Speedweek is a series of crits that are part of USA Crits and some are part of our National Criterium Calendar. The series starts in Athens, GA with the most widely spectated crit in the US. There are over 30,000 people there to watch the race! Mostly drunk college kids from University of GA, it's a crazy experience and very fun to race. The series goes over SC, and NC and ends up back in Atlanta. It's a challenge for people coming from colder climates to get the training needed beforehand this early in the year. I've done the series a bunch of times and I like going down there because it provides motivation to train over the winter, and in the past, the weather is usually always 80 and sunny, a welcome change from our cold and rainy spring up here in Chicago. The main reason I like doing these races in early spring is it lays the foundation for awesome results later in the summer.
I had done really well at Speedweek last year and vaguely thought that I was about where I was last year fitness wise, so I had high expectations. Sarah had a great attitude and wanted to do well, but this was the first time she'd ever raced an NCC Crit, let alone an entire series.
Other than the weather and the great training, some other things that make this trip so great are: My cousin Lynn comes along for the whole trip and acts as our professional Soigneur. I get to hang out with my friend Brian and his wife Diane and stay at his awesome host housing. I get to see and catch up with my Atlanta friend Zak. And I also get to hang out and stay with my cousin Melanie and her husband Orrin. This year, our other cousin Molly, would fly down and meet us at Melanie's house in order to help with the drive home.
It had all the makings for a great trip, except that this year the weather was nicer at home--while we were down there it was raining and cold! And after the first race (Athens) it was apparent my legs were garbage and I had no speed. I realized I needed to readjust my expectations. The next days race was in a torrential downpour. I did not feel comfortable in this race and dropped out early. Sarah on the other hand felt great and held on for a money finish! I changed my goal of the series from placing well to racing my way into shape. Finally at the Walterboro race, I finally felt decent. I saw the front of the race and even felt good enough to go for a prime. Sarah continued to finish in the money. Spartanburg, a great course for me, also went really well. I felt confident even though it had rained and the course was slick causing multiple crashes throughout the race. Sarah was feeling good too. At 3 to go someone ran into Sarah and while she didn't go down, she had to take a minute to stabilize which ruined her finish. At 2 to go I was in awesome position when two riders crashed directly in front of me and I had to slam on my brakes and ran into a hay bale. The officials gave me a finishing placing, but would not let me finish the race. Of course I was happy to not be hurt and have my bike be ok but it was SO irritating.
This year there was a new race for the series in Belmont, NC. It was a fantastic course with a very long uphill section and I would really like to come back and race it when I am more fit. It looked fun!
Sarah and I and our SC Spidermonkey teammate Grace, who came out to cheer us on at the Belmont race
Uncharacteristically we had to pull out our leg warmers and jackets ?!?! for the series, but the other non bike racing events were awesome and it was another great year!
Cousins! L-R Pro Soigner Lynn, Me, Molly & Melanie