Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, Stage 3 – Hood River Criterium

I’ve never raced a criterium before, and while I know circuit races and Monday PIR have prepared me a little bit I’m still apprehensive. It’s a tough course with a wicked, badly banked, sharp right hand turn that threatens to take upon out if you pedal at the wrong time; the locals call it Carnage Corner for a reason. Plus there are 24 other women riding it at the same time, and the road is only so wide.

We have 25 minutes to sprint our legs off on the 1k course. My goals were to stay with the pack and not crash. Success! As a crit newbie I decided to stay toward the back and watch how other people rode the course, see what lines they chose, figure out where to move and what was dangerous. What I learned is that I need some practice! Trailing the pack is tiring work, especially on a course with some climbing and a straightaway into the wind.

In the last lap I decided to try my trusty “jump the pack from the back” trick at the finish but I was too far behind and came in 13th. Not quite enough sprint it seemed. What worked in Stage 1 has little effect here, but no matter since my time in the race is the same as the pack’s and my position overall doesn’t shift. I guess I need to learn some new tricks.

But first, I need to survive 57 brutal miles of Stage 4.

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