Again, a totally new experience for me: racing a road bike and in a crit!
First of all, I wasn't sure if I would be able to race at all, since I crashed in the last WORS Race (Sunday, June 18 - Ora Trails fest) and bruised my knee super bad.
I had a good gap to get up and keep going after crashing, still able to get away with a win. The race got shortened due to a thunderstorm warning in the area.
At first it was hard to tell if there would be a serious injury, since my knee was double it's size, causing a lot of pain.
A day after the crash however, I was able to walk and my knee didn't feel unstable.
I am very familiar with the feeling of a torn ligament from three past knee surgeries, 2 ACL reconstructions.
Our plan was to rest on the Monday after Ora Trails Fest and join ToAD for the second part of the 11-day series, the "cheddar series", starting Tuesday June 20th to Sunday June 25th.
Tour of America’s Dairyland (ToAD) is the largest competitive road cycling series in the U.S. It hosts 11 straight days of racing throughout Southeast Wisconsin.
It was too early for me to race, so I decided to wait and cheer for friends and Nathan as he joined the Men's Pro Cat 1/2.
Still in a lot of pain, I think because of the liquid causing pressure, my knee was showing improvements when I tried riding indoors, since it wouldn't hurt when applying power.
Full of curiosity and expectation to not miss out on the ToAD races, we decided I would give it a try for a single race on Satuday. The Cafe Hollander Otto Wenz Downer Classic. (Check out my Strava activity here). With the women's cat. 4.
Our friend Stacee Goedtel, who was also new to crits, was successfully racing on women's cat. 4. The whole 11 days! She gave me a lot of support. It was awesome starting next to her on my very first race and having someone with some "beginner's perspective tips".
Taking some anti inflammatory painkillers I was able to ride and forgot the pain during the race. It was so worth it!
After a breakaway work with the strong rider Maggie Feikes, I was able to kick away at the end for a solo finish.
Obvioulsly racing was not the best remedy to heal my knee. But after that first experience, I wanted more.
I wanted to know how it is like to ride in a bigger, faster group, dive corners and maybe for the first time in real life sprint to the line against someone. So the next day on Sunday, the last ToAD day, in the morning we spontaneously decided I would and could upgrade category and race the women's cat. 2/3.
Off we go to the Cafe Hollander Tosa Village Classic.
Oh and how worth it was to keep pushing a little further on those painkillers.
I experienced "the starter pack" of crit racing.
Full of attacks for breakaway attempts, a more experienced group, fast and sharp corners AND the best part: throughout the race, prime sprints for cash!
I wasn't able to win this race and didn't have a good position for the final sprint and ended up 6th, but I was able to sprint for cash and win a couple times.
Check this video with one of the prime sprints.
I might be joining other road and crit races preferred with a healthy knee. For now, we continue focusing on Mountainbiking and the swelling in the knee to go down.
PS: Some people also race for chocolate milk, cheese and root beer ;)