This past weekend’s Sierra Historic Omnium was a delightful combination of new and old. Sunday featured a regional classic, the Nevada City Crit, which for the first time was turned into the second race of a two day omnium. Saturday the peloton faced a flat, semi-technical crit in Folsom. Both days were very satisfying races — the sort of competition where you finish and think, “That was tough — I did well, but can do better next time.”
On Saturday I went out with Diane and Dani to the Folsom crit. With a roundabout at one end of the course and a 180 degree turn at the other end, most of the race was on a windy, narrow straight away. The pace was high, as Twenty16 repeatedly tried launching solo moves. Dani and Diane did a fantastic job of covering moves and initiating attacks. Unfortunately, the move that stuck — with Alison Tetrick and a Pactimo girl — occurred when all of us had horrible position. That’s life in bike racing — if you’re not attentive 100 percent of the time, you risk missing out on the right moves. Diane tried valiantly to bridge up to the two but it wasn’t to be. We were left to fight for the field sprint, in which I only managed to come in 2nd after some crazy jostling on the last straightaway.
Sunday’s Nevada City Crit lived up to its wonderful hype. With a huge downtown crowd, crazy climb and bombing descent, the race was everything I could hope for from a criterium. I knew positioning would be key at the first lap, so I got a good place on start line and came into the first corner in 2nd wheel. Dani had advised me before the race to stay conservative — this was a race of attrition. So I just kept following wheels and riding near, but not at, the front. Even so, I was at the limit. So when Katie Hall (UHC) attacked on the climb 4 or 5 laps in, I knew it would be dumb to try and follow. I would probably just have blown up. So I stayed glued to Robin Farina’s wheel and concentrating on limiting the losses. Kathryn Donovan (Twenty16) followed Katie, and I knew at that point the move would stick, despite Robin’s best efforts. Eventually, I was able to look around and realize that our “chase group” had been whittled down to Robin, me, Diane, and Alison Tetrick. “Sweet,” I thought. “I’m going to get 2nd or 3rd on the omnium.” I was feeling capable of beating Alison to the line but wasn’t sure about whether I could get around Robin at the finish. Unfortuantely, at about this time in the race a significant crash occured with some of the other riders. The entire field was neutralized for 5 – 10 minutes, and when we restarted my legs felt horrific. Obviously everyone else was in the same boat, so this is no excuse for the fact that Diane and I came in 3rd and 4th out of our chase group (for 5th and 6th overall in the race).
I managed to take 3rd overall in the omnium for the weekend, which was nice given the level of competition we faced both days. And even better, these two days reminded me why I love racing in NorCal. The caliber of racers here is so impressive that there’s no room for making mistakes. I finished up the weekend thinking, “I can’t wait to go out and do this again — with better results — next Saturday.”
The Folsom ladies had been looking forward to the Pescadero weekend for a while. Not only is the course hard, beautiful, technical, and fun, but Dani Haulman lives at the base of the finishing climb. It felt like a privilege to get to wake up at a reasonable time and spin to the start.
Judy, Heather Van Sickle, Dani, Marley, and myself came out to race along with about 20 other girls. Racing started almost as soon as the neutral rollout finished. Dani led Judy out for the first sprint point, which she handily took. ICE, which had a strong representation of girls, instigated the race attacks once the peloton arrived on 84. However, nothing ever stayed away for very long.
The first time up Haskin’s Hill saw an attack by Alison Tetrick (Twenty16) diminish the numbers of the group. At the bottom of the descent, a group of about 7 were together with Alison notably absent. Felicia Gomez (ICE) suggested we all work together to make it stick. However, we were chased down just before reaching Pescadero, and ICE launched another attack that Judy followed. The two rode off the front for a while and allowed Judy to get the second sprint prime before being brought back.
Things stayed pretty calm until the second time up Haskin’s climb. Tetrick again attacked about half way up the climb and only few ladies went over the top together. The descent proved even more selective and at the bottom it was just Felicia, Leah Thomas (Metromint), and myself. And again I found myself working in a break. Our gap never grew beyond 30 seconds, and Alison was able to bring us back along with 4 other ladies including Marley.
The group of 8 made it back to 84 intact and Marley and I started to talk about finishing strategy. She was going to stay back and block, while I would attack and likely take 2-3 girls with me to the finishing climb. When I did attack, Alison, Leah and Felicia followed. Alison got to the front to drive us along and soon enough Joannah Dahl (Metromint) bridged up. The work of Alison and Joannah brought us to the base of the finishing climb.
Almost as soon as we turned onto the climb Alison attacked, I tried to respond but was never able to make contact. I just kept riding as hard as I could in second place. At some point I looked back and was surprised to see Marley coming up behind. I shouldn’t have been surprised at how she was able to overcome the gap and several ladies all on the finishing climb, but I was impressed nonetheless.
Folsom finished second and third for the day after a long, hard race!
Loomis Circuit race was going to be another hot race but luckily not as hot as last year! Four Folsom Bike Ladies lined up with a small group of category 1/2 racers at 2:40 in the afternoon. We decided that since it was a small field we would be aggressive and attack right from the start.
Marley Smith made the first move right from the gun. Marley had done this race last year and knew how to make it hard! Audrey, fromSport Velo, jumped with her when Marley attacked. Going into the second lap up the first roller Heather Van Sickle noticed Marley had again attacked and Audrey was getting reabsorbed by the main field. Van Sickle jumped to bridge to Smith. Heather Lipana also jumped. Van Sickle and Smith stayed away for the remainder of the race. Lipana stayed relatively close to the two off the front and was never caught by any other racers.
Since Smith and Van Sickle were together they chatted about who would win. Both had not taken a top step on the podium this year. Smith attacked Van Sickle on last roller leading to the climb knowing that would entice her to sprint. Smith stood up and yelled at Van Sickle to sprint her and so she did! Heather Van Sickle took the win, Marley Smith 2nd and Heather Lipana 3rd. Podium sweep for Folsom Bike!
Even though it was a small race we took advantage of the heat and the course. Both are and were unforgiving that day!