Caro A. Poole : RHCBK8
text : Caro A. Poole - photo : Gophrette Power
I used to ride to commute (and by commute, I mean to the bar), and over time as I integrated more-so into the cycling community of Montreal, I became more passionate about the sport and wanted to take it to a new level physically and mentally. I have been riding fixed gear for 5 years now, and started racing last summer as part of the 808 Crit Team.
The racing scene is really small in Montreal (though growing consistently each year with the help of more and more dedicated individuals) with only two organized crit’s a summer, so I think everyone’s so-called need and want to participate in a level of racing like Red Hook, was almost necessary. I can’t speak for the other participants, but Red Hook Crit Brooklyn, was a psychological, an emotional, but most certainly, an exciting experience for me.
Days before the race, I was nervous, scared, excited, nauseous… basically every emotion one can exude, I felt! Surprisingly though, the day we rolled through the gates of RHC (with Kelli Samuelson by our side), my nerves started to dissipate and I felt calm and really just super stoked to be amongst the world’s best crit riders, and excited to watch my friends race for their lives. It took some time to get the ball rolling for the day, as our start time for our qualifications were prolonged, but once we were settled into our team/athletes bay and all geared up, the nerves started up again. Finally at our starting line for our qualifications, I started to feel more collected; At this point, I just wanted to ride the course. It’s funny too; girls at a start line are very different to guys at a start line. We chat about the weather, we wish each other good luck, we giggle, and we smile in anticipation, which I think helped us all set the mood and relax. Then the clock counted down. During the qualifications, looking back, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t take turns very strategically, which really cut time off my laps, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. Although we all make the finals, because we’re only about 55-60 participants, you need to ride well in your qualification round to be placed strategically at the start line of the finals. But I had all day to think of that. The day was long as we watched the men’s qualifications every 30 minutes until 6pm, and my nerves were on edge watching the men take the hairpin (unsuccessfully at times). After the qualification rounds, and the Last Chance Race, and the 5km Sprint run were wrapped up, it became time to organize ourselves and concentrate on what lied ahead. By then, I was exhausted, mentally. This start line was a lot different than our morning start line. It was an overwhelming feeling of having dozens of cameramen in our faces, with hundreds of people cheering us on the sidelines, and lining up next to top athletes like Fleur Faure. The clock counted down. I missed my shot to advance, and lost the pack, and took my turns far too cautiously and lost time. Before I knew it, only after hitting 6 laps, the pace car creeped up on me. I was done. Coming off the sidelines to my gang of friends was the best way to finish the race. And even better, was anxiously watching my friends Andy and Laurie come around that corner every lap, knowing they were still in it. I really don’t want to prolong this article though, and speak to you of every moment of every emotion I felt throughout the day (too late?), so let me wrap it up. A week later, I feel so proud of our Montreal crew representing with all their hearts: To my team, Team iBike, and to The Pack… You’re presence, support, and dedication, is what will really resonate in my experience from this day for me.
See you at Jackalope xx