The Stevens Circuit Race was my fourth mass start road race of my season and of my career but by far the longest: 25 miles in New Jersey’s Watchung Reservation in the form of four 6.2 mile laps featuring climbs, rolling hills and twisty descents. As someone who fancies herself more of a sprinter, I was a little more than anxious. Now for the race details: With no chance to pre-ride the course, the riders used the first lap to feel out the course. We learned the sketchy feeling of descending in a pack (the erratic lines, bustling, over-breaking and surprise pot-holes), where the big climbs were, and where the subtle but deadly shallow climbs that crept up when you least expected it.
Toward the end of the first lap, I decided to attack, to shake up the field a bit and see if I could get on a break with a few other riders. It failed—no one else wanted to pull and the pack caught us. The second lap, the Penn State girl started to break away from the pack after the major climb, the pack noticed this but was reluctant to chase her down. “She’ll fall back,” they were saying. But after another mile she appeared to be gaining ground and I decided to close the gap. I attacked and after another mile or two I managed to catch her. Looking behind me I saw the pack approaching up the final hill in close pursuit behind us and felt a wave of disappointment, and sat up. I looked forward again and to my further frustration, saw the Penn State girl spin out of reach reclaiming her lead and never to be seen again. I faded back into the pack and took the third lap to recover. On the final lap, I made the conscious decision that I wasn’t going to use my brakes at all descending the twisty hills. Instead, by pedaling through and counter-steering, I would use my Montezuma skills from Training Camp to get a break on the pack. It worked. With two miles to go, I had a substantial lead on the pack with one BU rider chasing. She caught me, and we traded off pulls until we came to the last descents, which I lead and later realized meant I was leading her out to the finish line sprint. Whoops. She took advantage of this and exhausted but pleased, I coasted into third place.
After sitting in at second wheel the entirety of the Columbia Criterium the day before and sprinting to first place on top of earning 11 points in the sprint premiums and making third place in this circuit race, I totaled 61 points for the team omnium and decided it was time to upgrade. Women’s B, here I come!