This weekend was the start of the SoCal road season, in the form of the Poor College Kids RR and the infamous Mothballs Criterium, which happens to be just about in my backyard!
I flew home from Italy on Friday, after 4 hours of trains, 14 hours of flying, 4 hours of waiting in train stations and airports. Needless to say, I didn't really know what time it was or where I was most of that time. In addition, the digital entertainment was messed up on my flight from Frankfurt to SFO, so I saw the same movie twice! (and only one).
So in a brilliant move, I get up the next morning to go race my bike! The road race was a W3/4, and it was a beautiful course (if you are a good climber). My race was slowy slow slow until the turn around (it was out and back), and then things picked up on the way back. The race basically all came down to the one long climb, which cracked my airplane-legs to a crisp. Ouch. I got gapped on the hill, and there were 13 people up the road. I chased and chased with another girl, TTT style, and buried myself trying to catch up. I just about made it. Got by the following car (once I got the driver's attention...he didn't see me and the lane was too narrow to go around on the outside without violating CL), but alas just caught on to the pack AS THEY WERE sprinting. Oops. 14th place.
Sunday was the crit! I am a better crit racer than road racer, even though the crits always freak me out at the start. This one was huge! They were running 1/2/3/4 all together, and the field was huge. I didn't have any teammates in the race, and some of the teams were heavily stacked, and I saw a lot of 1s and 2s so I knew it would be hard. My strategy was simple, ride smart, ride safe, follow anything that goes down the road, and go until you crack. My legs felt surprisingly OK in warmup, I think the Jet legs are finally flushing out, and I was fully warmed up and ready by the 3pm start time. I had seen my male teammates put in some superb results earlier in the day, and I wanted to do well, too.
The first couple laps were tame, a couple little surges but nothing much. I was just sitting in, surveying the field, figuring out who was going to be the action for today. I was hoping for speed, so that it would be safer. I love to corner and descend, so the faster the better in a crit. I covered a couple of little attacks, and then about halfway in, I was sitting mid-field when I saw a break go. I had a feeling it might stick, so I gunned it around the outside. I saw my friend Heather having the same thoughts, but she was on the inside. I hooked onto her wheel, told her I was there, and we bridged up together, both working hard. Yay! The break was now 7. I looked back and saw a big gap--no one else was coming. We organized quickly and started motoring. I knew it was goign to be a hard 30 minutes if we were going to make this stick. We worked well together, and I even won a prime, and lost one, too. Anyway, we were all getting tired near the end and I knew we had left some horsepower back in the main field, so I didn't wnat to let up. My heart rate was in the 190s most of the break, and I was fatiguing. I was going too hard to eat my gu, so I was also probably needing fuel at that point. With 3 to go, I really didn't want to get caught, so I buried myself. I pulled way too much at this point...but I honestly didn't know how much gap we had. At least no one can complain that I didn't work hard enough! Everyone was tired, and after I pulled the entire last lap, the others in the break managed to sprint around me. I know, I know, bad move....but I would rather get top 6 (which is what I got, 6th) and have worked hard, than to let up and get swallowed by a motivated main field. :-) Learning....after the finish I learned that we had a huge gap and there was no worry of the chasers. Oops!! Anyway, the girls in the break were strong and I was thrilled to have the legs to hang on with them. I was the only cat 3 in the break, and the next highest 3 finisher was 11th or 12th! I learned a few things today:
1. Crits really are fun, even when your race is at 3pm and most of the fans have gone home to watch the super bowl.
2. The ChickenRanch Skinsuit really is magical!
3. It helps to have someone to tell you how much gap you have on the main field
4. It is worth the effort to be in a break. Safer, and just plain awesome to work that hard.
5. Riding hard with the guys for the past year has really boosted my power.
6. My heart rate really does go to 203!! (ack!)
Road season 2009 is ON!
(pictures later if there are any)