This is by far the most exciting stage to spectate at. The boards rattle, the announcer yells, the speeds arch over 32 MPH, it's pure fun. The local norm for a crit race is 45-50 minutes with 4 turns and maybe 30 women, but that would be pushing it.
This stage boasted 9 technical turns, 90 women and 60 minutes. I learned very fast at SDSR that racing a crit at this level is completely different than at the local races. Locally I can ride the front, get in breaks and be an active part of the race. At SDSR I played tail-gunner for the majority of the race with my heart rate redlined the entire time. It took me 40 minutes to get to the front of the race where Beatrice was. 40!
1. Get off the back!
2. Make time (you had to complete 40 minutes of the race without getting pulled/crashing/mechanical in order to race on Sunday)
3. Race the ENTIRE race
4. Finish on the winners time - meaning being IN the group until the end
Quick and Dirty: All goals achieved, well #4 was slightly off, but not my fault and a whole other issue.
I was tired. No, exhausted. Race time wasn't until 2:30pm so that gave me more than enough time to conjure up exquisite ways to NOT complete the event. And plenty of time to eat and eat and eat. That's the thing with stage racing, you get so hungry!!
Warming up was tough. Only because I can't focus. And when I am nervous, I talk too much, and wander, and talk. Bonnie kept reminding me to get changed and focus. I decided to not warm up in the pits because there were too many people I know there, too many people to hug and high five, and focus was far from happening!
Rookie moves #2, #3: Media director of RBC Scott Welsh put me on the FRONT row. FRONT. but somehow, I got shuffled farther and farther back. To the back, behind everyone and no longer on the front. 3rd horrible mistake: DROPPED CHAIN ON THE START. Completely entirely LAST going into lap one. Seriously? Step up your game and at least half way set yourself up for success. Here goes tail gunning for 3 laps.
But I got to the group. And I started to move up. I knew that Erika and Beatrice would be at the front and Mara would be safely tucked in the middle. Just get to Mara. Work work work. Use the group. Stay on the wheels. There she is! "Mara, I'm here!" shuffle shuffle, start working to the middle again.
As the race progressed, I was able to move farther up the group, and feel slightly better. i was staying near Mara until the "incline" where her climbing prowess would move her up 15 wheels and my job of surfing the group would begin again.
This hour was slammed with emotions. Along the course I had dozens of supporters. From Team Redlands teammates, to students, old friends, and coworkers, people were cheering for me! It made me slightly emotional, and moderately misty eyed thinking about what an awesome opportunity I had fallen into. And I wanted to soak it up, every lung burning second of it. I also thought, well its ok if I fall out of the race, I win for showing up. No, wrong answer. Finish higher, get into group. Try not to look at Scott on the corner. Stop showing your suffering like a whipped dog. Pretty sure the girls in the race were getting annoyed with whoever this "Joy" was that everyone was cheering for. Such an awesome experience.
The pace of the race was insane, and the attacks kept on coming. The primes were ridiculous. It seemed like every lap there was something to sprint for. Money, Peanut butter, sprint points, or bonus seconds. I found myself sprinting in the drops as if coming in for the finish, but fighting to hold on to 55th position as the field strung out single file, fighting for a jar of peanut butter. Just give it to them!!!! just kidding. It was awesome that teammate Beatrice won the prime with 3 laps to go!
High light of the race: Lisa Campbell was super stressed (as were we all) about racing an NRC crit on 9 turns. She had a rough go at SDSR 6 turn crit so I was ELATED to see her coming up the group with about 6 laps to go. She was in the group, and moving well and railing it. Coming in hot to a turn, we were side by side and I told her "Lisa you are riding AWESOME today!!!!" and she stayed in for the finish. Small victory for some, huge victory for us!
I think I finished 60th and moved up to 63rd GC. oof.
It was nearly impossible to sleep! My endorphins were raging, my quads were screaming, and my head was spinning! The race was replaying through my mind. Every railing turn, every crash, every wrong line replayed over and over. Then started the Sunset Loop of Sunday careening through my head. Every. Single. Turn. :)