SLR Womens 1-3 Race Report:
Who Raced: Julie Cutts, Melina Bernecker, Bee Eschenwald
Who Placed: Julie- 1st, Melina – 7th (relegated to 10th?), Bee – DNF (injured)
Once again I thought I had missed my start time as I made my way through the men to start line to find no women. Fortunately, Stu was as the line and assured me that I was indeed early for once and that because I was so nervous, I should get a good result. He was right!
I was told by my coach to practice my patience on this race and not chase everything down and not attack too early. This was very hard for me to do, since I am a worker and I love to make a race, not just sit in one. But I listened to him and was patient, I took a few pulls when needed and chased a few of the breaks I thought might stick, but other than that, I sat, sat, sat.
I was keeping track of who had been working during the race and by the last lap, I knew who was fresh and who was tired. Melina had done a lot of work during the race and I wasn’t really sure how she was because she is so strong and can still finish well after working hard during the race.
The last climb was awesome. Someone else got out front and drilled it up the bottom half of the hill. I had experienced being in the back of the pack in one of the previous laps on the hill and knew I needed to be in good position going into the last corner if I was going to be able to counter attack or attack on the last climb. So I sat in about 7th in the train going up. I felt so good being in that draft, but knew the pain was coming. As soon as the front pulled off, I used her momentum to attack. I am a time trialer so attacking on a hill is good practice for me to broaden my horizons. Everything my coach told me to do, I did for once. I kept a hard pace a long time until there were only 6 of us left. Then I pulled off the front to recover for a minute and then attacked again. I did 10 seconds of sprints and then would tt it, repeatedly until there were only 3 of us left. Once there were 3 of us, I had to turn back on the brain and conserve for another thing that would broaden my horizon, and that is to sprint. I used a draft coming into the final corner and patiently waited to come around for the sprint. It was hard to believe that I had won it and I was the most excited for this win because I had listened to my coach and had won by being smart and by a sprint! New things for me for sure.
Melina finished so strong even with all the work she had done. It was amazing. Unfortunately she was penalized a few spots for not holding a line at the finish, which we all thought was ridiculous because none of the women racers had complained.
After the race, we realized all that we had done together, and even though we didn’t have a real plan, we raced as if we had planned it all. We were good at reading each other and I so look forward to racing with the women’s team more because the mo joe is so there!
SURF CITY CYCLERY Womens 1-3 CRIT:
Who Raced – Julie Cutts, Melina Bernecker
Who Placed – Julie Cutts – 1st, Melina (7th, won field sprint)
The next day was the crit and Mel and I knew we had to get in any break that we thought might stick. We had discussed before hand who we thought would be able to keep a break going and which ones we would go with. There were a lot of early attacks which were good to keep the pace fast. About halfway through the race, I went for a prem because nobody else seemed interested and I knew it would open my legs up for the rest of the race. When I went for the prem I didn’t sit up to rest, I just kept on going and sure enough the right women from the other teams joined me and we were in a break of 6 women with 8 laps to go. There were 3 women that were probably sprinters due to their build, and 3 of us that were breakaway material. So with about 5 laps to go the 3 of us attacked the sprinters and dropped them all eventually. With one lap to go we lapped the field which was awesome because all 3 of us were looking for our team to lead us out. I found Melina and she did her job so good. She moved me up through the pack in the first 2 corners like it was nothing. This gave me time to track where the other 2 girls that had been in my break were positioned. They both set up nicely by their teammates as well. I thought for sure there was going to be a crash at bottom of the hill in the corner. It was awesomely crazy up the hill. I lost Melina’s wheel and had to jump wheels of opportunity. I saw the girls who I needed to beat and again waited for the right time and went for the sprint and won! It was incredible to win two days in a row in this field. I attribute it to my teammates, coach, and husband who came to support me. Thanks to La Grange and sponsors for helping my dreams come true!