This image is of felicia "jacky brown" greer just beginning her high-speed duck under that flagging to avoid the crash.
It began to rain as the women started their race and the inevitable surface oils bubbled-up at exactly the worst window of time. The experienced riders went to the front from the gun and strung out the field like wild-eyed locomotives. The rain just got thicker with each lap's speed increase and the less experienced women had to back off the pack's cornering prowess. It was a shame for all categories of women to have to be in that one race - but, it did make for exciting racing - I'll say that.
The women who couldn't hold the pro-led pace through the corners quickly organized themselves and rode hard tempo. Though they were pulled, they rode well - you can't but think they deserved better for their entry fees, though. Earning every penny of her entry was this pit-bull of a Touchstone rider. She was off the back of the pack for most of the race ... like, 5 to 30 seconds behind the pack ... the whole damn race. . time trialing. ... jayzus.
The last half of the race saw the break-making accelerations go stormy and one particularly amazing crash strike like lightning. A group of four went up the road to contest the win - Pamela Greer and da' BamBam for Webcor, KellaBella pho' da VBellas, and Taitt "switch been flipped" Sato.
Late in the race, Trina of Art's Cyclery did a full-on manual to not run over Mel Metzger. It was a most impressive bit of bike handling. How it happened was that Metzger fell victim to the surface oils ... we were close enough to hear the grunts.
Metzger's front wheel slid out and she hit the ground immediately. It was a crazy unpredictable crash. Trina was behind and locked up her front break hard enough to shoot her rear tire a good distance straight up in the air. For a fraction of a second, it looked like she really was riding her front wheel.
What she'd actually done was dig her bike to a heart-stop away from crashing all over that little rag-doll metzger. The killer part? Without missing a frickin' pedalstroke, Trina throws down her rear-end, dodges the sliding melody and ramps back ontop of the gear, motoring up to the pack.
With 4 laps to go, the leaders looked to be readying themselves for fireworks. It was simply a question of who would fire first. From my vantage point, Webcror's felicia and betina had shown the most strength, riding howling mad from the gun. But, was one of the other riders holding back their strength?
And then, in that same spot as Metger's 6 laps earlier, Greer's front wheel ice rinked her right out of the race. It was nutzo slippy for the women's race. The men didn't have to deal with that lethal first surge of slippiness.
So, with Greer crashing inside the freelap rule, it was a completely different race. Taitt and BamBam had done lion's work the entire crit - so you knew each was strong and ready to give it full gas. Kelly looked solid, but she has not had the luxurious californey weather ... so, the intensity might have worn her down a bit.
The final 3 laps saw Taitt do a TON of work through the headwind finishing straight. She was driving it low on the bars and giving nothing but a puff of a draft. BamBam had been another work-horse all day but had an absolutely inscrutible expression on her face - so i couldn't tell if she was drooling in anticipation or fatigue.
If you'd have asked me to bet money, i'd have had to pass. I couldn't call the finish. But ... i was lucky enough to watch it.
Taitt led it out from the final corner - full head-wind, rain peppered eyes, crashes fresh in gray matter - and it was a gruesomely long sprint.
The tactic was a sound. It forced the others to launch their sprint at the same time. Yes, Sato gave a bit of draft to the others ... but, they were each going to have to suffer through a full 20 second sprint ... and that takes a lot.
You could feel the stomp on the floor as the three women jumped out of that corner. Taitt led it, but had accelerated just enough to get a hair of a gap. BamBam was a cat in full-flight - good form, rolling arms and powering legs ... but, Sato's little turbo was just straight-up flying and won it clean and clear. It was kick-ass.