We're happy to see Carrera de San Rafael back on the race calendar after a couple years' hiatus. This year the race holds a prominent place in the season as the final NCNCA criterium race and the final race of the Bay Area Women's Cycling (BAWC) NorCal Women's Racing Series. Metromint Cycling fielded a strong group of category 3 and 4 women for the race this past Saturday. The fields, although combined for racing, would be picked separately for each category. The women at the start line included Sarah, Amanda, Laurie, Monique, Julie, Allison and Kristin.

The San Rafael race has a good reputation for a safe and well run race. With the course well delineated by barriers and crossing guards, volunteers passing out sunscreen to supporters and fans, a solid stand with three finish line video cameras (to get the results right), and sounds pumping through the PA system--music and solid audible announcing. Combined with the always fantastic Giro di San Francisco the previous weekend, it gives hope that the level and organization of racing in this region will continue its growth.

As the women's racing got underway, a rupture quickly formed between those strong and warmed up enough to push the pace up front, and those who needed a little more warm-up or would not be able to enough to hang on to the front group. Two races within the race...plus the few stuck in the middle battling against their own de facto individual time trial to get back onto one main group or the other.

The course was a short, four corner rectangle on a tilted plane, with corner two at the high point and corner four at the low point, resulting in a steep downhill to corner four and a medium uphill to the finish line. With such a short course, hitting the hill over and over without much time for recovery results in splitting up the field.

While the overall plan was for the team to help Sarah Lightfoot place well to retain her 1st place in the BAWC Women's Race Series, to obtain upgrade points for category 3 to 2, and to help Monique Quandt leap into 1st place in the Category 4 Series, there were other significant battles going on...category 4 women trying to stay in contact with the front group to assure a good result...those in "no man's land" between the two groups trying to maintain...and of course, Laurie's famous prime attacks--guaranteed to get her a piece of the prize list and to put the hurt the other racers. As Laurie put it, "We did achieve our goals and were aggressive as other teams have come to expect from us. For me, it was just nice to go out and have some fun and to pick up a few primes."

Sarah's race report details her experiences trying to sit in and wait the finale, which is not her usual style, and the excellent attacks by Amanda and Kristin in the final minutes to put the heat on the field.

Sarah took 5th place in her field, got enough points for her upgrade and is believed to have 1st place in the BAWC Cat 3 Series, while Amanda finished 12th in the race, Laurie 13th and winning two primes, and Kristin 17th...all undoubtedly drained from the multiple attacks they dished out. In the category 4s, Monique took 5th place in her field and is looking at 2nd place in the BAWC Cat 4 Series, with Allison 6th in the race and Julie 12th. Each of the women contributed to the overall plan! The race capped a season of strong teamwork and commitment by all of the women on Metromint Cycling to race together as an integrated, cohesive team.

The final sprint was captured on low resolution camera by fellow Metromint Cyclist and posted to Google Video:

Photos were captured on a Canon IXY 55 digital camera with no lens to speak of and posted to Flickr. Enjoy the slideshow:

See you all next season!