Friday, September 08, 2006

Super Fast! - Giro di San Francisco

by Sarah Kerlin
Images from Itacud Imaging

It's September, so it's time for the crosser's to come out and play and remember what it feels like to go fast. In the Women's 1/2/3 event at the Giro di San Francisco, Erin Kassoy, Troy Watson, and I lined up to represent for Velo Bella. Ann Fitzsimmons was also out there in blue, racing in the 3s earlier as a gentle warm up for the 1/2/3 event.

The field was strong with several riders each from Proman, Webcor, Palo Alto, and McGuire. On the start line I checked out the championship stripes on the sleeves of the riders standing near me, and prepared myself for the difficult race ahead. After a few weeks of long hours in preparation for cyclocross, I was not exactly feeling frisky. I figured I had come here just to have what was left of my two legs ripped off before the day was done.

The Giro is typically a fast and aggressive race, and this year was no different with attacks right away. The pavement was more rough than I remember it, so the first two laps were pretty dicey as the group had some surprise encounters with the new holes in the road. It didn't take many laps for the first nasty crash, which happened as riders swarmed to the front of the group
approacing the first turn. I was in front of the crash, but Ann got caught behind it and ended up chasing for awhile before dropping out. Still a solid effort, being her second race of the day! I spotted Erin a few laps later so I knew I still had at least one buddy with me. The two of us mostly rode near the front, and I checked out my legs a few times by following attacks. I actually was feeling pretty lively, so I had some fun playing around but not being one of the animators. With just two riders left for our team, I decided to save my efforts for when they would really count.

With 8 laps to go, a break that looked like it might stick went off. Christine Thorburn was in it, as well as riders from Palo Alto, Proman, and McGuire. I moved to the front on the hill, and on the long back stretch I made a solo move to bridge up. Not being a threat to anyone, they let me go. I chased in the wind by myself for nearly a lap before I caught on to the break. They were moving fast, and as soon as I got there they started attacking each other. I had to keep my effort high to stay on the group, and I was in a big hole, a deep trench of misery. I told myself that cyclocross would probably hurt even more than this, so I better suck it up and get used to it. Once our break settled down again, a sixth rider bridged up to us, and then I had just a moment to consider suggesting a more civilized tactic. I thought, why not just work together? I contemplated making a bargain: please, please don't drop me and I won't contest the sprint! Just pretend I'm not here and make a nice happy pace line!

There never was a pace line, or even a mention of it - immediately there was another attack, and we were sprinting again. One rider burned up and faded back to the pack, a victim of the vicious combat up front. With 3 laps to go, Shelley Olds soloed off the front of our group, and they let her go. It was a tactical error, as she stayed away for the win. With my tongue hanging out and drool flying, I did my best to stay with the other three riders. With one lap to go, they attacked mercilessly and I just did my best to hold off the main field. I crossed the line in 5th, but with just a few bike lengths over a hard charging pack led by Karem Brems.

Erin finished the race in good shape as well, showing great form in her first pro crit this season. The countdown has begun and the Flamingo Flock has got our mojo on for cross season!


Post a Comment

<< Home