Race: Philadelphia Navy Yard Criterium (Crit)
Date: Saturday, April 15, 2017
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Rider(s): Shaina Kravitz, Deborah Leedale-Brown, Alli McCabe, Emily Smith, Emily Underwood
The Philadelphia Navy Yard Criterium means the official start of the racing season for me. The battle is always a two-pronged attack against a talented field ready to test their early season fitness and the gusty, unpredictable spring weather.
With over 30 women set to line up, there was a nice showing of local teams as well as lots of super strong individual riders all hoping to get away on the traditionally windy course. The day called for low 60 degree temps with the small chance for rain at the 1:10pm start. The team met up to go over the plan for the day. Course recon revealed five wide corners with a significant headwind through the finishing straight. Others sides of the course were well shielded and would definitely be the places to watch for attacks.
Deborah took the lead and calmed the nerves. It was the first crit of the year for most of us and we all wanted to put in our best efforts for the team, stay calm and safe. Her ideal situation was one of us to get away in a break. The second, and most possible option based on past experience, was getting Emily U. to the line for the field sprint. We would want to start up at a fast pace to shake out the group and keep communicating throughout the hour. We had a good idea of the wheels to watch and where things could happen.
The roll-out and first few laps were spirited and smooth. I reminded myself to avoid the energy sucking yo-yo at the back and situated myself in the middle of the pack. Immediately, Deborah and Emily U. zipped up to take control of the front. They were amazing at maneuvering through the group to get the pack to follow and I am grateful to be able to race and learn from them this year.
A few attacks went off, but nothing was successful. Emily S. found herself driving the front for a bit before peeling off to rest. There was a sudden single rider crash that shook us for moment, but didn’t upset the pace. Deborah was quickly back setting the pace when at just under 10 laps to go Emily U. went out on a solo flyer. She stayed away for 3 laps before being brought back. I soon realized that she might not be in a position to sprint, and with five to go a single rider countered and started to go away through the start-finish. I came up on Emily’s left and nodded that I recognized the move as she assured me that this was the time to go.
I quickly bridged up to the rider and made a motion to her to keep moving. We were joined by one more and with her urging started organizing to keep the break going. I focused on taking pulls, keeping my power steady, maintaining speed through corners and slotting back in till the end. I wasn’t sure what was going on behind me, but I knew was we were holding at least a 10 second gap with two laps left. At the bell lap it finally occurred to me that we could really stay away. The last lap blew by and I readied for the sprint. I’m not much of a sprinter, but gave it my all. I was psyched to look over my shoulder and see the charging field rounding the last turn as I eked out the last bit of power left in my legs to cross the line third.
It was a combination of patience, timing, confidence and, most importantly, team work. I am beyond looking forward to the rest of the season to come with these strong ladies!
Shaina Kravitz 3rd
Deborah Leedale Brown 6th
Emily Underwood 7th