Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Race Report: Brisbane Criterium (Women's 3/4/5)

In which I find a rhythm with my team

From what I hear, the Brisbane Crit has been on hiatus for seven years and this was its first year back. Cool course! Glad Pen Velo brought it back.

The SunPower women joined the men's team for the summer team camp the day before. We got to pow-wow over lunch and dinner about the Brisbane Crit. We knew that the course would be technical, with a few narrow turns and a full-on hairpin at the far end of the course. We worked on cornering and leadouts at team camp, but we were all a little nervous about taking fast, tight corners with the 3/4/5 field.

I'm not used to the summer here. I didn't expect to need warm-ups and a jacket pre-race, but it was cloudy and chilly out! I would have liked to have had something warm while we scoped out the course before the first race of the day. We took a few turns around the hairpin at the fastest speeds we dared.

We had about 25 women on the line, a little over half of them 3s. The race director and officials both encouraged us to be safe and smart through the corners. I missed my pedal on the start (I can get it 9 times on a commute, but not the start line here!) and ended up at the back of the group. I was the designated sprinter in this race, and I don't mind starting in the back and moving forward during the race. But I wasn't eager to be at the back of the pack through the tight corners. It was surge-y during the first few laps, but it was also hard to find space to move up. The course was so short, and there were so many corners, and the finish straight-away had a cross-headwind.

There was a crash on lap 3, the field split, and I had to put in a solid effort to get back to the lead group. That's when I finally got into the front half of the field. On that next lap, a Mike's Bikes rider attacked into the hairpin and came out hot. It was a great spot for an attack! She took three other riders with her--two SheSpoke women and one of my teammates! I was officially off the hook for any kind of chase, and I had a teammate in the chase group!

Chase proceeded from a group of 8 (I think), only 3 of whom were doing work; the rest of us had teammates up the road. We had to cover one bridge attempt, but other than that the pace was tolerable. Coming into the last lap, my teammate in the chase told me to get on her wheel and led me out for a whole lap! I came around her just before the last corner and took the field sprint. She finished just behind me, and our teammate in the break came in for fourth place in the 3s, so we went 3-4-5 in the race!

It was an extra fun race, and not just because of the course. Almost everyone on the team was at this race. We were able to start together and race together. We positioned well and raced smart tactically. And we got a good result out of it! Racing like that reminds me of why it's so much fun. I enjoy competing, but it's even more fun to be a part of collective working in sync. It adds an extra layer to the competition that makes it feel more meaningful.

Warm fuzzies concluded. Thanks for reading!

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