Velo Allegro Saint Patrick’s Day Crit
By Trina Jacobson
This is my third attempt at writing a race report; the other two were epic failures because I raced myself stupid yesterday. It’s a miracle I found my way back down the coast to San Diego. Today, I thank the Good Lord for my safe arrival and smart phones to find the nearest Chipotle to the race course.
Last night I stared at the blinking cursor wondering what “cadence” it blinks at, then when I realized I was just staring, I typed a few incoherent sentence-like lines of words. When I read those lines this morning, I felt as if I were in Bizzaro world where nouns became verbs and verb nouns.
I’m in a very lucky place in my cycling life where I can sometimes enter more than one category on race day because of my age and category. On this day, I had my choice of 4 races at the Velo Allegro Crit as I was eligible to race the Men’s 45+, Women’s 1-3, Men’s 35+, or the Men’s Pro 1-3. I entered 3 races: the Women’s, the 35+, and the Men’s.
With the Category 4 racers starting with us, but being scored separately, Helen’s had the numbers (4), but there were a few strong solo riders to deal with, like my super-sprinter friends Jennifer Valente of Exergy Twenty16 and all-arounder Karen Meske of Revolution/Zoca. The course isn’t technical, but the wind can be problematic to solo attempts of breaking away. I didn’t have any SC Velo/InCycle teammates because they’ve been off doing some stage racing and are prepping for San Dimas Stage Race, so I was free to race how I wanted and I wanted to race hard, but smart.
After covering an attack and going for a prime/counter attack combo, a break of two riders formed. At first, I wasn’t concerned because it was Jennifer Valente and Karen Meske, but I saw Jennifer rallying Karen and knew this was The Move to be in, so I attempted to bridge unsuccessfully. The field took a moment to organize, with Helen’s taking the lead. Unfortunately, two riders including Shelby Reynolds of Helen’s crashed on the back side of the course. With Shelby down, the field lost a little momentum, but I attempted to rally the rest of the field to organize and chase. With Cat 4’s in the race, this was the perfect opportunity for them to learn a paceline.
Shelby was pushed back into the race and she had a gigantic angry bee in her bonnet! She went to the front and dragged us most of the way to Jennifer, who was now solo. Three or four of us pulled through the paceline and caught Jennifer. In hind sight, we should have let her dangle out there in the wind by herself a little longer, because she had enough time to regroup and recover prior to the last couple of laps. All I could hope for in that situation was good position and something left to sprint with. I took a lot of wind on the back side to move up, find the Helen’s train, or find Jennifer’s wheel. Apparently, it wasn’t the smartest move because I started my sprint and saw Jennifer pass me like she was shot out of a cannon to win. Shelby and teammate Haley Edwards went 2nd and 3rd. I held on for 4th with my currently ugly sprint.
Because this race is immediately after the Women’s race, I don’t take a full lap and head right back to the start line to cut my Women’s race number off, take a breath, and have a pineapple flavored Gu Rocktane Gel. I ended up staging right next to Kayle Leo Grande of MRI Endurance Elite Masters, so I introduced myself as we had never met in person, only in Social Media Land. There was also time to chat with Miguel Goodpasture of Catalyst Racing. You see, my work was done in the Women’s race and now was time for some good training and some fun, because going FAST is fun.
I couldn’t see what was going on at the front, but I could feel the effects of the Surf City Cyclery/Sterling BMW vs. MRI Endurance Elite Masters battle all the way at the back. The race was a leg ripper!
I had about an hour break after the 35+ race. While I rolled around, I went back and forth a few times on whether or not to race. I finally bit the bullet and entered my first Pro men’s race ever. I pinned my number while decompressing a little from the two earlier races. As the race was staging, I caught Cycling Illustrated photographer Greg de Guzman’s attention, introduced myself and asked him to get a picture of me racing with the boys to document the occasion. Ralph Elliot, the announcer, said something about the 100+ men entered in the race and a guy standing next to me said, “And one girl!”
My goal was to hang for 5 laps. I have NO IDEA what was happening at the front, but I was taking the corners and hanging in with less effort than in the 35+ race. I say “less effort” meaning on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 is sitting on the sofa and 10 is sprinting up hill into a headwind with the brakes rubbing) I was at a 9.0 in this race compared to 9.5 in the 35+. I hope the guy with the GoPro under his saddle pointing back at me enjoys my Race Face.
I hung in way past my 5 lap goal and was feeling Fabulously Fast and thanking IRT Wheels for making such awesome wheels to help me zoom around corners at Pro race speeds! When I witnessed a crash (it happens), I decided to play it safe and pull out. I wasn’t freaked out, but I did go wide to miss it, which means I took a lot of wind. Fighting to get back in wasn’t worth it to me as I had already gotten some great speed work and had a lot of fun. As I rolled off the course, I saw that the field was split into at least 3 groups and I came out of the last one.
I mumbled, “Hi” to a few friends, went to my car, changed, and headed to the nearest Chipotle. All I could think about was rice in my belly.
Why so many races?
Because I’m on Spring Break and I can go a little deeper into my energy stores this week, it’s fun, and it’s great training. The men in both races made me feel welcome and Velo Allegro took care of the Women by paying the full prize purse despite not having a full field. Thanks for your support, SoCal cycling friends!