Brittany placed 6th in a field of 50 strong women yesterday at the Louisville Criterium! Brittany was one of many women out that day from the Naked team. We also had several women who had never raced, give it a go too. Here’s her take:
Mentally, this race started Thursday evening when Ingrid and Kat held a cornering and skills clinic at the Louisville Crit course for the team. After a couple hours of cornering on the course we would be racing on, I went home feeling fairly confident. Saturday morning, the Cat 4 Naked women lined our trainers up where we could watch and cheer for the Cat 3 women while we warmed up. For the future, I will try to park closer to wherever these group warms up will be, because I have exactly zero upper body strength, and I’d never noticed, but trainers are heavy. They should make those suckers out of carbon. As the Cat 3 women wrapped up, we talked through some tactics, pinned numbers, made final porta-potty runs, and debated what layers might be necessary.
My biggest concern is that I’ve never raced with a team, and I’m still not overly confident on what I need to do to work with and/or help my teammates. But the Amandas are wise and assigned several of us less experienced team members jobs, based on our strengths, so we had something to focus on. All I had to do was get my women up the hill, hopefully without dragging along too many women from other teams.
We did a quick lap and lined up, and having waited until the last second, I was at the back of a field of 45. The mentoring women explained the course, the rules, and their roles, and then led out a neutral lap. When we came through for the start, Amanda 1.0 decided to break up the field and took off fast, and we all followed. I managed to work my way toward the front group, near Amanda 2.0. Amanda 1.0 accomplished her goal; the field was fairly blown apart for the rest of the race.
The next thirty minutes aren’t particularly clear; there were wheels in front of me and behind me, women passing me, and women I passed. I spent way too much time not behind a wheel. Coming around the corner at the bottom of the hill, Amanda 2.0 would tell me to go. As soon as we turned onto the hill, she’d say it again. If I didn’t hear her on the hill, I’d look back to make sure she was still there. She told me to stop looking; she’d be there.
At the start of the prime lap, the group picked up the pace, but by the time we were coming back up the hill towards the start/finish, everyone seemed to have run out of steam, or interest. I think that was also when Ingrid (mentoring) told the group that it was a good time to make a move, so I did. I didn’t expect to win the prime and when no one chased me, I started to panic a bit, “Did they not ring the bell last time? Did I lose count? Did I just do something really stupid? Why am I so far out in front?!” I crossed the line and slowed for the group to catch me, and immediately felt less panicky.
At (I think) three laps to go, Ingrid and Rachel (also mentoring) asked if Amanda 2.0 and I were communicating. My internal response was, “I’m doing what Amanda tells me to—does that count?” I honestly don’t know what I said, maybe, “I think so?” Whatever it was, I’m sure it made no sense.
We didn’t get on the podium today, but Amanda and I were both top 10, and I ended up with a free massage from Integrative Healing as my prime prize. This was a great first crit experience, not only because I feel I did well, but the support of the mentors was incredibly helpful. I noticed several occasions where they were able to advise either an individual rider or a group, and I’m confident there were plenty such instances that I didn’t see, so thank you to all the women that mentored.
I am more excited than ever to be racing with Naked this year and am looking forward to more races with the team so I can improve my own being-a-teammate skills, and so I can get to know my teammates better. Hopefully there will be more orders from Amanda 2.0 as well.