I jumped back into criterium racing this weekend. And, you know what? It didn’t suck as bad as I thought it would.
Harrisburg, NC. Crossroads Classic. Women’s 3/4. That’s right, a 3/4 race (I’ve been begging all season)! There were about 20 women entered in the race. I was quite excited to get to the start line. Perhaps a little too excited. Let’s face it, training for 300 miles at 24 Hours of Booty hardly prepares you for the heart rate spikes and recovery that is criterium racing. A tactical racer would have taken that into account before throwing her first attack on only the second lap, which is what I did. From that point, the race was on!
And it never really slowed down. We were strung out single file nearly the whole race. Knowing that I have no sprint right now, attacking was my strategy. I had my teammate, Madonna, with me to take care of the sprint finish so my role was to get in a breakaway. I attacked 3 times in the first half of the race and led some chases as well. Basically, I spent all I had way too quickly. I tried like hell to get away, but couldn’t make it stick. Madonna ended up flatting with 4 laps to go and I dropped off the back with about a lap and a half to go, which was fine with me. Like I said, I wasn’t going to contest the sprint. I should have read the race better and timed my attacks more intelligently. We’ll just call it a learning experience.
Despite finishing low in the standings, I had fun in this race. Instead of hanging on for dear life in the Women’s Open field, I got to employ some tactics (even if I employed them poorly). After the race, some of the guys on my team commented on the speed of the race – they couldn’t believe they were watching a 3/4 race. It didn’t really surprise me to find out we averaged 23mph.
What did surprise me was to find out our 23mph ended up being faster than the Women’s Open race later in the day.