Providence Criterium, Women’s Collegiate D and Women’s 3/4 Races.
So, I had been looking forward to this race weekend for a while, because it was both ECCC (collegiate cycling conference) Championships, but also a USAC event. This gives you the opportunity to do 2 races in 1 day, something I had only ever done once before. My first race of the day was the collegiate one, racing for Harvard. The course was almost completely flat or downhill, with one short rise at the south end of the course. The crew worked their asses off in the hour before the race, marking and filling in cracks in the pavement, as well as sweeping. There were also several puddles, that were luckily starting to dry off by 9 AM. It was a moderately-paced, but challenging race, that got faster as it went on. Several of us gunned it from the very start and broke away from the main field right away. I was with the lead group, but 2 riders had gotten a little bit ahead. I said to the Yale rider next to me, “They’re right there, let’s go get them!” and we picked up the pace, ripping around corners until we caught them. At one point I definitely heard her say “You’re so fast around the corners!” Haha! A strength! Unfortunately I’m less fast in straight lines for long periods of time, but the cheers from my Harvard teammates at several different points on the course were enormously encouraging. We got into a nice rhythm trading pulls, and it felt great to be up in the front group for once, not just hanging on by a thread, but taking good strong pulls. It wasn’t the fastest race, but we averaged just about 20, no crashes (at least that I saw), and the last few laps were the fastest, just like they should be! I found myself leading out the group on the last lap, which I was NOT pleased about, and I thought the only chance I had at staying ahead of the others was to gun it through the twisty chicane section and try to establish a gap with my cornering. I got a little gap, but they caught me again on the rise, and it was a sprint for the line. A Drexel rider got out ahead of me and took first, and then I was nipped right at the line by an MIT rider, and I was more than happy to get 3rd. My first podium!
After several hours of watching the other races, I ate and warmed up again for the 3/4 race. I knew the Pedal Power women would be there in force, but I felt ready to give it a good shot. The conditions of the road were better than in the morning, but still tricky, with some gravel in the corners where the pavement had been filled. Valerie joined me in this race and was doing a great job hanging with the field for the first bunch of laps. Cornering was a little hairy in this group, because we were riding quite tight, but I stayed out of trouble. I was pushing hard out of the corners and was feeling good, and then a crash on the west side of the course took out a few riders. I saw my Harvard teammate get through it, happily, and I was well to the inside, but it shook up the field a little bit; we took that lap a little more cautiously, and held back on that side of the course over the next few laps until they got those riders taken care of.
As the pace continued to pick up, I as usual, had a harder time hanging on, and popped off the back a while later. But, I continued to push hard and maintained a 20+ mph average even riding solo, which felt great. My brother, sister-in-law, and some friends were there, and several of my Harvard teammates stuck around for this race, and their cheers were again tremendously motivating. I got pulled after about 25 minutes of the 40 minute race, and I’m OK with that. I was pretty tired after the morning’s race. At one point, I started looking for the number of laps left, and they hadn’t even started counting down yet. OOPS. When I checked out the results, I was 15th of 22 starters, and I had no idea I had that many riders behind me, possibly including several people that usually come in ahead of me (though the official results changed slightly). Good thing I kept my pace up! Congratulations Julie, on an awesome win. See you next time!