Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunny King Crit and Foothills RR Recaps

Anna, Cali, and Shelly warming up

Catherine warming up

Friday, Cali, Anna and I got in a short but needed and good ride through Maryland Farms at lunch. Then it was time to get everything done that I needed to before we left for Anniston, AL, on Saturday morning. I have done these races before (Sunny King Crit 2012 [2nd of 16 Cat 3/4], 2011 [6th of 36 Cat 3/4]; Foothills RR 2012 [DNF], 2011 [23rd of 23 Cat 1/2/3]).

Women 3/4 at the start line

Saturday late morning, Anna, Catherine, Cali, and Shelly were racing in the Sunny King Criterium in Anniston, and I wanted to be there to watch them and cheer for them. They all did awesome, with a leadout from Anna and Cali that put Catherine in 3rd overall in their Cat 3/4 field. After lunch, we went to the hotel for a nap. Lovely.

Women 3/4 crit results

AJ and I began our P/1/2 race at 6:20. My main goal was to stay with the field for at least 5 laps. I really had no idea what to expect; I’d watched this race last year and it looked crazy hard, and the last time I did a P/1/2 crit (Fond du Lac, 2011), I got lapped 3 times and was finally pulled. So I thought that goal was a good one. But I didn’t stop there. Goal #2 was to stay with the field the entire race, and Goal #3 was to finish in the top 10 if I was feeling good and in a good position. Besides that there was a crash right next to me on the 3rd corner of the first 4-corner lap, all went as expected for me and I was able to stay with the field for all but the final two laps.

I wasn’t in the best position for much of the race, and that was completely my fault. I should have moved up (and stayed up) every time Todd told me to, and often I did. However, some times I wasn’t able to stay up there simply due to inability and inexperience. I wasn’t willing to fight certain people for position and I wasn’t able to get far enough ahead of them that they weren’t an issue, so too frequently I found myself at the back. I could see AJ the entire time, though, and I knew she’d finish great.

When the main teams started organizing for leadouts with two laps to go, I was unable to keep up the pace and dropped off the back of the field, finishing by myself as #32 in the 40-woman field. AJ finished 13th, and I was so proud of her!

This race wasn’t the hardest crit I’ve done simply because there was not a lot of action. The women who had multiple teammates didn’t attack, and the field stayed together the entire time. It was very hard, though, and I’m glad I did it. I have a lot to learn and definitely have room for improvement.

Crit Stats: 22.35 miles, 57:33, 23.3 mph (29.5 max), 180 bpm (193 max), 32/40 Cat P/1/2
RR Stats: 47.59 miles, 2:24, 19.9 mph (44.4 max), no HR, 31/50 Cat P/1/2/3/4

Saturday morning, Cali, Anna, AJ, Catherine, Parri, and I lined up for the Foothills Road Race. In 2012 when I did this race, I did not finish, calling it a day around mile 9. In 2011 when I did this race, it was from what I remember one of the hardest simply due to the mostly uphill first half. This year, they changed the course significantly, and we didn’t really climb until mile 41. We started with the…longest…ever…10-mile neutral rollout, and we were neutralized again around mile 22. Other than that, there were few attacks, none of which stuck, and tons of sketchy riding (two crashes in one RR is two too many).

I attacked twice, and the second time two girls came with me. I thought we’d at least be able to make something happen then, but neither of them was willing to pull through to help us create and sustain the break, so we quickly got caught. That was frustrating, and T said later that I should have just asked them what they were thinking. If they were willing to chase but weren’t willing to work to create a break, what were they wanting to do? I may never know! Cali and Anna attacked too, but the field wasn’t willing to let anyone get away. This meant that we started the climb with almost 40 people (50 starters in the P/1/2/3/4 field). I got dropped on that 1.3-mile climb, and on the descent caught two women who finished with me. I beat them both to finish #31 of 50. AJ and Cath climbed great and finished 8th and 11th, respectively. Parri was 24th, Anna was 29th, and Cali was 30th.

Considering that I DNF last year, simply finishing was my primary goal for this race, and my secondary goal was to finish with a group. I hit both goals, which I called success and Will called progress. Again, I learned a lot during this race, especially that it’s OK to be aggressive when the race is as boring as it was today. Even if nothing happens, you could be tiring the others out, and if something happens you’d be golden. In this race also, position was key, and I was sometimes in the right one and sometimes in the wrong one. Closer to the front means easier to react if someone attacks, closer to the middle means that you aren’t working as hard but don’t have as easy an out, and closer to or at the back means you really shouldn’t have to work but you can’t ever get out and it takes tons of energy to move up at all.

Because of the lack of a break in the field, we were often slow and more often surge-y. This made the race more mentally taxing than anything—I felt like I needed a post-it to stick to my back that said “SLOWING” so that I wouldn’t have to say it every 3 minutes. Next year I’ll be more aggressive in this race!

Quite possibly the first time I've seen a car
plugged in to one of these (at the Franklin Kohl's)

It rained this week...a lot! My poor tomatoes.

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