Stage 5: Downtown Bend Twilight Criterium
Route: Rectangle. Looooong Straightaways. 4 tight turns, all right hand (about 4 pedal strokes in between, then back to the straight)
The race didn’t start until 6:00pm, and it was an hour long. Not bad, right? I got up and rode in the morning. We mostly just checked out the course and stopped at a coffee place for a cappuccino and cookie. Total ride time, 35 minutes, and covered 7 miles.
We showed up to the race, ready to race… of course. The crowd was energetic, and ready to rock. I officially got a call-up. A call-up, at an NRC race. And a criterium nonetheless. What’s a call-up? Well, its when you have th100+ girls on the line to start a 1k course, and then they pick people to let them start at the very front of the race. They announce your name, and they say why you get to come to the front, and then you have great position to start the race. With large fields, it is easy for these races to get “strung out” and very difficult to regain position. When they told me that I was getting a call-up, my nerves were relaxed to start this race. There was no need to pretend my bike had a mechanical to shove into the front row at the last minute, or to just succumb to the pressure and start at the back. I had a call-up, I was important, and could roll to the start line at my own leisure. Under this false sense of security, I was told, “don’t screw it up”. Uh oh. Pressure back on. What do you do when someone gives you this chance? Although no one was really watching me…I kinda felt like it. No one cared why I was up there, which was only because they let the top 10 in GC start at the front…but I took this as a huge responsibility.
While the other girls were focusing on their race. I was counting the cobblestones on the ground. Or something like that.
The gun goes off. I jump. Literally. Are we starting a race? Yikes. Try to clip in, my foot slips. Should’ve started the corner in the top 10. I was lucky to be in the top 40.
We race hard, fast and aggressive. TIBCO never lets up. It was so hard to gain position. The field was strung out single file for the entire hour. We never let off the gas. It was the fastest women’s crit of my life. We averaged 28mph. Ouch. Wasn’t my prettiest effort, but we did all right. I still have a lot to learn in the criterium department. Position position position.
We lit those streets on fire, and no cigar.
Stage 6 report and recap comes tomorrow!