Oh, how the tables turned at the Land Park Crit! The last time I lined up on this course was in January, for the Cal Aggie Crit. With Diane and Dani by my side, we repeatedly pummeled the group with attacks until the last lap, when Diane gave me a killer lead out and I sprinted for the win. On Saturday I lined up solo, facing three Jakroo riders including the Olympic hopeful Beth Newell.
The race proceeded much as I had predicted — I bridged up to one Jakroo attack after the next. I constantly marked Beth throughout the race, because I knew she was the one woman in the field who could beat me in a sprint. Moreover, I really wanted to sprint head-to-head against her in the finale.
Well, I had that chance — kind of. With three laps to go, I found myself in a group of 6 riders, including Beth, about 10 seconds ahead of the field. Beth refused to work in the group, since she had another sprinter (Amanda Seigle) back in the group. I only halfheartedly worked, because I didn’t want to be toasted in a sprint against Beth. But because the two strongest people in the move didn’t commit, we were in perpetual danger of being caught by the group. Normally being caught by the group doesn’t faze me, since I’m confident in my sprinting abilities. But I had been working hard the entire race, and I really didn’t want to get swarmed if the pack caught us in the last lap. So with 2 laps to go, I put in the most feeble attack on the break. My biggest regret from this race was not committing 100 percent to that attack — if I had, then Beth and I could have gotten away and I would have probably gotten second place. Instead, I ended up leading out the sprint with 400 meters to go as the pack breathed down our necks. I got fourth place on the day, and left feeling a little disappointed in my race tactics, and incredibly grateful for the work my teammies do in the races we do together.
Madera Stage Race Report
Dani, Judy, and I headed down early Saturday morning for the Madera Stage Race; during the dark, sleepy drive I don’t think anyone gave any thought to how dramatic and unpredictable the weekend would to be. To begin with, Dani went into the weekend bogged down with a cold, while Judy was just getting over a cold that had knocked her out the week before. The women’s field was not huge – only 18 ladies – but it had a strong representation from Metromint Cycling p/b The Freewheel, as well as Melanie Wong, Felicia Gomez, and Alessandra Sales from ICE Sportswear, and Sara Headley from Tibco.
The race started out with a crit in Madera on Saturday morning. There were two primes for 5 bonus seconds; those were taken by Felicia and Melanie. Metromint was working for their sprinters and generally held the race together. Finally, Metromint and Dani led out the final laps to finish in a group sprint. Sara Headley came first, and Metromint took second and third with Mary-Ellen Ash and Marrisa Axell, respectively. Judy came in just behind for fourth.
That afternoon was the 10 mile time trial. It was nice to already be warmed up after the crit. After Chico Stage Race I wasn’t thrilled about my time-trial, but Judd gave me some hard intervals for my TT bike and they seemed to be doing the trick at Madera. I didn’t feel great (in the way you’re not supposed to feel good at a TT), but I felt really fast. Although, that didn’t matter when I got confused at the last corner and took it too late. I slid out with my hip and chin taking most of the impact, not the aero wheels I had borrowed (phew!). Someone pulled up right away and he helped me up, put my chain on the proper side of the crank arm, and pushed me off again. Dani, who had already finished, was nice enough not to make fun of me for crashing in a TT as I sheepishly rolled up to the car. Later that night the results came in – I had finished in fifth about a minute behind first. Metromint were again super strong with Leah Thomas in first, and Joanna Dahl in second which put them in the top two spots for GC going into the road race. Sara Headley came in third about 35 seconds behind Leah.
The road race started with two fewer girls from Metromint, and one less from Folsom: Leah had won the time trial despite having the flu, but was too sick to start the next day. Molly Van Howling had a mishap during the TT that caused her to crash and she did not start. Dani was also too sick to start the race.
The road race was four laps of 16 miles, with about 4 miles of rough road, and about 2 miles of rollers to the finish. Metromint had many girls go off the front, including an initial move of Marissa and Judy. The significant move came early in the third lap where Alessandra (ICE) and Christina (Metromint) got off the front. After this had been established Judy went off too. The ICE/Metromint move stayed just over a minute out, while Judy hovered around 30 seconds. Judy was caught by the pack as the fourth lap started. Soon after Judy took up the chase with Sara and the break was caught right before the rough section. As we made the turn onto the rough road Judy warned “I’m done” – she had done a remarkable amount of work. Along the rough stretch we were waiting for attacks to go. Felicia made one that I brought back with the group behind me. Frustrated her move didn’t go anywhere she said to me “don’t you guys want to win the race” then “come on” and attacked again. This was enough to persuade me and I went with her to put in an earnest effort. We worked together well for a couple of miles, then I noticed there was less work from her and more looking around, then with a mile left she was sitting on my wheel. I didn’t want to play cat and mouse with her since our lead was not large enough, and Felicia had a fresh teammate (Melanie) back there, whereas Judy had already put in a huge amount of work and was done. So I just kept pulling us to the finish where she jumped on the last rise to the finish line and came across first. The time bonus for Felicia coming in first, plus the gap back to Joanna mean that she won the GC, with Joanna in second, and me in third.
Looking back on the way the weekend shook out, it seems you were lucky if you only got stung by a bee (there were a lot of bees out there), and were able to avoid mechanicals, illnesses, and crashes.
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.