Cal Aggie Criterium, held on the same course as the Land Park Criterium, is a flat, 1 mile closed loop, that includes a hairpin turn and a couple of chicanes. Earlier on in my racing career, I was nervous about criteriums--especially the technical ones like Cal Aggie. Over time, I learned that technical courses can actually be safer--and certainly more interesting--than 4-corner races. With this being my first criterium of the year, my goal was to focus on skills and placement. I also wanted to launch a couple of attacks to test my early season fitness. I had W3 teammate Trish Pablo with me in the Category 3/4/5 field of 19 racers, and Makenzie Delaugher on the sidelines for pre- and during-race support.
I was successful in my goals of racing actively and staying towards the front of the pack, especially heading into the hairpin turn--the spot on the course where riders in the back have to work extra each lap to make up time lost to the accordion effect. Trish and I took turns attacking, and she was even able to stay away for a bit while I covered from within the peloton. Halfway through the race, we were starting to get tired and agreed to race a bit more defensively in order to recover before the finish.
I knew that placement heading into the technical side of the course would be critical on the last lap. I made efforts to move up, but was still a bit further back in the pack than I wanted to be as we headed through the chicanes and out of the last turn. Nevertheless, I managed to dig deep and move up through the final stretch for a 3rd place finish!