Category Archives: Race Report
Kimberley finished one of the toughest and hilliest races around, Tour of the Gila, with the Pros (guest riding for our friends I AM THE ENGINE). Despite getting tangled up in a crash on the second day, leaving bone exposed, she finished all the stages and in a better time than the year prior. Read about all 5 days of racing on her blog:
Racing with a plan is amazing when it works. And that’s just what our Cat 3s did at Wheels of Thunder over the weekend, taking the primes and a 2nd place spot! Kat breaks it down for you…
I (Kat) have been racing my bike for some 8 or 9 years, way too long to recall exactly. After many long lonely seasons, 2013 marks the first time I have teammates. Women’s cycling in Colorado has grown tremendously over the last few years, and it’s no longer uncommon to have teams of 10+ women and multiple teammates in a race. When I first started racing, it seemed that women’s racing was much more of a sport of lone racers, which was great for teaching street smarts and how to be cagey in a race, but not so good for camaraderie, learning team tactics, or quite frankly keeping women in the race scene past 1 or 2 seasons. To be fair, I did have 3 teammates a few years back (2 of whom are now also Naked women), but it was few and far between when more than 2 of us could make it to the same race. So imagine my surprise when we had 8, yes you read that correctly, 8 Naked women line up for the Wheels of Thunder crit this past weekend. With numbers on our side, we formulated a plan to be aggressive. Sorry, no, I won’t be revealing the exact plan here. If you want our team secrets, you’re going to have to bribe me with something pretty special. I could use a new frame or some wicked race wheels, or a new power meter. Anyone?
Starting fairly early in the race, we threw out a lot of attacks. I think the whole field was as shocked as I was when early in the race Amanda Cyr launched a decisive attack, got a decent gap very quickly, and managed to stay away for a full lap. This was Amanda’s first race as a Cat 3 having just upgraded the week before. She very loudly put her stamp on the race and showed everyone that she is clearly ready to be a Cat 3. Up until this point, Amanda has been known as Amanda 2.0, or just simply “2.0,” based on her twin affiliation with Amanda 1.0. Well, that attack earned Amanda a new nickname. No longer 2.0, everyone please say hello to Amanda THE HAMMER Cyr. Keep your eye out for great things from that one during the season.
A little later in the race, Susan caught the field off-guard and attacked a few hundred yard from the finish line to snatch the second prime of the race. As she crossed the line, the bell was run for another prime lap. Does anyone else feel like the promoters really hate us when they run back-to-back primes? It must be fun for them, because it certainly isn’t fun for me to spend two laps sucking wind on the rivet barely able to breather. We caught Susan halfway up the hill after the first corner, where I promptly yelled to Lanier “Lanier, go now.” And boy did she! Lanier took off and no one could keep up with her. She got a huge gap as the rest of us worked hard to block the field from chasing. Lanier easily grabbed the prime and managed to stay away for 2 laps. Once she was back safely in the pack, with only 3 laps remaining in the race, we all tucked in to recover a bit. We checked in with each other and determined that Lanier was recovered from her flier and on fire and would have a go at the finish. She tucked in behind Susan, who got a very untimely flat. Ever the magnificent bike handler, Susan held her bike upright without an issues, but unfortunately there were no more free laps so Susan was out of the game. But in an amazing display of selfless teamwork, Cathy, who was right there when Susan’s tire blew, tried to give Susan her wheel, and when that didn’t work, offered up her WHOLE bike so Susan could at least finish. Teammate of the race award definitely goes to Cathy for that one. Good thing Susan didn’t have to jump on my bike as with about 4 inches separating us in height, that would have been quite the comical last lap for Susan. Coming into the finish Mama Madison sat on the front driving the bunch, which was enough to launch Lanier into second place. Every member of the team contributed to the team result and worked together. Team work accomplished and podium spot achieved! Look out world, here come the Naked Cat 3′s!
The Tour of Gila is a 5-day stage race for the pros and upper categories, and a 4-day road race for the lower ones, including the SW 3/4. It is a UCI stage race, meaning that UCI pro teams can race it, and is infamous for steep climbs and winds. I was intrigued by its reputation as being one of the toughest stage races in the US, but originally decided it was not worth a 10-hour drive for all that suffering. Then I met Maria Santiago of Durango at our Moab training camp. Her passion and commitment were contagious, and within 5 minutes of talking to her I was back on board as her domestique. Getting a ride for the 10-hour drive from Denver with Drew Galloway of RacerX sealed the deal.
In our race, the NM Spokettes brought 4 strong racers and were clearly a force to be reckoned with. Laurel Rathburn, the 16-year-old phenom from Exergy21 was riding alone, but we knew to watch out for her after Dan Wouri’s Twitter post. She skipped her prom for Gila, and was clearly hungry for the win! There were many other wild cards in the field, but Maria remained confident. She is a talented climber, had dialed in her training and was mentally prepared.
Day 1 – Inner Loop Road Race
The first day was 61.3 miles with a climb at the beginning and one towards the end before a downhill led to a finish on a slight uphill. As we climbed out of Palos Altos, Maria went to the front to warm up, unknowingly putting many in the pack in some difficulty to keep up. That definitely included me! Halfway up the climb, I was trying desperately to send her telepathic messages from the back to slow it down. I managed to hang on, make it down the technical descent and reconnect with the group. Maria was still in front, so as soon as possible I moved up so she could take my wheel. The middle part of the course was a gradual incline to a middle sprint on the Continental Divide with bonus time to be gained for 1st/2nd/3rd. As we approached the sprint, I made sure I was at the front with Maria on my wheel so I could give her the leadout. With 500m to go, I picked up the pace gradually with a NM Spokette alongside, picking up the pace steadily until we were at top speed. I then left enough space for Maria get around me for the final kick and it came off perfectly! The Spokette got 1st with Maria inches behind. Any bonus points meant time – mission accomplished!
Immediately after the sprint, Maria and several others attacked and kept the pressure on. The field shattered. Maria was in the lead break with 3 others. My mission for the day complete, I found two other riders and worked with them to the finish, sprinting for 11th. Maria finished 2nd on Day 1 and with over 2 minutes ahead of the next group, putting her in great position for the time trial.
Day 2 – Dan Potts Memorial Time Trial
The Gila TT is 16.1 miles with over 1000 feet of climbing, which suits Maria perfectly. Her mental toughness was essential. She knew where she needed to suffer and was ready to do so. Thanks to her sponsor LAAF of Albuquerque, she had a great TT setup. She smoked it, finishing 2nd. Sarah Lough, a NM Spokette who won had about a minute on her, and she was very close to in time to Laurel Rathbun.
Day 3 – Downtown Silver City Crit
The crit course at Gila is a 4-corner course in downtown Silver City, NM with a hill on the backside and a fun fast descent around a couple of corners and a long flat finish. It’s not quite as technical as I like, but it certainly had potential for speed! As in any crit, positioning and energy conservation are essential. We stayed towards the front, and went for one of the primes as a tune-up. We were not able to get Maria the time bonuses for 1st/2nd/3rd, but finished with the pack and did not lose time.
Day 4 – Gila Monster Road Race
The final day of Gila is the hardest stage, 68.9 miles with two very tough climbs in the last 19 miles. There were two middle sprints with bonus time to be gained. The pace was very slow through the second sprint, when Maria and Laurel launched an attack. The NM Spokettes quickly chased to protect their leader and Maria and I found ourselves at the front. For the 15-mile downhill, I led the pack with Maria behind at a very moderate pace with everyone conserving energy for the climbing to come. At mile 50, the road went straight up. I turned to Maria, said “OK, go get ‘em”, and left her to do her thing. Five were in the lead climbing group: Sarah, Laurel, Maria and two others who were not in contention for the GC. A wild card racer from Phoenix attacked up the climb, and since she was not in the running, they let her go. She ended up winning the stage, but was not on the podium for the GC. The 3 leaders finished together: Laurel, Maria next, then Sarah who was caught up in a minor crash with a guy at the end.
What an incredible feeling to see Maria on the podium for 3rd! We had both worked hard, but Maria hardest of all. For a year, she trained, studied strategy and planned for success. She arrived ready to win, and she raced smart and tough. She is also a natural leader, and a very effective coach. I arrived with very little experience employing team tactics, sprint leadouts and following attacks. Thanks to Maria’s 4-day racing boot camp, I returned to Colorado a smarter and more confident racer. Gila was an invaluable experience, and I can’t wait for next year! Who’s with me???
Another great post from the newly crowned Cat 3, Amanda Cyr. Maybe you shouldn’t have gotten that “4 4 Life” tattoo? There’s something in this post for everyone, so enjoy because these are the best years of your life. Go make the most of it!
When I was in high school (just a couple of years ago) people would come up to me constantly to tell me how “these are the greatest years of your life and make sure you do ____ and don’t do ____ and this is how you should _____.” The only thing I remember from high school is acne, trying to fit in, drinking Boones Farm out of a Sonic Route 44 cup, and listening to “Tiny Dancer” on repeat. I don’t consider those super awkward years to be the best years of my life. They definitely served their wallflower purpose but I wouldn’t call them “the best years” by any means… I mean who really loves holding their friends hair while they return the wine spritzer they bummed off of you onto your Converse?
While in college people had more pearls of wisdom about how “these are the greatest years of your life and make sure you do _____ and don’t do _____ and this is how you should ______”. Wanna know what I remember from college? Acne, trying to fit in, drinking PBR, and listening to “Tiny Dancer” on repeat. BTW, I would also not call these years “the best.” Sure I went to a great school (GO GATORS) and made great memories but again who cherishes holding another friends hair while they ralph the last round of beer pong onto your Tevas?
Last weekend I got the pleasure of volunteering for the BRAC women’s clinic. 50 women came seeking bike skills, information, and ultimately other friendly females to ride with. It was an awesome day of cornering, cackling, and camaraderie. This past Friday, I got the pleasure of being a part of another way to give back. Our team hosted its Ride for Reading book delivery where nearly 3,000 books were delivered by bike to two lower income elementary schools in Denver. Another incredible day getting to give back to the community in a practical and yet hugely important way. And then Saturday at Wheels of Thunder I got to give back in yet another way. I was able to help strategize, encourage, cheer, congratulate, high five, and share in the excitement with all the new cat4’s who rocked their first race!
All of those people from high school and college were wrong. THESE are the best years of my life. I am getting to play a small role in something that is making a difference. Women’s cycling is growing. Women’s cycling is giving back. Women’s cycling is changing. There is a new tide rolling in and it is good. More hands helping out in the community that we ride through, within the community of fellow riders, and within the community of future racers.
It is a very exciting time to be involved in women’s racing from the jazzed up Junior level to the nervous newbie Masters racer. Be warned though blog post reader: people are watching us and our words and actions make huge imprints on the future of our sport and community. I am sure we have all had some less than friendly moments in races where people were just *#$#(*&$ and then we reacted or thought negatively about racing because of it. Good news though, it doesn’t have to be that way. We can change the vibe and perception that is out there. There is new blood that wants to make racing accessible and fun for every woman that comes out to play. We all work hard and we want to do our very best. We can do those things while remaining good people and helping each other… don’t ya think?
I want to help women’s cycling grow but need your help. Come play and let’s be the change we want to see. I promise I will even hold your hair after a TT while you purge all the lactic acid build up onto my bike shoes.
Vive la revolution y allez allez allez!
This needs no description, only a pull quote from the below: ”People have asked if I was disappointed with the race. My response was, “Not at all. I learned that the best part of racing is having teammates who truly care more about how the team does than themselves. This was never more apparent to me than today.” Here’s Amanda 1.0′s story.
NOTE: Photos by Shawn Curry
Most people have the one race that they want to do well in during the season. My race this year fell on Cinco de Mayo and was the legandary Koppenberg, which is another stellar race put on by Without Limits Productions. It is a road race consisting of a 5 mile circuit of which half the lap is dirt, with a brutal 17% grade dirt, two track ‘berg’ (hill) and a fast pavement descent. The Cat 4 Naked women always have a pre-planned race strategy, but execution is always the tough part. That day the plan was for my teammates, who are either cyclo-cross racers or bad ass power houses, to get the hole shot with me and then to tow me to the finish line. I was to sit in as much as possible. Early on I started to inch up to the front and 2.0 motioned for me to sit on her wheel, no words had to be spoken as we both knew that I needed to conserve energy. Apparently, we were not the only women that morning with a plan. Two strong riders attacked from the start. I tried with the help of my teammate, Brittany Jones, to stay with them but alas I could not hold the pace and I told her to go catch them. 2.0 worked hard to catch me on the descent and then to pull me the entire downhill portion and back onto the dirt.
Two laps of the same pattern, working very hard on the dirt and hills and then being pulled half the lap by 2.0 and Amy Thompson. Third and final lap, this is it and I am sitting well in what I thought was 8th place. I am pushing with everything that I have and feel like I am going to vomit, then my front tire starts to bump around more than usual. No way did I puncture. Within one more pedal stroke, it is completely flat. 2.0 is there within a few seconds and asks what happened. I let her know that I flatted and for her to continue going. Without a moment of hesitation, she does the unthinkable, brakes and tells me in a firm voice to take my front wheel off. I don’t even have a second to respond and she has placed her wheel on my bike, tells me to take a deep breath, pushes me to start up the hill and says, “Go get them. This is YOUR race.” The remainder of the race I push to the limits of my heart rate and come in 7th place. Brittany got 2nd place and both Emily and 2.0, among many others, did not finish due to flat tires. 2.0 did have a tube and fixed my flat but then got another one. People have asked if I was disappointed with the race. My response was, “Not at all. I learned that the best part of racing is having teammates who truly care more about how the team does than themselves. This was never more apparent to me than today.”
I am ashamed to say that I would never have thought in that high-intensity moment to give a teammate a wheel but 2.0 gave up her spot in the race for me and did so without a moment’s hesitation. My other teammates worked very hard to put me in a good position and for that I am grateful. The teamwork is more important to me than what place I ended up in, what category I race or how my fitness and training are going. This will forever be a moment that I remember and cherish but please don’t tell 2.0. She does not read my race reports and I don’t want her to know how important she is to the team.
PS – all was not lost, my placing did get me an upgrade point towards becoming a Cat 3, here I come ladies.
One bit of knowledge the Naked ladies have loved passing down and enforcing….ICE BATHS! Some can handle better than others. You know who you are:) Lanier and Maria on the other hand, look to have it down!
Maria finished 3rd in the 3/4 race with a lead group of 4, 2:30 ahead of the next group. She is going to tomorrow’s TT in a great position! I stayed with the group long enough to lead out Maria to 2nd in the middle sprint and am happy I was able to play domestique!
Hats off to Kimberley in the P/1/2 race for picking herself up after a nasty crash, soloing for 45 miles injured and finishing within the time cut. Impressive and inspiring!
In stage racing, the most important factor of success is proper recovery. In the past, I have learned many lessons the hard way: a) do not climb 5000 feet the day before a race, b) dieting should be saved for the off-season to avoid bonking during races and c) margaritas are never a good idea the night before a race, even if that race is in the afternoon.
Doing recovery right is a big focus for Maria and me for Gila, and we actively sought as much information as we could find. We ate bananas and bars and rehydrated with recovery drinks and water immediately after the race. Then we warmed down with a 60-minute spin. We ate lunch, bought 2 bags of ice and headed back to Charlie and Charlotte’s house, our wonderful hosts.
And what was the ice for, you ask? Ice baths, to reduce inflammation and speed recovery after hard efforts. Armed with Joan Oreldinger’s famous ice bath recipe and Sharon Madison’s “encouragement” (strict MMM orders), we began preparations for the ice bath. Charlotte offered up the “big tub” in the master bath, so we could suffer through the ice bath together, and Charlie quickly followed with an offer to take photos. What a great idea! Misery loves company, and after all we are teammates! We instantly agreed. We made hot tea, put on 3 layers of jackets and sank gingerly into the cold water. We added the first bag of ice, then the second. Legs can’t touch or it defeats the purpose: I only had to tell Maria “no snuggling” once. With all the laughing followed by a good race debrief, 10 minutes flew by, and we hopped out. Our legs felt completely refreshed, but Maria (ace climber that she is with the requisite complete lack of body fat) was visibly chilled. I told her to take her hot shower first. True teammate that she is, her first response was that we should share the warm shower so that I wouldn’t be cold! While we are clearly completely bonded as teammates, there are still limits. Naked Women Racers take baths together…but not showers!
After a nap, dinner, massage and a second dinner, we are ready for anything the Gila TT can dish out tomorrow. Stay tuned for the results!
Little did Marlene know that our plan all along with the club team is to convert each one to bike racers:) Great post on the journey from self-declared newbie to a fierce bike racer! Cover image by Dejan Smaic of sportifimages.com
This feels like a confession. Hello, my name is Marlene and I am a club member of the Naked Women’s Racing team. I’m a newbie cyclist, meaning I’ve been riding about a year now. Sometimes when I ride with these superfast women, I think I’ll always consider myself a newbie.
When I joined Naked Women last fall, I had no plans to race. Let’s face it, I’m a slow rider. I was more interested in their club rides, mentoring and skills clinic. I have lots of room for improvement in my cycling skills. But then the hints started. The first came from Sharon, “Why don’t you try a time trial. It’s a great way for a beginner to learn and improve.” And then more suggestions from teammates about which races are good for beginners. Of course, I wasn’t the one asking for this information but I was paying attention. My interest had been sparked.
I think the clincher was the skills clinic held by Joan and Susan A. on how to prepare for and what to expect in your first race. They were loaded with advice and tips for a beginner racer. “You’ll want take your trainer to warm up before the race.” “Your bike will be held, while you’re clipped in, at the start of the time trial.” Ok, what? I’ll be starting fully clipped in? Oh, this will be fun. (Remember that I am a newbie.)
So I bit the bullet and signed up for the KHMTT. And the Denver Federal Center Classic. And I had to include the Wheels of Thunder Crit, because it is a mentor race. And then the nerves kicked in. What am I doing?
But the village kicked in too. From Cathy, “Take an extra shirt to warm up in and then change into your dry team jersey. Create small goals before each race.” And Amanda 2.0, “Don’t kill yourself on the downhills in the TT, kill yourself on the uphills.” Well that’s encouraging. There goes my TT strategy. Brittany advised me to watch out for the road hazard on the second turn of the DFCC. Jamie talked about staying upright during the race. Emily W. pointed out the inside line I should take on a corner. Lanier tells me I’ll have fun. Really? Amanda 1.0 assures me I’ll do just fine. And Megan and Kat ask if I learned from the experience.
And now, two of the races are behind me, my first time trail and my first circuit race. I survived. I didn’t crash out. I didn’t throw up. I’m proud of myself and yes, I even had fun. And what did I learn? I learned that I’m a racer and I’m going back for more. Because it didn’t take me long to realize that racing isn’t always about winning or even being in the top ten. For me, racing is about being part of this amazing team, this wonderful group of talented riders, this inclusive village. And maybe someday, I’ll be the one passing along tidbits of advice to the newbie.
Susan A. CRUSHED the first mountain bike race of the year….all 60 miles of it and landed on the podium. Even after racing 60 miles, she still supported her other teammate doing the 30 mile race. Truly inspiring ride for the day.
I was undecided; race 30 miles or race 60 miles, after all the last time I raced 60 miles, let alone rode 60 miles on my mountain bike was two years ago. Then I read a Facebook post made by Vera, “to live every day and enjoy everything you have”. So the 60-miler was it, heck why not! Saturday was shaping up to be a beautiful day and as it got closer, I started to get nervous…what was I thinking signing up for this? I am not in the right kind of shape…I have no clue how to race this kind of event. But I reminded myself that life is about living and to believe in myself.
The morning of the race, I got a text message from Rachel saying that she was going to be at the race supporting her boyfriend and that if I needed anything to let her know. I was planning on going with the flow and if necessary using neutral support, however having her there for feeding and moral support gave me a huge sense of relief. I did a 15 minute warm-up with a few hard efforts, then headed over to the start-line. I was nervous yet calm, as I knew the effort wasn’t going to be all out from the start.
The start was on a gradual uphill paved road for about 250 meters before we hit the singletrack. The whistle blows and Cristienne Beam (Tough Girls/SCOTT) takes off like she was shot out of a cannon. Holy crap! I quickly joined her, because I wasn’t going to let her get away. The pace was high and the two of us were caught by Laura (unattached). We found ourselves pulling away from the rest of the group. I guess was wrong about the pace!
After a few miles, I found myself in the lead and pulling away from the other two racers. I thought: Am I going too fast? Am I going to bonk? I had no clue what to do or what to expect. I chose to go with it and just see what happens. I had about two miles left of the ten mile lap and I was still in the lead. I thought well, okay, let’s do this one lap at a time. The goal for the first lap was to cross the lap line in first place. I did just that for first lap and then the next three as well. I felt great for the first 30 miles, I was riding strong and technically sound, but I really wasn’t sure what so do, how fast should I go or not go? I had no one in my group to chase down.
To keep my speed up, I started focusing on men in front of me and trying to catch them and repeating the mantra “out of sight out of mind”. At times, I would catch my mind wondering, thinking about all kinds of stupid things and not the task at hand, but I quickly realized it and redirected them. I tried to focus on positive thoughts, like I am strong, I am good at endurance events, I know how to ride my bike. But I also, had keep my skills dialed in by reminding myself to keep my chin up, look where I want to go, keep my grip loose, etc.
The course had several punchy climbs, a few short climbs, but mostly it was twisty-turny with loose gravel on top of hard-packed dirt. It is easy to go too fast and find yourself off the trail wrapped around a tree or headed down a ravine. While the course isn’t technical in the sense of big of rocks, drops and tree roots, it does require skill and the ability to control the bike at higher speeds to prevent crashing when going fast into a corner. It is mostly about tire pressure, weight distribution and finding the right amount of speed to go fast and stay upright.
Around mile 42, I started to get tired and found myself looking behind me a lot to gauge where the other racers where. Going thought the feed zone and approaching the beginning a lap five, Rachel said, “I think you are in first”, I said.” yes, I am”, but I knew my lead was about to be challenged. I tried to keep pushing it, but eventually I was caught and she said “wow, I thought I was never going to see you again” and then said, “ keep it rolling, there are a few close behind”… I was tired and speechless, but appreciated the encouragement. I stayed with her for a bit, but was starting to make several mistakes, almost crashing a few times. Although I surprised myself that I was able to make the save each time, and keep from crashing. I backed it off a little, otherwise I was going end up off my bike in the dirt. While it is frustrating to lead a race for two-thirds of it and end up in second place, I am very proud of myself and what I accomplished, both mentally and physically that day. I took a chance, relished the moment and had a successful outcome and that IS living.
2013 has been a year of learning for Megan in bike racing, and it is only April! She found you could “work” your way into bike racing based on fitness alone, but eventually bike skills are a necessary prerequisite! This blog post Megan shares what she learned this weekend, and how her teammates helped so much along the way.
Fed Center Crit
A year ago I hated crits/avoided them, now I crave the opportunity to do them as a way for me to improve my bike handling skills & sprinting. Plus they are fun once you get going. It really helps that my Cat 3 teammates are pro when it comes to bike handling and always give me tips before, after the race, and even during (Kat will not let me get gapped!). I am slowly learning how to corner wisely, how to respond to attacks, how to sprint, and how to draft better and better. Fed Center was a great opportunity to work on all those skills, while scoring team points, and improving team camaraderie. Ironically Lanier was trying to lead out Susan or I and ended up getting herself on the podium. So never underestimate your potential! BTW Fed Center has something like 17 corners on each lap, I was going dizzy by the last lap trying to figure out which way to even turn. You certainly had to pay attention! I look forward to more speedy races like this to come
As for Deer Trail, this was a 43 mile road race I did well at in the Cat 4s. However with the 3s, I knew I faced stiff competition, and most if not all girls were definitely fitter than me as well. Our combined SW3/SW45+ field had around 25 riders to start. The corners and short steep hills were the normal dropping point so we quickly whittled our group down to 12 riders pace-lining through the rolling hills. At around mile 23, I was bonking – hard! I am still figuring out nutrition for these mid-day races. I then accidentally dropped my gel and had no food. Luckily my awesome teammate Susan gave me about 200 calories of food and got me eating and drinking stat! If not for her, I would have dropped halfway through the race. Instead I lasted well until the last 2 miles, where my legs died after responding to attacks. I did everything I could to sprint for 8th.
Nutrition, Bike Handling, Sprinting, Pack Riding Skills, can always be improved and make you a better bike racer. I think our team provides great opportunity for all of these skills to be developed through mentoring, racing, and teamwork.
I am proud to be on Naked Women’s Racing team and look forward to a strong season for our Cat 3 squad
And Megan, we’re happy to have you!!
Maria is crushing it and BELIEVING she can. That’s the big difference she says, believing in yourself. A little life lesson we all should apply not only to bike racing but in everything we do. Read how she faired against the pros in Grand Junction (spoiler alert-she did really well!)
This was the college championships. Colleges were represented by CU, CSU, Fort Lewis, Wyoming and numerous other ones including the host team, Mesa State University. Saturday morning the time trials started. They were split up between college team time trials and then individual time trials followed. All races were women open, with the Cat 4’s separated out. This was my second time trial on my new LAAF time trial bike. I placed second and felt strong till the finish. I didn’t go out to fast and blow up my legs half way through (like I usually do).
The Criterium was at night in downtown Grand Junction. I had never raced a night crit before and the college women’s A and 1 2 3’s started together. There were some strong College A riders and some Pro Women as well. We started fast and kept the momentum going the whole time. Because criteriums make me nervous, due to a wreck that left my femur cracked last fall, I placed goals within the race instead of just a broad goal of number finisher. I wanted to move fluidly within the pack. Hang back and recover, move up to the front to control the pace, take the corners with confidence with riders on each side of me, ride close to other riders, and try to be in the attack group when they jumped. It was a little harder to concentrate because the sun had set at the same time as our start so there were shadows and inconsistencies in the road that you could not make out due to lack of depth perception. Overall you had to just ignore such things or else you would be paying more attention to this instead of the race itself. The official was giving us remaining lap numbers. I ignored all of them, honestly couldn’t see them, wasn’t looking hard enough. I had no idea that it was the last lap. I was in second position and all the sudden everyone started sprinting. I had a delay in processing that went something like this….hmm…why is everyone sprinting? Oh! Is it the last lap? Crap! I had a pack finish and placed fourth. I was overall happy with my experience.
The road race started in Palisade at 10am. College A’s and 1 2 3’s started together again. The race consisted of three laps that were 20.5 miles each and went from the town below, climbed up to a mesa, and then had rollers and flats shaped in a lollypop that brought you back the way you came and back down to town. We started out with a parade lap around town and then as soon as the race left the neutral zone there was a 14% climb. The pack mostly stayed together up the first climb and soon after the attacks started off the front. I used to dread attacks, but lately I kind of enjoy them. This race was particularly interesting to me because of all the different team dynamics that were happening. We had college teammates that were riding for each other, but also teammates from noncollege teams. So there were riders with two teams present. I realized that although a rider was wearing a jersey from the college, they may have other jerseys working for them. I tried to hang in the pack and watch the front for signals to see which wheel I should trust to jump and which wheel may be there to block. It was kind of a mind game. During the second lap a CU college rider jumped and pulled away with a decent gap. A few of us started to do a pace line to catch her. Her college team mate kept causing gaps in the line to slow it down. I told her to move up and she flat out said “that is my teammate up there.” We descended into town to begin our last lap. The town was sort of treated as a mini criterium course. I decided, unwisely, that I was going to bridge the gap up to the CU rider. I rode fast through the town getting closer to the rider. Amy Charity, a Vanderkitten, started to help me towards the beginning of the climb. I just didn’t have the push to propel myself up and over the climb in enough time to crest it with the Exergy rider, Vanderkitten, and the CU rider. I was so close (racers remorse). The only rider left with me was another CU rider. I started to chase and she stayed on my wheel. I gave her the elbow to start pulling and she moved up. But then, I realized that the pace slowed way down. Her gearing was in an easier rear cassette number than mine. It quickly became apparent that she was not going to help us catch the break. She had her CU rider up there AND her Exergy teammate up there too. So, she had an invested interest to keep me out of that break. Once I gave into my fate and the break got a good enough lead away she began working with me to keep the rest of the field away. We finished strong and I placed 4th including the College A’s. We were separated out and I placed third behind two pro riders, Vanderkitten and Exergy. I learned a lot from this experience. Blind reading of the pack, watching for signals such as riders congregating, water and GU consumption, that may signal an attack being planned. But most of all, reflection and knowing where and when not to expending so much energy chasing down someone that the rest of the pack should be chasing too. Every race teaches me so much about myself as a rider. It also helps me to do positive visualizations for my future races.