Cherry Pie Criterium - February 5, 2012
This was a 30 minute crit on the outskirts of Napa. Women Category 4 (27 in total) and women 15-18 (about 5). Lots of college girls. (Crit = multiple laps, usually for time, on a short course). I'd never raced it and the only time I'd spectated was 2009, the week after my crash at the Squirrely Bird, so Nole drove us up and I hobbled around in lots of pain so I may have forgot a few things, like the steepness of the hill.
What you find in the early season races are fields with (1) people who are really fit since they are a few points from moving up to Cat. 3 so they want to do well in the early races and Cat up; (2) brand new racers with fitness and skills ranging all over the place; and (3) people like me who need more fitness in the early season. Something about 193 hours billed for work in January didn't help that fitness.
Got up at 5AM and went up to Napa early since my 12 yo friend Allie raced in the second race. She did OK considering she's not that experienced with shifting (or brakes!) She was 4th out of 6 and with more fitness and experience, she'll be ripping it up! Not to mention, she has game OFF the bike!
After her race I got on the rollers and did 20 minutes of warm up and got a sweat going and did a few high cadence spin ups to get my breathing going. Then I rode over and did a couple of short hill repeats and also did one loop of the course since I'd not seen the entire thing.
The start of the race is downhill and then a hard right, sweeping left past the hotel, a hard left, another left a block later (into the left side of a road with a curbed/grass median). Then a chicane to go from the left side of the road to the right, then up the hill (a little over 1 mile total). Yes, the hill was harder than I remembered. Looking at my Strava, it was 6-9% in places and I had to stand up every time. At the top we did a 180 and went back down the hill. I ended up going up that hill 8 times.
On the start, I hung with the pack near the back until just before the hill, then I got popped off with another gal (Davis junior "DJr"). She would get ahead of me on the hill and I'd catch back on on the backside. What was nice was railing around that first right corner at full speed without touching the brakes. My max speed was 32 mph. Whee!
About halfway through the race, DJr and I got caught by the moto and the first group of 4-5 and they all passed. No one else caught us or passed. It stayed like that all the way until the last time up the hill, bell lap. I stuck closer to DJr that time up the hill and then caught back on to her wheel sooner on the downhill and went in front of her. Then on the last time up the hill (finish line about 3/4 the way up), she wasn't coming around me. Really? I kept pushing and with about 25 meters to go, I take a little glance back and see she's trying to come up on me and she was almost at my back wheel, so I just dug in hard and stayed in front of her. Yea, not last! It's the small victories.
Goals met: Ride hard the entire way (don't give up); don't get pulled; stay upright! Met all three of those! So, pretty happy with the day.
Post-race cool down, then off to breakfast with Allie, Katy and Tim. Then home to watch the Super Bowl.