CRCA Club Championships: the view from the W-field
I haven’t had a decent result in a race since 2013 when I got the last bit of points I needed for my category 3 upgrade. 2013! That doesn’t feel good.
I know, I know. We’re supposed to celebrate middle of the pack racers. But, even those who espouse that philosophy have some success every now and then. But me?
I work hard. I do all my workouts by the book. I keep a regular sleeping and eating schedule. I pay attention to race strategy and know my strengths. I listen to my coach like he’s a southern preacher at the pulpit. I have fun being on a strong team. I enjoy playing the role of race protagonist. I pride myself on my ability to support my teammates. But a result for me?
Let’s just say that after nearly ten years of racing (that, sure, included some hiccups), never winning a race and always finishing in a meh place is all starting to feel a little old. This season in particular started to feel really crummy.
I’m finally starting to feel in control of the PTSD that has dominated my brain since I had a horrific crash in 2015. I’m actually at the point where I sometimes have a race where I don’t think about smashing my face in at all! I’m also more in control of my body after spending countless hours in the gym and in PT to manage the physical pain that resulted from that same crash. Now that I finally have all *that* under control, I felt like it was my time for a result.
All that crummy feeling aside, I am happy to report, dear reader, that I had a blast in the CRCA Club Championship race this past weekend. Much to my surprise! Here’s how it went down:
The field was super spicy from the start. Some of the bigger teams represented like Radical Media and Veselka kept it active. After attacking my face off at Floyd the Tuesday prior, I decided not to take the bait. I sat near the back and watched the fireworks fly, comforted by the fact that Lisa was in the top five wheels keeping watch for dangerous moves.
Attack after attack after attack. The field was strung out and moving fast, but we stayed together. After we saw two to go, I rolled up next to Lisa and told her I was sure it was going to come down to a sprint. I started to mentally prepare for how I might help Lisa, one of the many badass sprinters TBD f/b MDC. Lisa assured me that it might not come to a sprint and that I should be prepared to go with promising moves.
Coming around Tavern on the Green with just under two laps to go, Christine from Veselka took a solo flyer and was gone. Now this was a promising move. I went when Erica from Radical moved to bridge. Two other riders came with us and lo and behold, we had a clean break from the field and were on our way to make the catch to Christine. I thought, “oh shit, this is it. I can’t out sprint Erica but at least I can probably get my pathetic ass on the podium.”
Unfortunately, out in the distance, we could see that Christine was butting up against the B field, who had passed us not long before. I kept waiting for our lead moto to neutralize the B field to let her pass, but it, inexplicably, never happened (RAGE). I didn’t get a chance to talk to Christine after, but I imagine it caused a bit of hesitation. I know for our break group, it was very confusing and caused A LOT of hesitation (and unnecessary yelling IMO).
Hesitation = not good when you’re trying to make a break stick! Just as we were about to make the catch to Christine through HSA, the field came back to us. Within seconds we reabsorbed Christine.
What I thought might be the winning break —with me in it—was done. (In hindsight, I have no clue if that break woulda stuck!)
Lisa attacked not long after that, coming over Cat’s Paw, and had a good bit of distance that kept growing. Dammmmmnn a solo break. I was stoked for her. No one was chasing and her gap was widening. Finally, just past Engineer’s, Ann Marie attacked and the break was closed. I countered but the timing was wonky and I went nowhere.
As predicted, it would come down to a sprint. Not my cup of tea, but there was still work for the team to do. Naveen brought the pace up over Harlem Hill going into the finish to prevent jumbling and give Lisa the room she needed to pick a good wheel into the sprint. Lisa took fourth!
No result for me but after the race, I was surprised to notice how much fun I had (maybe it was that double shot gel I ate before the race??). This race was everything I love about bike racing: It was hard. It was safe. I raced with some of my awesome teammates. Not only did we race together, but we communicated well throughout and supported each other when we could and played to each other’s strengths. To boot, the team had a great result.
So while I can’t say I won’t feel crummy for my lack of results next week, or even tomorrow, I can at least say that I had fun in the last bike race I did. And sometimes that has to be enough.