A First Win at PIR

Report by Marayah Deese

I spent all morning and afternoon yesterday debating on whether or not to race. I’m glad I did. Yes, it was nasty out, but there’s something so jarring about the experience of driving rain and wind and fighting together in a group that I end up loving it. I’m not totally sure why. Also, being on the podium (third) for series points was a decent motivator.
I owe a lot of this particular race success to Heather, who took me aside special a couple weeks ago and went over sprint technique. It was tremendously helpful. I guess a part of me feels similar to how Annie was describing Vance Creek RR, and being challenged not to pigeon-hole yourself as a rider. Me? A stubby-legged, five foot tall…sprinter? Naw. Yesterdays group was small (eight ladies), but competitive. The winners of two road races this year were present, in addition to a few more ladies who generally place in the top five, as well as the PIR series leader. To be honest, when a group of us surged forward on the bell lap for yesterday’s hotspot and I realized I crossed the finish line first, my initial set of thoughts were more along the lines of, “why’d they let me beat them?”, followed by “Crap, I used up a good chunk of my energy between taking long pulls, and now this. I’m going to get blown out the back.” It took a solid 20 seconds of winding down (with Susannah Hart, the other primary series contender) for the group to catch up…and we slid back in. Easy peasy.
The next few laps were similarly rough. I need clear lenses for my glasses. I couldn’t see with mine on so I went without, and spent most of the race trying to figure out how to draft while also trying to see through what felt like a garden hose pointing at me from the wheel in front. Breathing was a different battle entirely. I had specifically told myself that I needed to be better about sitting in and not working too much for this race. The irony…
At one lap to go three of us turned up the pace but were passed by the senior women around the S-bends before the final corner/straight. This was a problem, because we were cooking right along and picking up speed so in the final straightaway, we were close to the back of their field again. We chose to neutralize and have a clean go at the sprint without folks in our way by taking another lap (though not without a few angry words from a couple ladies who reeeeeally didn’t want race any longer than was absolutely necessary). One more. Pace up, pick clean lines and move fluid through the wet corners, stay off the brakes. Back to the finishing straight again. I locked onto the wheel in front of me, put my head down far enough to (sortof) see, and we were off. Unlike so many times before, in this sprint people seemed to have learned to be patient. Full gas started later than it has recently. Shortly after the 200 meter mark, I realized I was in danger of being boxed in and jumped. I had found a gear that seemed just right, got away, accelerated until spinning out, dropped down a little more and pushed hard, going over the steps just exactly like Heather had instructed before. Then, I glanced around after rolling through the finish. I was alone.

It’s a pretty cool feeling, as Annie mentioned previously, to come to the realization that one is capable of accomplishing so much more than they sometimes give themselves credit for. I’m going to keep that in my head from now on. As for the series, it’d be rad to podium in this one because after short track starts, we all know where my focus is going to shift on Monday nights. I’m sitting just two points off of first now, and thankful for this positive swing in momentum after a rough early season of injury and recovery. Bring on the races!

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