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(photo via Boise Twilight)

by Caitlin Laroche

Arriving in Boise the night before I was excited to see all my teammates and get to know the hometown of our fearless leader, Kelli. This race and town has a reputation for being fun and fast and it did not disappoint.

The crit is held right in downtown Boise, with the start/finish in front of the beautiful City hall building. The crowds were large and incredibly fun and enthusiastic. This is a community that LOVES having us come and put on a show for them.

The field wasn’t huge at 40 odd riders however it was extremely deep; Boise is Kristin Armstrong’s hometown so Twenty Sixteen Procycling team had a full squad, along with the Hagens Berman Supermint team, Visit Dallas-DNA Racing, and ISCorp pb Smart Choice MRI. Adding to those formidable opponents were the Happy Tooth Team, and various strong single riders. We knew it would be aggressive and we wanted to add to that.  We had our own fire power; Christa was coming off a strong top ten at dairylands as well as a local victory, and we were riding for her to do her awesome sprint thang. Sata has been a selfless and effective teammate all year, getting done what needs to get done. Brenna had worked so well with us at Tulsa Tough and had shown herself to be a strong and aggressive rider, and she brought along another Portland local talent, Erin.

The first couple of laps of crit are all about figuring out the field, the course, the pavement, and the lines to take for me. It’s about gathering information to use later on in the race so if I’m on the rivet I can use my instincts that I honed early in the race. When I was first starting out and big crits were traumatic events for me where I would dropped and pulled, I saw Ina Yoko Teutenberg start at the back of the Merco cycling classic with me. For the longest time I didn’t understand what happen next; within a lap she was at the front of the race and I was still struggling at the very back. I believe she ended up winning that day and I made it the bare minimum before getting pulled. And then at this race I fully understood the way she did that and I did it too. I accidentally started at the back and within one lap I was within the top ten wheels. It was a surreal moment of reflection at my personal growth as a rider.

Right from the start the race was fast, there was a stream of attacks and we worked together as a team to make sure we were represented in all of the moves. It felt like the field would be content with a break going so this was important. Brenna and I were both in early breaks that held on for only a little, but about 25 minutes into the race Christa ended up in a serious move. This race was were being teammates really clicked. The special thing that only sometimes occurs happened during this race; there was finally that teamwork and team mind that clicked. We worked together and while there was some communication, it was mostly this unacknowledged feeling where they knew when I was going to need help and vice versa.  We read and reacted to the race with the same mindset. Christa’s move was reabsorbed and I was on the lookout for the counter attack. When it came I wasn’t quite in the right position to cover it immediately, however Christina Gokey-Smith of the Happy Tooth team also wanted to be in it so we worked together to bridge up to the break containing Kristin Armstrong, Mindy McCutcheon, Samantha Schneider, and Liza Rachetto. All of the teams were represented and it was close enough to the end of the race that we had a real chance.

Side note: it felt like at least every other lap was prime lap, and especially towards the end, they were for serious cash. This is a rare example of a community coming together and putting their money where their mouth is. So THANK YOU BOISE! It was awesome to appreciated like that!

Back to the race….Kristin appeared content to drag us along with minimal help, although the constant primes meant there was some sprinting for the line. Coming down to five laps to go I realized that this break was going to make it and I had to figure out how I was going to help ensure that we would stay away and still do well. After I decided against attacking at two to go, realizing that holding off an Olympic gold winner might be a bit of a stretch, There was some lollygagging on our part and on the backside of the course on the last lap we could hear them. I immediately thought to attack because I could probably hold it to the line and Mindy McCutcheon had the same thought. We went from that moment on with the rest of the break grabbing onto our wheels. Sam Schneider ended up winning with Mindy in second, Christina in third, and myself in fourth. Rolling through the course after that last lap and meeting up with my teammates and Kelli is always a fun part of racing. You get to compare and congratulate each and be especially happy in this case.

As we sat around afterwards we heard the podium was going to five, and the realization hit that this was my first time up there at a bigger race and I didn’t know what beyond the basics to do. I nervously and excitedly asked my teammates about the podium protocol and I had fun figuring out the hat, glasses combo, and making sure I looked good. Unfortunately there was a lack of communication and the podium only went to three so I had a good laugh and immediately peeled off the gross chamois that I had been sitting in.