After waiting out at the course for most of the day and seeing all of you guys race, I was getting a bit nervous when other girls finally started showing up around 12:30ish. My Category 4 field consisted of 15 riders but since there were only 3 Pro/1/2/3 and 4 Masters (35+ Cat 1/2/3/4), they let us all race together. It made it a bit difficult to know exactly who you had to watch out for since we had about a second to memorize who was in our field.
My goal for this race was to use what happened in the previous Salinas Valley Criterium last weekend to my advantage. I committed to not allowing a single gap to form between me and an attacker or break-away group, and to wait patiently until the end before expending too much energy. Thanks to everyone for sharing their opinion of how I had raced last weekend and giving me some constructive feedback.
Right from the start, the field settled into a good pace and two Pro girls set the tone for the first lap. It wasn’t bad at all. Three times the Pro girl from Threshold Sports tried to pull away on the rolling hills, but as I maintained my position in the top 3-6 girls, I was able to catch her again every time she attacked. It was a bit of hard work since sometimes the Integrity team (which had 3 riders competing) would also send a girl to attack. After the first lap I noticed that I really am slow on my descents so after lap 1 I always positioned myself right at the front of the pack and even tried to do some small attacks of my own on the rollers leading up to the steep descent. I knew the other girls would catch back up to me, so I had to use my strength to make gains on the other riders at the final stretch of the descent.
Our race came down to the final descent, the momentum going into the final turn, and the sprint to the finish line. I was in good position going down the hill (1st to start, and then moved into 4th), had great momentum and worked myself into 3rd going into the last turn, and even though two girls from the Fresno Integrity team tried to block me leading up to the finish, I was able to sprint around them. Yaya, my first win in a RR!! I felt such relief after crossing the finish line since I knew I had done everything I had set my mind to, and I had used my experiences from the previous race and converted the frustration into something positive instead. I was also happy to be able to win based on my sprint. I had done a couple of sprints during last week’s ride along Asilomar and I could tell I was much more comfortable getting out of the saddle and sprinting hard. It was also good to know that I can stick to some of the Pro/1/2/3 cyclists in this area.
Here some photos from the other races throughout the day: