Kim Gialdini (Flatlandia) and I drove down to St. Louis for the 19th annual Labor Day weekend Gateway Cup, four days of racing all over St. Louis. We were so lucky to stay with an amazing hostess, Marsha, and her cat Ivy. We were treated well and had a great time. This weekend was the end of my road season, and I'm so glad I went.
Gateway Cup Friday "The Tour de Lafayette"
Kim and I roll up to the course fresh off a five hour drive to St. Louis. It's breezy and warm, but NOT HUMID, which is great. Our race, scheduled to go off 15 seconds after the cat 4/5 men's race, is the first wave of races all weekend, so we have the very nice opportunity to warm up on course every day. I take advantage of this, trying to ease the car ride out of my legs and assuage my nerves. The course is a wide open square with a significant amount of headwind on the backside which is also ever so slightly uphill. I do my warm-up, feel ok and roll around to the start finish. It's a bit nerve wracking to be in a group of 30 and only recognize four or five. The men start, we start. I stay fourth wheel for the first lap, then decide to attack and see who bites. everyone. rotate through two riders. I attack again, get a little gap, the field is brought to me. wait wait, around and around, Prime lap. I jump before corner four and carry it through to win the $25. I keep going, but get caught. I slow down. I decide for the rest of the race I will just try to keep the pace high when I'm in front, and see who in this group will do any work and who I can maybe work with later in the weekend. In the final lap, the woman who shows herself to be the strongest sprinter, and who wins the overall for the 3/4 women, jumps out of corner two and in an amazing show of power, sprints through the course to win the race. I am impressed. I do not consider myself to be a sprinter, and I am aware it's something I need to really work on. I know that I will have to try harder to break up the field if I want to beat her and the other top sprinters tomorrow. I come in tenth. I feel good, and my legs feel good.
Gateway Cup Saturday "St. Louis Hills"
Kim and I get to the "Tour Des Hills" race to warm up on course. This time, it's a longer rectangle with an incline for about a block right after the start finish. It's not a hill, but it's an incline. The top of the rectangle is flat, then the backside is downhill-ish, and into turn three, another slight incline, then downhill-ish in a headwind to corner four and the straight to the start/finish. I want to attack today and try to break up the field. I feel like it's my best shot to place well. I warmed up well, and the weather is absolutely perfect. It's about 75 and breezy. The men 4/5 go, we go. I am immediately in front. I lead the first lap, up the incline, I push the pace, then someone else pulls through. We go through turn 2, down the longer backside and turn three. I attack and pull through the start finish, on girl is with me but it's obvious the pack is coming. I slow a bit and let her pull me up the last part of the hill. I recover quickly and for some reason, decide to just jump immediately after the pace starts to settle. I guess if no one else is going to counter, I will counter my own attack??? I dunno. It works though, and when I get back in the saddle and look behind me, the field is just a group of people in a clump behind me. I am shocked. I keep going. No one is coming???? I push really hard for the next 3/4 lap. I hear my name yellowed out by the announcer "and Amelia Moore, number 222 is off the front". I push it up the incline. I keep pushing ooooh crap am I really going to try and tt this whole race? Can I actually do this? am I really committing to this right now? YES! I can do this. This is just like the so called "fitness check time trials" I do with my team, right? I know how it feels to push myself for those 30 minutes, whats another 20? I can't stop now anyway, the moto ref just told me I have a 15 second gap....oh man I keep going. I have to say, it is amazingly encouraging to have your name and number yelled out over the loud speaker every 3 minutes and to have people all along the course cheer you on, dogs barking and cow bells clanking. "This young lady from Chicago has a great pair of legs on her today". Gah, I hope I can do this. Once the clock gets to 27 minutes to go (plus 5 laps) I imagine that I am on the lake front path, following the Fitness Check Time Trial route, passing things I know to mark the time. 23 minutes, oh, the ducks, 20 minutes, that low tree branch that I almost hit my head on. I stand up every time I hit the incline for optimum cheering from the crowd. The moto ref tells me I am holding 45 seconds. wow. and I am like almost to the long open curve out to the lake in my mind's TT. I keep going. 10 minutes (plus 5 laps) to go. "number 222, I'm looking at her shoulders and it looks like she just started, doesn't look tired at all" YEAH RIGHT! Ten plus five, I can do this, it's just like turning around at the bridge. All I have to do is make it back to Randy, those last five laps are nothing. The moto ref tells me I am too far ahead to get splits any more. Thumbs up ! I keep going. 5 laps to go. 4 laps to go. 3, 2, 1 lap to go. The moto ref comes up to my side and says, "it's been a pleasure working for you" we bump fists, and I finish the race well over a minute ahead of the pack. I cannot believe that I did this. What a way to win my first race, only one in the picture :)
Gateway Cup Sunday " Giro dell Montagna"
This course is much narrower than the past two wide wide open courses. There is a hill which is not steep but covers about three or four blocks, a short flat top to the rectangle , a downhill to the start finish and a fast tight corner one. My legs feel pretty good after a nice warmup in the hilly neighborhood surrounding the course and a bunch of laps of the actual course. The setting is an old Italian neighborhood. The community loves the race so much that they have pooled together extra prize money for the pro fields. There is a Bocce Club on the downhill which will be serving a free pasta and meatball dinner to all the racers. At 10 am, people are already setting up chairs and BBQ's all around the course. Today is the 25th anniversary of the race. The officials have decided to shorten and separate the men's 4/5 field and the women's 3/4 field today. I am happy about that. I watch my teammates race really well in the 4/5 race. We line up and are off. I am in front for the first lap. I push it a little up the hill to see if anyone drags. Doesn't look like it. Someone else pulls through. I try to attack a couple times up the hill, but it's not really steep enough to be a climbers hill, and the course is short enough and with enough downhill that separation is going to be tough, and take a lot of energy. I try to spin easily up the hill and keep pushing the pace right after the up hill corner two and through the start finish. I figure this will tire people out and maybe I can attack on the final climb and outlast the girl in the leader jersey. Last lap. I take my position behind the two strongest sprinters. Perfect. In corner one, I get passed on my inside (I am already on the inside line) and she can't hold herself up after the corner and slides out right at my wheel. I have nowhere to go but over her. Luckily, my dive and roll instinct from childhood tumbling classes seems to be still intact! I jump up, shake appropriate bones to make sure they're ok, assess minimal skin loss, and bike scratching and get cleaned up. I am bummed that I couldn't finish. Now I HAVE to do well tomorrow.
Gateway Cup Monday "Benton Park Classic Criterium"
This course is really nice. It's a two mile circuit course shaped like a figure 8 with 10 turns. the route goes through an up hill start finish, across the freeway, past two breweries, back across the freeway, through a nice little neighborhood, an s bend, a downhill, two more corners and a long straight slightly uphill finish. I know I want to stay in the top three positions for this race. No more malarkey in the corners. I warm up on the course and assess the best places to attack. I know that I am marked and no one is going to let me get away, but I hope that I can a least break up the field. The race starts, again, I lead the first lap. This is fine. A couple other girls and I attack and counter attack and we are left with a small group of 8 or 10 including a 12 year old Tibco girl, who races really well the entire race. I jump a couple times right before the 's; bends and try to separate the group further, but no one is having it. I look up 2 laps to go. I am pulling through corner 2 and I hear Newt yell, "NO MORE FAVORS". He's right. I have to pick a plan for the last lap. I fall back and position myself behind tow strong sprinters and a group of two Momentum women which I know will turn into a leadout. I lap to go. The woman leading the series gets stuck in front after corner five. The little group slows down after the s curves and into corner 8. As they all try to jockey for good position into the final corners, I feel like it's my chance. I pull to the left side of the course and attack as hard as I can. I fly around the downhill corner and no one is on my wheel. I keep going. downshift, down around corner 10 no one is on my wheel, I stand up for the final 300 meters to the finish line. I DID IT! I won. I CAN sprint! wtf?
aaaaaand those are my upgrade points! I am so glad I came to do this series. It was very well put together and all the courses were awesome and fun. The people in St. Louis are a friendly bunch, my host housing was amazing, and we ate the best deep dish pizza ever. It was fun to race in a field of 30 women and get to know a new set of strong racers. I will be back!