As a big block of races approach- I look back on Speed Week. What a fantastic first team race of the year for LA Sweat. For some perspective- I am the baby of the team. The MELennial, if you will. I’m a little new to this team tactics- or even team- thing because I raced mostly solo all throughout college. Fake it till you make it, right?
We spent more time over these 10 days in a car than actually on a bike- probably 2-3x as much. But we had such a joyous time eating snacks and doing town line “sprints” (aka who can reach their hand out the furthest and possibly smash it into the windshield.) Not to mention our incredible CAR! A Buick Roadmaster borrowed from Christa’s lovely uncle. We got numerous compliments on the car, plus it fit all of our Castelli bags and the Yakima rack held 4 of our 5 bikes. (Plus Christa’s tiny person bike in the back.)
We had all met and jived really well at team camp- but we had no idea how we would work as a team. Kim and I had raced together a bit last year when I guest rode for her team, but neither of us with Brenna and it was just the three of us for the first three races. Our instructions were to not be too aggressive- which I guess we failed- but in a beautiful way.
Day 1: Rock Hill Criterium
It was on a “BMX criterium” course (whatever the F that is) with what Kim called a “MOUNTAIN” of a climb to the finish. All of the racers were quite antsy and with such a wide open course staying at the front was kind of difficult. Not to mention we were all like “wtf how do I race a crit again?!” But there was a prime, Kim got in a break, and all was rad. Brenna and I rushed to the front to slow the field down and the gap grew. Until it shrunk. And shrunk. And the last 200 meters… they got caught. But you know how awesome Kim is?! She stayed up there and sprinted for 6th. Not a bad start to the week. I got like last because I was yelling at Kim from a switchback on the last lap and dropped myself. LOL. Who cares. Mission (kind of) accomplished.
Day 2: Belmont Criterium
We heard it’s a doozy! It was supposed to be pouring rain and the course featured a semi-technical descent with a climb to the finish. We had Kim 7th in GC and we needed advice. TIFFANY PEZZULO TO THE RESCUE!!! Also known as #tiffspo, like #fitspo but way cooler and more Italian and badass and stuff. Here’s the plan: Erica Allar will try to get in a break, probably with Peta Mullens. Kim gets to follow them and Mel and Brenna get to do what they did at Rock Hill. COOL! Sounds hard. BUT WE DID IT! And Tiff was 100% correct, of course. Unfortunately the weather forecast was correct as well. Pouring rain. Kim was in a 5-woman break and that thing was GONE. She sprinted for 3rd (!!!) and I managed to take 2nd in the field sprint for 7th, and Brenna was in the $$ as well. GUYS WE’RE DOING SO WELL!
Day 3: Walterboro Criterium
Ugh, not my favorite race. Kim, however, was feeling great. No breaks stuck, but she was in 4th wheel going into the 1st corner on the last lap. BUT WAIT! Coming through for one to go, someone crashed into the barrier around the wheel pit and there was a massive crash. Neutralized! Shoot. We waited around for 15 minutes, then they gave us 2 to go and all hell broke loose. Someone else slid out on the 2nd to last corner, but Kim still managed 7th and we all stayed upright. Survival mode: expert.
Day 3.5: WE DID A KICKR TRAINER RACE AND BRENNA KICKED BUTT.
The Athens people asked us to do a fundraiser/trainer race for free beer and prizes in between Walterboro and Spartanburg. It was an 8-minute “how many miles can you do” test. So naturally all three of us did it. We quickly found out that Brenna is a freaking rock star and crushed everyone else. She won us $1000 and then 5 minutes later was sipping a beer. That’s our Brenna.
Day 4: Spartanburg Criterium
CRISTA AND TIFF ARE HERE!!! The five-woman squad ready to crush. The main idea: take primes, stay at the front, make it fast, work for Kim. And that’s exactly what we did!! As I mentioned, I’d never worked with a team before and it was so much fun. I loved hearing my teammates tell me what to do, and we did a perfect leadout…. Three laps too early. Oops. We still got Kim in the top 10 for 8th and Tiff 10th, plus lots of primes.
Day 5: Athens Twilight Criterium
GUYS I HAVE BEEN DREAMING ABOUT DOING THIS RACE SINCE 2014 WHEN I FIRST STARTED RACING. I was feeling a bit tired from all of the races thus far, but I was beyond excited. I dug deeper in that race keeping it fast and grabbing primes than I think I ever have in my life. LA Sweat walked away with 10+ primes and the announcers really noticed us too. And we kept Kim in her 5th GC spot as planned, so it was a success.
Day 6: Roswell Criterium
Ok not going to lie, my legs were 110% shot by this day. It was difficult for me to even stick with the accelerations and just stay at the front. But holy crap was it amazing to watch my teammates control the race yet again- snagging primes, sitting on the front, getting Kim into the mix… it was incredible. They got Kim up to 4th to bring her to 4th overall, and we got 3rd overall as a team!! What a feeling.
Long story short, I love this team. This is going to be a great season.
Up next: OKC Pro-AM and Tulsa Tough!!
Tulsa Tough is my favorite crit series of the year, hands down. As I’m sure many other people would agree, Cry Baby Hill is my favorite. The crowd has more energy than you can even imagine and the course is hard and selective. I JUST GOT GOOSEBUMPS THINKING ABOUT IT!
Plus: the theme this year is “float party” so naturally, we have already purchased floats.
I can hardly wait. See you in Oklahoma!