Michele Feikert Women's Cat 4 Golden State Race Series
Welcome to my 2011 race season! While warming up on the course before that cat 5 race started, I witnessed this newbie dude sit up with his water bottle and no hands crash himself out in full water bottle flinging style as he desperately tried to grab the bars and regain control. Fortunately I was about 10 bike lengths behind him, but still… not exactly what I wanted to see before my race.
The ladies were all hyped up in the first two laps. In several of the corners there was bumping, drifting, severe braking, yelling… I was thinking, “Oh no… this is not what I signed up for, why am I doing this again?” But after those first few laps, the two extremely bushy tailed squirrels were dropped, leaving the pack to handle the remainder of the race smoothly. I was still quite unnerved, so I spent the entire rest of the race 10 feet off the back of the pack. This was a bit embarrassing because I could hear people yelling at me to “catch back on… get up there… don’t give up… find a wheel!” Along with Dave’s, “Babe, what the hell are you doing!?” ;-)
On the last lap, backside of the course, Gale from Metromint blows a tire. The pack balloons out, there is mass confusion for a while and then they regroup. After the last corner, I went to the side of the pack with an open lane and started sprinting. To my surprise (and I admit, sheer enjoyment) I passed over half the pack to get 10th place. Hmm… ok, now I understand and believe that I am a sprinter. My goal for the circuit race was to work on getting over the nerves and get back into the pack…
Sunday, May 22nd, Circuit Race
I had made friends with Stella from Tri Valley Velo after the Crit. I was going to stick close to her during the circuit race. Stella and I end up at the front of the pack on the first lap. She was still unnerved from yesterday’s tire blow and I didn’t want to be hanging off the back where I got to witness all the bonehead moves that feed my nerves. One mile in, on the backside, we hear screaming, crashing and grinding… Stella takes off and I get on her wheel. The rest of the pack gets around the crash and catches back on. Stella pulls for 3 laps… no kidding, strung out single file for ~6 miles. I ask her how she’s doing and she doesn’t want anyone around her. Finally, she elbow flicks and moves to the side. I rotate to take pulls keeping the pack strung out single file.
The most confusing part of this race was that they showed cards at 2 to go. I missed the 2 to go warning and thought we were on our last lap because ladies started to come around and the intensity was feeling like the last lap. But I did hear the bell for last lap as we came through and distraughtly found myself all of a sudden at the back of the pack… again. The ladies were attacking like bats out of hell from the first corner. I’m thinking, “There’s 2 more miles! OMG.” I’m totally caught off guard and I’m suddenly off the back. I’m sprinting to catch back on, but with repeated attacks, I’m barely just getting there. People are being popped and I’m passing them as they go backwards. I am able to reconnect by the freeway and get a short recovery period on the final straight before the chicane to the finish line. More attacks and surging, I stay with them through the chicane and then sprinted with all I had left. I passed a cluster of about 8 women in the sprint to get 7th. I would like to work on being more assertive in holding my position on the last lap so that I’m starting my sprint from 3rd or 4th wheel… not the back of the pack.
CAPTION: Michele Feikert concentrating as she rounds the turn. Photo by Tim Westmore