Racing the Gateway Cup, 4 crits in St. Louis from August 29 – September 1, was an unexpected opportunity. I came into it hoping to work on my crit skills, extend my season, gain more race experience, test my limits, and support our rockstar sprinter Sam Schneider. And, of course, Team TIBCO always plans on having some fun!
The first race was Tour De Lafayette, and the 8:15 PM start meant the 55 minute crit would be raced in the dark. This was my first evening race, and I was accordingly nervous and curious. Turns out, you do just what you would during the day: focus on the racer ahead of you while staying alert and attentive to the field. I told myself this, and I found it to be true, but how I touched my breaks in the corners suggested my nerves were not totally convinced. Covering attacks and listening to my teammates helped me stay positive and focused, and Sam sprinted to second place behind Coryn Rivera of UHC.
Day two, the Tour de Francis Park, was another 55 minute, 4 corner crit. Sam was again second to Coryn in the sprint, and I found more confidence as I covered attacks and helped my teammates.
Day 3, the Giro Della Montagna crit, was by far my favorite for several reasons. This course had a nice puncher climb, and bridging to a break let me test my legs and ability to recover quickly from an effort. It’s important to learn how to dig deep not only at the end of races, but at any point that your teammates need you. It’s a pleasure to work hard in a race knowing you have a speedy teammate in the bunch. Sam again showed that speed in sprint, finishing second to Coryn.
Day four, the Benton Park Classic was another 55 minute crit but a very different sort. It had 10 corners and our legs had 3 days of racing in them. We didn’t get the result we were hoping for, but Sam maintained second place in the omnium and I held on to my confidence and focus. Our team gave it what we had and walked away proud of how we raced together all weekend.
It was a pleasure racing with Holly Mathews and the Schneider sisters, and I learned a lot from them and Dave Schneider who directed. Not long ago I would have said this little climber hates crits, but with a little encouragement and experience, I’m starting to love them!