Joy McCulloch Wins Rosena Ranch Circuit Race

Photo Credit: Above Four MediaPhoto Credit: Above Four Media

It was great to get back to Rosena Ranch Circuit Race this past Saturday to test my legs in the local peloton. It has been several years since I have raced this event, so I was excited to see what it would bring.

Fortunately, or unfortunately…I rode the course several times this winter during base training rides up to Lytle Creek. I say unfortunately because this corridor is notorious for strong, relentless wind. It is unpredictable except for the fact you can rely on – it will be everywhere! The last time I rode through the area I thought, “Man that was really rough when we raced here!” as I plowed forward into the block headwind. Fast forward to this past weekend, and I was excited to use my insider-info to race my best race possible.

Photo Credit: Danny MunsonPhoto Credit: Danny Munson

The women’s 1-2-3 field rounded out at 20 for the day. We had 14 laps on the 2 mile course which was shaped like a boomerang with a turn-around at each end. There were two smalls climbs on the course, but the most challenging element would be the wind.

As the race began, I wanted to sit back and see who was motivated to ride hard. The group was lucky enough to have multiple prime laps which acted as carrots to draw out riders as they charged up the kicker to cross the finish line first. As I followed these moves, we were able to get gaps on the field multiple times, but nothing was sticking.

I decided to launch several attacks in diverse situations to get the pulse of the field. Again, these moves were reeled back in, but without much of reaction with counter attacks. With 7.5 laps to go, I had been in a small move of 3 off the front. As we got absorbed by the field, the vibe was right for another attack to go. We were slogging into the headwind on the shallow grade on the back half of the course and being just caught by the field, I was still on the front. The field was stringing out and the efforts were labored, so I turned to Jenny Rios who was next to me and said “We need to ride hard. Now.”

This is where I made the executive decision that I could either win or lose the race with what I was about to do. I shifted one gear harder and began to turn the screws up over the crest. I then shifted again and attacked down towards the turnaround. With plenty of real estate to myself, I could take the turn hot and keep my momentum.

Photo Credit: Above Four Media Photo Credit: Above Four Media

As I broke the rubber band between myself and the group, I thought “Oh dear, this is going to be long.” With just over 14 miles left in the race, I set into my best TT-mode and tried to use the wind and the road to my advantage. Thankfully, just a week prior, I raced the Valley of The Sun Time Trial and it was 14.4 miles. I knew what type of output I could do for the distance, so I was confident that I create a close replica of my TT the week before.

As the laps ticked down, it was clear that barring any sort of malfunction on my part, I would be able to win the race. This is where the brain really comes into play. During a winter training camp in Paso Robles, there were two rides where I became too relaxed as I led the charge to the top of epic climbs with my friends. Two days in a row, my friends hunted my down with mere meters remaining to the summit finishes, and they wouldn’t let it go. I had quit, taken a mental break, lost focus, and “lost”. These were the BEST training rides I have had, because they fueled my fire for success and reminded me to charge as hard as I possible can all the to the finish line, and beyond.

So charge I did! The building blocks for this win were laid back on the steeps of Santa Rosa Creek Road and the countless hours training with the tutelage of coach Paul, and support of my husband Brian. I am grateful to have the chance to represent my team and sponsors on the top step of the podium.

Photo Credit: Trevor GoodmanPhoto Credit: Trevor Goodman

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

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