EVENT
Santa Cruz Classic Criterium

CATEGORY
Women's Pro 1/2/3

DATE
Sunday, March 30, 2014

AUTHOR
Cheryl Shwe

COURSE DESCRIPTION

A 0.9 mile loop in shape of triangle.  Down hill stretch after S/F includes hairpin turn, then onto bumpy Santa Cruz streets and into narrow one lane street with gradual incline then sharp right into steep climb (not Cat's Hill steep, but steep enough) into false flat into S/F stretch. 

TEAMMATES
Mary Mags(Andrea was also out there in W 4's race!)

GOALS & PLAN
Once we learned who was going to be there, we knew that we had our work cut out for us with Johanna Dahl, Emily Thurston (with solid team backing), Martina Patella, Marissa Axel and quite a few other strong gals toeing the line.  Bottom line, both Mary and I knew that we'd have to be at the top of our game to stay in what was likely going to be a fast race on a technical course.  Our plan was be in good position on the technical aspects of the course (hair pin, sharp turn into climb) and not work too hard on the faster/less technical aspect of the course.  We also knew that becoming part of any breakaway would give us the best chance of finishing on the podium.  

RACE SUMMARY

It was a crazy start in that it seemed as though I was the only one who anticipated the start whistle because I found myself at the front by a solid distance from the get-go while I heard everyone desperately clipping in behind me.  The lead was short-lived, however, as the fireworks erupted as soon as we got into the flat bumpy section.  Johanna, Emily, and who know who else (2 more gals) passed me in the flat section and they were JAMMIN.  That small group entered the climb first with a very small separation and I was in the pack, about the 5th wheel.  There was a significant headwind on the climb (of course!) and got gapped right away from that dreadful turn.  Needless to say, working alone into the headwind is not fun.  My HR skyrocketed for the first 5min of the race which I knew was going to cause trouble for me soon.  I carried on and figured you never know what may happen ahead and I knew that Mary was in the pack.

Well, Johanna and Emily did not disappoint!  They successfully made their break away at that first lap.  I'm not sure when, but the two of them lapped me at some point.  And although they were going faster than me (obviously) I realized at that point that the pack might not be far behind and I could hop back in.  Obviously, not ideal, but at least I'd get some race experience vs. a TT/suffer-fest experience.  Sure enough, the pack came by and I was actually able to hang in.  Bummed, however, not to see Mary in the pack.  I was able to handle a few laps, a few attacks and got better positioning on the climbs.  Eventually, however, I was near the back when a major attack by Martina strung out the pack and like that, I was off the back again.  ugh!  

Johanna and Emily passed me again, on the false flat to the S/F with 3 laps left.  The only fortunate thing about this is that I saw how Johanna cranked it up a notch and Emily could not respond--which was the decisive winning move by Johanna.  While on the last lap, I could hear the announcer say that Johanna caught the field.  Pretty amazing!  I know that the pack did make efforts to bring back in Johanna and Emily during the race because I could hear the announcer stating such and when I was in the pack, attacks were happening, but Emily had a lot of team support out there and I'm sure they wouldn't let anything stick.

LESSONS LEARNED

Although I know that working too hard early on points to disaster for me, I guess I had to learn that one more time.  Also, I really didn't think that the technical aspect of the course was going to be an issue for me because I am confident and aggressive on turning and descending--but I uncharacteristically took took a "safe route/less aggressive position" on that first turn leading into the climb and it back-fired on me since I got pulled off the direction of the course so severely and promptly got popped.  That said, I should've been able to recover from this and catch back on, but the speed of the race, the number of power climbers present, the headwind and the fact that they were chasing down what turned out to be the winning break, proved to be too much for me.   Also, although I had a decently timed warm-up, I didn't get in enough high-end HR stuff and suffered from the get-go of the race with getting anaerobic too soon.

FINISH

Yes, I did finish.  It wasn't pretty, but I finished.  

Thanks to Sandi Burgar for the great shots of the race in this  gallery on TheLeaderJersey.com