Tour De Murrieta
by Suzanne Sonye
Day 1: Time Trial
We started with 5 riders: Emily Georgeson, Priscilla Calderon, Hayley Edwards, Shelby Reynolds, and me.
I was lucky enough to borrow an amazing TT bike from my friend Trudi Schindler, so how could I not be motivated to TT? Also my ,former teammate Lyne Bessette had given me some training workouts to do and I felt that I could get a top 5. We were warming up and all of a sudden it started hailing and blowing wind and rain. I tried to look on the positive side. It was only 3 miles with a 1-mile dirt climb. How bad could it be?
As I started in the rain, I felt I was bouncing all over the place. It’s a little unsettling to be in a TT position going downhill in the rain, being tossed around on the bad road. I was really conservative in the first turn. It is about 500 meters from the start and it is just not worthwhile to dump it. Then, I hit out hard, but not too hard. My biggest problem in past time trials was not being focused. This time, I was focused on not crashing. I made a few mistakes before the climb, all due to my lack of practice on a TT bike. I got so bogged down on a roller that my teammate PC yelled, “you want my bike?”
I finally got it going again and I was happy to hit the climb. I felt I rode that section perfectly all out, and then I hit the top…BOOM! I let myself get bogged down again! I don’t think I would have done much better in the results, but it’s frustrating when it’s because of my lack of practice! My teammate Emily Georgeson ended up winning the stage on her road bike with clip-on aerobars! Becky Siegal came in 2nd, Joy McCullough 3rd, Ruth Clemmence 4th, and I was in 5th! I was happy I made my goal…just barely! We are so happy Emily won!
Day 2: Criterium
We added Michelle Ignash, which brought us to 6. Our plan for this day was to increase Emily Georgeson’s lead and move me up from 5th on GC. The omnium is based on points, not time, so moving up if you’re a sprinter can be quite easy if you play the game correctly. We decided to ride for a sprint finish, putting me as the final rider to take Emily to the line. The plan was to go 1-2, and in which order we did not care.
The race was animated mostly by Joy McCulloch and Becky Siegel. They were sitting 2nd and 3rd in GC. There were a lot of single riders and most were just playing off our plan. We initially talked about lining it up for the leadout with 1 to go, but for some reason we got nervous with quite a few riders we had never seen before. It can get sketchy in the last 5 laps, so the girls lined it up with 5 to go! I was very nervous about that, as that’s a LONG time to control the front of a race. In hindsight, it was good as there was a crash going into turn 1 on the last lap. We only lost one rider in that because we were already in place.
So, game on! Michelle Ignash had been on the front most of the previous 4 laps and she took us through turns 1-4. That left PC to take Shelby, Emily, and me down the back stretch all-out to turn 5. Then, Shelby took it from there through the last turn and started sprinting. It’s a good 400-500 meters from the last turn. I generally go really early and Murrieta was no different. I jumped at approximately 200 meters to go with everything I had and Emily was glued to me. I kept clicking down the gears and we crossed 1st and 2nd with a healthy cushion. We were really excited our plan worked out, as that gave us 1st and 2nd on GC going into the 3rd stage.
Day 3: Circuit Race
We added Sarah Mattes, bringing us to 7 riders in the field. This circuit is 3.5 flat miles with a disco finish, which by my standards means downhill with four turns before a short dash to the finish line. The promoter was able to get most of the entire circuit closed off, so there was a fairly short centerline being enforced. If I’m not wrong, all categories still had an issue with the centerline. Even our field, which only had a little over 50 girls. Why attack over the center line or put yourself there if you can’t follow it? Set a good example for the younger or newer riders by not doing it or, more importantly, there could be other hazards you may not be aware of.
Our plan was to protect the jersey and keep my placing if we could. We would follow the same plan as the previous day, only I was going to be on Emily going into the finish. Jessica Cerra, a professional Xterra racer came out to race. LaGrange had 5, SC Velo 7. Jet Cycling/Major Motion and Sisterhood of Cycling had their a-teams out. The race was aggressive from the start, with the Jet Cycling girls taking off in a full sprint! I think it may have caused some shock in the field, as there was a crash right away. Unfortunately, a girl broke her pelvis.
It settled down quickly and then the attacks started. The race was always moving with someone trying to get away. Pam Schuster, Becky Siegal, and Jessica Cerra were really active. Unfortunately, Joy McCullough punctured and couldn’t make it back on so she was out of the overall. I never like to see people lose races from crashing or puncturing.
Going into the final lap, we got our girls to the front. Jessica Cerra attacked at turn 2 and I was on her wheel, but I did not want to follow her because she had not raced the first 2 stages for the overall. I wasn’t worried and it would have put me in a bad position for the finish. The field hesitated and she got a pretty good gap. Michelle got on the front and drilled it to the top of the last hill and PC had to take us to turn 3, which left Shelby, Emily, and me with a lot of real estate to cover. Emily and I kept going back and forth about which position we should be in going into the finish, and in the end I decided to take the lead. It made more sense for me to lead her out as she was the race leader and I can do a lot of work and go pretty far.
We caught Jessica in turn 3, but Tracy Tilton had gotten off the front and I was unwilling to chase her because we would have been totally short in the finish. I took over for Shelby at turn 4 and took it halfway down that stretch. Shelby come in front of me and hit it hard. I came around her out of turn 5. Angelica Frayre slid in front of me but I hit it hard to try and bring her back. I got to the final turn and Emily came around me and just missed the win. I wanted to stop pedaling after that dig, but realized I needed to keep sprinting for points! I hung on for 4th. We ended the 3 days with 2 stage wins, and 1st and 2nd overall. An error made by me at registration took us out of the team competition.
Jet Cycling/Major Motion deserves a mention for bringing their junior racers to this event. These girls want to be pros and had a great setup with a lot of support.
It was a great 3 days of racing for our team and these girls keep me young for sure. But I keep the young ones in a separate room. They are crazy!