I love the San Rafael Twilight Crit so much! It is a highlight of the summer race schedule. The setting in lovely downtown San Rafael; the thundering crowds; Dave Towle announcing…it’s everything I love about bike racing. I think all the photos from me on the start line show my face with a huge smile.
After a terrible clip in on my part, the race was off. We cruised at a high pace for the first 8 – 10 minutes, after which Ivy Audrain (LA Sweat) attacked off of a prime. Hanna Muegge (MIke’s Bikes) followed her, but I figured that with an hour of racing left I wouldn’t waste my legs. That was an unfortunate assessment, especially after Mary Maroon (Academy Racing) bridged up. I acknowledged the strength of the break, but also felt that an hour was a long time to stay away. Well, I should have also realized that the two big teams in the field were Mikes Bikes and LA Sweat. Metromint simply didn’t have the legs to chase down the break, so I was relegated to sitting in, enjoying the evening, and waiting for the sprint. I have to say, I’m a little bummed about how the final sprint played out. I had my line picked out; I knew how I was going to take the last two corners, but some sketchiness by another rider forced me to break coming into the penultimate corner, so I ended up sprinting from a long way back. It was disappointing, but better to finish upright in 6th place than to not finish at all.
I’m baacckk!!! For the months of May and June, I was lucky enough to have a gig in a biology lab in Barcelona. It was a wonderful experience, and I did some exciting science. But I wasn’t able to race for two months, and I missed being able to mix it up with teammies Diane and Dani. I brought my wonderful Trek Emonda to Spain with me and managed to sneak in ~ 3 rides a week when I was’t in the lab. (The riding in Catalonia is gorgeous — so many long climbs and wonderful views!) I also got in touch with my inner runner and ran 1 – 2 times per week. So when I returned last Tuesday I was fit, but not fit to race a bike. Nonetheless, I jumped into the Davis 4th of July crit because (1) it’s my home race, in my backyard, and (2) you gotta start back sometime! I was lucky that the course suits my strengths — it’s a fairly technical, L-shaped downtown crit. Metromint had a full squad of girls, and strong women Mary Maroon and Olivia Dillon were there flying solo. So on the start line, I started to regret my decision to sign up. But then the gun went off and I had the familiar thought I get at the beginning of all crits, “Why are these girls starting so slow?” I accelerated off the line and felt right at home. Five minutes into the race, I couldn’t believe how winded I was. But my plan was to simply sit in and get racing hours in my legs. At one point, this relaxed attitude came back to bite me when I was too far back in the pack and a gap opened up between the rider in front of me and the top 10 women. I had to spend an entire lap chasing solo to get back on, but at this point (halfway through the race) I was determined to finish in the front. I knew I didn’t have enough of a “top end” to be in a good position for the sprint, so I just held wheels and managed to cross the line in 8th place. It’s good to be home and back racing. I’m excited for the rest of season!
Going to the start line of the Nevada City Classic, I was surprised (actually, incredibly intimidated) by two registrants, Shelly Olds and Katerina Nash. These two ladies, in addition to many other fast women, made it clear I was going to have to get near the front as soon as possible, and then just try to hang on.
The race selection happened very early, within 2 laps there was a lead group of 8 that I was able to get into. From that point on I just tried to ride as smart as possible, which meant making sure I was behind good wheels coming into the technical corners at the bottom of the descent. At one point I relaxed a little during the descent, and the wheel I was on opened a fairly large gap after the second corner going into the climb. After that, I knew I couldn’t let that happen again.
The ladies in this group continued to attack during the climb, but everything stayed together heading into the last lap. I was so buried from the effort, and having so much fun racing with these very fast ladies, that I was surprised to hear the announcer say we had less than a lap to go. At that point Katerina Nash attacked, but was matched, and the top three selection of Shelly Olds who finished first, Chloe Dygert in second, and Liza Rachetto in third, was made. I came across in sixth after a very fun race.
I didn’t start racing my bike until I moved to California from Vancouver in 2012. Since then, I had only raced in the US. This year I decided to go to Saint Georges, Quebec for Canadian Nationals, which was my first time racing in Canada – and it was a blast.
Thursday was the first race, the time trial. I was the seventh racer off out of about 35 ladies. The course was two times over a 15km (9 mile) out and back course that started downhill, was flat for a bit and then climbed about 3km (1.5 miles) to a turn around. The course was made very challenging by the gusty winds; the weather reported steady winds at about 20km/hour (12miles/hour) and gusting up to 35km/hour (20miles/hour). Even though riding in Davis had me used to winds, I was very sketched out with the wind gusts on the very fast descents. I managed to keep hold of my bike and finish in 9th place. Carol-Ann Kanuel (Velocio-Sram) finished in first place, 1 minute ahead of 2nd.
Friday afternoon about 55 ladies rolled out for the road race. The course set out for 30km of net uphill which led to a 14km circuit that we did 3 times, then turned off the circuit to head back to the start/finish. The circuit started with a 1km (half mile) climb, that pitched very steep before the crest, then continued along a mostly downhill/flat course before turning back into the climb.
Every time heading into the climb I made sure I was well positioned at the front where I could be on attacks made by Optum p/b Kelly Benefits who had 4 riders in the race. I managed to stay with the front group every time over the climb, however within a few kilometers additional riders would gradually catch on. Early in the second lap of the circuit, a Trek Red Truck rider (who a very large, strong team) went off the front. Optum riders put the chase onto the rider during the third lap and she was brought back as we exited the circuit to head back to the start/finish.
Coming out of the circuit was a long gradual climb. Heading up this Carol-Ann Kanuel (Velocio-Sram) attacked and set a very tough pace. Again, I stayed with this move that left 6 riders. I really thought this move would stick since it had all of the favourites, except Leah Kirchman Optum’s sprinter. The move was brought back by Optum after some time and gradually a reduced group came back together. Denise Ramsden went off the front and managed to get a gap of about 2 minutes. However, Optum again put the chase on and brought it back in the final kilometers.
The race came down to a sprint of a reduced group (maybe 20 ladies were left). The finish turns right into a 200m uphill sprint to the finish. I managed to pull off 8th in the finish. Joelle Numainville (Bigla Pro Cycling) became the new Canadian Road Champion.
On Saturday I had the day off before the crit on Sunday. The crit was over a 1.3 km, four corner course that had the same start finish (including the 200m uphill) as the road race. The course crested after the start/finish, turned left to descend a bit, then there was a significant descent between turns 2 and 3.
I was slightly out of my element going into this race since it was raining before and during the crit – and given California’s drought conditions I was slightly worried about handling my bike in the rain. During some warm up laps over the course I took the corners with some speed and figured I could handle the rain just fine.
I started at the back of pack, so I worked hard to get to the front quickly, especially during the corners and the downhill. This paid off as the race became aggressive quickly and every time I looked behind me I could see gaps forming and the pack becoming smaller and smaller. Even though I told myself I was going to sit back and not get too excited during the race, I attacked at about the 5th lap and I stayed away long enough to collect a preme (my first preme in Canadian dollars!). After I was brought back I sat in and followed moves.
At about 10 laps to go, Allison Jackson (Twenty Sixteen) and Denise Ramsden (Trek Red Truck) attacked and got some separation. They stayed about 15 seconds away, but Leah Kirchmann (Optum’s sprinter and 2014’s Canadian crit cham) was with the remaining pack and no one wanted to bring her up. Heading into the 6 laps to go, my rear derailleur cable snapped – which made for a lot of standing low cadence work for the rest of the race. The two escapees stayed away and Allison Jackson won the crit. Despite not having rear gears, I managed to stay with the remaining pack until the finish, and came in seventh. Leah Kirchman sprinted from our group for third. The course and weather proved to be even more decisive than I realized; only 11 riders finished the race.
Being in Quebec made for a great week of racing, and exploring a part of Canada I had never been to before. I look forward to going back for more racing soon. One of the best parts – after the crit I got to enjoy something I rarely get in the States, Poutine!