Delray Beach Twilight Criterium By: Jacquelyn Crowell (ExergyTwenty16)
The beginning of the Delray Beach Twilight Criterium was uneventful. I went for a prime with two-thirds of the race left to go and I just kept going. I’m not sure why I wasn’t followed. Maybe they thought it was too early in the race for a breakaway to stick. Hell, even I thought it was too early in the race for a breakaway to stick! My intention was to keep the race moving forward, prompt some aggression from the other girls, and set myself up to attack later in the race.
The field hesitated and I got a decent gap quickly, a big enough gap I just couldn’t let the opportunity pass. Normally in a situation like this, I’d have a sprinter and a full squad of teammates to back me up, but today my Exergy TWENTY16 teammates were busy in California winning the San Dimas stage race. If I got caught, there wasn’t a backup plan. I’d just come back from a month of racing in Europe and knew I had good fitness. Maybe not enough to pull this off, but it was a risk I was going to take.
I seesawed between 10 and 16 seconds for most of the race. I knew my steady time trialing ability would be my strength, so I tried to find a rhythm. It hurt. I became desperate for time gaps because I couldn’t hear anything the announcer, Chad Andrews, was saying over the cheering crowd. The only information I was getting were questionably accurate and conflicting time gaps from spectators on the back side of the course. It was dark, so I couldn’t see anything either. I was alone, in the dark, and in a lot of pain. I was confident that Colavita and CARE4Cycling would be chasing for Tina and Erica, respectively while the rest of the peleton waited for the catch.
At five laps to go, the mental image of myself on the top step became clear. But then somewhere between three laps to go and one lap to go, I lost count of how many laps there were to go…
I put my arms up and coasted almost to turn one before I could finally hear over the roar people saying, “one to go, one to go!” I almost didn’t believe it, but I thought I’d keep going just in case. My lead decreased over the peleton, but I held it to the line celebrating for a second, glorious time!