Sunday, August 31, 2014

2014 Gateway Cup

So, my August was very uneventful from a biking perspective before Labor Day weekend.  But on the other hand it was a great rest month to prepare for cyclocross season.  Going into the weekend I was a little concerned for my bike fitness since most of my exercise during July and August was going running or playing Ultimate Frisbee.  So I went for a short ride on Wednesday, I felt fine so I was less worried for the weekend.

Friday evening was the first crit of the weekend which was the Tour de Lafayette.  I have never done this race because I could never make it in time for my race, but last year I remembered the change to central time would help me make it in plenty of time without having to leave too early in the morning.  The race was fun, but I could tell I hadn't race in a while especially race in a big field.  My race had 43 3/4 women.  Being toward the back of the pack was concerning so I spent most of my time toward the front because many women were not used to cornering in a group that big.  Coming into one lap to go, I was moving up to toward the front following someone else, but they stopped moving up halfway up the pack so I attacked around to the very front so I wouldn't be pinched into corner 1.  Someone else pulled around me just after that to hope to make a gap from the group but she took a bad line through corner 2 causing us to go onto the rough and lose all our momentum.  The pack had her lead the rest of the lap until just before corner 4 into the finish stretch where everyone took off into a sprint but I was tired so I finished toward the back of the field.  But my past teammate Vanessa got 1st, yay!

Saturday was the second crit of the weekend which was the Tour de Francis Park.  This race started off with me and my friend Karen leading the first lap while catching up how each other has been since the last time I saw her at the end of June.  After that the race pace picked up but I still spent a lot of time toward the front of the pack because a few women still were not holding their lines through the corners.  I'm not sure what was happening to everyone during the race but in the second half of the race there seemed to be one or two women coming in from the pit every lap.  This was started off with a crash in turn 3 about half way through the race I was just in front and to the outside of this so I was fortunate to not be behind this when someone crashed when pinched into the corner.  After another couple of laps I went to the front to push the pace a little faster and then about half way down the 3rd straight two women went down hard taking a few others with them.  The two that went down hard remained down on the course for the rest of the race being assessed by medical.  On the last lap just before turn 3, my friend/past teammate Kelly went to the front to lead out her teammate (also my past teammate) Vanessa.  Vanessa got 2nd, Kelly got 5th, and then with my so-so position into the sprint I got 13th out of 40.

Sunday was the third crit of the weekend which was the Giro della Montagna.  This race is in the neighborhood called The Hill.  Compared to Pittsburgh the "hill" on the course is nothing, but it is significant to make the race interesting and a little harder for people to just sit in the pack.  I've never been good at this course because of the downhill the leads into the finish line.  Having a good finish is all about having good position into the last corner rather than how good you are at sprinting.  Since I never seem to have good position into the last corner I make up for it on other courses by sprinting faster.  Based on the crashes Saturday I again did not want to be toward the back which was a good choice because there was a crash mid way up the straight uphill with 4 laps to go.  I do not understand the crashes on the straights but something had to happen.  Vanessa got 2nd again, Kelly went on vacation so she wasn't there, and I got 18th out of 41.

Monday will be the Benton Park Classic, which has always been my favorite race of the weekend.  Ten corner figure eight course, I am so excited! But based on the field over the weekend I will again be trying to spend most of the race toward the front of the pack to hopefully avoid a crash that may happen toward the back.