I'm not going to lie. I was nervous as all hell heading into the Redlands Cycling Classic. Going into April I thought I was better prepared for a season of racing with North America's best talent on two wheels. I put in the work my coach prescribed, I had rested, when I raced in Vancouver's Spring Series I raced both patiently and hard, I had big goals and I wanted more than anything to accomplish them. That's where nerves came in. When I finally got here (I'd wanted to go to this race for over two years, TRT finally afforded me the opportunity) I wasn't sure how it would go.
The week previous we were racing in San Dimas. SDSR is three stages: a TT, road race and crit. While I had set a personal best power in the first stage, the uphill TT being a larger rider meant my time was never going to be spectacular. I rode well, but when I started the road race something wasn't feeling quite right. Combined with a race where it seemed there were crashes in every corner and heat I hadn't seen since August last year, I found myself off the back halfway into the race.
Back to the starting line of Redlands Stage One: the Highlands Circuit Race SDSR was on my mind, confidence wasn't soaring and the heat definitely WAS soaring - a full 20 degrees Celsius higher than anything I'd seen in Vancouver this year. However, I knew I was in the big show, that I needed to race my race as best I could. After the neutral rollout to the start/finish line I was second wheel toed to the line; it was an opportunity I couldn't turn down. When the car rolled off and around the first corner, an attack went off the right side of the road and I left the peloton on the left to join the eager rider.
We separated a bit on the first speedy corners, but tried to work together, barely making it a full lap before the group was on our heels. I know my weaknesses though, also my strengths: I wanted to try and be in a breakaway in this race, and riding the intense hill as smoothly as I could in a breakaway was my best bet. So with a bit of daylight still there over top the climb, I tried again to separate from the pack. I only made it as far as the feed zone and my attacking ways were over. The next group attacking established a breakaway that would remain until eventually there would be one rider left to finish just ahead of the charging peloton to take the stage.
After being absorbed I had planned to recover as much as I could, then wait, wait and wait until the final circuits and have a go attacking again. However, things don't always go to plan and whatever affliction that started in SDSR found me again. I made it through 15/20 laps of the circuit before being pulled by the Commissaires alone on top of the climb. Luckily the organizers recognize the severity of this first stage, so like most crits in stage races, you're only required to complete a certain percentage to move forward, which I had completed seven laps previous.
Moving forward and looking back, I'm glad I took the opportunity to attack when I had it. It would indeed be my only chance at Redlands this year to see the front. I'm also glad to have addressed the apparent cause of my legs not turning the pedals enough; anew iron supplement I was advised to take to address borderline Anemia had reacted poorly with me. Since halting the supplement my legs have come back in training, which is frustrating, but also I'm excited to have addressed the issue so I can continue to move forward with my teammates through our racing calendar coming up this summer. After all, this is just the start to our season.