First race of the season was CCCX #2, on Keith DeFiebre’s Seaside Bay View Course. It’s great to have people like Keith as a local race promoter and integral part of our Monterey Peninsula cycling community. I like that course for its challenging 180 degree turns, and was looking forward to starting the season the right way. One of the racers I most looked up to from my 2015 racing experience, Mary Maroon, was present and it became a showdown between the two of us in the end. I played my cards nicely, positioned myself perfectly coming out of the final turn and accelerated to the win.

I watched a few of the men’s races, Chris’s race included, and it was awesome to see his team show up in full force. Our locally residing  road race national champion, Scott Giles, did what he does best and held off the next place finisher (Chris) after attacking off the front. He even jumped off his bike to give his wonderful wife and my friend Katy Giles a kiss! What a gentleman!

Next up was a race I had heard about last year. Napa’s Cherry Pie Criterium. Guess what prestigious award the winner receives…

A BIG CHERRY PIE! I wanted that pie. So, took advantage of all the momentum leading into the first prime lap and after out-sprinting the other prime contestants, I kept the pace up and created a gap between the three remaining prime-sprinters and the rest of the field. Maintaining a high pace, the other two on my wheel quickly fell off and I realized, I had to either fully commit to my break or fall back to the rest of the field. I went for it. Not only did I maintain my break, I swooped up all the primes, and ended up lapping the field by 1.5x. Wow! That was hard work but incredibly fun. I’d like to try that again in the future. The Cherry Pie Crit course was a new one. They had moved the course to a parking lot with several 90 degree turns, then a roundabout and the finish is after a riser and up a false flat. It’s a great course and the promoters did a fantastic job putting together this race.

In anticipation of racing with my teammate and team director, Kelli Samuelson, we hit up Folsom Winter Criterium and Copper Town Circuit race next. To make the most out of the weekend and since these were still tune-up races for the upcoming Chico Stage Race, both Chris and I mentored the beginner races in the mornings. It’s great to have a chance to talk to newbies or returning racers about strategy and the races pre- and post-events. Having company as mentors is also good, and I was lucky to have the awesome Laurel Green as the captain of our mentor duo. Laurel is wonderful. You know what, she was my mentor two years ago when I first started racing!

The Pro 1/2 race at Folsom was OK. Kudos to Diane Moug for her decisive and well-timed counterattack after I went for an intermediate prime sprint. She soloed away and I was left to lead the chase. With Diane off the front and the field disorganized, I settled for winning the field sprint for 2nd. Team Razzle Dazzle did an excellent job getting three girls to the front with half a lap to go and organizing their leadout train. It was hard fought, but I managed to win the bunch sprint.

Copper Town Circuit Race was the following day. After a good night’s sleep at our host, David Anton’s house, Chris and I drove to the Copperopolis area for an early morning mentoring session. It was a frigid morning out in beautiful nowhere.

Despite the low pre-reg for my P 1/2 race, more lined up at the start than expected. Among them were 3 Metromint. The last two years taught me a lot about the race tactics this team likes to exhibit. Instead of succumbing to frustration or the need to be vocal, I played their game right back to them and thoroughly enjoyed it. After one of the other non-Minty racers, Lisa Cordova, attacked going into the 180 degree turn, I saw my opportunity to create chaos. I counter attacked out of the turn which shattered the field. Remaining with me were Lisa and Rikke Jeppesen. After many good rotations at the front between Lisa and me, Lisa attacked as we headed out of the Copper Towncenter. I conveniently stayed at the back and recognized that Rikke was not going to do anything at the front. So I countered going over the first riser, and I countered HARD. Keeping my head down and pushing a high wattage, I realized this was it! Just like at Cherry Pie, I wanted to stay off the front. Coming through the start/finish I had a 20 second gap on Rikke. The other Metromints had caught Lisa. With Chico coming up, I knew I could use this race as a good practice for time trialing. This course is known for its windy sections and today was very rough. Nevertheless, I tried to work on keeping an efficient pedal stroke and staying as aerodynamic with my position on the bike as possible. In the end, I won with a 5 minute gap on the rest of the field and rolled through the finish with a big smile on my face!

Oh, I almost forgot. I have been racing on our aluminum team training wheels as of late, custom built by Luxe Wheelworks with Chris King Hubs and Challenge Strada Bianca Open Tubular Tires. I absolutely am in love with the set-up. The wheels are light, stiff and responsive! Combined with the magnificent buzzing of the Chris King hubs, the Challenge tires provide a buttery, smooth ride and confidence in cornering and descending. I really appreciate the equipment sponsorship from my team LA Sweat this year!

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