Sunday, August 21, 2011

Grant Park Crit

Valerie, me, and Anna before our race

This was a last-minute trip for me, not that I minded at all. Yesterday before our crit, Todd asked whether I wanted to race today. I said yes, of course. Then I asked what kind of race it was—I was more excited about being able to race again than concerned about what we would actually be racing! Eventually, I found out that this was the final race in the WE Racing: Women’s Racing Initiative race and was a big deal to Anna. Going into the race, she was in 1st place in the series by only a few points; the woman just behind her was signed up for the race, so Anna wanted to go to defend her position. Only a few of us were able to go, and Todd, Anna, Valerie, and I hit the road early Saturday afternoon for Atlanta, GA.

Me leading for a little

Our race was at 11am today, and we had plenty of time to ride multiple times around the course and work on a game plan. We lined up with 17 other women for our 35-minute race, and the officials said go. Within a few laps, Anna, Val, and I were still in the lead group that by then contained only 12 riders. We soon lost another one, and then the officials said there was a prime lap. This second prime strung us out even more, but we remained together for almost a full lap after the prime. Then I attacked. The back stretch, between turns 3 and 4 of the 4-left-turns course, was all slightly uphill, and I used our high pace and that terrain to attack. By the time we were through turn 1 again and almost through turn 2, we were down to 6, and none of those riders was Anna or Valerie. The second I realized that, I had a decision to make: Stay with this break, or stay with Anna. I glanced behind me, thought I saw Anna, and decided to stay with her rather than the break. My reasoning was that if Val, Anna, and I were all together, we should have no trouble catching that lead group quickly.

I had seen the wrong rider, though, and the woman immediately behind me wasn’t Anna. But Valerie wasn’t far behind me (her I’d seen for sure), and Anna wasn’t far behind her. Once we were all together, we continued to work together for the remainder of the race in an attempt to reel in anyone we could. With around 6 laps to go, we could see one girl ahead of us. I said to Valerie, “She’s either 5th or 6th, so if we catch her, we’d be racing for that position.” This was good news to all of us, verified when Todd said we were racing for 6th place. We couldn’t see the lead group, but we could catch this girl and stay ahead of her to get Anna into 6th place for sure. We did catch her, and Anna finished in 6th place. And then I finished in 7th and Valerie in 8th, so we also stayed ahead of that girl we’d caught. And (we think) Anna retained her overall 1st place position, so success all around!

The race was a lot of fun. There was a lot of action, I got to react to a few attacks, lead only a little bit, and initiate a few attacks. We got a chance to work together as a team and keep each other motivated and focused—this is one of the HUGE benefits of being a part of a team and having teammates race with you. I got stronger through seeing a few weaknesses in my own racing exposed. And we raced against women we hadn’t seen elsewhere.

I am so blessed and grateful to be able to race.

Stats: 13.99 miles, 41:00 (so yeah, not the advertised 35, and I KNOW we weren’t 5 minutes behind the leaders), 20.5 mph (32.0 max), 167 HR (190 max), 1348’ ascent, 1370’ descent

We did 16 laps, and each lap was around 0.875 miles.

I can tell by the graph below exactly where I attacked and then waited, and that’s pretty cool to see. Also I can see pretty clearly where Valerie pulled and where I pulled, and that’s cool to see too. It tells me that I’m pretty good about recovering when I need to and working hard when I need to.

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