I really wanted revenge on this race. Last year I was crashed out in the final corner (a more than ~70 degree tight technical turn) in a great position by a panicked move by another racer. I really had never felt so 'on' in a race ever before, and was really crushed (and pretty shaken up) by the abrupt end to my day. So needless to say I was feeling very motivated, and determined to get the finish that I felt I deserved last year.
I arrived to the race with some bike issues, being unable to shift (at all), but I knew that SRAM NRS were going to be at the race and Bobby had me up and running in no time. I got a few laps in to check everything was working, and to recon the course changes and hopped onto the trainers that were available for all racers at the start-finish.
I was quite nervous before the race, mostly due to the pressure I put on myself to do better than last year, also a little nervous about crashing. I took off at the start, which I sometimes do out of habit, and sometimes to calm the nerves. I was first through that final corner on the first lap. I wanted to get it over with. I went into hot, almost too hot, and scared myself a little with how much I had to lean to hold it through the corner, but stayed rubber side down and settled into the race.
The race felt fast, with a lot of $20 primes. I rode with the girls who kept going for primes, winning them and sitting up. I was trying to stay on each sprint, not do too much just sit on the back, in the hopes of a break if the right group ended up on the front but no one appeared to want to go. Perhaps I should have been more vocal about my willingness to go, at one point we had quite a good gap, which I didn't realize til I looked back and saw that there was no one on my wheel.
Alas no break occurred, and with 2 laps to go there was a big attack up the back side incline. The woman who attacked (I didn't catch her name) had been strong all race, and I thought that there was a good chance she could hold it, or we could make a break if the pack was indecisive. I jumped hard to stay with her, and with the help of Andrea Cyr we got to her wheel, unfortunately with the rest of the pack along for the ride. It was a good move on her part, and could have stuck if the pack was worried about burning matches so close to the end. However this move was our downfall, with 1 lap to go, I was panicking at the thought of recovery. Would I have nothing left for the sprint after our efforts? I foolishly tried to conserve and allowed myself to loose position for really the first time in the race. Going into the final turn I was a ways back in the group. I had felt good in that corner every lap (except for one scary moment) and was lucky to make up a lot of ground and move up to around 8th place, which is where I stayed. The sprint was long, so so so long, and I was delighted to find out Mia Cheeseman (Wheel & Sprocket) had gotten second. She has a great sprint, and we often work together as impromptu team mates when we find ourselves at a race together.
I was quite disappointed with my final lap, I should have just left it all out there. I keep reminding myself that it could have gone a lot worse. I have two more chances next weekend to prove myself, Downers Ave & East Tosa. I'll also be out cheering for the women of the Chicago Women's Elite Composite, watching them duke it out with some of the top crit racers in the U.S in the Pro field.