Last Saturday I raced at the Matt Wittig memorial race in Muskego. It was my first race back after having last year off of racing. I’ve been riding a lot this spring, but I only just started slightly more focused training a month or so ago. I’ve raced the course many times before, and it always seems to be the same weather- mid 50s, sometimes raining, and very windy with a convenient headwind coming to the uphill finish. I got there early, so I had plenty of time to register and get a good long warm up. I’ve been feeling strong but regardless, I had no idea what to expect on race day. In the last few minutes before we lined up I started to have feelings of regret (‘Why am I doing this?”, “I’m not ready to race yet”, etc), which I hadn’t had since my first couple of races a looooong time ago. I was trying not to have any expectations and the competitive girl inside me wanted to go for the podium. But I knew that I should only aim to finish with the leaders and go from there.
We finally lined up and there were 8 other girls on the line with me, a few of them I had never raced with before so I would have to watch them carefully to see where their strengths and weaknesses were. About halfway through the race, I was happy that I was feeling pretty good- not good enough to try an attack, but good enough to stay with the field and at that point I finally felt confident that I would meet my goal of finishing with or close to the leaders. I had also noted one girl to stay in front of coming down the hill on the backside of the course because she was taking the corner slower than the rest, and I didn’t want to waste more energy than necessary staying with the field since the wind was so strong there. I also noted a couple girls to stay in front of coming up the hill to the start/finish because somehow I was climbing stronger than them (?!?!). Well the bell lap finally came and we were all still together. Just before the crest of the hill going into the last lap, someone attacked and I wasn’t ready for it. I had also let one of the previously mentioned girls get between me and the attacker, so my counter attack was too late and 5 girls got a gap on me, but I had dropped the other 3. I dug down and tried to catch them but they just kept getting farther away. Just past the last corner I saw a couple girls catching up with me so I sat up and let them pass so I could recover briefly in their draft, then managed to finish in front of them in 6th place.
Overall I am very happy with how the race went. I only plan to do a handful of races this year to ease back into it, but my training has been going well so I’m excited for the next few races and hopefully get a podium spot or two before the year is up!
Jessica is a Belgianwerkx sales associate, and category 3 criterium racer for the Belgianwerkx road racing team. She also races cyclocross from time to time for the My Wife Inc. cyclocross team. She is a full time personal trainer and nutritionist and just started her own business called Afterburn Personal Training, doing most of her training out of Anytime Fitness in Cedarburg, WI. See jessicahelmlinger.com/ for more information.