As we drove down to the Snelling road race on Saturday morning, I reminisced about the last time I’d entered this race. It was 2012, and I was new to the California racing scene. I was also pretty out of shape. Naive and unfit, I got dropped and chased back on twice before abandoning the race the third time I was dropped. I told Dani on the drive down, “The second best part of that race was being pulled back to the group by you (and we weren’t even team mates yet!) The best part was dropping out.”
Dropping out of this race certainly wasn’t an option yesterday. Folsom Bike brought a strong squad (Cara Fitchett, Dani Haulman, Diane Moug, Susannah Breen, and me), and we were there to win. The plan had been to get Diane in a winning move off the front of the race. The five of us were all agressive from the start, but it was difficult for any move to stick. The men’s P1/2 field faced a similar dilemma — without its signature wind, the Snelling course is not very selective. And with the full use of the road (which was fabulous!), riders found it difficult to sneak away.
For most of the second lap, Diane was in a break with Felicia Gomez (ICE Sportswear p/b Pinnacle Racing) and Mary Maroon (Academy). But issues with cooperation in the group spoiled its prospects, and they were caught after several miles. The pace was fierce for the first half of the race. And I was already tired when I covered a move by Melanie Wong (ICE Sportswear p/b Pinnacle Racing). But someone from the team needed to be up there, so I did my best. Melanie was a beast, and I was reduced to only pulling about one third of the time we were up the road. But each time I got to the front, I thought, “The longer I’m out front, the more tired the field will be when they catch us, and the better chance Diane will have of staying off the front.” So when we were caught after almost a lap, I was crestfallen to see everyone and their mother mark Diane as she valiently tried to get away.
Shortly after this event, Dani and I conferenced in the back of the peloton, resigned to the fact nothing was going get away. Dani asked if I felt good for a sprint. I replied, “No, I feel awful, but I’m going to get the job done.” We decided the team would take control on the final straight away before the last turn. Dani would be immediately in front of me, with Diane in front of her. With about 1.5 K to go, people got crazy — riders were swerving across the road, battling for position like this was some world championship event. Shortly after 1k to go, I sat boxed in behind Dani, Diane, Mary Maroon, Felicia Gomez, and Lenore Pipes (unattached) and just yelled, “I’m f*cked!” At that point, I did not think I was going to win the race. But as per usual, Diane and Dani make miracles happen. They kept me out of danger and kept the pace high. We rounded the final corner, which is about 300 meters to the finish, and Mary, Lenore and Felicia just exploded up the hill. I comfortably rode Felicia’s wheel at this point, staying with the group but refusing to start my sprint until at least 200 meters. Right after we passed the 200 M sign, I stood up, wound up and gunned it to the finish. About 100 meters from the line I thought, “DO THIS FOR YOUR AMAZING TEAMMIES,” and 50 meters from the line I thought, “Holy sh*t, I am winning this race!”
As per usual, I could not have gotten this result without the support of the team. I flippin’ love these girls and if I had to would sprint with one leg to pay them back for their work.
Dani and I had a blast despite being two out of the three P1/2 to show up for the Coppertown circuit race on Sunday. While the low turnout was disappointing, it did not stop us from getting 2.5 hours of solid racing in — we hoped in the men’s 35+ 1/2/3 race in the morning, and the 45+ 1/2/3 race in the afternoon. The latter race was run in conjunction with what was supposed to be a women’s race. In reality, all three of us (me, Dani, and Sprintin’ Kitten’s Lindsay Wetzel Polin) just mixed it up in the men’s field. I have to say, these guys were super cool to race with. They were tickled to have us in their race, and I even got an offer of a lead out (which I politely declined, given how low the stakes in our women’s race were).
While there is an awesome rush that comes with racing against pro women and mixing it up in huge, highly competitive fields, it’s nice to know that you can have an equal amount of fun just hamming it up with your teammie on a day that almost no one else shows up to race. And Team Folsom Bike/Trek definitely brings the fun!
This year, the Folsom Winter Criterium took place on Valentine’s Day.
Reluctantly, I set aside that box of chocolate-covered strawberries, and joined my Folsom Bike/Trek teammates at NorCal’s premiere early season race. Nearly 40 women showed up to race the Women’s Pro 1,2, & Women 35+ field on this sunny, love filled day, thanks to the NCNCA Women’s Series.
For Folsom Bike/Trek, this was the first time we had most of the team racing together on our shiny, new Trek Emondas. Contrary to my coach Ryan Eastman’s advice, I had refused to take the stock-reflectors off my new bike until I won my first race of 2015. And while we do not typically go into a race with a plan: In compliance with my irrational stubbornness, the team decided I should go for the win, so that I could take off my reflectors, and stop embarrassing everyone.
Early on in the race, it was clear that Folsom Bike/Trek versus ZOCA p/b Halo Sports would be the theme of the day. From the first lap of the race, when Cara Fitchett (Folsom Bike/Trek) rolled of the front, the ZOCA girls were the first to respond.
For the next 20 minutes of the race, Folsom Bike/Trek would attack and ZOCA would chase.
Halfway through the race, I rolled off the front with ZOCA’s Bethany Allen. Bethany was an admirable breakaway companion, splitting the work evenly; keeping moral high with her optimistic commentary. We managed to maintain a 20 second gap on the field for the duration of the race, while discussing how the color orange is trending in 2015 cycling fashion.
With 3 laps to go, I was confident we would stay away from the field. I briefly deliberated between attacking the break and waiting for the sprint. Given the amount of drag my reflectors were creating (and Bethany’s tenacious race style), I was not certain I could solo for the win. I opted to wait patiently and sprint, which was successful strategy.
Naturally, Judy Wexler (Folsom Bike/Trek) won the field sprint for 3rd place, after a solid lead out from Cara Fitchett, Diane Moug, and Heather Van Sickle (Folsom Bike/ Trek). Nor Cal junior phenom’s Aliya Traficante (Amain.com) and Kieran Devere (Limitless Cycling) rounded out the Pro 1,2 top 6.
But the Valentine’s love did not end there, the BP race promoters showered us in Muscle Milk, Sierra Nevada, Lululemon, and saddlebags with multi-tools, so I can finally remove my bike reflectors.
Folsom Bike/Trek rider, Danielle Haulman, lives in San Rafael, CA.
What a luxury of living in California — to be able to race a criterium in January! Yesterday was a very enjoyable start to the 2015 road season.
The Cal Aggie Crit is fairly low key event; the course is a one mile gentle circle, with a fun chicane about 400 meters from the finish. Fortunately, there was a bit of wind on Saturday to make things exciting. We had a fat tail wind on the homestretch and were riding into the wind on the backside. Unfortunately, there were only a dozen or so women to take to the line, but I was happy to be racing with the best teammates ever: Diane Moug and Dani Haulman. We’d gotten in a solid pre-race talk, discussing the pros and cons of leg waxing and how much I missed by failing to go out to the bars the night before. I was determined that there would be no more regrets in my life that weekend.
The gun went off, and (as per usual) I took off like a rocket. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being the first to clip in and sprint off the line in a crit. Once the group caught up a half lap later, Diane launched an attack, setting the stage for what would be the first 20 minutes of the race. Dani, Diane and I traded attacks continuously, trying to make something stick. Diane had a decent gap with a two other ladies at one point, and I sat on the wheel of Amanda Seigle (Jakroo Clothing) as she pulled it back. Once we caught the trio, I launched hard into the tailwind. To my dismay, no one followed me. As a sprinter, I do not like being off the front. But I had no choice but to commit at this point — my teammates were back in the field, counting on me to go hard up the road. When I came by the start/finish line and saw 8 laps to go, I thought, “Improbable, but I’m going to try my best”. Inspiring, right? I had a decent gap on the field and stayed away for three laps and a half laps. When the field caught up, I just slotted in the back and rested. My legs were pretty tired at this point, but I knew that if the race came down to a sprint, my job was to win. Dani went up the road with Hanna Muegge (Mike’s Bikes), but the move was not to be. With 1.5 laps to go, it was all together, and I was soft pedaling at the front. Like the homie she is, Diane came around me and I settled in behind her for my first class seat to the finish line. She pulled for the entire last 1.5 laps, and I launched out of the last corner determined to pay back her efforts with a win. I crossed the line first, with enough time to post up.
High off my win, I jumped into the Men’s P1/2/3 race immediately afterwards. It should be noted that Dani had warned me this race would be sketchy, and she estimated I would last 14 minutes before getting fed up with the shenanigans of 60 men who haven’t raced their bikes in 4 months. Well, I lasted all of 20 seconds before being taken out by a massive crash. I’m completely fine, but my pride was a little wounded. Lesson learned (as if I needed to learn this lesson again): Listen to the wisdom of Dani Haulman!!