By: Kinley Gibson
The adventures continued last week for the Cyclery-4iiii women, as we tackled the next part of Speedweek down in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. After an impressive 4th place by Cath in Belmont (which she did in the pouring rain, because she’s just that cool), the team headed into the Walterboro crit with good vibes and strong momentum.
The course was straightforward – four right turns – but a hot and humid day coupled with some very tight corners meant it would prove a challenge. We rode a great race as a team, with one of us almost always present in the day’s multiple breaks. Ariane even nabbed us a prime, putting on an impressive show against big names like Tina Pic and Laura Van Gilder. With less than 2 laps to go it was coming down to a bunch finish, and every Cyclery-4iiii girl was represented in the top 10-15 riders. The plan was coming together, we were ready to contest the sprint, and theeennnnnn … we came around corner one to a stopped lead moto. The race had been neutralized, as a big crash over the start-finish line had taken up the whole road. It’s an inevitable part of bike racing, but it’s never an easy one. Lots of girls had gone down, and our very own Amélie was caught up in it as well. We watched her get into the ambulance, and later learned she’d broken her collarbone. Don’t worry though – Amélie is awesome, and handled everything like a total rock star. Not only did she keep a big smile on her face (even after a late night return from the hospital), she flew home the next day to write exams for engineering! See what I mean? Total. Rock. Star.
Meanwhile back at the race, we were told there were now two laps to go. We lined back up, they sent us off, and after a very speedy clip in I found myself back near the front, close to Cat. I tried to bring her up front for the sprint, but I couldn’t seal the deal on the backstretch, and we were unable to crack the top ten. After our great setup before the crash, it was a bit disheartening (especially with Amélie going down), but that’s the nature of bike racing – you really have to be ready for anything!
After a day off, it was time for the Spartanburg Criterium down in South Carolina. Since Ariane and I spend most of our winter on the track, we were pretty thrilled to see four left turns with tons of space. I mean, the thing was practically a velodrome. What more can you ask for?
As in every Speedweek race, the first 15 minutes were blisteringly fast. Nonetheless, we had good start, with our team consistently represented in the top 10-20 riders. The wide roads lent themselves to an aggressive “washing machine” effect, in which riders on the back swarmed to the front any time the pace eased off. This made for quite a bit of fun, as you had to fight for spots at the front of the pack, and nimbly wiggle your way back up if you did get swarmed. At the end of things, we couldn’t quite crack the top ten – I came away 11th, with Ariane not far behind – but it was another great stepping-stone towards improved tactics and communication among our team.
Speedweek was to continue the next night with the highlight race – the Athens Twilight Criterium, with its party vibes and massive crowds – but I’ll let one of my teammates tell that story. As always, a big thanks to our sponsors and supporters who make this team possible! And if you want to keep up with the Cyclery-4iiii action, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!