This past Sunday was the Happy St. Paddy’s Day Crit in Asheville, organized by none other then Mars Hill Cycling Coach Hugh Moran! Of course, myself and several riders from the team were on hand to volunteer and race. The weather was perfect! Mid 60’s, mostly sunny, slight breeze. The course was essentially flat with wide easy turns around the perimeter of the Biltmore Square Mall. I had decided that I wouldn’t race: I would come, volunteer, cheer and spend the day in the sun with the best of the WNC cycling scene, and my training hasn’t been consistent for road racing lately anyway. After being course marshal for the first two races, I headed back to the registration area to hunt down some coffee. Once I got there though, the atmosphere was contagious! There were 10 minutes until the cat 4 women’s race…should I? I had brought my cross bike with road tires on it…I did have a kit… YES! I knew if I was going to race, it had to be the 4’s. If nothing else, my lack of experience puts me exactly in the cat 4’s, and I knew I didn’t have the fitness to try and hang with the women’s open field. I got changed quicker than ever in my life! Huge thanks to Todd Arensman for getting my tires at a respectable pressure for racing! I jumped on my bike, took a fast lap of the course, rolled up to the start right on time!
The course was fun! Since the turns were wide and easy, they didn’t cause any problems for me. Since I don’t really know much of the strategy involved aside from don’t get dropped and don’t end up pulling everyone, I ended up getting dropped about a third of the way through. That was fine, the weather was pretty, I was racing my bike and I was having fun! My teammates out marshaling the course provided entertainment on each lap. I ended up catching one of my Mars Hill teammates with a lap and a half to go. She was able to grab my wheel and hang on the to end, where we had to sprint for it!
I think my last minute approach, the weather, hilarious cheering from my team and friends, and the course made the race one of the funnest I’ve done! I did it purely to ride my bike and try something I’m not experienced in. And it reminded me how much I love to race! When I don’t race for a month or two, I forget the rush and amazing feeling of my body pushing itself, and the focus that comes with competition.
Thanks to Hugh for putting on a super fun race, for letting me race, to those who cheered me on, the sponsors who provided materials and prizes for the racers, and to the Biltmore Mall for providing a venue!