Set to race the road race on and the crit over the weekend in Santa Cruz, Gio Ondine and myself loaded up on Friday at the ass crack of dawn along with the mountain boys (and Jenny). Ready to shred, we packed it in and headed out for a long drive up north.

With Patrick coming down with the plague we made a stop in Santa Barbara to pick up some over the counter drugs…not under. Here we noticed a garbage truck exploding into a fiery flames within minutes of us going to get gas.

With a good start to the weekend we got to SC and made our way to a farm to table restaurant which da-boys bounced out of not long after being seated. They went to Panda and the three of us girls (Ondine, Jenny and I) made the most of the spot with a few rounds of orange juice that was bottomless.
After fueling up we tried to check into the wrong hotel but quickly found the correct one. Not long after da-boys and Jennie went to to hit up some trails, the roadies relaxed and had some chill time in the hot tub.

A few hours later everyone came back from the mountains and we went downtown to have a family dinner, and plan for the early morning race the next day.

We got up at the ass crack of dawn, loaded up the trucks and headed towards the Santa Cruz campus to find the start line. After taking a few wrong turns with some pre race anxiety we made it just in time for Gio’s 7:30am start time.

This race circled up and into the Santa Cruz campus; pretty much in the middle of the forest. At the top of the short but steep climb the course quickly descended down and through the trees which opened up to over look the beautiful and open fields. After some morning dew and a little rain from the previous night, canopies created by branches from trees, made parts of the course wet with the occasional puddle. This only generated a bit of spray but nothing like torrential downpours can during a race.

So not only did the mountain crew come so far to destroy the trails but they were the best motivational, supportive and rowdy team on the campus.

Gio finished his race like a champ. Ondine and I had ours at 9:30. All three of us finished after the climbs separated a lot of racers out and formed some distance between riders.

After the race we left and got an awesome early start dropping off the shredders to send the shit out of it by 1 pm. The roadies took the truck back to base camp unloaded, took a much needed nap and headed out to get some chow. We got several calls and slowly but surely picked up the shredders after about 5 hours spent on the sick SC trails. We found them wet and dirty but the joy the mountains left them with was priceless.

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It took a little convincing but we shuttled Patrick and Matt up to one last descent so that they could “do Jugs” a trail that I swear to God makes it sound like they want to “do drugs”. However, their excitement level was literally like they were on drugs they were that stoked. We finally headed back to clean up, get some dinner and sleep for the crit the next morning.

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Up again before the sun, we loaded the trucks, picked up some coffee and headed to Salinas about an hour south of Santa Cruz, where the crit was being held. We arrived early and got a prime parking spot where we set up the pop up, CIBK sign and provided some much needed music for the crowd.
Gio began to warm up and I headed to another clinic, held by Mary which was extremely helpful for gaining practice in riding with a group and pacelining.

The sun was out with some cloud coverage but the course was relatively smooth in comparison to other crits and located in an industrial park right off the freeway. In the midsts of this clinic Gio began his race and it ended it in an unfortunate spill that landed him up on the curb of the crit course. Luckily his injuries were minor but left him with a bit of road rash and a spirit quickly lifted by our incredible clubs loving and ecstatic attitude.

Not long after the women’s B/C race started at 9:35 am. We were off and I was pumped to be able to keep up with the peloton while Ondine was doing a fair bit of pulling in the front of the pack creating a good pace. Around we went flying through the corners at what seemed to be a decent speed. At least for me.

Our posy and the other teams were lined up at the corner directly after the start/finish line. CIBK chanted with voices louder than all the others and gave that extra boost of rocket fuel to our wheels.

Ondine and I were doing great and during the last lap I saw her in front and I knew she was ready to give it her all with a sprint to the finish. I was ready to do the same and until I saw a UCSD rider start to take the second to last corner a bit sharp.

Her and a rider from Davis ate it. Being that I was drafting off of them, I tried to swerve around but unable to clear their bodies, joined the girls on the asphalt. Laying on the ground I heard a girl gasping for air and it was a UCLA rider (who I’m not sure how was involved in the crash) but seemed to have the wind knocked out of her.
People came to help and I felt lucky because like Gio, I had very minor injuries and the three other girls were pretty banged up. The rest of the racers had finished and come around again to check on us. Ondine not only was the sole one of the three CIBK riders to finished the race but she got 4th place even after pulling for much of the time! Wooo Ondine rocked it!

Many of the racers I’ve talked to have said that crits are where it’s at. However, as a rider who struggles with cornering they seemed to be my week point until this race, where it felt just right. I now understand the exhilarating feeling of crits and why they are so favored.

I don’t think I ever would have thought about racing my bike if it weren’t for the individuals that are apart of CIBK and the special memories we share while participating in the sport. Biking is fun but biking with fun people is the real dream. Thanks everyone for your care, support and desire for a good time.

-Emily Howard

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