I grew up in Edwardsville/Glen Carbon. I graduated from Edwardsville High School (I still refer to that old building as the high school although it's been the middle school for a long time now!) & completed undergrad at SIUE.
I heard great things about this race from last year, including the massive payout to 20 places! We NEVER get payout that far and good. I was sad to have missed the race last year.
I wish I was a better racer and stood a chance at winning in my home town. My massive suckage didn't prevent me from signing up, and praying that we had 20 or fewer women (Sorry E'Ville Crit promoters! I wanted pay out!)
Thankfully my wishes came true when I learned that we had 18 women in the open race. WOOO HOOO! Finish this race and get some cash.
As I got ready to race, I was excited to see lots of familiar faces, including my Aunt J'Deana and Uncle Jack. They have both lived in Edwardsville for a long time and know EVERYONE! I didn't have my usual pre-race jitters as I watched the races before ours and chatted with a couple of wonderful volunteers and some new Edwardsville residents. I even convinced one of the volunteers to throw water on me during the race! (THANK YOU GABBIE!!)
The Cannonball Hub Women's Team, complete with new kits and now affectinoately called "Peas and Carrots", consisted of me, Ashley,Soli and Molly! (Kate and Alice are still on the mend). I was happy to see those girls there to go in circles with me. Ashley and I warmed up on the trails and chatted.
1:45 arrived and we gathered at the start line. It was hot, as usual and I had tucked some ice here/there to keep cool but just couldn't settle on a comfortable place. Buddy gave pre-race instructions, for what seemed like forever, as we tried not to melt. A venerable whos-who of women's cycling was there at the line, including (but not limited to) Susan Kubinak (Kube!), The afore mentioned Soli/Molly/Ashley, Suzanne J., Teresa, Jamie, Aubree, Emilie, Cat, Natalie, Britta, Trish Work, Pam Hinton, Catherine Walberg, and a couple of unfamiliar faces.
John Merli poured water on Natalie, Kube and Emilie to keep them cool. Then we were off! We rounded the first corner and I waited for the pace to pick up, but it didn't. We were together going into the first left/right/chicane section and slowing WAY down to navigate the turn, with a little quickening of pace in between, but it wasn't exactly break-neck speeds. Once the road straightened out a bit again, I expected it to pick up. It did, a little, but seemed more subtle, gradual.
Somehow I still managed to fall off the back (I moved to the back almost immediately from the start). I'm not sure why or how because I was feeling good/strong. The next thing I know I am chasing to catch back on.
There must've been an attack or several at that point because a few more got shed and the gap from me to pack was increased. I was comfortable with my pace and had the corners all to myself without the slighest braking required. I was working hard and gaining ground. It took me a couple of laps to catch up to the girl in front of me, thinking we could work together but I came around her and she was only on my wheel for 1/4 of a lap and then out of sight. I saw Kube ahead of me and started to close the gap to her. As I was about to catch her, headed into the chicane, the pack lapped me. It was tricky to navigate that chicane with everyone around me again and the pack seemed to slow WAY down after catching me. I moved to the back again but could still see Kube ahead. I wanted to catch her and was worried for a second that the pack would prevent that from occuring, they were going sooo slow. Still, I stayed at the back to have a nice clean line through the turns. Someone attacked in the start/finish stretch and the pace jumped. I used that momentum to catch Kube but was dropped from the pack again.
Next thing I notice is Suzanne falling off the pack and I set my sights on catching up to her. I gain some ground only to be pulled from the race. Suzanne had also been pulled just a head of me and Kube and the other girl behind me. We were scored but done about 4 laps early.
I was a little worried about Suzanne overheating. She looked a little worse for wear after we pulled off the course but perked up pretty quickly after getting a little cold water on her head/neck.
Suzanne, Kube and I watched the rest of the girls finish the race. Emilie nabbed the WIN with Catherine Walberg just behind and Jamie bringing up 3rd. The rest of the ladies were close behind. Ashley was in 10th and Soli 12, Molly 15. Suzanne was in 14, I was 16th and Kube 17th. Initially they had Kube placed in 16th but Larry Pirtle commented that he couldn't tell what was going on right after the field had lapped us... had she stayed ahead or had I come around her. We sorted it out, but without her honesty, I would have gotten the 17th place payout (only $2 less) because the correction hadn't made it to registration (Thanks Kube!). I worked hard to chase you down, girl! Although you were gassed a bit from the heat and um.... welll.. DOING ANOTHER RACE just a few hours earlier and GETTING 3rd. WAY TO GO KUBE!!!! Super proud of you!
I'll be back to the Edwardsville Rotary Criterium next year for sure! Maybe I can train a little harder and make my little home town more proud! :)
Here I am having fun all by myself! (photo credit: Mike Dawson)