Clara, Jade and Hilary warming up at our host house, which was on turn one of the crit!
Hailing from the industrial crit capital of the country, the IE, I was feeling primed and ready to race the Mt. Hood crit. The field was smaller than the NRC crits with less horse power on a course I could dig my pedals into. I was ready for redemption and some good juju. But usually the things we want the most we just can not have. I mean, all I wanted to do was ride with my team and be useful.
However I am a diesel and it takes me a few, er, laps, to warm up to the pace of crits especially with stacked up fatigue. I thought I warmed up well enough, but as I rode the back 1/3 of the group, trying to move up but kept finding myself in the gnarly headwind as the peloton strung out, a girl crashed in front of me and as I avoided it I saw a massive split created and BOOM I was dropped. IN A CRIT! I stayed in at San Dimas, Redlands, Gila, and now I got dropped. At precisely the same moment, teammate Jade followed an attack and got in the break as per our plan. One out the back, one out the front. It seems that whenever I am suffering like a dog trying to stay in, a teammate is cranking up the pace the front making my efforts that much more futile. Pretty funny if you think about it actually.
Awesome host house art!
Here is where I finally got mad. I haven't raced mad in years but I was pissed! I was embarrassed because I knew I could be in the race, I had committed to specific jobs and now I would spend over 20 minutes of a 40 minute crit CHASING!!! Michael was at the base of the climb and just kept telling me to relax and sit but the chase group was HORRIBLE. Girls attacking the chase, braking hard in the turns. You know it is super bad if I am telling girls to get off the brakes! There was one descending right had 90 degree turn where everyone was crashing. A girl in the chase group was riding straight out of the apex! I yelled at her to turn and she said "I'm so scared, this is so scary!" Really?! Then get to the back!!!
I saw the field slow and widen through the start finish and knew this was the chance to make junction. I jumped, found the group and pedalled to the front to find Clara, where I was supposed to be the whole race.
We got 2nd on the day. Clara tied with Kristen Armstrong of Peanut Butter 13 seconds back from first place. Sunday's road race was going to be a throw-down.
Before going to Gila, one of my many advisers told me "Your going to have develop an extremely tough upper lip and hold your head high." And that's just what I had to do. No time to doubt, no time to question my spot or what I was doing there. I knew that if I could chase back on and go straight to the front it isn't a fitness issue. It just always seems to be something...In this environment, I have the great opportunity to learn. Clara sat me down and said "Joy you are better than this! What can we fix." Awesome. Teach me, let me learn! Having her and Michael willing to spend a few minutes to help me eventually reach my potential was so great.
It's been said that Clara is worth three riders on the team with strength, knowledge, skill and know-how. Then it was said that I was worth three riders for the team in flats, crashes, mechanicals, and straight up bad luck. We gotta balance each other out. And I am totally stoked on my position. :)
I'm a busy bee and although our staff had an awesome director and mechanic, we were lacking a swanny. And a dishwasher. Bottle prep is actually slightly theraputic. Lots on my mind so might as well be productive! And we were going to need dozens of bottles for the last stage!!