Coffee Crit

August 17, 2007 · Print This Article

By Monica Tory
Kalamazoo, Michigan

to Jason / De La Paz and Kevin / Schering
for the great prizes and publicity for Velo Bella!

Tara Tasma, Team Giant, Women’s 1/2/3 race winner
…. and winner of many bella primes!

A few weeks ago, with the 2nd annual BTR Park Criterium fast approaching, I found myself busy with two tasks. First of all, campaigning for some other cat 4 women to race with me! The organizers told me that due to the points series rules, they would NOT be able to combine fields, even if I was the only cat 4 women’s entrant. I don’t want to be a bad sport, but … the thought of paying to spend 45 minutes riding around my local business park by myself was not a good one. Don’t get me wrong — I LOVE to time trial. But I’m entering crits to get more group-racing experience and …. well, 45 minutes, by myself, in circles, sounded downright awful! Second, and most importantly, I wanted to do something extra to sweeten the primes for the women’s races, and (hopefully) encourage more women in our area to come out and try this very beginner-friendly race. I didn’t have to look very far to come up with Bella-riffic primes! One of our super Velo Bella – Kona sponsors, Jason Benford / De La Paz Coffee, generously offered to donate a shipment of ultra-fresh, unbelievably scrumptious Bella Blend to the cause. Schering-Plough & Coppertone, a sponsor of our local triathlon club, also stepped up and donated some very nice schwag bags (filled with “all sorts of stuff you can use” — spray on Coppertone sunscreen, water bottles, towels, Dr. Scholl’s products, and more), which were distributed on behalf of Velo Bella – Kona and Schering-Plough.

While my first task one didn’t start out so well (by race morning, I was still the only cat 4 woman entered, and I found myself walking around the race course asking female spectators if they’d like to come out and race in the afternoon!!!!), by the end of the day I had two girls to race with — one (Mariann Barnes) that I recruited from the sidelines, and another (Jenny) who braved construction traffic, had to change in the car on her way down from Traverse City, and … thankfully … the race organizer’s held the race start for 5 minutes so she could sprint over to the start line.

The weather was great — gorgeous, sunny, and in the high 80s, with a slight headwind on parts of the course. Turns out the officials DID combine the 1/2/3 and 4 women’s fields, so I didn’t need to worry about recruiting fellow racers after all! While waiting for the start, I was super-surprised to see that I had a fan club! Ten or so friends from our bike and triathlon club had come to watch me race…which stepped up the ante for me! (It’s also good for the race….they loved watching and can’t wait to try it next year. yay!) Bella Dianna Rose had also made as 2 hour drive just to watch! I am really spoiled and lucky to have such great support out there and every day!

A Bellalicious Prime from De La Paz Coffee

It was exhilirating to stay with the 1/2/3 ladies, even if it was just for the first 2 laps. The course was wonderful….big swoopy curves, smooth pavement, a small hill/overpass, a nice section that was with the wind, and plenty of enthusiastic spectators. After being neatly dropped by the 1/2/3 ladies (and Jenny) in their 3rd or 4th acceleration, Mariann and I worked together for the rest of the race, trying different strategies to see if we could bridge back up to the main group. Our strategies didn’t work, but we had a great time experimenting, trying to lose one another, and getting to know each other too. Without trying, we split the primes pretty evenly (1 De La Paz Bella Blend for each of us, the Schering-Plough Coppertone schwag to Mariann), and by the last few laps it was obvious that Mariann was going to win any sprint that I left to the last minute! I tried to time my final attack well & it worked … I was still several bike lengths ahead by the time I crossed the finish line….

Monica Tory, cat 4 women, 2nd of 3

Fellow Kalamazoo Bicycle Club member Zolton Cohen has posted a fantastic gallery of race photos (click here).

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