There was no doubt in my mind that being on the Specialized lululemon Team would mean racing to win. In the sport of cycling, racing to win can often mean racing to conserve and then do the bare minimum to win. Not the case here in the back and white hypnotizing team of women. In the first criterium of the year for the team in the USA, we decided to make the race today not only a team victory, but really, really hard for everyone, including ourselves.
It all started with Ally. Shortly after I failed to clip in my pedal at the start, I saw the long limbs of Ally Stacher accelerating hard to the right. The plan was to attack from the gun. What messed me up a little on the start was the gun was a mere whistle, and I was waiting for the fun. But that’s another story.
Back to Ally attacking… I think we all wondered who of us would get the ball rolling. That it wasn’t even a designated responsibility for any of us made it all the sweeter when I saw her go. It definitely made me get my cleat in the pedal, fast. Soon after, the moment was there when I thought ‘here goes, might as well be me!’. Which led to my own move and a few laps of pain. The course was one of those with so many reflectors and rough patches that it wasn’t lightening fast and the corners, though plenty, were not the sort you could rail through and pick up speed. That and long straightaways. Not good fuel for a breakaway flame. I found this out more than once when off the front. It hurt. A lot. In fact, each attack and acceleration hurt. A lot. That’s the way it is with the first races of the season.
Which is precisely why we race. To get the rhythm, teach the body to digest and dish out the blasts of speed that make racing fun.
That we didn’t care about points or primes made it a fun 49 kilometers in Merced, California. Evie, Loren, Ina, Ally and myself took our turns and put on a show. What can I say…when you have Ina Teutenberg on the team it’s easy to thrash yourself and not worry and anything coming together or staying together. Ina knows how to win no matter her form, no matter the lead-out, weather or opponent. Considering Ina can win the sprint, and seeing her off the front solo ‘just because’, is an example all racers should look to.
After the race which, yes, Ina won, so many people commented ‘now that was a race!’. We made the race and this feels good. It’s what stepping on the line is all about. Seeing what you can do and exploring the possibilities tactically, technically, physically and yes, mentally, too.
Here’s hoping that the accelerations hurt a little less tomorrow!
Morning spin along the almond orchard blooms
Ina with her doggie Sophie on the podium