Colorado’s Toughest Criterium in Lafayette – don’t let the title fool you. Was it tough? Definitely! Was it doable? Absolutely! As a first-time crit racer, I found the course and racers to be extremely enjoyable. If you’re considering dipping your toe into road racing, the Lafayette Crit is definitely one to put on your calendar for next year!
I’ll admit I was nervous as heck and honestly, I almost didn’t show up. With the stress of moving into a new place, being sleep deprived for the better of a month, and my cycling gear scattered across boxes and plastic bins, I wasn’t so sure if racing my first crit this soon was a good idea. Needless to say, I peeled myself out of bed, packed up my car, and headed to Lafayette.
Hesitating, I walked up to the registration tent where I signed my waiver and picked up my race bib. One of the volunteers graciously offered to pin the bib to the back of my jersey. As I was getting pinned, I could sense a familiar aura around me. It was Clint Bickmore hovering. He’s the crazy man that led me into the world of cyclocross less than a year ago. I could tell he was happy to see me there given the bike accident and broken ribs I sustained back in October.
After riding the 1.7 mile course loop a couple times to warm up, I lined up at the start towards the back of the pack. Nervous as heck, I just told myself to have fun. The head ref was awesome in explaining the rules and counted down the last 10 seconds before the horn went off. Right out of the gate, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hang on with the group, but I tried. As we hit the first climb, the riders started to spread out. With each and every lap I became more confident in my cornering and descending skills.
My goal was to not get lapped early on by the fast girls, and I did just that. I think it took them at least 4 or 5 laps before catching up to me. A couple of my teammates caught up and gave me words of encouragement as they rode by. Each time I went through the finish, I saw the number of laps remaining tick down. When the ref rang the bell signaling the last lap, I was so relieved – it was like music to my ears.
Coming down the last stretch and across the finish I felt a sense of accomplishment. First, I didn’t crash. Second, I only got lapped once. Third, it wasn’t as bad as I thought and in fact, I had a TON OF FUN! My teammates and I regrouped in the adjacent parking lot, giving each other the rundown of our race.
Moral of the story is, if I had chickened out and stayed home, I would’ve missed out on a pretty fun experience!! So ladies, if you’re new to cycling racing and itching to give crits a try, I definitely recommend Colorado’s Toughest Criterium in Lafayette!
Read Part 2 of this story, appropriately called “Showing Up.”