Cat’s Hill Criterium
Cat’s Hill criterium is one of NorCal’s most well-known races with its steep, punchy hill that gets harder every lap. This year I was joined by Amy and Melanie with the rest of the field consisting of a few doubles from other teams and a lot of strong singles. Our start was delayed due to a crash in the previous race, so the first lap was a bit of a shock to the system as Megan Alderete (Hagens Berman–Supermint) charged up the hill and immediately shelled a few riders. It took a couple of laps to get into the rhythm of maneuvering poor road surface and getting into the right gear for the 23% climb. A few laps in, I crested the hill towards the front while Melanie and Amy let a gap open. I went off the front for four or five laps and collected some primes (they were offered nearly every lap!) while Amy and Melanie controlled the pace. Once I was reeled in, Amy attacked and stayed off for quite a while, getting a ton of primes. Eventually we were all back together but the pack had whittled down to seven or eight riders. A few more hard laps and there were five left: Megan Ruble (Cycle Sport-Specialized p/b Muscle Milk), Naomi Hester (JLVelo), and us three. We kept the pace high for the last few laps. Amy and Melanie were great at encouraging me as I tended to ease off as the climb leveled, which is a vital place to keep pressure on the pedals. Going through the right hand turn to the downhill section on the last lap we were strung out. I was sitting third wheel behind Megan and Melanie, with Amy just behind me and Naomi a little further back. I’d been advised to go through the last turn as close to the front as possible since the finishing straight is so short. I risked it and attacked down the right side, rounded the turn first, and held on for the finish with Melanie and Amy right behind. Megan Ruble, who had done a ton of work, finished fourth followed by Naomi. We were really happy with how we worked as a team, especially without any real predetermined plan, and it was, of course, a really fun race!