Crit weekend

Race report by Steph Chase

I had a fun weekend testing my legs and trying some new courses up in Washington. The Volunteer Park course is a kinder, gentler Tabor circuit up on Capital Hill while the Tacoma Twilight was a rolling, stretched-out barbell-shapped course. We had a healthy-sized group for Saturday with 35 ladies on the start line and about half that on Sunday in Tacoma.

Volunteer Park: after not really racing since April and just getting over being sick, I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen during the race. I had been wrestling with some of the standard pre-race excuses/inner monologue of “but I’m on a compact and everyone else will have a bigger gear — no, leg speed is more important that pushing a 53×12″ and “it’s so hot and I don’t race well in the heat — well, if you want to race in the summer you better get used to heat,” but I felt pretty calm and confident after a couple laps that I could have a decent finish especially after I saw that we had lost a quarter of the field about halfway through the race. With two laps to go, I knew where I wanted to be for the final sprint but the last time up the hill I found myself on the wrong side, and unable to move around effectively, had to go for the sprint on the windier side. Ended up 3rd in the cat 3s and 7th overall.

Tacoma Twilight: Saturday’s race felt like a stepping stone both physically and mentally. Going into Sunday, I decided I was either going to try and get in a break or try for a top 5 overall. About halfway through the race, someone took a flyer and got a gap off the front. She had been off the front for about a half a lap when another rider attempted to bridge. Thinking that this could be a solid move I jumped and made it up to the bridge before pulling around trying to keep going for the leader. We had gone through a couple corners when I looked under my arm and saw the entire field latched onto my wheel. I was “that guy” who dragged everyone else along inside of getting separation. After the field came back together for a couple more laps, a bell was run for a preme and it seemed like time to go. There were less than 10 laps remaining and if something was going to get away and stick, it would have to happen now. I waited a bit and then jumped. After three corners I looked back and saw no one; I hit the finishing straight, picked up the preme, heard I had 10 seconds and decided to keep going. Here’s the part of the story where I should mention that I had drank part of a really milky yogurt smoothie that afternoon, which was an exceptionally poor dietary decision, and was in the process of literally coming back up to haunt me. But spurned on by cheers of “Go Portland!” and time checks that grew to 15 seconds (not really enough gap to stay away for the whole race but enough to make it feel like a lead), I lasted a couple more laps and a couple more premes until the field caught me with 2 to go. I settled back in, dropped my heart rate and my stomach back down. The finish came and I didn’t even get out of the saddle but still managed 1st in the cat 3s and 7th overall again.

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