Michele- It's a chick and the Mendes Crit

"Sorry, no women's events this year" AKA Joseph Mendes CritElite Men 4s Preface I saw this crit last year and was looking forward to the chance to raceit this year. When I went to reg, there were no women's events. I emailed the race promoter and he told me, "Sorry, we're a part of the Junior Points Series, so no women's events this year." Well then, I guess we're just going to have to race with the dudes... Race Day I was the only one in the parking lot, all set up and in the trainer at 6:30am. I was determined to get a good warm up. I was texting Ann because I was totally freakin' out! As other guys pulled into the parking lot with their vehicles loaded with bikes, I started to calm asI let the race energy infiltrate and take its effect... the stage was set up and the music started playing... ah yah. My biggest fear for the day was that dudes were not going to be happy to see chicks in 'their' race. I knew our DBC guys were happy to have us,but what about all the other guys? This fear was immediately squashed when guy after guy came out to me in the trainer asking if I was going to race with them. After I sheepishly squeaked out a, "Yes," they replied with, "Awesome! I wished more women showed up and raced with the guys." The first couple of laps I was settling in and finding it much easier todo the corners with the guys. The pace was definitely faster than the women's races, but the cornering was soooo much better. Speed was carried through the corner as opposed to a whole lot of braking into the corner followed by acceleration out of it. *Insert Kevin McSpadden's voice here*- "Don't coast when things bunch up. Soft pedal and keep the legs turning. This will help flush out your legs and keep things moving for the accelerations." I knew we had two primes in this race. When I heard the announcement for the first prime I was on extreme alert and ready to accelerate for the surge... find a wheel and suck it! When Imade it through the first prime lap and kept going I started thinking,"OMG, I'm still with the pack... I'm doing it, I'm doing it!" I settled in and realized, "just go with the flow, you're ok." At one point I sawa DBC train form on the outside. I thought, "Don't be an idiot Michele. Get on that!" I got pulled up to the middle of the pack or so and hungout there for a lap or two. Oh... there were 72 riders in the race...that's a lot more than the usual 25-30 women in our crits. So the middle of the pack still visually looked like being at the back of the pack. After a couple of more laps I noticed that the thing that hangs in yourthroat was vibrating with every breath I took. I was breathing so hard I could hear it and I was at the point of drooling on myself! I feltlike I was hitting the mental wall and my only thought was, "Stop this ride, because I want off!" *Insert Fred Schnaars' voice here*- "Just make that surge. Even when you feel like you're about to die and you can't hang on any longer, HTFU and push harder. You will stay on, and the guys at the front are going to get tired and let up. The pack will slow up long enough for you to just recover for the next surge." Fred was right. I thought I was going to die for about a lap, but then it eased up, Lauren, Big E (Ethan Hockridge) and Joaquin- I could hear all of you. I know for the second half of the race I pretty much stuck to the back of the pack and hung on for dear life. *Insert OB 1 Conobie's voice here*- "Use the Force Michele, use the Force." I survived the second prime lap and was having a blast. When I heard the announce saying, "6laps to go, riders, 6 laps to go..." my thought was "SWEET JESUS!" The pace slowed a bit and then took off again. "5 laps to go... no more free laps." I'm thinking, "Hell yes, I'm still with the pack. I'm going to make it." 4 laps... 3 laps to go... oh no, what's that?!It's... a gap! A gap is forming, no!... pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal,pedal... shelled with 3 laps to go. But let me tell you, those last 2.5laps I could still see the pack and I got so many cheers from everyone out there, even the corner marshals! I thought I was DFL, but when Joaquin was doing some warm up laps and I was still rolling on the course he came up to me and said, "Awesome racing Michele! You stuck in there and the pack shelled a handful of guys throughout the race!" I ended up 69 out of 72. Hey, can't complain about that number!One other highlight was when I got back to my car to cool down in thetrainer. There were 3 Wells Fargo guys warming up next to my car. When I rolled in, they all were laying on the props! They said they were watching the race and thought, "Wow, that dude has got some long hair."Then after a couple of more laps they realized, "Oh $HIT, it's a chick!" Way to go Carol H! You did great!! We'll definitely race with the the guys again.
Lesson learned: 1. Guys love it when the chicks race with them
2. Push hard and make those surges, you will recover. 3) I love crits! 4) DBC rocks and is so supportive for anything that you might wantto try!

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