Schlitz Park is turning into one of my favorite races.
Last summer, I did this race-in it's Superweek form-as my first race on a carbon bicycle. I was able to create a breakaway with two strong local riders, Jannette Rho and Stacy Appelwick, and the woman leading the series, and we ended up lapping the field. This was a huge accomplishment for me, even though I finished last out of the four in the sprint. This year, I really wanted to win. Like, I REALLY wanted to win. EYE OF THE TIGER!
In the car ride up to the race, I hectored Luke for strategy, and he was all like, "don't attack first, wait a bit, let some other attacks get chased down before you make any moves" and then while I warmed up he was all like, "so, in the final lap, you have to get to the last corner first for the sprint". OK!
The race starts, and a woman from Kenda attacks immediately, so I follow her. The course goes like this: start flat 100m, right turn into a long block of 9 percent grade, it is big ring short kicker of a climb, but certainly significant, a block of false flat, right turn, one block of headwind, right turn, downhill into a fast left turn, a short block, fast long curved right turn in to a chicane and a left onto the finishing straight for 100m to the start finish. When we came through the start, we had a small gap, maybe 3 seconds, so I pulled through and jumped up the hill thinking she would be on my wheel, but she fell back. Well, here I am, I may as well try to make this work. The race is only 35 minutes, this may be my best chance. I pushed as hard as I could up the hill and through the false flat, and the unrelenting yet subtle headwind section. I took all my lines clean in the corners and saw that my gap was growing, I kept pushing it hard on every climb and pedaling as much as I could on the downhills. Luke gave me my splits every lap, which was really helpful because after about a 13 second gap, one is out of sight of the pack. I must have confused the pack by staying off, because I gained on the five chasers every lap, and lapped the rest of the field. This was a great way to win! Next year, I will try my hand in the much faster 123 field and see how I stack up against the pros. But for now, I will relish the cow print jersey.
The ToAD races are really well done, and they certainly know how to do a podium. This course was challenging and fun, and I will be back!