Joy McCulloch is Back on the Podium!

Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Photo Credit: Danny Munson

In the land of criteriums, it is crazy that the SCNCA District Championship Road Race has so much UP in it. It seems like any road race course around here is extremely challenging, limiting the field to 30 or so riders who either like to climb, think they can climb, or didn’t read the race profile close enough. Oddly enough, I don’t fit into any of those categories. I am a bike racer and go where the races are and take them on as a great training day and a chance to try my hand at the Poker table.

Having raced the Castaic course last year, I knew it would be a lot of work for me. The climbs are just long enough to crack me from the group and the wind just strong enough to keep me honest and working on the flats and descents. My goal was to stick with the front group as long as possible. Several of the other solo riders and I soon realized we had some contenders in the bunch who were content sitting at the back, waiting to unleash their climbing legs on us. We decided to launch a pre-emptive strike and rail the long, twisting descent at 45MPH. To our benefit, this worked the field came apart in the early miles of lap one, leaving just over half the field to duke it out on the climb back towards the start-finish.

Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Knowing my fate would soon be sealed, I rode conservatively hiding in the pack to the base of the climb where I put myself as high up in the group as possible. As the climb ebbed higher, I found myself in my comfort zone: purgatory. The break of 6 were slowly inching away as the remainder of the peloton was falling behind me. As the break crested the peak of the climb, I saw several riders falling off of the pace and I took the chance to dig one last time to the descent and ride my eyes out. It worked and I grabbed Jen Tetrick (Twenty16) and together we reeled the breakaway in.

Going through start-finish after getting the best bottle hand-ups from our gracious supporters, I knew I had to hide as much as possible again. From looking at the 2014 race file, I knew I had 13 minutes to collect myself before a 5 minute climb that would shred my legs apart. I made it half way up that climb as the group tip-toed away from me. Jen had dropped back just a bit before me, and we each time trialed our way to the turn around. Being buffered by the excessive wind, I decided to ease up 7 watts to allow Jen to join me in our pilgrimage back through the course. Misery sure does love company, and we were able to make up some serious ground on the fading break-away.

As the miles ticked by the salt continued to drip into my eyes, I knew that the best I could do on the day was to hang onto my 7th place on the road. I was pleased with my result, being realistic with my expectations of the day and knowing where my strengths are, this was a good result for me. And heck, I made $10 towards my haircut fund!

Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Thank goodness Sunday was a criterium! I sure do love these things and I have been banging on the door of the podium since Red Trolley Criterium on February 1st. Coach Paul and husband Brian have really been helping me with my execution in race scenarios and I was excited to have yet another chance to try it out. I had left the Tour de Murrieta last weekend a bit frustrated with my performance. I felt like I was in an old movie where the sound track had begun just a second before the movie and everything was hurky-jerky. I have perfect sounds track and a great movie, now it is just up to me to play them together, at the same time. This is in fact, much more challenging than it sounds.

The Chuck Pontius Criterium had a good vibe and energy to it. The race was animated by the teams represented and everyone seemed to be excited to race hard and to the finish. I love this type of racing! I had remembered to put my Thinking Cap on before the race, which allowed me to sit back a little bit in the pack and analyze the nuances of the race. Realizing it was going to be a sprint finish and that Monster Media was going to lead out Emily Georgeson because she was the highest ranked for the overall Omnium, I knew exactly where to be.

As the bunch turned right with one turn to go, old-school Pam Schuster jumped the lead out train on the left and I quickly tagged onto her wheel to come out of the final turn 1-2. I was edged out by just hair at the finish to place 3rd. There are still things to work on, but I am so excited that now my sound track and movie are playing at the same time. Now to get it in English ;-)

Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Photo Credit: Danny Munson

At the end of the weekend, my 7th place finish in the road race and 3rd in the criterium placed me 3rd overall for the Omnium. That was an added bonus to the weekend for sure, and enough petty cash to get my hair cut today. It was a good weekend!

Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Photo Credit: Danny Munson

Thank you to our sponsors: KHS Bicycles, Maxxis Tires, JLVelo, Serfas, Shimano, Velo Saddles, Praxis Works, Xpedo Pedals, Kali Protectives, NDXSports, Bike Religion, Bicycle Blue Book, WD-40 BIKE, Chamois Butt’r, Cycling Illustrated, Rennie & Associates, Kramp Krushers, Ultra Cycle, and Q2.

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The post Joy McCulloch is Back on the Podium! appeared first on KHS MAXXIS JL VELO Cycling Race Team 2015.