Being a part of the AMY D squad was a super cool experience, wonderful teammates racing hard in honor of an awesome woman, what’s not to love!
As a Boise local of 5 years, the city’s anticipation for this race weekend was huge. The first annual Chrono Kristin Armstrong, promoted by the local legend, took place on Friday. Then the famous Boise Twilight Criterium a USA Crits Series race, that gets upwards of 15k spectators on the streets of the capital Saturday night. Finally, Sunday was the Chicken Dinner Road Race a favorite local circuit with an awesome uphill finish.
Adding to my own anticipation was the fact that I had been selected to race with the Amy D composite squad of 5 awesome women (plus directors and mechanic of course J). Most of the team got into town on Wednesday night, we were able to get a spin in and I got to meet the ladies. Probably one of the best parts of the experience was sitting at the host house and learning about this diverse group of women Marta, Ryan, Tori, Jane, and Manuela. All of us came to cycling one way or another but getting to connect over the stories and similarities, is truly an experience I will cherish.
The racing was fast and fun on all days but for me, the pinnacle was the road race on Sunday. Over 50 elite women lined up underneath a beating sun and whistling wind. Big hitters like Alli Dragoo and Amber Neben, legit pro teams like 2020 and Supermint were all present; honestly, it was difficult not to be a little star-struck. At the pre-race meeting, the consensus was racing smart and staying out of the wind as much as possible would be a winning strategy. The familiar pre-race nerves were quickly washed away by the surge of the bicycles heading out on the first of 5 laps. After a subdued first lap, the fireworks started at the base of the start/finish climb. Thankfully I had moved up into a position to respond before we started to pitch up and I was able to conserve over the top of the climb as a small group got away and the peloton settled. Unfortunately, most of the top teams were represented and no one was willing to work to try and bring it back.
Teammate Manuela stepped up and put in a dig on the front. Not to leave her hanging and hoping to get some organization going I started to work with her as well. With the big teams holding back it was a difficult lap, finally, after what felt like way too long, Amber Neben came to the front and with one incredible effort single-handedly bridged the gap. Catching the breakaway at the base of the climb animated the race as again attacks lit up the face of the climb. To compound the difficulty of the climb, it was also our only feed zone on the lap, even as we sprinted our guts out our support Des, Scott, and Katheryn were there handing off fresh water/mix and most importantly ice, the group was shattered after that lap, and the true race of attrition started. Many riders made the choice to pull out based on the blistering heat but thanks to the team keeping me stocked with water and ice I was able to make selection after selection. On the penultimate climb as I stared cross-eyed at the wheel in front of me, I soon realized that I was recovering more than I thought I should, looking up I was devastated to see that a gap had opened up and the top 7 women were slipping away. As I stood and accelerated around the wheel I had been following, my legs started to give way; not wanting to give in I sat down and settled, grabbed my last feed water and a wonderful ice sock, I resigned myself for a solo last-lap push.
Much to my relief as I crested the hill Manuela rode up next to me after being dropped earlier in the climb. We worked together that last torturous lap and on the final climb, a feeling of accomplishment settled over us both as we looked down at the heart-shaped sticker on our top tubes. This one is for Amy we agreed and crossed the line together hands raised high for a top ten placing.
I never met Amy and wasn’t even racing when she was still with us but everything I have learned about her since brings joy and solace to my heart. The pursuit of equality and of the highest level of competition are hallmarks of who Amy is and I am honored to have been a small part of her legacy.