Saturday's win was seven years in the making....
2005- First big girl race as a category 3. Going into corner three, Miranda Moon crashes right in front of me and I go down, hard. I get up, brush myself off and am ready to get back in when I discover my handle bars are splintered in two. Lame sauce.
2006 - I get 6th - one spot out of the cash prizes.
2007 - A lingering hamstring injury flares up and I pull myself and get to watch as Karen Claeys gets in a breakaway with Jadine. Annette and Deb have a run in on the final lap and next thing we know we hear sirens.
2008 - In Blaine, Minnesota for a track race. Kept tabs on who won. The Ballard crit truly is the gem of Seattle's bike racing crits.
2009 - Tela wins! Though I'm not there to witness it. Must have been at another track race - San Jose, maybe?
2010 - I get 7th. Figured out that positioning is key in that final lap and if I really want it, I have to make the move on the back straight.
2011 - I dial in nutrition, sleep, make life as simple as possible, train right, keep track of my weight, and be super conscientious about everything I do to become the best bike racer I can be. I envision the race, being surrounded by competitors, feeling the wind on my body, the pavement passing beneath me. I keep my eyes up, focus and am 100% in the moment. This is exactly how it plays out in the race and I execute.
We had six HB ladies toe to the line for Saturday's notorious Ballard Crit. With big crowds and glory on the line - Beth, Julie, Liz, Heidi, Tela and I were ready to race our bikes. At registration I ran into Jadine - last year's winner and found out TGH had 10 women there. We certainly had our work cut out. A pre race discussion confirmed that if Liz or I were in a break, we'd be able to do what it takes. But if anyone else were, chase it down to keep things together and set up for the final sprint. This is exactly how it played out - except yours truly countered after a prime lap and found myself solo and at one point 18 seconds up the road, pedaling hard for 6 or so laps. Having friends yelling encouragement on the corners certainly helped - and I could hear Jill Talcott (GO TRIPPY!!!) loud and clearly and fought hard to stay away.
Eventually I got caught nearing corner three and Liz countered, perfectly. I was in the front and braked through the corners, slowing things up for the pack. But the group was having none of that action. Thankfully for me we had 16 more minutes left in the race so I was able to recover for the final sprint.
Going into the final three laps, I'm positioned well right on our designated HB train. Beth is leading with Tela directly behind her, and I'm on Tela's wheel. All I can think is - perfect! Fight for this wheel, stay in position. Two laps to go - things get shuffled up a bit. Suddenly I find Beth and Tela on the right side going up the home straight, and Liz comes sailing up on my left. I get on Liz's wheel and stay super relaxed. I brake slightly as I get chopped in corner one. I have to re-accelerate and weave through traffic finding myself on the outside. We are flying down the back straight in the final lap. I put in a big surge, and advance four places into 4th or 5th wheel, going into corner three. I pedal, misjudging how fast I'm going, clip a pedal and send sparks but manage to keep it upright. We are exiting corner four, Laura Chang has a HUGE advantage. Things spread out. I see a couple of girls just sit up. I weave through traffic, gaining on Laura. I go to her right side, and am closing in, fast. I have no idea where the finish line is but I'm putting out 900 watts. The shadows are playing tricks on me - I think we've passed the finish line and then I see it - do a last minute bike throw and nab her at the line by a wheel length.
A HUGE smile spreads across my face and I get head to toe goosebumps as the adrenaline surges through my body. The feeling of everything coming together - team work, tactics, timing, patience, nutrition, fans cheering, performing and execution - that's why I race bikes.
Thanks to all of you who came out and raced on Saturday - it is so much fun to throw down with friends and fierce competitors.
Here's to many more team wins to come!
Yay! Crit season!!!