Monday, August 21, 2017

Race Report: Dirty BikenetiCrit

Top step, baby! VWS goes 1-2!
Bikenetic's annual dirt crit is one of my favorite races of the season. It's flat, fast, dusty, and hot, with a few gravelly turns where it pays to have the right line and some great power sections. It's a good race for me.

All the women raced at basically the same time: there was a 1/2/3 race and a straight 3 that went at the same time with the 4/5 women following one minute later. I was racing the straight 3 with 4 other women and another 3 in the 1/2/3 race. The 4/5 field saw a great turnout, I think about 25 women!

We went off hot from the beginning, determined not to be caught by the large 4/5 field behind us (it's happened in MABRA crits before!). I sat second wheel and attacked on the first corner that required some technique. I waaaaaay overcooked the second corner that required technique and took a little ride through the grass. Then I stayed away for most of the rest of that lap, caught on the final straight before the finish line on the back stretch. From there I drifted to the back of the pack, which had dwindled to a group of a dozen, three from each race. I sat on the back for a few more laps as an attack or two went off and came back quickly.

My teammate was on the front riding tempo as we came through the woods in the front side of the course. As we came up on the one little rise on the course, I put in a big dig and went off the front. I floated through the best line, did not overcook the corner, and had a good gap when I first looked back. I've had a few good attacks this season, but I've always ended up doing too much too soon and wearing out. This time, I was determined to dole out my effort more judiciously so that I could stay away for the rest of the race. I think that happened with 6 laps to go.

I spent the next 4 laps by myself off the front. The moto came up to me a couple of times to give me the splits. "You've got 25 seconds!" He told me before I came around with 5 to go. "30 seconds with one in the gap!" on the next lap. I had an idea of where I could gain the most time (on the flat and downhill sections in the woods) and where I would lose the most time (uphill in the woods and the headwind on the final straight). I dug deep on the sections where I could gain the most and recovered on the sections where I would lose time anyway. I managed my effort well; I kept asking myself, "Could I do exactly this intensity for another 3 laps?"

With 2 to go, one of the women from the 1/2/3 field caught me. "You're in the 1/2/3, right?" I asked. She nodded. "I'm racing the straight 3, so we've got the wins locked up!" We agreed to work together and she gave me a pull through the headwind straight. We traded off that lap and into the next, but she was smart enough to stick me in the wind on the final straight coming to the finish line. I knew that was the right thing to do, and was pretty sure I could not outsprint her. I was still determined to try, though!

She jumped at about 200 m to go. I dug as deep as I could and managed to get back onto her wheel. As I started to pull to the left to come around her, she surged again--a double sprint! I'd already given all I had to get her wheel the first time, but I didn't give up anyway. I gritted my teeth and kept pedaling as hard as I could . . . and of course she beat me.

But I still got to stand on the top step of the podium! And I got some road upgrade points! And I got the congratulations and the "Nice moves!" of the 1/2/3 women, which is like a prize unto itself. My teammate was able to outwit the other cat. 3 in the pack for second place. In our race. We won a six-pack of beer and a mini pie. We had two other people racing from Veloworks-Spokes, Etc.: one won the 45+ masters race and the other got third in the men's single speed race.

Thanks to Bikenetic for putting on a terrific race (one of my favorites), and to our sponsor shop Spokes, Etc. for helping me get my Crux ready for world domination!

Also, in case you hadn't heard, CX is coming . . .

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