Tour of St. Louis
By Mia Moore, Cat 2 Racer Extraordinaire
“It’s been a long time, we shouldn’ta left you (left you) without a dope beat to step to...
See you don’t wanna throw it all away
I might be shy on the first day, what about the next day? (Huh, huh, huh, huh)
See you don’t wanna throw it all away
I might be buggin on the first day
But what about the next day? (Huh, huh, huh, huh)
If at first you don’t succeed
Dust yourself off and try again,
You can dust it off, and try again, try again
‘Cause if at first you don’t succeed
You can dust it off and try again
Dust yourself off and try again”
It’s been a while since I did a race season, I’ve been busy learning acupuncture and figuring out how to be a good witch, but after a full chi cross cup season, I wanted to hit the streets this summer. After some mild cajoling and side eye from Daphne, I decided that I would start the summer off in March at the Tour of St Louis, considering the race to “get comfortable” and “dust off the cobwebs” (although this phrase always reminds me of Mrs. Havisham, which is not a character I am trying to cultivate).
The race started Saturday with a very early ELEVEN MILE time trial, to be followed by a mid afternoon criterium, and another criterium on Sunday morning.
Jrho and I got up at 5am on Saturday and drove to the course. The sunrise was stunning, far more stunning than my performance, it would turn out. We were given our start times, and looked over my warmup “set your watch to the official time” it said, “do NOT be late” it said. “DUH” I said, I finished my warm up with only six minutes to spare, and still had to check in at the porta potty, and I put a few pumps of air into my tires. When I was done, I looked at my Garmin, and my heart completely sunk, “noooooo, omg, noooo this is actually happening, I’m going to miss my start time” “FFFFFFFFFF” I sprinted to the queue, and was told I could add the couple minutes to my time as it was rolling, if I waited to start after two other riders. “Ok” I said, completely bummed at how much I had screwed up. It was hard to keep my head in the game and not berate myself through the the whole 30 minute effort, but I did what I could (I ended up upping my 20 minute power by almost ten watts, so that is a positive). The course was really lovely- sweeping turns through a little bucolic enclave (apparently Frankie almost hit a deer). I would love to go back and have another crack at it, the right way. I finished and went back to the car, not looking forward to explaining myself to my teammates…HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN? It will never happen again, I tell you what.
The Carondelicious Criterium
I was nervous, not knowing what to expect from the other riders in the field, but I DID know that Daphne was 2nd in the omnium after the TT, and my job would be to support her and rough up the competition. The course was great! It’s in a lovely park and has a fun downhill sharp left turn into an uphill, a few nice curves, and an uphill through the start/finish. I decided it would be best to start off the race by throwing some early attacks. I knew I wanted to be in front going through the downhill turn anyway, so it was to my advantage to work this into my race strategy. After a few solid attacks, Daphne attacked after a preme, and a break was established with one woman from all the main teams represented. I worked to help the break cement-chasing down attacks and generally trying to disorganize any attempts at chasing my teammate. It was fun. I feel I would have received a ‘most aggressive rider jersey’ had that been a thing. I like to have a job, it helps my nerves, and makes racing more fun. (When I have the fitness and confidence for that job to be “win” that will also be great.) Jrho and I tried a lead out for the field sprint, but I’ll just say we need practice. S’ok; it’s March, cobwebs, etc. Daphne won from the break, so success on that end.
The Great Forest Park Criterium
We woke up to a snowstorm, and not like, “oooh it’s a little wet” but like big fluffy heart attack snow flakes. It wasn’t really sticking to the ground, but it certainly did look like winter. I thought about how cold and miserable it would be to race, and pretty much resigned myself to watching. I didn’t put in my contacts, I didn’t put on my kit, I ate a bunch of cornmeal waffles...Jrho, Daphne and I drove to the course where Kelsey and Frankie were out going hard in the paint, the wet wet cold paint. The snow stopped, and I received the last message of a back and forth conversation with my coach-me bellyaching, her trying to convince me to at least try:
“Let’s play what would Alison Powers do. She would say htfu and go for it; attack those conditions and tell yourself you LOVE racing in the rain...you could always stop when you want”
Daaaaaaaamn, no one wants to let Alison Powers down.
I also thought about this group of women I ride with with, and how I would have to hand in my tuff card if I didn’t at least start the race, so I put on my skinsuit, my silver shoe covers, my regular glasses, and did a couple pre laps. The course was pretty tame for a crit and wound through a really beautiful park with wide turns and only one real corner (and only one corner with any paint). I did a little warm up, and we rolled to the line. It was cold-36 degrees or something awful. We took the first lap pretty gingerly as a pack, and I realized how I was not properly warmed up at all.
WELP, MAY AS WELL MASTER MY OWN DESTINY THAN WAIT FOR SOMEONE ELSE...
I attacked with the sheer purpose of getting some blood into my legs and lungs, and propelling myself into race mode. It felt good. The pace increased in general, and racing commenced. Daphne was leading the omnium, but was very close to one other rider in the standings, and needed to win the crit. She said her legs felt good and ended up racking up all the premes, which made for some tasty treats after the race. It was my job to soften the pack and keep people chasing. After another lap, I attacked again, hard, right before the corner on the back side, knowing the pack would not want to scream into the wet painted corner at full speed all together. I pushed through a lap OTF until I was re-engaged with the group. Jrho countered, awesome. When the pressure is not on me to win, I find great satisfaction in making the people around me huff and puff. There were a couple other mini attacks, but the pace slowed again, so I went for it again, right around the same corner. I spent another lap OTF. It was great. Racing with intention and aggression is amazing. The rest of the crit was more of the same, with some Annie Byrne attacks thrown in as well. In the last two laps, I went to the front and kept the pace high for the final lap lead out. The last lap went and Daphne sprinted for the win. SUCCESS.
I’m really glad I did this weekend. As a learning experience, it was top notch. I did some dumb stuff, and made some major mistakes, but it’s March, and I can recover for the races I have targeted as important. It felt good to be back in the mix, and to spend a weekend on the road with a great group of leopard clad ladies. Daphne won the omnium, Kelsey won some dollars, I ate a really good pork chop, and faced some racing demons.
I learned a rule after the TT which is pretty good for life as well as bike racing:
“If there’s a race that doesn’t go the way you’d hoped, you can get mad, angry , frustrated, and upset for as long as it takes you to drink one water bottle. After that, release the energy and move forward” —Jen Sharp
It was great to watch and cheer for my friends and teammates, and to see Chicago really dominate the women’s fields, with Annie Byrne of BFF winning the women’s ¾ Omnium and all the races in that field. Frankie was back in the road game for the first time in a while as well, and offers this advice:
“Racing on pavement is sketchy until you chill out, learn from the rad women around you and remember that you do this everyday when you’re late to work, only then the other racers are cars, so it’s actually comparatively not bad...also always bring all the snacks, all the tools, and extra bar ends” —Frankie
“You can dust it off and try again, try again, oooh oh”
Thanks to our hosts Amy and Justin Lebb.