... i think i'll just repeat that in my mind a couple times.
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The promoters decided to run an open women's event for the Cherry Pie crit. It's not a decision I'm in favor of, but ... when you do all the work to put on a race, you get to decide how it's run. I just have to wonder at the mentality, though. Category 4 guys who are 45+ scream and complain that they shouldn't be forced to race with some former-pro 50 year-old.
And yet, we ask total newbie cat 4 women to jump into, arguably, one of the harder crits on the circuit, and fight it out against current professional riders.
Right on ... do what you think is best. demographics n' all.
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Anyway, the racing was intense. The initial laps saw 3 groups forge together: the lead pack of Professionals and some of NorCal's elite, and two chase groups of strong NorCal hotties who worked damn hard to coordinate and stay out front of that lead pack for as long as they could.
Fighting it out for the win were about 10 Colavita riders and a handful of Cheerwine, PROMAN, ValueAct, Aaron's, and individuals like Tibco's Brooke Miller and Velo Bella's Mary Maroon. Colavita would send rider after rider on the attack, but not in a very organized or efficient manner.
For example, the first few laps saw Alysha Powers thundering off the front in a huge solo effort. But on a course with as much wind and climbing on it, a solo rider against a fresh field is sheer folly. The pack split chasing duties between the teams and individuals, either making pace or launching accelerations up the hill, always keeping Powers within spitting distance.
As the race progressed, more attacks would go off the front - but Colavita would never really commit to making a break stick, often times shutting down moves one would think might have suited them well. The hum of the crowd tilted towards the thought that Colavita would be relying on their Goliath of a sprinter, Tina Pic, to win it straight up. Sound reasoning, usually.
But, David wears baby blue nowadays. In the final lap, Colavita kept the pace high and the leadout was a country mile long. Rider after rider would burn off the pace, stretching the field thin as they powered towards the long finishing climb. Far down the hill, Brook Miller in Tibco's distinctive kit, with her unmistakable form, could be seen launching away from the leadout to start her sprint.
Cherry Pie is a fitness sprint - and Miller is showing to have superior fitness as we approach the NRC openers. Her slightly higher, more open body position on the bike was clearly noticable versus the traditional field sprinting form of Colavita's Pic - hunched low over her bars, even while her hands on the tops pulled harder and harder in search of that few more ounces of torque.
It was a close sprint between the new Tibco rider and the decorated veteran from Colavita. I couldn't help but leave the race with the impression that a team riding in a one-dimensional fashion, even with a superstar sprinter like Pic, is flirting with danger. But, that's what February bike racing is for ... figuring it all out.
well, that and the wine.