The Race: Sunny King Criterium
The Course: 60-minutes on a 4-corner course
The Field: 1/2 women
The Finish: Our first team podium
It’s been bumpy start this season for Team Colavita as we settle into working together as a team, but things started to come together this past Saturday night at the Sunny King Criterium in Anniston, Alabama. Our director sent Tina, Jen, Jackie, and me to the crit while the rest of the team was racing Sea Otter. Our race plan was [redacted because this shit is super secret, dude, and I'm not giving out the recipe to the special sauce]. My race plan was to ride like a beast after carb-loading in the days before the race with an all-you-can-eat bakery buffet from Whole Foods. It was organic and Fair Trade and occasionally gluten-free, so clearly that means it was healthy and a good idea.
After the usual call-ups and the not-so-usual string of pre-race commercials broadcast on a projection television, the race started. I didn’t have time to ride the course because there were races running up until our start, so the first lap was a surprise party. Clearly I was not alone in this, as I heard people go down behind me in turn 3. Two other green helmets were still bobbing ahead of me after the crash, but that left Jen unaccounted for and I suspected she’d gone down. She had – when I saw her a few laps later, she was missing some skin, some shorts, and part of her shoe – but when Tina asked if she was okay, she responded by sprinting to win a prime. We took that as a yes.
The majority of the race went by with a consistent pattern: a rider would attack, Colavita would shut it down, the field would circle the course slowly, a rider would attack, repeat. I felt great; whatever Whole Foods puts in their pastries is clearly a recipe for success. Colavita launched a number of attacks and Jackie spent a bit of time off the front, but nothing stuck. Jen, Coryn Rivera, Erica Allar, and LVG got a gap on the field while Jackie and I chatted about our feelings on that break, but when other riders moved to close it down, we sat in for the ride and were all together again shortly.
Meanwhile, Chad Andrews (announcer extraordinare for the uninitiated) spent the entire hour educating the world on race terms and tactics. After a whole season of listening to him, I am going to have this racing stuff on lockdown.
I impulsively attacked at two laps to go to test if the other sprinters were unwilling to chase that late in the race, but discovered they were more than happy to jump on my wheel. That failed attempt turned into setting pace for the final lap, at which point Tina took over guiding Jen through the final stretches, where she sprinted third across the line. Not the win we’d hoped to grab, but a solid race for working together cohesively and a promising sign for the future.
While I felt strong throughout, I learned a few things to improve going forward. My final attack wasn’t executed well – I didn’t establish enough of a gap, I wasn’t aware of how closely I was marked by the sprinters, and in the process of sprinting away, I disrupted the leadout train my team was forming at the front. Learning to think like part of a machine takes time, but I’m starting to understand the dynamics better, especially with the help of mistakes like this one.
Next up: Speed Week! My goal for the week is to avoid Waffle House like the plague. Oh, and help Colavita win. That too.
Jen Purcell rocking the first podium of the season.
It was unseasonably cold down south and I was struggling to make a warm outfit from available post-race apparel. That led to, well, this.