by Robin Farina (Now and Novartis for MS)
There comes a time in every pro cyclist’s season where she starts to wonder where the season went and what happened to that “form” that she had been training so hard to find. Well, that is where I was about 3 weeks ago. The first part of the season came and went in the blink of an eye. Nationals, albeit a new and exciting course in my home state of Tennessee with tons of media exposure for the women’s race, did not play out for Now and Novartis for MS. We missed out on bringing home the stars and stripes. The beginning of the season found us with lots of podiums for our team in stage races, but no personal wins for me to feel like all the hard work and training was validated. It torments you and makes you rethink your training, your plan and your fitness. No amount of mental training and discussing of fitness, form, or bike fit can get you through this rough patch. All you need is a WIN, a mid-season break, and some paddle boarding. Then you are set free ,or so you think…
I checked the race calendar a couple times this past week and came to the conclusion that my season is supposed to end in one month. How crazy is that? Since when does the road season end in the beginning of August? DAMN YOU, CYCLOCROSS!!! This can’t be. I feel like I have just found some much needed motivation and hopefully “form,” which for those that don’t know is fitness + freshness. In any case, I was feeling like I haven’t raced enough and with the fear of not getting to race in August or September, the most logical thing would be to hit a 9 day crit series leading into Cascade Cycling Classic, which is a 6-day hilly stage race. I counted 16 race dates in the next 18 days, which started with BC Superweek in Vancouver. How’s that for racing back into some fitness!
Don’t get me wrong, the season thus far has not been dull or unsuccessful. NOW has been highly successful at some of my favorite races, like the fabulous Tulsa Tough. Talk about a race that is going to explode. The 3 day criterium omnium is so lively and well supported. It could be my favorite race all year long. The crowds are wild (check YouTube for “Crybaby Hill”) and the race director and community do everything they can to make the women’s pro peloton “EQUAL,” and their prize purse proves it, as does their media coverage. Sounds like a reoccurring theme: prize purse parity and more media coverage.
Another new and exciting race that NOW chose to support was the Winston Cycling Classic. It was a first-year race that has tons of potential, and there is rumor that they are shooting to be a UCI race in the next year. They pulled together a phenomenal twilight crit with bands, beer gardens, and packed streets. What more can you ask for besides a very large prize purse, which they had there too. I believe NOW took home almost all of it that weekend with back to back victories! Winston Cycling Classic is definitely one to mark in your calendar for next year.
So after a short break and some much needed rest, I found myself in Davis, CA racing the Annual July 4th Davis Criterium in 104 degree heat. It was pretty unpleasant and basically felt like a hair dryer blowing the entire race. Lucky for me, misery loves company and I had two other teammates to join in the downtown Davis fireworks display. The race ended with a bang and I got that “W” I had been hunting for this season. Finally, what a great feeling, and to top it off Olivia Dillion finished 3rd to secure a podium spot and Beth Newell rode like a BOSS! A great team day for sure!
Fast forward a day and NOW it’s midnight and I still can’t sleep. Too many caffeinated gels before the Tour of the Delta crit earlier tonight. That’s alright because it was worth it. The first race of the Tour of the Delta and my team NOW and Novartis for MS walked away with another win and a very successful team race. Lex Albrecht is now in the leader’s jersey for BC Superweek. We have a lot more racing to go over the next week and a half, but it’s nice to feel good about the team’s win for the evening. Wins are hard to come by in bike racing and they are not to be taken for granted!
Stay tuned for more updates from the road. There’s a lot of racing and work to be done. When we aren’t racing these days, the pro women’s peloton has been super busy working towards several initiatives it would like to see accomplished. The Cycling Salary Survey is one of the projects that will help us understand the state of cycling better and help us find a way to make it a viable sport down the road. I encourage you to take part and help support women’s pro cycling by becoming a fan and encouraging more women to ride and race bikes!
Thanks for tuning in!