Virginia Solomon – 5th, WA, Stanford Crit, 3/5/2012 – Lessons in Positioning and Paying Attention

John Tomlinson, Raquel Orellana, Georgia Soyrizo, and I pulled into the parking lot of Stanford’s crit a healthy hour and a half before my women’s A posted start time. We quickly learned that we were in fact two and a half hours early, due to a particularly gnarly men’s C race. Hope everyone’s OK. This left a lot of time to survey the course (which was great – good pavement, nice sweeping corners, totally clean of debris, and in a prime location in front of Specialized’s headquarters! A huge thank you to Stanford Cycling for a fun crit, and a great weekend) and to partake of the best part of collegiate cycling- chatting with friends from around the conference.

Our race got started with a season high field of 14 women. My personal goal was to hang with the pack, given my sickness level over the last week, and the generally lackluster legs I’ve had since the beginning of collegiate season. We got rolling to a reasonable pace, and then Davis started attacking and counter attacking the field, as they made up a solid fifth of it. The rest of it were a handful of Cal and Stanford ridres, and then one each from CPSLO, HSU, and an out of conference rider from Utah State, and me. Davis riders would get away and dangle for a bit before being brought back, but about half way through one got away and the riders from Cal and UCLA who had been doing the lion’s share of pulling didn’t quickly bring her back. With no one else doing much work, and Davis successfully squashing anythingthat went anywhere, they eventually gave up. Given the legs I’d been having, I wasn’t interested in helping chase as I wasn’t sure I could latch onto the next break that went and help it stay away, and I fancied my chance in a sprint for 2nd vs something behind the possibly larger composition of the next break. Throughout the crit, though, I’d been able to bridge some moves and even get in on some of the primes, so I was starting to feel decently confident in my chances in a sprint and put more effort into staying up front. The last few weeks of getting shelled in every race really had done a number on my confidence, but it came back in short order!

With a few laps to go SLO and UCLA started throwing in attacks again, and Stanford moved up to the front in earnest, but none of them were able to stick. We were starting to ramp it up, but then coming into turn 4 of 5 of 2 laps to go, I heard someone yelling “coming through left.” We had been lapped by the Davis woman who went off the front! I’m not sure when the field realized it, but that meant that instead of seeing the bell lap, we were racing for our finish. A few people on the front started sprinting, and I stood up to stay with them, and then shortly before the finish realized it was the end of the race and sprinted home for 5th. Lesson learned about positioning. It was an odd race, but it was nice to be in it again! It’d been a few weeks.

Thanks to Coach Eric Bruins for securing us such swanky housing at his family friend’s beach front palace! Can we race in the Central Coast and stay there every weekend?

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