I know, I know, I said I'd post and then I didn't do a single thing. Moreover, I didn't even post upon my return. Can't explain it, other than I am somewhat reluctant to return to the keyboard life even though I am glad to be back home.
This is the podium pic. I'm 4th. Next to me is 2nd place, Samantha Schneider, 1st place Theresa Cliff-Ryan, and 3rd place Jenette Williams.Picture from Triple Crankset
What I'll remember most.....
With the exception of the final race, there was at least one crash in every race. A couple were horrendous. Twice races were stopped for over twenty minutes while ambulances carried the wounded to area hospitals. One of these casualties was our very own Bri Kovak, who won her first NRC race the previous weekend. Bri is now "Brionic" with titanium plates holding her broken hip together.
By the end of the week, we finally felt like we were reading each other and working together. You wouldn't think this would be that big of a deal, but our strongest riders have also spent most of their time previous to Team Rev riding essentially solo, so it's taking time to get a group rhythm and by the end of the week, it seemed like we were starting to get it together and it was fun. I enjoyed riding that race even more than Ripon where I got my win.
At the start of the season, one of my goals was to get a top-five finish during Superweek. Ripon gave me that opportunity and a crash perhaps gave me the win.
The .6 mile course was my kind of course. Short power climbs and fast corners. Although it only had four corners, each was at the base of a hill such that you came into it fast from a downhill and out of it into an incline, with the exception of the 2nd turn, which was downhill into and out of it to corner 3.
Kristen Wentworth made the initial move. I think she attacked on lap 5 or 6 of a 50 lap race. Nobody moved, including me. All I thought was, "Dang, there's a lot of race left and it's so hot." But, she stayed out there looking strong and still, no one made a move. A couple of laps later, still impressed with her show of strength, I jumped and bridged. An HP rider did so as well, so then we were three and even though there were so many laps yet to go, I thought that just maybe we'd get away with it, for in all the previous races, breaks had stuck. The climbs and the heat seemed to be dampening the enthusiasm of many riders and the nature of the course made it possible to get away fast, so we turned on the gas and eventually lapped the field, but none of us really wanted to get mixed back in. I mean, one of the benefits of being off the front tends to be a safe sprint finish.
However, with two laps to go, we were mere feet from the back of the pack and I was nervous. I couldn't figure out how we would sprint for our finish without running into and having to go through the pack. Consequently, I decided to do what the masters break had done and rejoin and move through the pack. I figured best case scenario - I get a leadout from my team and at worst, all three of us would come through and have an open road for the finish, which I felt was critical since the race was really to corner 4. Moreover, Kristin outsprinted me the night before for a prime and I had noticed the HP girl was pretty darn quick too, so I felt I needed to be the aggresser and choose the time and place.
A prime was called for the next lap and the pace stayed slow till we turned corner four. My teammate, Bri, gunned it, took the prime and flew down the hill and around the corner. Her actions triggered a surge in the pack through the finish line and as we came around corner 1, Bri was already half-way up the hill and slowing. Before the prime call, I had been thinking she would be the one to lead me out. Now, she was needing to recover and I needed to get gone, so the moment the pack surge ceased, I attacked up the hill instead of repositioning for a leadout.
My instinct said go, so I did. If I could make it to corner 3 with at least a bike's length gap, I thought maybe, just maybe, I could win. I jumped clear, but the pack quickly moved to follow. I popped gears as fast as I could and hit corner two tight and accelerating. Zing, I was through it with a clear wheel. Unfortunately, the clatter of carbon hitting and sliding across the pavement soon followed.
I glanced back across the gap and Bri screamed, "Gooooo, Syd!" And, I knew what she meant. It wasn't "Go!" like "Rah, rah!" It was "Go!" like "Get your @$$ down that road or I'm going to be kicking it for weeks."
I kept accelerating, focused on the next two corners and came across the line alone.
I think what happened was that the HP woman took a wider line on that corner, also still accelerating, but may have been on a part that was a little off-camber or something. I don't know, but she didn't make it through and her wreck tied up the pack including Kristen, which secured my win.
I was bummed there'd been a wreck and felt a bit bad about moving back into the pack after we'd decided not to, but I thought it would be both safer and strategically smarter. Was it the best decision? I don't know. Our team got the win, which is priority one, so I'm going to say yes despite the accident.
Bike races happen fast and you don't have time to ponder or discuss decisions. You make your best call in light of team priorities and execute it in seconds and at high speed. This is both the challenge and thrill.