Cat’s Hill Classic Criterium - Words by Kortney Parman
It was early in the race season when one of my brothers, Brock, told me he wanted to come see me race my bike- his first time. I was really excited to learn he would be coming west from Atlanta, and looked at the race calendar- I wanted to choose a race which would be spectator friendly with a good turnout. Cat’s Hill is sponsored by Mikes Bikes and is a team race, so I knew it was on my schedule. I’d never raced it before, but I knew that as a crit, it would be spectator friendly.
I did some course recon the morning of, watching my boyfriend race the Cat 3 field, explaining to Brock the race basics and tactics. I lined up with the field, assessing who was there. I was riding without teammates this race, and I decided who I needed to pay attention to, including the NCNCA Cat 3 Woman leader, Jennifer Wilson of Razzle Dazzle. The race was off and I settled in. The first part of the course is a false flat to approach the famous Cat’s Hill, which was the unknown for me as I’d never ridden it. I shifted into any easy gear and got out of the saddle to take the climb. It’s not an easy effort, but just short enough that I still felt I could punch it.
Early in the race a strong rider from Specialized Muscle Milk, Jamie Erickson, picked up the pace and invited me to join- her goal was to see if she could cause some separation in the field. I pushed with her, but the field stayed together pretty well. Then she had a mechanical, which ended up taking her out of the race.
Haley Nielsen of SheSpoke is a strong sprinter and she went for early primes, which was fine with me as I didn’t want to burn too many matches early on. But in the middle of the race, when I realized that no matter where I was positioned in the peloton at the base of the climb I was capable of summiting Cat’s Hill with the front riders, I decided to put some pressure on the field and pushed the pace a few times, even maintaining a break for half a lap with a few laps to go. I took two mid-race primes.
On the last lap, I was first up Cat’s Hill. My plan was to push really hard on the descent and subsequent small hill, trying to get as much of a gap as I could, and then prepare for the final sprint. Arielle Little of SunPower crested just behind me and then made a well-played attack, which I followed. I felt as long as I stayed with her and was at least 3rd wheel going into the final stretch, I was doing okay. As she, Jennifer, and I came around the final turn, I sprinted. Thankfully I was able to hold my pace to the end and crossed the line first. It was my first win of the season, and I was so thankful for Brock to have been present for it. If he didn’t appreciate my crazy cycling before, I think he does now.