Sunday was the Race Ave Crit, a PA Bar race, just outside of downtown Lancaster.
Before the race started, we got some excellent strategy coaching from Darco. We knew going in that Monica and I had the best chance of competing in this Women’s Open, so the rest of the 3’s was tasked with support and the 4’s were tasked with just staying strong in a hard race. Right off the bat, some of the 1’s and 2’s – Jacqueline McClure, Deborah LeedaleBrown, and Meredith Ehn tried to shed the 4’s and that they did – though looking back on it now I wish we went even harder to get rid of a few more. We had a single file line for the first two laps or so and then settled into a pretty good pace. Throughout the entire race, I sat right on the wheel of Jacqueline, Deb, or Meredith, keeping myself 3rd/4th wheel. The corners were much safer and cleaner up at the front. It’s always sketchy back in the middle of the field in a women’s open. Monica got crashed out by two other riders in one of the earlier laps, thankfully with no injury or bike damage. She whipped around the 3rd corner, avoided the 2 down riders, and jumped the curb to gracefully crash on the grass. Sophia and Lindsey who were 30 seconds off the back chose to drop out of the race to provide that teammate support for Monica and get her back up and to the pit so she could jump back in. Monica is so strong, she got back in the race and spent a little bit too much time at the front. It’s something we both need to work on, but I know we both hate going slow and losing positioning because of getting swarmed. Throughout the entire race, there were occasional solo riders who made moves but eventually got pulled back.
At 4 to go, we heard the prime bell, and a CAWES rider took off for the prime and got about a 10 -15 second lead for the next 3 laps. I didn’t know if it was Becky Chan (Cat 2) or Kathleen Wulfkuhle (Cat 2), but I didn’t want her to win. Of course no one else wanted to put in the effort with 1 to go, but I put in a 30 second pull, got that momentum and the group caught her. I had enough time to slip back in the field, catch my breath, re-position myself for the final corner on the inside to then start the 0.4 mile uphill sprint finish. I went into the final corner maybe 7th or 8th wheel but had the whole right hand side of the road open to me. I didn’t want to get in that open road yet though because it’s a long uphill sprint finish with a slight headwind. With 0.3 mi or so to go, I saw Monica come around me, so I slipped behind her as she started her sprint, not intentionally a lead out, but it did a good job as she started to fade just a hair before the finish line. I came around her as on the left hand side another woman was making her move. The woman was Sarah Lowery, an Artemis Cat 4, who took the win at the line ahead of me, then Monica. All very close. Good day all around though. Great experience for our newer riders: Phoebe and Modesta who stayed in the race until they got pulled. And Monica and I are proud of our result, beating out all those 1’s and 2’s.
Big shout out to Darco for the advice and the in-race coaching!
Also: Big shout out to Melissa Hiller for winning and Kristie Nichols for placing 2nd in the Women’s 35+ field that morning!