Starla Teddergreen HIA Velo Journal Entry
Winning and Losing in the final seconds of the Chico Stage Race
It always amazes me how things seem to come to an almost standstill in the final seconds of a bike race. Chico Stage Race day 1 circuit race is a perfect example. I enter the final turn 12 positions farther back than I would like to be, and time starts to slow down. I can hear every labored breath, feel every burning muscle, I scan my body, calculating how to get more power out of my position on the bike. Pull back on the bars, chest down, get out of the wind. As adjustments are made I can feel my power increase, navigating to find daylight, a piece of open runway pointing me towards the white Finish line. Simultaneously my focus moves to the girl in front of me on the left, hoping she does not deviate any farther to her right, or the door to daylight will be closed and I will be put into the wall.
I find these moments beautiful, poetic even until that voice in my head starts screaming at me to go. Do not let your teammates down, don’t make all their hard work count for nothing, all those lead-outs, all those covered attacks, their legs, and lungs were burning for you, for this moment, don’t let them down. Go. Go. Go!
The road opens up with all riders behind me but one, the white finish line is quickly approaching, the voice in my head screams, you are gaining on her. Surprising myself, I had one more kick. I stretch out my arms and throw my bike as far forward as I can without disengaging from the pedals, getting rid of the bike completely. The white line flashes below me, I crossed it first. Did, I? Did I really? At this moment I feel outside of my body, disbelief consuming me. I sit up, arms up, but not fully extended in fear I was mistaken. Body gasping deeply for air, I am snapped back into the moment, I was holding my breath, holding it all in, savoring those seconds. I came through for the team, taking home the Win, the Green Jersey and my first ever Yellow Jersey.
Those seconds were special.
The final stage and downtown crit
I’m in the Green Jersey, our team is in Yellow, and our jobs are set. The race unfolded with the team executing time and time again for me to sprint, securing the Green Jersey and the coveted big Cash prime, as they covered attacks and made sure our Yellow Jersey was protected.
The bell rings with the same chaotic energy of the peloton, one to go. I am 3rd wheel and my teammate is on the front, and the sprinter to beat sits 2nd, separating me from her. I decided I am ok with this. She leads through turns 4 and 5, and we are in the final stretch leading into the final turn. Her incredible effort relents and she peels off, 2nd wheel is now in the wind. She looks back and time stops. This moment is where I lose the race.
That moment has been on replay in my mind for days now, not to beat my self up, but to learn from the possibilities of what could have happened if in that moment I had and jumped her to the turn. The danger of replaying any race and playing the “What if?” game the outcome is always unknown. If I hit the corner first would I have held her off, as well as the rider who got 2nd earning the precious time bonus affording her to take over the Yellow Jersey.
It is possible if I had of jumped first, that she would have matched me and still made it to the final corner first. With all the possibilities of what could have happened how is it that I know the single defining moment when I lost the race? In that moment, I was not in control of my next move but was reacting to the chain of events unfolding in front of me. For me, the difference between winning and losing at Chico was being in control of my next move.
In those final seconds of any bike race time does slow down for me, just enough to grasp hold of those valuable takeaways, the spectacular part of bike racing is the takeaways on how to win and lose a bike race in the final seconds will be different the next time around.