Land Park Criterium Cat. 4 Women 3-21-10
Being cautious by nature, combined with becoming a cyclist at the age of 39 after 6 years of rehabilitation and multiple knee reconstruction surgeries, racing was not in my vocabulary. I did not want to up the crash ante at all. Two years ago when I did decide to give it a try I made Criteriums against my religion. But with last weeks upgrade denial (I had accidentaly given myself 2 points too many for a circuit race thinking it was the same value as a road race), I found myself officially desperate and willing to give one a try.
Off Amy and I went to Sacremento last Sunday to race the Land Park Criterium. This was a super fun course with some sweeping turns on one half and a few technical turns on the back side. They had 2 mentors take us through the course to show us some good lines through the corners. Believe me, I was listening closely to every tip they gave on how to keep the race safe.
As we were in one of the final corners of this educational lap, there was a loud “kerpow!” Was that me? Yes, I had a blowout. Someone yelled, “quick, get a wheel at neutral support!” I rolled up to the start line and asked if there was a wheel I could borrow. Nope. No wheels. A woman said, “Here, take my wheel.” I said “what about you?” Don’t worry, I race later and I’ll fix your flat...here” and she quickly put her wheel on my bike. What a gal. Boom. The race starts. Plenty of adrenaline was going now and I quickly was about 3rd wheel in a field of 33.
Apparently the pace of this race was high. It stayed strung out and safe. I stayed in the first 5 or so wheels pretty much the entire race. There were constant fun dynamics. I got in both breaks. The second one looked particularly threatening. I jumped on the wheel of the woman who ended up winning and we bridged a pretty big gap together. Our break of 5 eventually got caught with 10+ minutes left to race. I sat in for the first time to try to get a bit of recovery. Eventually moving forward, for some unknown reason I decided to attack from about 4th wheel with 1 full lap to go. Not sure why I did this as my original idea was to go after the last corner (would have been much more sensible.) I got a big gap but no one had come with me. Oh well, I was committed now. I told myself, “go Michele go, only a 3+ minute effort.” I flew through the corners. They looked like they were gaining on me but I still had a huge gap. Came into the final corner and stretch into a head wind. I am thinking this might work. Almost to the line. Now my legs were really starting to load. Almost to the line...pushing with all I had I hear wheels behind me just a few feet from the line. Whoosh, whoosh (x11) sprint past me at the finish. Not this time. It was 12th place for me. My first Criterium was an absolute blast and totally surprised me. This one felt safer than a flat road race. I had a blast riding aggressively and staying in the front. Loved the short, intense effort, constant action and not being totally destroyed after the race.