Casey Kerrigan is My Angel of Mercy

I got 6th yesterday at the Cougar Mountain Classic Circuit Race. Out of five riders.

No, but seriously, there were only twelve riders in the Women’s 3/4 race. This was fifty minutes of climbing, descending and battling headwinds at Infineon Raceway’s famed 2.5 mile race course in Sonoma County.

One gal broke away on the third lap. I thought we’d catch her. Whatever. Well, maybe they did, and I missed that part. I really don’t want to talk about it.

I felt great on the steep climb up to Turn 2. I don’t think I sounded nearly as asthmatic as the other gals, and I believe that even paying attention to this is what led to my ultimate demise, as I did not freak out enough on the second to last lap up that last nub of a climb to Turn 4, and I just don’t want to talk about it anymore.

The Infineon Raceway paddock was a ghosttown in comparison to the party that was on 4th Street (read: outside my window, only one block away from the source of the Amber Alert) Saturday night at the Carrera de San Rafael. This is fast becoming one of the best racing venues in California, they say. It was another “criterium,” which is typically a short course around city blocks, on which riders race lap after lap in races lasting anywhere from forty minutes to two hours.

My teammate Nikole Denton and I can now say we’ve raced with some of the best in the world in the Women’s 1/2/3 race. I think it took great bravery just to toe the line, which was a large banner that hung over 4th Street, just in front of Yet Wah Chinese Restaurant and Meridian Sports.

There had to be thousands of people on the sidewalks — at least eighty, anyway — applauding as the announcer called up women of particular interest to the start line, like New Zealand Olympian Susie Pryde, Olympic hopeful Shelley Olds, world and national cyclo-cross teammember Rachel Lloyd, and other world class, professional riders. I took a big gulp.

I scanned the row of heads lining the course, just trying to make eye contact with any kind-hearted soul who might want to talk me out of this, and only succeeded in striking up a very brief conversation with a volunteer to my left who got things rolling with, “Wow. Olympians.”

“I’m just a Cat 3,” I said, with an apologetic shrug.

I am not sure just what I said that was so funny, but this man did not stop laughing until the gun went off.

This was not a particularly good start for me, as I failed to click my foot to my clipless pedal in a reasonable amount of time.

So that about wraps up my race with New Zealand Olympian Susie Pryde.

Apparently, I was not the first to vacate the course prematurely, but most chose to do so on their own. I could not let down my scores of fans paid friends, however. I had to keep trying ’til they said I couldn’t no mo’. And so I am proud to say that I lasted for several laps, and even made contact with the back of the peloton, which I soon realized wasn’t really the back of the peloton, but a cluster of riders who had been dropped.

Still, when people holler for you by name, you can’t stop. You see, being out there, giving it your all, even when you know it’s futile, gives people hope.

Yes it does.

It does too.

Shut up.

Well, some spectators, like this homeless guy I see on a daily basis on my street, were not so positive with their reinforcement, and I dare say he took the fun right out of it.

“Pick up the pace!” he said. “You can’t give up now!”

He said it on the next lap, when our group of three rounded one corner, and we could see the main group rounding another.

“Pick up the pace! You can’t give up now!”

Our little group pushed our way up D Street one more time.

“Come on, get faster. You can’t-”

“Look, do you want to ride this thing?” I said turning around, pointing at my bike. “You get on here, and show me what you got!”

“This is so silly,” said another rider in my chase group. Come to think of it, I’m not sure if “chase group” is an accurate description given our position on the course relative to the pack.

“We’ve got to work together,” she said.

Intellectual conversation is beyond my grasp in moments of pain and desperation, but I almost wanted to take her aside — shake her, actually — and say, “For what aim?! We can’t even see the field anymore!” Did she really think that we could catch them?

But I didn’t have to. Around the corner at the Start/Finish line, we were stopped by NCNCA President Casey Kerrigan, angel of mercy. He appeared to us in a vision on the middle of 4th street to pull us from the race.

I rode off the course by that same volunteer I spoke with earlier. He was still laughing. Maybe it’s just a nervous tick?

Looking back, I admire my competitor’s optimism. I think, somehow, that’s what it’s all about.


About katiekelly

I grew up in a parking lot.
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5 Responses to Casey Kerrigan is My Angel of Mercy

  1. Chris says:

    The peleton was probably just peaking. You will be on form shortly 🙂

  2. indi young says:

    It’s so much more fun to watch a race when someone you know is in it! I was sure, though, that you couldn’t hear us wildly yelling your name as you flew past. Glad to hear you did!

  3. PandaElf says:

    Hoo boy, I was glad they waited until I had a half-block gap & pulled me, instead of letting me almost get lapped…that was haaaaaard.

    And yeah, keeping going is important, does give people good feelings and hope, and sheesh, we paid for this so we might as well get our money’s worth, right? ; )

  4. Elenka Jarolimek says:

    For a second there I thought you were talking about racing your roadster. I am thinking why is she in pain driving a car? Then I became smarter.

  5. pedro says:

    i watched your effort at san raffy. loved it. and nice job capturing what it’s like to be dropped. last year, I got dropped on the second lap at san raffy. that was craptacular.

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