Just one weekend after the BP Folsom Criterium, we had another victory to defend at the Snelling Road Race: last year Judy had a perfectly timed sprint to take the win at Snelling. We had a nearly full squad with Judy, Claire, Aliya, Sara, Melanie, and myself out to race. JL Velo, Mike’s Bikes, Jakroo were also well represented. The infamous Snelling wind was not blowing this year, just a slight breeze and clear sky as we set out for 5 laps of the 11.7 mile course.
The early parts of the race saw a lot of attacking by JL Velo, which were marked by Mel, Sara, and Aliya. Some of these breaks looked promising, however they were often brought back quicly as other teams and riders tried to get up to the move. The Folsom ladies did a great job of marking moves, throwing in attacks and keeping the pace high throughout. Just like last weekend, it felt like we had been racing together for years.
At about the half-way point in the race, Judy got into a break with Marissa Axel (JL Velo) that was able to get some distance. No one came forward to bring it back until 1.5 laps to go when Jane Despas came to the front. Once they were brought back, Judy and I checked in with each other, she said that Mel and I should try attacking in the tailwind section after the rollers on El Cerritos road. This was coming up quickly, so as the pack climbed up the first roller, I got to the front and pedalled hard. Amy Cameron (Mike’s Bikes) attacked hard and I jumped on it. Coming to the top of the rollers Amy, Joanna (JL Velo), and I had a bit of a gap with Clarice Sayle (Jakroo) coming up too. I was on the front through the tailwind, and when I came around the corner onto bumpy Figmond Ave there was no one behind me.
After this, I put down my head and started time-trialling down the bumpy Figmond Ave. As I made my way through the course, any time I quickly looked back there was no sight of the chasers. Behind me Joanna, Amy, and Clarice were chasing with Lindsay Meyers (Tibco) trying to bridge up to the three chasers.
The finishing stretch came as a relief. However, my mood was damped by an ambulance on the left treating riders in the Women’s 3 category that had gone down hard – best wishes that everyone heals quickly and is out racing again soon. With this accident, the finish became too chaotic to have a pack sprint. A few minutes after my finish, the three chasers came up to sprint for second. However, their sprint was quelled by officials and volunteers telling them to slow down for the crash. Since there was no proper finish for them, all three were given a tie for second place. Lindsay was also able to cross the finish line in 5th place. However, the pack was neutralized at about 3 kilometers to go, and told their finish would be moved to the 1 kilometer to go mark which is along the narrow, bumpy Figmond road. Even with the chaotic and bumpy finish, Aliya and Mel were able to sprint for 9th and 10th. Ivy Wang (Mike’s Bikes) took the pack sprint.
The Folsom Bike/Trek ladies have a winning tradition to uphold at the Bicycles Plus Winter Criterium, and therefore we take it very seriously (mostly). Dani won from a two-person break, and Judy took the field sprint for third at last years race. Additionally, it is a very well-organized event with great primes (Lululemon tops, Sierra Nevada Beer, 7 Deadly Zins wine to name a few) and it is just down the road from Folsom Bike so Erin always makes it out to cheer us on.
This year Melanie, Sara, Judy and I came out to make Erin proud. The race started with an early prime on the third lap. Hannah Muegge (LA Sweat) was led out by her teammate and handily took the sprint. This started a small move with me, Melanie, Hannah, and Sarah Enders (Rio Strada) in it. Given the strength and representation in the move, it had potential to stick for a bit, and we had a good advantage with two Folsom ladies represented. To try to put some motivation into the group, I went to the front hoping to keep things moving. Looking back, this was my first race of the season, and I might have pedaled a little harder than I thought to get to the front of the group. After a few second, I looked back and I was on my own. Then I looked down at my Garmin and saw that it was only 10 minutes into a 50 minute race.
Only partially believing that I would be left on my own for the rest of the race, I tried to keep a sustainable effort. My gap grew from 8 seconds, to 12, to 20, then stuck around 30 for a while. Back in the pack, Melanie, Sara, and Judy were marking anything that threatened to get away, so the chase was not fully on. Finally, the lap cards showed up and the gap crept up near a minute. I finally got to cross the finish line and watch Judy sprint for third, while Hannah came in second.
After the race, Melanie and Sara commented that it felt like we were working so well together that it felt like we had been racing together for years. I cannot wait to race the rest of the season with these ladies!
Thanks Bicycles Plus and the volunteers for putting on another great race!
The last time I raced Cherry Pie was two years ago. It was pouring rain, and Diane and I gutted it out for a third place finish for Folsom Bike. Today I also took home third place, but it was under clear skies, 70 degree weather, and I had to fight solo for the podium spot.
The new Cherry Pie course unfortunately doesn’t have the same elevation gain as the old course, but there were enough turns to keep things interesting. About 5 or 10 mintues in to the 55 minute race, Hannah Muegge (LA Sweat) attacked off of a prime and I knew I had to go with it. Unfortunately, Hannah is a beast and I am not a breakaway specialist. Nonetheless, I knew that this was the race and I had to try my best. But this was a day where my best was not good enough. After several laps I suffered through one especially painful pull and struggled to get back on Hannah’s wheel. She subsequently attacked and dropped me fair and square. This was a low moment for me. I was disappointed in myself physically and tactically — I should have been stronger and been able to hang, and I should not have pulled so much when I was on the edge. Nonetheless, I had to regroup mentally once I was dropped. I sat up, dedicated myself to just following wheels and winning the sprint. I was disappointed by the field — no one really wanted to work, and having gassed myself early in the race I knew I needed to conserve. I went for a few primes and then gutted it out in a very messy sprint. There was a 180 degree roundabout about 300 meters before the sprint and no lead out train from any team. It was one of those ugly sprints were safety takes priority over winning — once I had a clear path to accelerate, I felt great and was faster than anyone else but I had started too late and ended up on the third spot on the podium. I can’t wait to get back out there with the team next week!
Last year at the Red Kite Bump Circuit race I broke my chain in the neutral rollout, so this year I was looking for a little retribution, as well as getting through the first race of the season jitters. My teammate Sara Bird and I knew from looking at the rider list that it would be a strong field with Beth Newell (Colavita Bianchi) and Joanna Dahl (JL Velo p/b The Freewheel) being the ones to watch.
The plan was to play the first half of the race on the defensive. With five riders total JL Velo had the largest team, so we knew that they they would likely try to create a break and control the race. Sara was super speedy covering all their attacks, while I kept an eye on Beth and Joanna. Anytime they tried to make a break for it, I went with them.
At the end of lap two I made an attempt at a break at the top of the bump hill. Beth was able to follow me, but without any representative from JL Velo, we were quickly pulled back by their large team. Sara started to take a more offensive approach and started throwing in attacks to keep the pace high. She put in a major amount of work during the first half of the race and was starting to get tired, so communication became key – any attack she couldn’t follow, she would call to me and I would cover.
Early in lap three Joanna got a flat and soon after Beth started to attack. I kept on her and we tried again for a break at the top of the bump hill, but were pulled back again. With only a couple miles left, Beth put in a major attack into the headwind that whittled the pack down to about 8 riders. In the final mile, Sara Enders (Rio Strada Racing) came to the front and started to hammer and string out the remaining field. Sara was sitting second wheel and I was sitting third going into the final turn, with Beth just behind me in fourth. At the base of the bump Sara executed a perfect leadout, going around Sara Enders so I could pop out from behind her. Mid-way up the hill I saw Beth coming on my right hand side and I eked out every last watt I could before she overtook me at the crest. I finished just seconds behind Beth and Sara – even after the tremendous amounts of work she did to help me – held on for third.
It was a fast race, especially for the start of the season, but I’m really proud to say that strategy-wise Sara and I couldn’t have done much more to set-up an ideal finish. Even with strong competitors we played it smart and worked together to make the most of our two-man team. Most importantly everyone finished safely with big smiles and lots of motivation for upcoming races!