Today was the downtown San Luis Obispo criterium. A fast, 4 corner, mostly flat course in downtown SLO. 0.8 mile laps, which meant a LOT of laps in 40 minutes! I was a bit distracted this morning, and I did wonder about my ability to focus for the race. I forgot to eat before leaving, which meant that it was going to have to be a bagel in the car (thanks to my teammate, Ginger) and a latte.
Warmup was uneventful, and I did appreciate the nice decent start time of 10:20, meaning I didn't have to get up in the middle of the night! Although I had been toying with upgrade, this week was too crazy, and I just never got around to it! So alas it was my last race as a 4. The race was a 3/4 race, and my goal was to just ride up near the front where it was fast and safe, and to keep on top of everything as long as I could. I was also doing an experiment and was not planning on wearing any HR monitor or computer of any sort. I just wanted to ride my bike...
We did our warmup lap and lined up at the line. I had 2 teammates in the race. It was a HUGE field (for women, that is). It seemed like there were more than 40 women lined up! Awesome. This was the final race in the Womens Cycling Challenge, and it had drawn a crowd! I had a decent starting position, but needed to use the first couple of laps to gain position. The turns were fast, and I really wanted to be out of traffic so i could take them at speed. There were a couple of teams with more than a few riders (paramount and metromint), and that was interesting, too. Having teammates sure does give an advantage!
The race started fast from lap 1. I settled in, and thankfully my legs were right underneath me, not upset at all at what I was asking. Responding to the attacks was, dare I say, easy! I figured out the wind, and surveyed the riders to find the good wheels to sit on. I nearly got taken out on a corner when someone in front of me started to slide, but I did save my own line with just a small correction and everyone behind me was thankful. I got the "wow that was quite a save" comment by a couple people. The scary moments keep me engaged, and keep me focused. I just wanted to ride harder. The paramount team was just attacking and attacking at the front....the benefit of a whole team! I was keeping things in check and sitting pretty. I could tell it was going to come down to a field sprint, as the field let up a little on the backside, and people started bunching up. I hit the final turn a teeny bit too far back, and thus my sprint was not quite good enough and I came in 7th or 8th overall. The good news was that I WON the cat 4s!
The win was nice, and now that puts me over the 30 points for required upgrade. I guess I will be a 3 for San Ardo. I feel so good about my ability to channel my energy, ride aggressively and safely, corner fast, and am finally fit enough to play around in these races! I love it! Crits are really so much fun!!!!
So thus ends my stint in the newbie racer Cat 4's. 3 victories (1 road race, 2 crits), stage race placements, time trial placements, and tons of new friends. Can't wait for the next installment.
Hopefully Steve Weixel got some good photos...and I'll add them! He and his wife were taking lots of photos, and I'm sure there will be some good ones!
Another fun day at the races. SLO is a great town for a bike race. The race was well-run, results were posted quickly, and everything ran efficiently!
See you at San Ardo...time to apply for my upgrade!