Sarah and I and our gracious hostess Marsha, who lets us crash at her house every year, and has been known to drive people to the dentist when necessary
Gateway Cup is a 4 crit series in St. Louis, MO. Not part of the NCC or USA Crits, it's a very well attended long standing regional series coming at the end of the year, with equal payout for men and women. These races are super fun and a perfect way for us in the midwest to end our seasons. Sarah and I were excited to be racing together and didn't even care that hurricane Isaac was predicted to cause huge rainstorms all weekend. We drove down Friday afternoon through tornado warnings and intermittent storms and arrived at Lafayette Square for our nighttime crit in a torrential downpour. I was nervous, and waiting around to start it was easy to see everyone felt the same. I'd raced in the dark and the rain before, but never together.
The dark rainy crit Friday night
When the race started the rain subsided to a light drizzle and everyone behaved themselves and rode very well. Early in the race I attacked and got a gap. I was solo for a couple laps until Kenda bridged up. We were soon caught and a couple other teams threw down some attacks. It was so awesome riding around in the field seeing Sarah confidently taking those slippery corners. Mid race I attacked again, and Sarah countered! It was awesome. She and another rider had a gap but it was chased down. Things were going great until three laps to go when I hit a bump and got a flat. I had lowered my tire pressure so much because of the rain that I got a pinch flat. So much for tubulars! Bitterly disappointed but glad to be safe and sound, I got to watch the finish and see Sarah ride a stellar finish in the money, avoiding a major final lap crash that took out half the field. I honestly had no idea when it was happening, but apparently when I was off the front I got a prime! It was a great surprise and almost made up for getting a flat.
I had a little bit of history with the next day's race and didn't really want to race it in the pouring rain. But that is what we did. It rained so hard during our race that I couldn't see at times, and there were puddles that grew into actual inches of accumulated water. I know that in these conditions you've got to be aggressive and attack and get off the front, but I was very timid and rode with extreme caution. The absolute highlight of the race was at 2 laps to go Sarah took a flyer. It was a beautiful move. Unfortunately Kristin Lasasso was there to chase her down, but it was one of those gutsy risks that can payoff big when they work. Sarah was caught at about 1 to go, but still was able to collect herself and finish in the money. So impressive! I finished in the money too, and while I wasn't super thrilled with my result I was thrilled to finish with all of my teeth.
Keeping my teeth!
Sarah and I at the start of the Giro Della Montangna race on the Hill
"The Hill" is an old italian neighborhood in St. Louis, that has been hosting this bike race for 26 years. It was one of my first cat 1/2 races when I started racing and I think of it fondly. The neighborhood people are awesome and the crowds are great. There's long straightaways with one long slight uphill and tight corners. After 2 days of racing with no breakaways, we were ready to try again. The field was together until the last third of the race. I knew we had a $200 prime coming up and my plan was to attack and be away when they called the prime. Unfortunately they called the prime exactly when I attacked. I got a gap, but was a little bit uncertain of how to proceed. Hindsight being 20/20 I should have just gone for it. What's the worst that could happen? I wouldn't get the prime and I'd get dropped. As it was I slowed down and tried to conserve a little. Kristin Lassaso chased me down, came around me and sat up. I passed her, but again I hesitated to go all out--the final straightaway was long. Kristin started to sprint and it wasn't until then that I went all out. I neared the line thinking I had it, only to get nipped at the line by my Colombian nemesis Diana Martinez! To make matters worse for me Gwen Inglis from Kenda and Laura Van Gilder countered the prime and got away. I could not hang on and was dropped. But on the positive side, I got to see the finish where once again Sarah held her own and finished in the money!
Sarah and I were racing well, and I was proud of our efforts, but we were hungry for some better results. We had a plan going into the final day and we executed it! Monday's course is awesome. It's really long, with a long grueling though slight up hill, and lots of twisty corners that you could absolutely fly through.
I was taking the corners super fast and loving it!
We communicated really well during the race and at one point Sarah was going to lead me out for a prime. Unfortunately Diana was on my wheel so we shut it down. Sarah continued her aggressive riding and tried some attacks. At 5 to go Kristin Lassaso attacked and she and I had a gap. We traded pulls, and then she attacked me. I caught on, until several others including LVG caught up. There were multiple attacks and the pace stayed high. I maintained my position and felt great. At one to go, Kristin took over and started her lead out for Laura. I was on Kristin's wheel and she took me to the final corner. I went from the corner and got passed by LVG and Skylar Schneider and ended up in third. Finally a podium! Sarah and I were very happy.
Awesome capture of Sarah's aggressive riding during the weekend stolen from Steve Tilford's blog
Even though we would have liked to have done better overall I thought we rode very well and am pleased with our efforts.
Benton Park Podium: 1st. LVG, 2nd Skylar Schnieder, 3rd Spidermonkey!!