (bummer for us 4's!). It started out reasonable...everyone seemed to be wanting to check out the turns and no one wanted to go crazy. WE all hit the hill and then all the sounds of mashing gears and downshifting occured as everyone figured out what was appropriate gearing. Thanks to my FSA compact....i could big-ring the whole course, making it pretty simple. AT the top of the hill there was a right turn, and then a sharp left, and then a right to the straightaway. The peloton went hard up the hill, spread out a bit, and then things slowed as we did the turns back around to the start. On the straightaway start/finish stretch, the leaders seemed to want to chill things out and would slow down every lap. I had good position in the front of the pack for the early part of the race--even managed to (not willingly) lead a lap or 2. IT wasnt that windy, so i wasn't that worried about energy loss, and the good thing about being up front is that I could take the turns at actual speed! The turns were pretty darn slow for me, and it caused me some frustration (and lack of momentum that I wanted into that HILL).
So about halfway through the race I realized this was jsut not playing toward my strengths. I am a decent hill climber, and I have a sprint in me, but I haven't really been working on these sprinter-type efforts as of late...so by pushing up the hill and then slowing down, all the sprinters were able to catch up and get back in good position. It really was a sprinters course (noted by the fact that Laura Van Gilder won the Pro/1/2 race in a massive sprint to the finish). A more experienced racer might have realized that this was the time to take some action and attack and try and break things up a bit... But alas, this was only my 4th race ever (3rd this year) and so I didn't think about this until AFTER the race! So I just kept my position near the front.
I decided that since this race was practice I would try and sprint for a prime about 5 laps from the finish. That went well, but not perfectly. I got 2nd in that prime. Oh well...at least I can't say I didn't try!
On the last lap I got a little antsy waiting for things to go...and finally they did go. I had been blocked on the hill, so I wasn't as far up as I liked, and then I got stuck on the left turn inside...so that lost some momentum. I downshifted and sprinted hard, and I was nearly there. I did catch someone at the line (or so I thought)... definitely a top 10 it seemed.
When I checked the results, I got 9th. 8th and 9th had been switched... I was pretty sure I had caught that girl on the line so I went to ask the official...and he said there were 2 cameras, and 2 people looked at the photos...and one thought i had it, and one thought the other had it...and the 'official' decision was that she won by a millimeter! A freakin' millimeter! Oh well. Not like I really care about the $10 I would have won had I gotten 8th place :-) My teammate also rode a good race, and she got 12th, I believe. Yeah Echelon Cat 4 Women!!!
Another day, another bike race! As my coach always says..learn from every race. I sure learned from this one. And afterwards, since it was in beautiful Ojai, and the weather was warming up once the sun finally came out, I was able to take a beautiful ride up past Lake Casitas, still get 50 miles in for the day, and get back to Ojai in time to watch the Pro/1/2 womens race, which was a blast.
No matter how I placed--at least I started on time! The order of the day in the mens races seemed to be missing the start! I saw at least 2-3 people in the Mens 4/5 and the Mens 3 race miss the starts and start out chasing from at least 30 seconds back! I won't name any names here in order to protect the innocent...
Oh well...time for some Chicken Ranch!
-kimberly (no upgrade points today...maybe next time)