Michaela: Crits do not fall into what I could consider my comfort zone when it comes to cycling. So I was surprised with myself when I found myself registering for another one after my less than stellar result at Navy Yard. However this would only be my third one, and the team has been so positive and supportive of me I was less scared of coming in second to last like I have in my previous two, plus Sam was also racing so if nothing else maybe I could help her out.
The night before I actually slept, which isn’t always the case with me before races since I usually let my nerves get the best of me. I met up with Sam bright and early to drive out to Lower Providence together, and we arrived with plenty of time to register, warm up and do a little socializing. Finally we start to line up, there are fourteen women racing, I only recognize two of them besides Sam, any they are strong, but I mostly do not know what to expect.
Sam: So, I set out to do a little better this race than last week’s Navy Yard crit. All week, I hyped up Michaela; we lurked the registration site to see who our competition would be. We discuss minor tactics (i.e. who’s wheel to sit on, how technical the course was, etc.). Patience is something I’m working on, when it comes to racing. After a quick pep-talk from my husband the night before, I knew I had to sit and wait, in order to do well.
Michaela meets me in the morning; we load up the car and we’re on our way. We drink cold brew coffee and discuss expectations and nerves. When arrive in time to watch the Men’s cat 5 field, and do a little warm up. It’s time to line up! Here we go!
Michaela: The race started out pretty slow, but after lap three the pace started to pick up. There were a few attempts at attacks, but all of them got caught back almost immediately. Sam and I just sat in the back, mostly right next to each other. We get to the last few laps and I am stoked that I am still in the pack. I look around and count, there are two or three ladies that got dropped off the back. Well, at least I’ll be doing better than second to last this time.
We get to the second to last lap, the pace quickens noticeably, but no one really attacks. Final lap starts, still no attacks. Turn one, turn two, nothing. We get around turn three and I realize that with me sitting in the back on the outside with Sam right next to me, I should lead her out. I quickly glance over and call out “yo, Sam, grab my wheel,” and I take off.
I make it around turn four with no one around me but Sam right on my wheel. She launches past me, and I prepare to get swallowed back, so I let up for half a second. But no one is around me, better keep sprinting! I almost catch up to Sam, and we cross the line in a close first and second, a quick glance back and I see that our gap was HUGE. I could barely believe it, two Laser Cats on the podium and one of them is ME? I couldn’t have asked for a better team to share my first podium with.
Sam: The race started pretty slow. I could tell a lot of the riders were either new to racing or nervous since there was a lot of braking before the turns. The field stayed together for the first few laps. Allie McCabe (Team EPS) pushed the pace a little bit but was immediately sucked back in. It felt as though only 3 laps had gone by but the lap card read only 6 laps left! ALREADY?? Okay, time to speed up!
I did my best to hide in the middle of the pack to protect myself from the gnarly crosswind around the first turn. I made sure to stay within the front half of the field so I could be ready to jump at the right time. Michaela and I sat in to conserve energy, and we noticed most of the ladies were starting to get tired as the wind picked up. There’s the bell! Here we go!
Naturally, the pace picks up. I got pushed to the outside of the field so I was in the crosswind getting a bit tired. Coming around turn 2, I fit myself back in the middle of pack with Michaela on my wheel. Around turn 3, I expect there to be a jump, but no one went. Just before turn 4, I see Michaela out of the corner of my eye and I hear her say “GRAB MY WHEEL!” I hop on and we just go for it. We go around the final turn and floor it! Out of the saddle, she leads me out and I jump. The slight headwind tires me out and I sit back down with 20 yards to go. I hear Michaela yell next to me to keep going and we cross the line together with a couple inches gap. First and second! I owe so much of the win to Michaela. I almost didn’t have the energy to make it and she got me there. Team work makes the dream work! Plus, I won a SWEET locally-made cutting board!
My take-away from this race, is that patience really pays off. In other races, I would work too hard and exhaust myself by the time it came to sprint to the finish. This is also the first race I’ve done where I’ve felt the importance of teamwork. I’m so excited at my progress and I’m so pumped to see where this season takes me and the rest of the Cat 4 ladies on our squad!