Photo credit: Alex Chiu Photography (http://acaurora.smugmug.com)
Cara, Dani, Judi and I made the short trip to Chico to mix it up in the women’s field for the weekend. We were looking forward to the fun courses and the competitive women’s field.
Racing started on Friday afternoon at the Thunderhill raceway with a 75 minute circuit race. Things were not particularly fast, and some short-lived solo moves got away from ICE, but nothing stayed away for long. On the final lap, everything was together. Over the first steep rise, Dani got on the front and kept the pace high over the backside. Then on the final rise, about 2km from the finish, Alison Jackson from Twenty Sixteen attacked on the climb and got away until the finish. Judy pulled out a sixth place sprint from the pack.
The main feature of the two lap, 90 mile road race is the 4 miles of gravel that comes at 11 miles and 56 miles. Although things were fast through the gravel the first time, with 70+ miles of racing still left, the pack sat up and rolled along. Anyone that had trouble through the gravel the first time was able to easily chase back on. A rider from Roosters/Bikers Edge went off on her own soon after the gravel. The pack rolled along, and once the solo rider’s gap got too large, Twenty Sixteen put the chase on. She was caught just before we entered the gravel a second time.
The second time through the gravel was a bit more selective. A group of about 15 came out on the other side, however there was still no sense of urgency. After a bit more rolling, the pack grew to about 30 and attacks started to go. I was briefly in a move that got chased down quickly. After that I naively let myself go to the back, a little frustrated that the gravel had not been more selective, and that the race was so stop and go. I learned a good lesson about racing at this point when the winning move of 6 girls got away and I was far at the back of a strung out and guttered peloton.
For the remainder of the race, the pack worked to pull back the break however tthey were never caught. But finally the finish was conceded to the break away, from which Alison Tetrick (Optum) took the win.
Cara had tough luck the second time through the gravel when her rear derailleur broke and left her unable to ride her bike. To show just how tough she is, Cara finished the race on a neutral support bike so she could race again on Sunday.
The time trial was a flat, 10 mile point to point course. The team arrived as prepared as we could afford to be for the TT, but we were shocked at how much expensive equipment we were able to hustle in the parking lot before the race. All of us were able to start with full disc/aero wheel set ups, aero helmets, and aero booties. Thanks parking lot friends!
The TT was windy; it started fast with a tail wind for about 3 miles, then a right turn with a bit of a cross wind from the right, then about 2 miles of it into a head wind along a river that just barely distracted from the “joy” of a TT.
After the head wind river section, I don’t remember much besides seeing riders ahead and deciding that I had to catch them. Finally the finishing signs were there and it was over. The TT helped me move to 12th in GC, not great, but at least in the money.
The downtown Chico crit started FAST. The first laps were a matter of just hanging on in the strung out group. Finally, after what felt like the whole race, but it might have only been 15 minutes, things settled down. The race continued on, speeding up for prime laps and then settling down a bit.
With about 10 laps left, a group of 5 slipped away with representation from the major teams. The pack did not seem very motivated to chase, and after a couple of laps with the group away I decided I would try something. It wasn’t entirely intended to be a bridge attempt; but just something to do and maybe someone would come too or it could spur a chase from the group. I ended up by myself and I could see the lead group ahead, with the time gaps slowly coming down. After, I was told I came close (at least from the point of view of spectators), but then a $1000 prime was called and the break became a bit more motivated. Alison Jackson from Twenty Sixteen took another win from the break with the pack coming in behind.
The weekend was a great motivator and learning experience for the Folsom ladies. Although our results did not come out as we had hoped, we were grateful for the opportunity to race with fast girls from all over the states. We are especially thankful for our awesome hosts Tammi and Greg who let us stay at their house in Chico for the weekend.