DANA POINT, CA – If you have never attended the Dana Point Grand Prix, you are missing out! This year’s event broke last year’s record for the most pre-registered licensed cyclists in an United States criterium with 863 cyclists, as well as last year’s national mark for the most registered licensed cyclists in a one-day criterium with 1,029. The most popular event of the day was the exhibition Kid’s Races, which featured more than 400 children ages 4-12.
With over 600 adult cyclists participating, less than 50 were women.
I wondered why that was the case… Until I got to the start line of the Women’s Pro 1,2,3. My heart rate explained it to me… it was creeping up to 150 beats per minutes and I was standing still! Why was I so intimidated by all these girls… maybe because all I had to do was mess up just one time – I would get dropped and pulled, just like the last time I was here. That was a quick 10 minute race that I pushed from my mind.
But I had learned my lesson. I had a new goal and a better strategy and much better fitness. My goal was to finish the race and I would do that by staying in the middle of the pack the whole way. I would let the fast girls do the work up front and stay as far away from the back as possible… without being in the front. Riding on the back is so much hard work… making up the tail of the peloton takes way too much effort… gotta take the risks to be constantly surrounded by your competitors to get the most benefit from the wheel in front of you.
And we’re off! After a few laps I managed to calm myself down and settled in to just where I wanted to be. Those 6 corners flew by every minute 45 in 0.8 of a mile, each time seeming easier and more enjoyable… surprisingly though… because our average was over 24 mph!
After clipping a pedal in Turn 2 (and being kindly pointed out what I had done), I was way more cautious of pedaling through the the turns! I remembered that course being so crowded the last time, and it was crazy trying to get a decent spot in the turns. Must have been the consistent fast pace this year, it spread the field out a little more so there was always enough space in the turns to not freak out. (I can thank the Canadian national team for that!) I always say I enjoy racing with the guys more because of the consistency of the pace, but to my delight, there were minimal attacks and the pace did not fluctuate too much this year.
The realization that I was going to finish the race hit me, my goal was fulfilled and I was overjoyed. I got back the confidence I had lost.
Choosing the wrong line with 1 lap to go, I had no choice but to pull my brakes losing the possibility of a top 20 finish. It’s ok, I was already happy enough. My heart rate averaged out to 185 bpm so I knew my satisfaction hadn’t come easy but it was worth all 50 minutes and 20 miles of it.
Can’t wait for next year!