Race Report: Ronde Van Barendrecht
So I have a sinus cold. And it sucks. But just like in theatre, in racing, the show must go on. I felt like garbage on Friday evening so I decided to go to bed early. I figured more rest would help me prop myself up enough to race the next day.
I woke up and gave myself plenty of time to move/ eat very slowly. Knowing that I couldn't eat for five hours I crammed as much food into my belly as I could.
- Porridge w/ lactose free milk, yogurt, jam, & bananas.
- Toast w/ butter & jam.
- Toast w/ appelstroop
- 2 hardboiled eggs
- 2 Cups of Tea
- 1 bottle of Rescue Hydration.
I took a shower, did 10 minutes of yoga, and it was time to go!
The drive was pretty long so we made a pee stop. The gas station required 50 cents to use the restroom. My teammate Mary helped us figure it out (she'd done it before). We were so amused. Not all of us are American.
There are ten girls here at camp:
- Me (American)
- Emelie (Swedish)
- Daniella (Czech)
- Jessie (New Zealander)
- Ione (New Zealander)
- Kate (New Zealander)
- Maddy (American)
- Mary (American)
- Esther (Israeli/ American)
- Erika (Venezuelan/ American)
Right. The race.
We made it to the course, found the bathroom, and decided to preview the course as spectators. The was another field racing and we were able to see how they chose to navigate what looked like a very narrow course. There were several pinch points going into and coming out of turns, but the flow was smooth and I observed and took in as much information about the course as I could.
The numbers were made of a super thick vinyl. It was a pain in the neck trying to get safety pins through the material without breaking the pins! We managed. I set off to get a good warmup. Made my way back in time to do one lap of the course, and lined up for call-ups.
The official waved us to the line one at a time and we got into position. I started third row on the inside. I had zero clue what was being said, but it was fine. I knew that if they went, I'd go to. Racing is the same in every language. The official raised his gun in the air (oh a gun? aiight. I prepped for the loud noise). Shots fired, and we were off.
I made my way around some start line fumbling and tried to get into the groove. I was having trouble coming out of the corners without a gap forming. I was waisting energy, but i figured it out. About 8 laps I came out of turn 3 and could hear the sounds of racers avoiding a crash. It was Esther's bike... I couldn't see Esther but I told myself the usual "someone else will come help her, just keep going". I found myself in the front of the pack. There was a break. Should I go? Should I chill? What to do?!
Honestly, going into the race I had the usual goals of staying towards the front, trying to get a feel for how they raced. I didn't anticipate being in a position to make this sort of tactical decisions! I was so pleased, I decided I had nothing to lose by trying. I went to the front to start a chase.
The announcer said something in dutch, but I did hear "Ayesha McGowan, USA!" I smiled! That was me! I was doing something! There were too many teams all with teammates in the break. I wasn't feeling like chasing on my own, and they were really willing to work with me. So I decided I'd just stay toward the front of this group and ride it out. The Ronde Van Barendrecht was a 65km crit. That's about 40 miles. The longest crit I've ever done might've been about 1 hour and 10 minutes? This race was going to be an hour and a half at least. I decided to save my energy.
We went on like this for a VERY long time, but I felt really good, and was super active. Attacking when I got bored, working together when it made sense, and making sure I didn't get spit out of the back. The women were all speaking dutch, and occasionally spoke to me in English. They didn't have very nice things to say. I decided this meant I was doing something right =).
The announcers were nice enough to say some important things in english like. "One lap to go for the pack". The teams all surged. I was getting pinched out. I made my elbows extra pointy and dug deep. Someone took a flyer off the front. I took off after her. In hindsight I probably should have waited, but I figured I'd do better if I had more space going into the final two turns. I sprinted for the line. It felt like a pretty goofy sprint, but it was done! I'd finished.
14th place. Finished in the money!
What I did well:
- Stayed toward the front.
- Tried a few things
- Didn't let the other women intimidate me
- Stayed Aggressive throughout
Goals for Tomorrow: Daags Na de Tour
- STAY WITH THE PROS!
Looking forward to racing the After tour UCI crit with Annameik Van Vleuten, Marriane Vos, Anna Van der Breggen, Kirstin Wild, and more... So exciting! Hopefully I'll manage to race WITH them, and not just behind them. I'll let you know how it went! Woot!