As is the case each week, I debate with myself as to whether or not to do the crit. Risk injury (muscle and/or crash variety) or play it safe. Today, I decided that since it was the last race of the series, I’d go ahead and race. I left work early (had to pick up my E-rock century packet on the way to the race) and got in a good 30+-minute warmup. It was pretty windy – out of the north mostly. Must’ve scared other riders away though. There were only 5 women today. Two RockyMount-Izzie (Anna Levine and one other petite gal with a foreign accent), Jennifer (a new Cyclist Lawyer rider) and Barb (Naked….kinda purple/gray kit) and me. Before the race started, as a group, we decided to have it be a women only race. We would not draft off the men. For me, it totally changed the race. Instead of just hanging on for dear life in the middle of a mostly-male pack, we had attacks, we had to pull ourselves thru the wind, we had race strategy. I really enjoyed it. Much more engaging for me.
Here’s the way it went. After the neutral lap, the 5 of us rode together for 2-3 laps. Anna Levine attacks 2 or 3 times during that time “just to see what everyone had”. I was on her wheel each time. A couple of the other gals got dropped for a short time, but crawled back to the (albiet small) pack. Then, on the back stretch into the headwind, Anna started another attack but couldn’t break free. So, I decided it was time for me to do something so I came around her and took off into the headwind. She came with me, but it was too much for the other three gals. That was one of the big moves of the race as it split the group. Anna and I worked together for the next 3-4 laps but her pace was faster than I could maintain. I was sucking air pretty bad and I felt like I was red-zoning so I backed it off and let her go. I kept her in my sights though. Then, I found myself alone in no-woman’s land. I didn’t sit up, but I let up enough that 2 of the other gals eventually caught up with me. Somehow, I managed to be the last in the 3-rider train. Perfect! They both took turns pulling over the next couple of laps while I ‘sucked’ wheel and recovered. I could still see Anna up ahead and for a minute there, I thought the train my reel her in. Then my locomotive engines started to fade. It was time for me to make something happen for myself again. On the back, windy stretch when the other two riders seemed to be struggling the most, I took off and sprinted away from them (not out of the saddle, just ‘power pedaled’ away). Turned out that I made that move with 5 laps to go. I pushed myself and pretty easily increased the gap on the way to the finish line. Unfortunately, Anna also had picked up the pace, so I wasn’t able to close in on her and she won uncontested. Took having a tiny field for me to make the podium, but I did it! First time I’ve placed on any of these crits.
Race data: 14-ish laps, 101 miles, 28:50, HR ave=160, max=169, Speed ave=21 mph, max 30.3 mph est. Ave Pwr = 259w