Today’s race was slow from the start. There were only about 6 Cat 3/4 experienced riders at the crit so they combined the 3/4 and new Cat 4 racers. My strategy for today’s race was to ride among the top 10 riders and to just see how the race developed. I thought the Cat 3s would be much better than my usual group, and that’s why I was so surprised by how slow the race pace was. I was a bit annoyed by how people rode up front–slow and often 5 deep, no formation in mind at all! So I think I ended up being up front a couple of laps and together with 2 or 3 others we tried to set a better pace for the second half of the race. Not knowing how fast the others would be able to finish the race, I was hesitant to push the pace even more when we had 2 more laps to go, so instead I fell in behind another rider and waited patiently for the last lap to roll around. The pace didn’t change much at first for the final lap. I think I was somewhere among the top 2 riders going into the first turn. Thanks to my teammates Aaron and Andrew for sticking around and cheering me on during the race! Just after the second to last lap, Diana Hsu (a girl I’ve consistently been working with during these races), came out of nowhere. She had told me before the race that she was not in the mood to set the pace today and would hang back and then try to finish strong. Well, she kept to her word. I had told here something like what I wrote above–I wanted to get up front among the top 10 riders and then draft off of them until the end. I didn’t quite stick to my plan as I ended up pushing the pace for parts of the race. Back to the finish, when Diana rushed past me I tried to get out of the saddle as she was doing and sprint…ha! I need to practice sprinting like that before trying it in a crit. It felt like I was going no where. So I sat back down and just put my head down and gave it my all. Crossing the finish line felt like such a relief after a long, hard sprint. I beat Diana by what felt like an inch, and Chris told me later that there must of been at least a couple of bike lengths between us and the next place finishers. What a strong finish! I felt pretty tired after that (maybe riding 65 mi the day before was part of that feeling too), but it was nothing a few bagels with delicious pumpkin cream cheese, the rest of a Monster drink, some almonds, and water couldn’t cure (temporarily).
Half an hour later, Andrew, Chris, Jill Weinberg-Huyette, Brian Szykowny and I went for a nice afternoon ride up Mt. Hamilton. On our ascent we ran into Jeremy Loader and he joined us for half the initial climb (his second climb up the Monster). It was another great ride to end the weekend. Can’t wait until next Sunday!