So Close!

     This has been the Summer of almosts.  I raced my first road criterium a couple of years ago and fell in love with the rush.  I swore that I would win one before I upgraded to Cat 3.  This season began with a couple of mediocre finishes in some early season races, I was definitely still feeling the effects of my broken femur from August of last year.  I spent most of my Spring just trying to find my form and confidence which I had left in behind in a Vancouver General recovery room. I felt slow, weak and was afraid of my own shadow on the bike.  I have never felt so incapable of winning a race in my life.   I needed a win this year.  I needed my confidence back.

   My first A race of the year was the Davis 4th of July Crit and I had the advantage of having my team mate and best friend Kasea working for me.  My training had been going well and I was feeling way stronger than I had been in the Spring.  I decided last year that Davis was to be an A race after I took 5th in the sprint for the largest crowd I had ever raced in front of, I wanted a do-over, I needed to cross the finish line first next time.  One year later, the do-over day had arrived, and our plan was to keep complete control of the race.  We stayed near the front and allowed no attacks to succeed, while Kasea collected a nice bundle of primes!  When the last lap bell rang, Kasea went to the front with me right on her wheel.  We drilled the last lap and came around the final corner in first and second, Kasea leading me out for the sprint.  I had to go earlier than I wanted when Kasea faded on the straight.  I did not know at the time that her front tire was going flat!  I was out sprinted by a bike length and had to be happy with second.  I can only wonder if we would have pulled it off without that pesky flat.  Next time…

     Our next race was the Lodi Cyclefest Criterium, where I was to work for Kasea – this was her do-over race.  We went into the race with the same plan, stay in the front and not let anyone get away.  This was a 3/4 race, which means it was a combined category race, in which we would not be picked separately, so we had our work cut out for us racing against the higher category women.  We were perfect, Kasea once again managed to snag a prime even though she was supposed to be resting 🙂  and all attacks were discouraged, no one was strong enough to get the jump on us.  As the final lap approached, the pace picked up and we went to the front.  A couple of girls got around us before the final two turns and we jumped on their wheel.  Coming out of the final corner, the sprint started immediately.  I was patient and wound up my pace to get Kasea up to speed.  As the finish line approached, I was expecting Kasea to slingshot around me and go for the win.  Not seeing her, I began to sprint myself, but a little too late.  As I charged for the line, a girl in front of me moved over right into me.  We were pushing elbows but I got past her without a crash.  I ended up 3rd.  Not bad for a last minute sprint.  But what happened to Kasea?  She can outsprint me any day.  We did a cool down lap together and she was pretty upset.  She was also recovering from an injury and her head won’t let her sprint to her potential for fear of re-injury.  I know the feeling.  Our coach has some ideas to help her get past this, and I will help any way I can.   This race yours next year Kasea.   So close!!!

     My next chance came at the Menlo Park Grand Prix.  This race would be an opportunity for me to race in the Women’s Master’s State Champ race with one of my heroes, Mary Maroon.   She is awesome, look her up!  Also, for the first time, I would get to race two Crits in one day.  The Championship race was at 1pm, and the regular Women’s Cat 4 race was at 4pm – Kasea would get to race this one with me, she is not old enough to be a master yet 🙂  The Master’s Champ race was pretty fast.  I knew I would have to conserve for the next race, which I had a much better chance of winning.  I tried to stay on Mary’s wheel, but it was no secret that that was the place to be.  I ended up 6th, one off the podium in my age category.  Looking back, I wish I had gave it all in the Championship race.  Let me tell you why.
     So Kasea and I lined up for the Cat 4 race, which was divided into Cat 4 open, and Cat 4 35 plus.  I am old, so 35 plus was the place for me, especially since were to be picked separately.  This race was hard.  My legs hurt from the earlier race, and there were lots of attacks.  We kept them in check for the most part, then in the last three laps, Kasea and a Davis girl got a gap and I did my best to give them as much space as possible, but that is hard without more team mates.  They stayed away ’til almost the end of the last lap when we caught them in the final chicane.  I sprinted with everything I had and ended up in third, throwing my bike forward for the first time ever to beat out 4th place.  Stoked I was pretty sure I got third, it took me a few minutes to realize that I might have actually won my age group!  I eagerly awaited for the results to be posted, anticipating my first and biggest win ever.  Racers hung like vultures around the results table, me included.  Finally the official taped my fate to the plastic foldout table.  I looked for my name in the 35 plus 4s and it wasn’t there.  WTF??  I quickly scanned down to the 4’s results, there I was in 3rd.  As calmly as I could, I explained to the official that I was scored in the wrong class.  Apparently, it turns out I was given the wrong number at registration that morning.  No big deal, after a quick discussion with the head official, I was told the result would be changed.  Yay!  I won!  Not so fast…  The other girls apparently were not happy.  They argued that my having the wrong number changed the race and that I would not have placed where I did had I had the right number pinned to my side.  The officials took the side of the other girls and I was stripped of my win.  I smiled on the podium with my third place in the wrong category, and went home more disappointed than I have been in a very long time.  I should be happy with a 3rd right?  Not so much. 

     So there it is, so close, yet so far.  I am racing Downieville this weekend which I am in no way ready for, and I don’t know what after that.  Cross is coming and I am hoping my crit fitness will help out with that, but the excitement is kind of gone.  The goal now is to get Kasea the points she needs to upgrade to Cat 3.  I am very close to having all mine and she needs about 10 more.  Once we upgrade to Cat 3, the game is going to get a whole lot harder.  I think we can still win, but it is going to take some serious work, and it will probably be a while before we get there.  ‘Til then, I guess we just keep trying.

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