Austin Tri-Cyclist Blog

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Disneyland for the Bike Racer
An ATC Racing report from the Driveway Series

by Christie Tracy
Christie Tracy celebrating the win with a well-earned bottle of champagne
 from Driveway sponsor Whip In 

This is my first year racing on the ATC Women’s Racing Team, and it has been a year full of learning, growth, and achievements, both personally and as part of a wonderful team.

I started the 2015 Race Season as a brand new cat 3 who had never raced on a women’s racing team before. I had one solid year of racing as a cat 4 under my belt, but had been racing as the solo female bike racer on a team comprised of primarily triathletes and male bike racers. As a result, I was entirely unfamiliar with how team tactics "worked," and I had a lot of learning to do when it came to basic racing technique and learning how to read a race as it unfolded.

My teammates have been an invaluable asset this year – they have helped me to learn so much in such a short period of time through the celebration of achievements and constructive criticism of mistakes used as teaching moments. I feel that my knowledge of bike racing techniques and tactics has grown tenfold this year, and has contributed significantly to my personal successes recently, as well as my ability to work for my teammates and support/back up their efforts during races, and our overall success as a team.

Most local Austin Bike Racers know me as "the registration girl" at the Driveway because I spent most of last year volunteering at the local Driveway Bike Race Series in an effort to stay involved with the racing community while I recovered from not one, but two, collarbone breaks. As a result, the Driveway Series, as well as its volunteers, spectators, and those who come to race their bikes, are very special to me. When I started racing again this year after recovering from last year’s injuries, it frustrated me to no end that I couldn’t pull out a decent placement in any of the Driveway Series Races! Don’t get me wrong – I learned SO much in the early season races, and helped to support many successful finishes by my kick-ass teammates, but for some reason I just could never seem to pull out a podium at the Driveway for myself!

That is why, when asked to write up a short piece on my racing successes this year, I chose to focus on my recent first place finish in a Driveway Series Women’s Open race. This win was so special to me first because it required such a team effort in order to earn it, and second, because it happened at my favorite place on earth – Disneyland for the Bike Racer – The Driveway Bike Race Series Austin.

My first win ever at the Driveway came on July 2 in the Women’s Open 5 p.m. race. (If you’ve never come out to watch this race – you have no idea what a good show you’re missing! What are you waiting for? Come check it out this Thursday!!) It was Ladies' Night, and there was a pretty decent field size, thanks in part to the additional primes and prizes generously donated for the ladies' races by local businesses. We were racing the speed loop, which started out with a climb up the corkscrew followed by a long, fast straightaway with a gradual descent.

Christie's race-winning attack up the corkscrew

I lined up in the 95-degree sweltering heat next to about 30 other ladies and looked around to find my teammates. We had five strong ladies racing: Marla Briley, Chelsea Smith, Katie Kantzes, Estefy Gonzales, and myself. The whistle blew, and I attacked hard from the line. I looked over my shoulder as I crested the corkscrew and saw that I had a small gap, so I just tucked my head and poured on the gas. The field caught me just before the turnaround, and Marla launched a counterattack, flying off the front of the peloton and forcing the other teams to grit their teeth and burn matches in order to chase her down. Marla built a decent gap as well, but was eventually reeled in, at which point Katie attacked, shooting off the front like a cannonball! I heard someone mutter under their breath at this point "C’MON, REALLY??" and I knew that our attacks were already starting to take their toll on the competition. Katie’s attack also resulted in a gap, and when it was closed, Chelsea countered with the force of a charging bull. Once again, the peloton was forced to redline it in order to prevent a solid break. When Chelsea was caught, I countered, and we continued this cycle of attack/counter/attack throughout the race.

Fast forward to the final lap. The peloton closed the gap on one of Marla’s attacks just after we crested the corkscrew, and I countered with every last ounce of power that I had left in my legs. I went all-out for about 30 seconds before daring to glance back, at which point I saw that I had a HUGE gap on the field! In the back of my mind, I started questioning myself: "Did I hear the bell right? Is this really the last lap? Was there an accident? WTF is going on????" After two seconds of second-guessing myself, I just said "Screw it, I’m all in anyway," and buried my head, giving everything I had until I came through the finish line. As I crossed the finish line, I didn’t even have the composure to celebrate – I was toast. I just gasped for air, and had just enough breath to yell to the official and ask if I had actually just won?!? He nodded his head, confirming, and I limped up the corkscrew into the arms of my wonderful husband who hugged me and whispered in my ear, "Congrats babe – you just won your first Driveway race!" That made it official. Huge grin, tears of joy, and the post-race interview, in which I profusely thanked my teammates. This was truly a team effort, and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time on the final lap to launch that final counter attack at just the moment that the peloton had finally had enough of those damn ATC attacks and decided to give up the chase. :)

Celebrating after the race: ATC Racing's Estefy, Marla, Katie, and Christie

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