Delray Beach Twilight Criterium
Colavita/Fine Cooking had five racers in the field. The course was a basic rectangle in downtown Delray, with some tight stretches and bumpy pavement. Our 7pm start meant the sun was already on its way down, and with 35 laps to do we were going to finish in the dark. I planned well for this by bringing only sunglasses, which were great while the sun was out but less great when it got dark and I was flying blind in the dark sections of the course.
The start was quick. Within a few laps, somebody attacked and established a small gap, and I surged to catch her. When I started to tire, my teammate Jen Purcell appeared and took over, shutting down the remaining space. I could have hugged her (except that would have been awkward mid-race); she knew when I needed help and she was there to deliver. Dude! Teammates rock!
Jackie Kurth jumped off the front for a bit after that and picked up a product prime. Things were going well. We were all holding good positions and responding quickly to moves, and I was feeling strong and confident. Going into the race, I was anxious that my crit skills would be rusty from the winter break, but everything came back quickly. Fighting for position, flying through corners, and hearing chicks squawk at each other about sketchy moves…it was home sweet home.
At some point around lap 20, Jackie Crowell from Exergy got away. It must have been when I was farther back in the field, because I didn’t even know she was gone. That’s no excuse – I should have been more aware. When the announcer called for a prime and the field surged for it, I decided to feel out my sprint and blew down the home stretch hard. It felt great and I was pleased as I sat down after the line, only to hear, “LINDSAY! KEEP GOING!!!”
It wasn’t the time to stop and ask why. I dug in hard and started scanning the road and listening to the announcer for clues as to why I was chasing. Because I had clearly missed seeing somebody escape and, because I was foolish enough to jump at a prime and then park my butt down after the line, I felt like I owed it to my team to work even harder to chase. I pulled and pulled, but it got tiring fast and I was relieved when Jen, Jackie, and Mary Zider joined me at the front.
We each took long pulls in an attempt to shut down the gap, but in retrospect, the pulls were too long and we were blowing ourselves up without making enough progress. I would get to the front and go for a lap or more and be just short of dying, but nobody other than my own tiring teammates stepped up to help. It was frustrating, because there were a number of teams with 3+ riders in the field and yet nobody else pulled through.
Starting at around 20:30, Chad Andrews spends a lot of time talking about Colavita and our chase efforts: http://new.livestream.com/usacrits/delraybeachtwilight/videos/14583136
The gap was never more than 20 seconds, but the four of us were nearly out of steam after chasing for many laps. I slipped back from the front and then heard the announcer say that Laura Van Gilder had started chasing. Maybe it was because I was tired and frustrated, but the laps that followed felt relentless and yet it seemed we were making no dent in the time gap. Before I knew it, it was 9 to go and then 4 to go and then 2 to go. I was hurting and tired, but my job was to be there at the end and so that’s what I tried to do. As the field crossed the line with 1 to go, I went to the front and pulled with everything I had left. It was enough to drive the field until just before the third corner and then I was cashed out. Everybody blew past and Tina and Jen were left to sprint it out.
There were 50 starters for the race. Only 29 finished. Tina finished 6th, Jen finished 8th, Mary finished 15th, I finished 25th, and Jackie finished 28th. These were obviously not the results we had wanted, but what I saw from my team was exactly what I wanted. Everybody pulled her weight. Everybody gave everything she could in service of the team. While the rest of the teams were holding back and doing nothing, my teammates were at the front, bleeding out of their eyeballs to bring back the breakaway.
We will learn from the experience and be tighter and more efficient in our execution next time. But that can be practiced and perfected, whereas having the balls and guts to fight together is something that can really only come naturally. While we are each disappointed in yesterday’s results, we are also ready to reunite at Redlands, bring together that energy, and start kicking some ass.