Words by Melanie Wong
I’m never quite sure how it happens, but time seems to be something that constantly escapes me. It’s like a slow leak - you wake up every morning with a firm grip on the road, but throughout the day you start getting flat to the point where it’s time for bed and you’re still desperately trying to make it to the finish on a ruined rim. Okay - maybe that was a little over-dramatic - but in an effort to make up for lost time, here’s a recap of Team Mikes Bikes Women’s racing.
Land Park Criterium - In which Diana executes to perfection
The field at Land Park was stacked with some of the fastest ladies in Norcal, including sprinters from JL Velo, Jakroo and Specialized Cyclesport. From the gun, it was active with Jakroo raining down attacks and Specialized countering. We wanted to make sure we had a representative in each likely move, but didn’t want to consume too much energy until we had the right composition. Diana and Kortney did an amazing job reading the race and putting in the effort when it really counted. On the final lap, Diana put in a perfectly timed attack to keep the pace high and I muscled my way into 3rd wheel. Rounding the last corner, I popped the clutch and sprinted around for the win.
Bariani Road Race - In which I test the waters
With a new course that included a few short climbs and a field stacked with three riders from Cyclesport Specialized, I knew Bariani was going to be a tough race. Early in the first lap Diana got a flat, so I was left to my own devices, along with a smattering of strong single riders including Ellie Velez, Marissa Axell and Casey Myers. Leading up to the first hill, the Cyclesport Specialized riders started to attack leaving me with no other option but to jump and chase. With the hill approaching I chose to counter-attack one of their moves, which ended up dropping two of the Cyclesport riders and leaving only one rider left from each team - a much more level playing field. All 5 riders worked together for the next couple of laps, pushing to keep the pace up. On the final hill, Ellie jumped and I followed. As we approached the crest of the hill, I attacked around her and pushed through the downhill. With no one on my wheel, I gunned it and finished solo, followed by Ellie and Casey who battled it out for second and third.
Santa Cruz Classic Criterium - In which Kortney attacks and it starts to hail
Santa Cruz is another one of those classics that is on my “must do” list for the season. With a kicker hill and a tight 180 turn, it is a course that has a lot to do with good timing. Although we had clear weather all day at the startline the heavens opened up and it started to rain - no matter, we are made of tougher stuff. As usual, the Jakroo girls started firing attacks fast and early. My hope was to reserve some energy for the latter half of the race, and Kortney and Diana did a good job covering - even throwing down an attack or two themselves. It started to hail (no really - it was crazy!) and the race went on. By the mid point we had shed about half of the group and I was taking pulls with the remaining single riders. I knew positioning into the final hill would make or break the race so on the final corner I took the inside line and was the first to power up the hill and jumped into the sprint. I could see Evie from Jakroo coming on my outside so I kicked a gear harder and gave it everything I had to power across the line first.
Copperopolis Road Race - In which I practice time trialing
Before this year, I’d only done Copperopolis road race once before in my first year of racing...and I absolutely hated it. With little fitness and less than stellar bike handling skills, I remember getting dropped on the first hill and barely making it across the finish line without crying. While I’ve grown as a rider since then, I showed up to the race expecting a tough day - especially since I don’t really count myself as a climber. On the first hill, Ellie Velez put in a strong attack, which I countered. The field split, but even with 4 riders it was clear there wasn’t much motivation to work together this early in the race, so we regrouped. On lap two, Diana put in a surprise attack on the first hill, which I once again countered. I drilled it to the top of the climb and was surprised to see no one with me. As I started to descend I resolved to keep pressure on the pedals and ride a strong tempo, secretly hoping someone would bridge to join me. However, as the miles wore on - particularly with all the turns and bends in the course - it started to become clear that I needed to settle into time trial mode and prepare for the long haul. I knew if I could reach the final hill solo, I would be in good shape to finish by myself. The miles ticked on and I ate all the food I had, drank copious amounts of water and chased rabbits until I crested the final hill. Rolling across the finish line, I felt exhausted, but triumphant that I had turned the tables on the Copperopolis Road Race.
On the horizon is Redlands and some of my favorite epic Norcal races. See you on the road!