By Kimberley Wells
Rolling up to the start line with AC/DC “Thunderstruck” pumping set the tone for the Women’s Pro San Rafael Twilight (SRT) Criterium. A selection of riders had personalized theme songs during call-up thanks to race organisers. Success. It was a Saturday night in Northern California with hundreds of cyclists ready to tackle the testing course.
I would be the eventual winner of tonight’s rumble in the jungle but the dance of the twilight criterium was yet to unfold. My past few weeks on the West Coast have given me the great opportunity to guest-ride for Exergy2016, temporarily taking leave from my role in the Fearless Femme team. And while my Fearless colleagues were battling for the US National Criterium Title in North Carolina, I had a battle of my own. At my side was the reigning SRT champion and Exergy2016 rider, Alison Tetrick. Together we would have to fend off the plethora of attacks from the Vanderkitten team, who had the numbers to keep the peloton on a razor’s edge.
The power hill proceeding corner one proved to be a common point of attack with many women launching for a breakaway. Despite multiple riders making distance up the road, including myself and Tetrick, all the hard work culminated in a bunch sprint. And so seventy minutes of racing boiled down to the last few laps. Tetrick used her time trialing prowess to control the front with a few laps remaining. My definitive move came on the back straight to position myself in third wheel for the penultimate corner. I carried my speed through the final turn and came through in a sprint for the win.
Our podium was just as much fun as the race. I celebrated with Ruth Winder (Vanderkitten) who came in second and Olivia Dillon (NOW-Novartis), third. Flowers, champagne-spraying, a great crowd and an epically cool title belt made for great podium action.
The course, the crowd and the celebration get full marks. And certainly the trophy is one of a kind. The only question is; how do I get it back to Australia?!