It was a cold morning out in the middle of nowhere. Lilly and I lined up towards the back of the small pack of racers. I was nervous, but I tried to rationalize my way out of it. I knew the race would start slow, so there was no real reason to stress out.
The race did start at a slow place, almost comically slow. Five or six UCLA girls were in the front and seemed reluctant to go any faster. One UCLA girl broke ahead as the gradient increased. I swerved around her teammates in hopes of picking up the pack’s pace and Lilly followed. They didn’t have any intention of going faster. That was the last we saw of the other racers until the finish line, twenty miles later.
Lilly and I followed the UCLA girl, Maddy, up the hill, then rested behind her down the hill. When the road flattened out we all worked together in a pace line. The gradient steepened as we approached the second lap. I died a little bit every time Lilly took a pull. Maddy sprinted and got the KOM, which Lilly and I had completely forgotten about in the excitement of racing. I managed to hang on to Lilly and Maddy until almost to the top of the climb. I caught them again just before the downhill. Maddy flatted on the downhill and Lilly and I had to leave her behind. Working with her the whole time, it would have been nice to finish the race with her. Then it was just Lilly and me…and an uphill finish. She sped away from me on the climb and we went 1-2 for UCSD.
Going into the crit I had three goals: (1) clip in, (2) don’t crash, and (3) don’t crash on my right side (I had healing road rash from the last crash). Just as I was mentally celebrating completing the first goal, I failed the other two. The girl to my right lost control and fell into my bike, her handlebars going through my front wheel and the impact throwing me from my bike. I got my spare wheel and the wheel pit people launched me back in a lap later. Jumpy from the adrenaline and my shoulder and hip burning from contact with the asphalt, I stayed mid-pack and tried to calm down. I was cautious and focused on avoiding another crash. With five laps to go, I decided it’s time to start thinking about the sprint. I found my teammates and sat on their wheels near the front of the group. I didn’t like where I was going into the final lap, mid pack and on the inside, but at least I was near Kat. I yelled “go Kat!” and she accelerated on the backstretch, and then it was Kat, me, and then everyone else behind us. We took the second to last turn fast, and behind me I heard screams and bikes hitting the ground. I went around Kat at the final turn and sprinted to the finish unchallenged. I was 1st, Kat got 3rd, Matea 4th, Holly was down a lap due to a mechanical, and Katherine went down in the crash (she’s ok!). It was fun having so many UCSD girls around to work with during the race.
UCLA Road Race
1 Lily McCormick
2 Alex Reich
3 Kat Ellis
6 Matea Djokic
4 Jeffrey Dahlen
9 Matthew Clemens
11 Willie Chao
13 Matthew Hung
19 William Wright
7 Ben Kurtz
Roger Millikan Memorial Criterium
1 Alex Reich
3 Kat Ellis
4 Holly Resh
5 Matea Djokic
2 Jeffrey Dahlen
4 Matthew Hung
9 Matthew Clemens
50 Todd Woodlan
Sam isn’t cleared to race yet, but came all the way up to support his teammates!
Matt and Jeff working the pack in the crit.
Matea happy to be done with 50 miles of hilly racing.
Kat sitting in the pack in the crit.
Thanks to Kenny Hoang and Jorts Sports Photography for the photos!