Last weekend, in between rain storms, the Folsom Bike/Trek women’s elite team headed up to beautiful Sonoma county to kick off the season with a two day training camp. We were missing Aliya, who is currently based in Tucson training with the Homestretch Foundation, and Illi, who is training for British National Track Championships.
On Saturday, we rode out to King’s Ridge, where the elusive California sunshine greeted us. After a solid day of training, rockstar Diane treated us all to an amazing chicken curry dinner. On Sunday, we headed south to the coast in search of pastries. With visits to Tomales and Wild Flour bakeries, it was mission accomplished and more solid training miles in the bank.
After a weekend filled with good training, amazing food, and lots of laughs, we are ready to hit the ground running, err cycling, with the first races just around the corner.
For Memorial Day weekend, we had a split squad, with our crit specialists Judy and Melanie tackling the Off the Front Omnium, while Diane and I targeted the Folsom Classic Criterium, followed by the Mount Hamilton road race.
Conditions for the race were a cozy 93 degrees. While I sat in traffic on the way to Folsom, Diane jumped in the men’s 2/3 race, where (to absolutely nobody’s surprise) she attacked at the back end of the race, initiating the winning move and finished 13/44.
For the WP1/2/3 race, we decided to play defense in the beginning since JL Velo had numbers and it was insanely hot. But if nothing was sticking when lap cards came out, we would start attacking and counter attacking. With our two sprinters away at other races, our best chance for a W would come out of a break, so that was our goal.
Diane patrolled the front on the first lap or two. I saw Emily (JL Velo) move up on the 2nd or 3rd lap and I followed her to move to the front. When she attacked, I went with it and quickly we had a nice gap. Fannie (Rio Strada) came with us, and we worked together to build an even bigger gap. Tired from her previous race, Fannie eventually faded back to the peloton, while Emily and I worked really well together to increase our lead. Unfortunately, we had about 45 minutes out of a 50 minute race to try and stay away in 93 degrees so it wasn’t going to be easy. To make a long story short, Emily and I were able to build a lead up over a minute towards the latter half of the race and when lap cards came out at 8 to go, it became apparent that we would stay away.
I was starting to feel the onset of cramping and heat stroke, but I thought I might have a chance to win so long as I didn’t leave it to the sprint. I made a deal with myself to attack at 1 to go and go all in, and if it failed, at least I tried. As we entered the finish straight with one lap to go, I was on Emily’s wheel and I dug deep on the right side to open a gap and gave it everything I had for the final lap. Thankfully it was just enough and I was able to finish solo for the W.
Back in the field, Diane was patient, letting others tire themselves out on primes. She launched a mega attack near the end and stayed away for the 3rd spot on the podium. Pretty good day for our backup crit squad! Major props to Emily who was an awesome breakaway companion.
Fresh off Cat’s Hill late in the afternoon the day before, Melanie and I woke up early to fire up the legs again in Livermore at the good ol’ Red Kite. The JL Velo team was well represented with 4 riders, as well as Razzle Dazzle. Hannah Muegge was also there, the rider to beat, having just won at Cat’s hill a mere 16 hours earlier. We were determined to make it a fun, hard race, and do our best to be sure Melanie was there to challenge Hannah if it came down to a sprint finish.
The race started off very tame; I can’t speak for everyone but I could feel the Cat’s Hill lactic acid aching through my legs so was happy to sit in for a bit. After a lap or two, Jeanette Haggas (Razzle Dazzle) launched an attack which quickly lead to a nice breakaway with Mel, Joanna (JL Velo) and Hannah. Even though it was in the opening minutes of the race, that was a good move with the strongest players. Their lead never got too far away and at some point, I could see Hannah broke away from Joanna and Mel. Knowing we couldn’t let her get too far away, I bridged and caught up to Hannah with Christina (JL Velo), but we were reabsorbed quickly thereafter. The rest of the race was pretty mellow. We marked and launched a few attacks to keep the pace high. With two to go, I found Melanie and brought her up to the front. In the last two corners, she followed the attacks and kept perfect position up to the final corner, following Hannah’s wheel. Hannah had the quicker sprint, but Mel still crushed it for 2nd place. That top step of the podium is coming for Mel very soon, I can feel it. Joanna, Sara, and Christina rounded out the podium. Also we got a wine prime, yay Red Kite! Another fun race with the great talent in the NCNCA.
I had never done the Santa Cruz Criterium and heard it was a fun and challenging course, plus I’ll take any excuse to make a stop at Verve Coffee. The course has several features reminiscent of the Vacaville Gran Prix course, including a short/steepish hill and a sharp hairpin into a fast downhill. This made for some good technical crit skills practice ahead of the season’s bigger races.
The Mike’s Bikes team (TMBW) showed up with their A-game along with some of the strongest individuals in NorCal cycling including Joanna Dahl (JLVelo), Liza Rachetto (HB Supermint), Clarice Sayle (Jakroo Racing), Lindsay Myers (Team Tibco), and Elle Anderson (Rally Cycling). Since I was also riding solo and sprinter is not my middle name, my goal was to look for opportune breaks to sneak into.
The race was relatively tame for the first half, with the exception of the prime laps where Clarice put on a prime-snagging clinic. As the race went on, there were attacks at least every other lap but nobody stayed away. I attacked near the back third of the race on the hill hoping to get a small group together, but since we were all playing defense, I was brought back like all the other attacks. With 2 to go, I watched Amy Cameron (TMBW) tell her teammate Liz Hamel to give a flyer after the downhill which would set Amy up nicely at the finish. It was 2 bikes in front of me and I assumed the strong girls ahead of me would go with it and I would follow. That didn’t happen and nobody wanted to chase and give up their finishing opportunity. Instead I looked for good position at the end, which I had and flew up the hill only to remember the finish line was way after the hill and all the fast finishers came around me. Something to work on!
I had a lot of fun racing with the speedy ladies of NorCal and can’t wait for our next race. Hats of to Liz who just barely held off the powerful Joanna for the win. And thanks to Velo Promo for a fun course; I used my prime money for some excellent post-race tacos.