Away from the internet for a few days once again so a brief update on the last three races!
Here we are before Friday's race - we wore one glove as a tribute to the late Michael Jackson ;)
Wednesday was a criterium in Fond du Lac. Team Kenda had 3 riders today - Krystal, Jackie, and myself. Another scorcher and with our 3pm start time temps were in the mid 90s and very muggy. Only 20 women on the line and the field of riders were tired. I was not feeling very good in the heat and the previous day's road race was still taking its toll. Not for Jessie from Verducci though! Twenty minutes into our race she jumped off the front solo and after some hesitation from the rest of us she was clear. I don't think anyone really expected her to hold it. We organized a chase for a few laps but the conditions and fatigue were affecting us all. We were now racing for second and soon Jessie had lapped back into the field. It was definitely the Verducci show with Theresa and Davina taking nearly all of the primes too. Madeleine from BH attacked with 2 laps to go and again no one went with her so she took 2nd and we were sprinting for 3rd. I was trying to stay close to Theresa but couldn't come around her - she took 4th, my teammate Jackie was 5th and I was 7th. Thanks to my parents for coming out to see me for the 3rd time this series!! It's so nice to have a cheering section :)
Thursday was another crit in Sheboygan. Temperatures were cooler and the low 80s felt soooo much better than the previous two days. Another small field (unfortunately!) of 18 riders and this time Ashley joined in so we had a team of 4. I really wanted to get a break off with one or more of my teammates in it. Things worked out well when early on in the race a break of 6 riders with Jackie in it got off. The top overall riders weren't in there so I liked the mix. I liked it even better when a rider went to bridge and I saw Ashley glued to her wheel. So the break had 8 in it with 2 Kenda riders. With Verducci, Lipsmackers, and several strong solo riders also up there I knew this was likely to stick. Krystal and I did some blocking and watched the Verducci riders who tried to bridge several times. I went for a couple of primes mid race and took one while getting outsprinted by speedy Theresa on two others. With about 10 laps to go the break lapped back into the field. Krystal rode a great race and was helping keep the pace up throughout and trying to let us sit in and prepare for the sprint. Team Kenda organized ourselves at the front of the field in the final laps to keep the pace up. I hope there's a picture out there somewhere of all 4 of us lined up at the front! I was trying to communicate to Ashley to attack with two laps to go while we were up at the front. I was hopeful she might be able to stick it out for the win. It would cause the other teams to chase and I know Jackie is smart about position and a good bunch finisher. The worst that would happen to Ashley is she would be caught and finish 8th. It's hard to communicate midrace though and as we came through with one to go Lipsmackers was at the front and through the final corners Verducci took over and I got a bit boxed in with Jackie on my wheel. She gave it her all though and was able to finish a strong 2nd!
Ashley also stuck it out to get 6th! Nice racing girls! Theresa finished a few spots ahead of me and I was now 11 points out of 3rd place in the overall. Thanks to Jackie's dad, Steve, and her grandparents, Bill and Nancy, for cheering us on in the race!
Friday was our final road race. 60 miles through the rolling, wooded terrain in Greenbush. A beautiful 10 mile loop with some twisty, narrow roads and a set of 2 short steep climbs before the 300 meter downhill finish. About 25 riders on the line and thankfully temps were again in the low 80s. The first lap was pretty chill as we all warmed up the legs and got a feel for the course. Thanks to Peloton Pix!
The second lap the attacks started from Verducci and after several miles of failed break attempts we settled back in to a tempo ride. Verducci and Lipsmackers were both racing aggressively and I threw down a few attacks as well. Nobody seemed happy with the mix of riders though and anything that looked promising was quickly absorbed back by the field. The yellow line rule was being strictly enforced as well and several riders were relegated for attacking across it. As annoying as that can be I appreciate the strict adherence to the rules - there have been some unfortunate accidents when the rule is not enforced and we certainly don't want any more of those.
As we got to the final lap I think we were all trying to formulate how to win the race. Before the final steep hill before the descent to the finish Theresa attacked hard. Those of us near the front went after her and I was a bit overgeared going up the climb. I shifted down and my chain lost tension and I nearly put myself into my top tube and headset! I was able to hold it up though and tried to catch the wheels in front of me. Theresa couldn't hold it and a group of 4 riders (BH's Devon, Lipsmackers Amanda, Verducci Jessie, and ABD Jessie) went clear and about 200 meters from the line I passed Theresa and her teammate and was going for 5th. I saw a rider coming up on my right and I'm ashamed to admit I sort of leaned into her hoping to hold her off. Rebecca D. came around me just before the line and I finished 6th.Thanks to Peloton Pix!
I was really hoping to put riders between me and Theresa so that I could close the gap to 3rd in the overall. My teammate Jackie was able to finish 7th with Theresa taking 9th so I regained some points but am still 5 points out of 3rd place. We'll see how these next two crits go - it will not be easy trying to beat Theresa! Thanks to Steve for feeding all three of us throughout the race - it was hot and we definitely appreciated the bottles!
Thanks again to everyone associated with this race series - the organization is top notch and the racing has been really fun. I know I've said it many times already but these promoters have done a fantastic job and their commitment to womens racing by giving us the entire series of events and nearly equal prize money is incredibly encouraging. I sincerely hope that they are not discouraged by the relatively small field of women and that they will commit to that same level again for next year. I know I will try to spread the word on what a great series this is and believe that attendance will increase for next year. If you raced the series and have some feedback for them they'd love to hear from you - email them here
Thanks also to all of the great sponsors Team Kenda has this season and their support of us in these races - Kenda, Blue, SRAM, Thomson, Powerbar, Rudy Project, Headsweats, Skins, and Plant Solutions.
Thanks for checking in - look for a final series update sometime on Monday!