At first I wasn’t excited to register and race due to a long winter of general laziness but I thought it might throw some motivation my way if I had something to work towards. Just two days before the race is scheduled, I come down with a solid sinus infection, so all expectations for the race went quickly out of the window.
Day of the race, I wake up, chug some warm coffee, give myself a quick pep talk and went on my way. After a quick warm up across town to grab a Laser Cats jersey, I ripped down to the naval yard to meet up with my teammate, Michaela, and some of the ladies from the Women Bike PHL Devo Squad. I arrive, met with smiles from Michaela and a STRONG gust of wind, I snag my number and hop on my bike. Michaela and I warm up together real quick with some quick sprints and head to the staging area. That’s when the nerves kick in. I see some familiar faces that I met at races last season: Allie McCabe of Team EPS/cssp and Maria Dziembowska of Cawes p/b Specialized. I instantly knew this would be a tough race, but at least I knew who to watch and which wheels to stick onto.
The race starts, and it’s SLOW. I’ve always known that my patience has never been the best but I knew I’d have to wait conserve energy in case someone else decided to push the pace. We start lap 3 and around turn 1, Allie jumps quick. Luckily, Maria was on her wheel and I was stuck to her’s. The three of us had a break! we held the pace for 2 laps, while working together and taking pulls. I came off of my pull and hopped onto the back of our group, looked over my right shoulder and all of a sudden, two ladies, Carolyn Auwaerter and Annie Monjar from Women Bike PHL, bridged our gap! Three suddenly became five and I knew this would end in a very exciting way.
The five of us pushed the pace even harder, and our gap grew to nearly half of a lap. We worked together, took pulls when needed. The wind picked up with about 5 laps to go, making the straight before turn 4 absolutely BRUTAL. I still felt okay for the next couple laps but I could tell that Allie was starting to pop so when it was my time to pull, I made sure to push the pace a little to try and tire her out, especially when coming into the final straight.
There’s the bell for the last lap! The pace gets pushed a little faster with Annie taking the pull through the line. Just as we go around turn two, Annie jumps! She build a couple second gap between me and the rest of the group. I try to bridge before the last windy straight but couldn’t quite get there. I push harder, throw myself deep in the red and just hammer around the final turn. I get out of my saddle and begin to sprint! I feel great! I get to what I THINK the line is and let up once I cross and Carolyn shoots past me. I realize then that she beat me to the ACTUAL finish line. I get a little disappointed but I’m still happy with getting on the podium!
Conclusion: It was a super solid first race of the season. I felt really good the whole time and I finally feel like I understand how to read the other riders in a race. I wasn’t sure I had it in me when I began the day, since I was sick, but I’m really glad that I went and did it anyways. I had forgotten how much fun doing crits are, since I only did a few last spring, but now i can’t wait to do a ton more!