Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sunny King Criterium Race Report

Lined up at the front, ready to go!

We left Friday afternoon to avoid having to drive early Saturday morning and then race at noon, that was a great plan. I had time to sleep in (if you’re one of those people), eat breakfast, go for a walk and watch a 5K race, and get to the race venue (downtown Anniston, AL) in time to ride a few laps around the course and get in a good team warm-up. Our race was at noon, we had our team plan, and we were ready to go. Kat, me, Valerie, Shelly, Anna, and Jonell all lined up to compete against the 30 other Cat 3-4 women.

Our race was 35 minutes long, and about 18 minutes in I looked at my watched and thought, Really, we’re only halfway through? Yikes! But I quickly forgot that and kept going. I stayed among the first 10 wheels all race, doing my best to stay behind Kat and stay aware of what was going on ahead and beside me. That paid off, because right around 18 minutes (likely the reason I looked at my watch), the girl in front of Kat stood up to climb the super short, not tough hill toward the start/finish line and caused Kat to crash. I saw it about to happen and avoided it, but I was concerned that Kat was hurt bad. For a split second, I thought I should see how she was, but I saw our team manager Todd running toward the crash and just continued.

In the middle of the crit

At that point, I really wanted to break away with a couple other people. But everyone seemed hesitant, like we weren’t sure what proper etiquette was: Do we go neutral, or do we continue racing? At least, those were the two choices I was deciding between. We continued racing, and for a couple laps I didn’t see Kat. But I did see Valerie. She’d stayed with the main pack and avoided the crash, and every once in a while she’d pop up next to me to say, “I’m still with you!” and then return to her position. I breathed a little sigh of relief the first time I saw her, knowing that I wasn’t alone. I also figured that if Kat returned to the race, she’d see us and know we had her back no matter what.

Kat eventually returned, going to the front so Val and I would see her then dropping to the middle of the field to catch her breath. No attacks stuck; in fact, no one attacked hard at all. I really wanted to but couldn’t (had to stick with the plan). With 2 laps to go, I tried to break off the front and hoped Kat would be with me. She wasn’t, and again it was pretty worthless. Coming around the last corner, the group was still about 20 strong, but I was close enough to the front to end up in 6th place. I don’t quite have my sprint timed quite right and would’ve liked to have been up a little closer to the front. But regardless of my position, I was super proud of Kat, who won the race. After her crash, she’d gone to the pit and gotten a bike from the neutral support crew. She finished the race on that bike, and finished well at that!

Still racing

After recovering from our race, we returned to the hotel for a little while and then headed to Piedmont, AL, a few miles east, to drive tomorrow’s road race course. Later in the afternoon we went back to downtown Anniston to watch the women’s P-1-2 race that Parri was racing in and the men’s P-1 race that was just amazing. Both the women and the men were so smooth around every corner. The women also displayed great team tactics and made us all realize that what Todd’s been trying to teach us really does work.

Start of the P/1/2 race

Our race began at noon and was 35 minutes. It was hot and sunny, about 80+ degrees. This was quite possibly the sketchiest crit field I’ve ever been in—almost no one was holding their line around the corners and we were constantly cornering poorly. I did learn, however, that the best way to get off the front is to move all the way over to one side and slow down, eventually stopping if necessary. I didn’t try that but will, because what I was trying didn’t work.

  • 35:43, 13.2 miles, 22.2 avg (28.3 max), 819 cal, 180 HR (200 max)
  • 6/36 total, 4th Cat 3

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