Natalia and Melissa worked the State Road Race Championships to bring home a jersey! Here’s the story of how they got the top step on the podium at Deer Trail.
Deer Trail is a small farm town on eastern planes one hour from Denver. The area is famous for its rolling terrain and crosswinds. I like to think that long, endurance races are my strength but you never know what can happen while racing, and as I was driving to the race all I could think about was getting dropped and time-trailing the entire 42-mile race. I arrived at the race with no expectations.
We lined up at the start line and were led through the town by the official on his motorcycle. Once we turned onto the county road the race was on. The SW4 field was relatively small, only 18 of us, and just one other girl from Naked. The pace was moderate and the field stayed in a close pack so the wind didn’t seen as strong. Melissa and I talked about strategy and even got few girls from other teams on board. About 25 miles into the race one girl from Primal team attacked. Melissa and two others followed but I got stuck behind a girl who had to get off her bike when turning around the cone. I knew this was my only chance so I pushed really hard and after fighting the wind I caught up with them. The five of us sprinted until we were far enough from the pack and felt safe. We formed a pace line and worked really well together. After few miles one of the girls dropped off and I started to feel fatigued and wanted to drop off as well. What kept me going was my teammate’s encouraging words and the scary thought of being left behind in the wind all alone. Melissa and I kept pushing each other and if it wasn’t for her I would be left behind.
It was only nine miles to the finish line when it was only the three of us. I looked behind and I saw nobody and I couldn’t believe how the race turned out. We knew we were safe so we slowed down a bit and gave our legs a little rest. At that point we knew we got this, but we still didn’t know who would win the final sprint. When we approached the 1km sign Melissa took off and I knew I couldn’t catch her. Margot from Boulder Running Company team and I raced to the finish but she was just a little bit stronger and I finished 6 seconds behind her. When I crossed the finish line I still couldn’t believe what just happened. For me this was my first podium road racing this season and I couldn’t have asked for better company on the podium. I was so proud of my teammate winning the State Championships. This by far was my favorite race so far this season, not only because I got my first medal, but because we strategized, executed, and won. This truly was a team effort.