Ah. St. Louis. The Gateway to the West. The Gateway to the World. The Gateway Arch. And the home of the Gateway Cup, the Tour of Missouri Women’s Series.
Have you noticed the trend yet? St. Louis is a gateway, and I am at the Gateway Cup.
Today has consisted of a big Midwest size breakfast, followed by an easy ride on the river trail along the Mississippi. Bike St. Louis is a great network of cycling trails and paths along the river. For being a metropolitian area, not so bad at all. After breakfast, and the ride, the race was still 8.5 hours away. You guessed it, the first race for us starts at 8:30pm. Nice. What to do the rest of the day? Sleep. Watch a movie. Eat. Sleep. Eat. And then go race our bikes. Professional bike racers are also professional time wasters. I happen to be horrible at napping, due to the fact that I consider it a huge waste of time… Thus, I tried to be productive and get some work done while relaxing on the fold out coach. Not a bad life in St. Louis. It is all a part of the job.
Day one, or I guess I should say Night one…we rolled to the course and warmed up. We had our plan, which I will not disclose. Steve asked me, “Have you ever raced a night race before” I say, “Sure, I have…”
We roll to the start line, and I realize something. It is dark. Like really dark. There are lights on the corners, but it is dark. This isn’t a Twilight Criterium, this is Nightime Criterium. I ride to Steve. “Steve! I just realized something…” Steve sighs, “Yes, Ali…” I explain, “I just realized that I have never raced at night!”, He nods, “I knew that…you will be fine, just don’t look at the shadows…” “Wait, the shadows!?” Ah. Then it was time to race, and we were off.
The attacks started. We started attacking too. Why let other teams attack? We might as well attack first, that way we are the moves and not chasing. Oh, the attacking. Attacks. A couple of times I thought the break that I was in was caught by the peloton, but really, it was just the shadows. I was racing my shadow. NIce.
With5 laps to go, Kat, Rush and I get to the front and start rotating. Keeping the pace high, hard, and fast, but not blistering. We are shutting down the moves, left, right, taking corners tight and fast…Finally with 3 to go, Rush turns it on…pulls right, then I turn it on. By on, I mean I Iit it up. Legs churning, power cranking…I love leadouts. I approached the corners so fast, I even considered braking because of the speed. As I started to blow, I pulled right, shutting down that side of the peloton, and Kat took over. She delivered Brooke flawlessly into the final corner. Brooke won, Kat finished 6th! Who says bike racing isn’t a team sport.
Today I worked on both of my careers…time management, and bike racing. Who should be scared of a big bad crit? Team TIBCO put on a great show, with a squad of 4, we raced like we had 10.
Welcome to our show. Day 2 tomorrow. 1 down, 3 to go.