This race was three laps with a challenging climb each lap. The last time over the climb the race exploded and with only 15k to go to the finish the race was on. I was in a group of seven along with a teammate. The group had some of the top GC contenders but it was missing the yellow jersey. Our group stayed away and I finished 2nd which put me on the podium for the day and moved me to 3rd in GC.
Although most teams have already had quite a few races together here in the US and other countries Redlands is seen to many as the first “big” team race of the season. Redlands is the start of the National Racing Calendar (NRC). This year Redlands was a 5 day race with 5 stages. The night before we started racing we had a team meeting. We were each asked what our goal was for the weekend. Many riders said things like help the team however they can or win a stage. As I sat there and listened to each rider’s personal goals I got more and more nervous because I knew what I was going to say and I didn’t want to sound arrogant. But I knew go big or go home and when it was my turn I calmly said, “I want to win Redlands.” So that’s what we set out to do.
The week started out great with a new stage. The circuit was a challenging 2.8 mile loop with a sharp climb up Baseline street each lap.. Imagine a roller coaster, the long steep climb to the top with a fast downhill and twisty turns to follow. Now go on the roller coaster over and over. The finish was at the top of the long steep hill and after fourteen laps, I patiently waited and trusted my teammates’ wheels to victory. The first NRC stage of 2014 was mine. Not only did I win the stage, I was in the yellow jersey.
The next day was the time trial. Let’s just say I’ve never been so nervous in my life and some how I had the time trial of my life. I finished 4th which moved me to 4th in GC. I was disappointed to loose the yellow jersey before I got to wear it in a stage, but I couldn’t be upset my TT had kept me in the race. Last year in the same TT I finished 1:42 back of the leader and this year I was only 52 seconds back!!
The fourth stage was a 9 turn 60 minute crit. My focus was stay calm, stay relaxed and stay on a teammates wheel at the front of the race. I feel I was successful the second half of the race but the first half my old habits of relaxing too much and staying too calm took over and I found my way more than halfway back in the pack. The last few laps I was on my game fighting to stay lined up on my teammates. As we came into the last lap I knew all I had to do was stay on Jo’s wheel and it was going to be our day. At three turns to go we had not taken over the front and Leah Kirchmann jumped out of the turn with Allison Powers on her wheel followed by Jo and me. I battled to stay on my teammates wheel as we came out of the last turn, I told Jo to go, I could feel the rest of the field coming behind me. I finished 6th and Jo was able to hold on for 3rd.
I couldn’t believe the final stage had arrived and I was sitting in 3rd GC. We had a difficult plan going into the day but we were confident that we would be successful and we were going to take the GC. I felt strong going into the day and even during the race. With 3 of 9 laps to go my race was over, a group of 10 formed and I was not able to hold on. I fought as hard as I could. Three riders caught me from behind on the descent and one more rider joined us on the climb. The break was gone and there were only a few riders behind us left in the race. It was a difficult last couple of laps physically and emotionally. My first chance of podium at a NRC stage race had just been ripped from underneath me. I knew I had done everything I could have done. Nobody was upset with me except for myself.