Contributed by committed o2fitness-athlete Trixe Bradley. Enjoy the perspective from her first, fast and furious criterium.
It was my first Crit race and I did not know what to expect. I made myself a goal last year to throw myself into cycling and race as many races as I could. Thankfully, I have had Julie Young on my side training me and getting me physically and mentally ready to race. Her advice is take each race as an opportunity to learn and grow as a cyclist.
I arrived at the race early to make sure I had time to warm up properly and could figure out what I was doing. I had read that most people bring a trainer to warm up on however I was familiar with Folsom and knew there was the bike trail I could hit for my warm up. After I checked into registration, I asked a fellow cyclist parked next to me to help pin my number on my jersey. The little things that you need help with when flying solo. LOL
Julie had my warm up all mapped out for me so I hit the trail and followed my coach’s plan. I must admit that I LOVE not having to think about it...I love that I just have to follow everything Julie says! hehehehe She also told me my first objective during the race was positioning. I needed to keep fighting for a good position towards the front! The women 3 and 4 racers were lining up to do the practice lap and to my surprise I saw a Bright Orange Jersey. I was overjoyed to see Sara. She had come to watch. She gave me some great advice. It was that during the practice lap to observe the road. Take note of any man holes, potholes etc. She also told me to stay in a fairly big gear to start. One I could jump on! I felt very excited and anxious to get this race going.
After our practice lap, we all lined up and they discussed how the race would go. They asked if it was anyones first time racing and we had to raise our hand. So, I did but wasn’t happy that it would put a target on my back of NEWBIE. LOL Well, the race started and all I could think was work on positioning. I was feeling good and was very comfortable in the pack. After a few laps I was feeling these big lulls in speed. It would slow down and I was having to brake a lot in the group. At that point, I knew I did not want to stay where I was. I was constantly trying to move up and get around. Just about the time, I was on the move the group would start to pick up pace. I would hear women yelling a rider on the left when a gal was trying to break away. All I kept doing was trying to catch a wheel as one was trying to pass. It was still early in the race and I was trying to continually get up towards the front. I knew I did not want to stay in the group when it lulled however I spent a lap working to hard and was realizing that I was setting myself up for failure. I needed to be smart and use others to help pull me rather than try and be a work horse. At one point, I was losing steam and saw the group getting away. All I could think was I am not going to get dropped. I knew if I caught them I would be fine and it was just going to be hard for a short amount of time. So, that is what I did. I hit it as hard as I could and got back to the pack. I heard one of the mentors who was riding with us say wow nice job! I regained myself and started again to try and move up. After that I would take those times during the lull to move up a little if I could but to be honest I didn’t really know what to do. I realize now... that I was trying to move up at all the wrong times. I was trying to sprint ahead when everyone else was doing the same. I was using to much of the down time to play it safe. I realize now that during the lulls I need to attack while everyone else is tired. I need to get into great position then and fight for my place.
Overall, I am happy with my accomplishment. Out of 18 Cat 4 women I came in 10th. Not great but not terrible either. Most important is I had fun and I felt great physically except for that 1 lap when I was being a NEWBIE rider.
I felt strong and was not torn up after the race. It was very apparent that all of the specific training Julie is having me do is paying off BIG TIME! Yes, I need more time racing to continue to learn how to strategically play the game but physically I felt like a WINNER.
I am so excited to continue racing. This weekend I will be racing in the Madera stage race. Another new and exciting opportunity to learn!!
A BIG thank you to Sara and Julie for coming out to support me. I could hear coach Julie at every lap yelling move up, push! Sara, I saw by my mom and my kids yelling and cheering me on. It was a GREAT DAY!