Race Report: Folsom Winter Crit & Snelling Road Race!



So i'm a bit behind on the race reports, but I've been either in a car, on a bike, or in a classroom since my last post. No such thing as a social life, but Will, Emoji and the cats have been my friends. We even managed to go see Deadpool last week (just me and will, not the animals). Go see it, it was amazing, but not at all for children. 

I've been deeply focused on racing in teammate mode, and it has been quite the experience. Spending the majority of a race not thinking of yourself, but how you might be helpful to someone else. So basically, I've been doing the exact opposite of what I was doing for my entire first two years of racing. Talk about re-programming. My coach agrees that this is an excellent way for me to learn how to better read a race. If i'm not so bogged down about getting myself over the line first, I can focus on all the other things happening within the field. By no means have I perfected this ability in a month of racing, but I have definitely learned a lot! Ok, here are those late race reports!

Folsom Winter

The 3/4 field was around 40 girls total. The course only had two real turns, as it was shaped sort of like the letter D. This kept the pace relatively smooth for the duration, not too many attacks, and the few that tried didn't hold it. Razzle Dazzle managed to put together a super sweet lead out train, and with me in the front we pulled out of the station (just let me have my corny pun, ok?). It was great. I'd never been a part of a effective and deliberate leadout train before. It was really rad to be a part of that. When I pulled off Fiona took over and carried Luisa towards the finish. I was expecting to get swarmed immediately, but there was actually a bit of a gap between myself and the field. I was pooped, nothing left, and used the rest of my little bit of energy to cross the finish line. My very first DFL (Dead F'ing Last). Totally Worth it. There was a bit of a mixup at the finish, but after a stint of deliberation, the judges decided Luisa was first place.

The W1/2/3 was tough. I was exhausted, having technical difficulties, and just not feeling it. Double race days are long and tiring, but they make you stronger so I'm thankful for them. As seems to be routine around these parts, there was a solo break away, so we had to focus our energy on second place. I setup again, gave it all I had and earned my second ever DFL. It didn't work out as well this time, and our girl JUST missed the masters podium coming in 4th. Regardless, our communication and setup was much improved from where we started a few weeks ago. We are getting way better at learning how to team! 

Snelling Road Race W3

Photo by:  Craig Huffman

Photo by: Craig Huffman


When we were assembling at the staging line, it felt like we were all getting ready to board the most epic roller coaster. Even the instructions sounded like the typical "keep your hands and feet in the car at all times".  There was a three mile roll-out. This city girl is not used to such things, in a slightly different setting, I would've thought they were leading us into a trap. Fortunately they just led us to the first set of rollers on the course and let us  go. 

Visually it was beautifully with fluffy blossoming trees, rolling hills, so pretty! We looped around the course three times. The first time around was a learning experience. Many of these girls know this course fairly well. I had a general idea of what to expect, but it was a real treat figuring out what was where and where was what. Towards the end of the loop, the attacks began. There was a patch of road that seemed straight out of the devil's workshop, followed by a bridge, and then a pretty good stretch of what felt like the All American Scream Machine or the Coney Island Cyclone. If you've never ridden either, they both suck. It feels like your body is trapped in a maraca being played by a 2 year old. I was certain my hands were going to be thrown from the bars, but I held tight, and they were not.

Second time around we were neutralized shortly after we crossed the start/finish line, but once they let us go, again with the attacks! I love when stuff happens, it's what makes racing fun. Trying things, testing the strength of the girls around you. My goals were to observe, be aggressive, stay towards the front, and help Fiona. It's always a joy deciding whether to chase down a break attempt, or to just go with the pack. I did my fair share of both and it worked out pretty well. We reached that bumpy patch again and I heard "WATER BOTTLE"! I glanced down to see my bottle flying out of the cage. Yikes. We all kept it moving, and I had half a bottle left with about twenty or so miles to go, I figured I could ration and be alright. 

Third lap we spent quite some time neutralized, folks were tired, I can't say I was too upset about the pace, my legs were heavy from the start and I felt sick to my stomach. The show must go on. Once we reached the bumpy patch, the pace picked up. It was time to fight for position. We neared the 1k to go sign and Fiona requested a ride to the front. She hopped on my wheel and forward we went! She got into her position and we turned the final corner. I hopped on the fastest thing smoking past me, and prepared to sprint up the hill. About halfway up I heard the loudest scream followed by the sound of metal and carnage. I paused. It was over. I was past the finish line, never having sprinted, but I was upright and in one piece. Fiona was 2nd, I was 7th. 

Turns out it was a pretty gnarly crash. Not everyone walked away immediately, and they had to close the start/ finish line and bring in the ambulance. This meant that the finish for the 1/2 men and women was changed to the "1k to go" mark. I tell myself, "that's bike racing". Whenever I get on a bike, there's the risk of getting hurt. But that stands true for whenever I walk down the street, get on a plane, run up the stairs, or live my life at all. Can't be afraid to do stuff that you love because you think you'll get hurt. Just learn to do it well so you decrease the chances of that happening. Also, I am now the proud possessor of health insurance (kind of a big deal for me), so that's good. 

As soon as we finished, I was kicking myself for letting the crash distract me. If you're down for a fun game of "follow Ayesha around clanging pots and pans randomly", let me know. I need to learn to re-focus immediately, not assume that every noise behind me is related to my actions, and keep it moving no matter what. At least this time I didn't look back. Lesson learned. Onward!

Luisa and I are headed up to Chico for the stage race this weekend. Safe, fast vibes please!!!!



Ayesha McGowan4 Comments