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Clásica Panamá RPC Radio

 | Published on 5/10/2020

Kim Nelson Clásica Panamá RPC Radio

On a whim, I decided to fly down to Panama with the guys Masters NGCA cycling team (no slouches there, as the director is former Pro and multi National Champion Emile Abraham). I truly had no idea what to expect other than @clasicapanamarpcradio was putting on 4 days of circuit/crit races and they had a women's division. And it was going to be hot and SUNNY. That's all it took to get me there. The event itself was well orchestrated as our bikes were picked up at the hotel the night before the races and appeared for us the next morning. Nice coach buses transported us to the races from the 4 star hotel each morning. Women were divided into 2 categories, Femenina A (age 19-34) and Femenina B (35+). The most difficult part of the racing for me was not being able to understand the instructions delivered in Spanish at the start line as details seemed to change daily.

A quick summary:

Day 1 - 3.8K Circuit/60K. 43 women on the line (in addition to at least that many Masters C men) it was a bit of a cluster as they were unable to keep track of all of us and began pulling people off the course right and left after just a few laps. Sadly, they permitted only 5 women to finish. They inadvertently scored me in the Fememina A the first day.

Day 2 - 4.5K Circuit/30K which was basically a straight line with a 180 degree turn at either end and the finish was about 120m after the final turn. After multiple loops I was able to manage the top 180 without losing my position, probably because it was a bit uphill, but no matter what I tried, inside, outside, middle, I continued losing position every time we came to the bottom 180 which was a bit downhill. I'd fight my way back into the pack during the loop each time, but found it very frustrating even though I still finished with the front group.

Day 3 - 1.2K Crit/40K total. Again, a straight line with a 180 degree turn at either end, but a much shorter loop. So short that it just became an overwhelming number of intervals as we had to slow so much for the turn and then accelerate very hard at each end. I was not prepared for this kind of intensity and was pulled from the course (along with 75% of the field) before it was over. We s?ll got points for where we finished, which was near the middle of all the women.

Day 4 - 3.3K Circuit, 30K. This was my favorite course, it was similar, but a bit longer than the first day and had two climbs. There was much confusion at the start, as to whether or not we were racing with the men again. Eventually, they went 2 minutes before us, but what threw me off was, every other race had begun with a neutral lap so when they took off 90 to nothing at the start I was unpleasantly surprised. I lost a lot, simply by not being in good position at the start. Off the back of the lead group I steadily picked up folks and our chase group swelled to 8 before we whittled it down to 4 over the course of several laps. I got some help from Fabiana Asconguy (a local Atlanta racer) on the final 2 laps, which was really cool. There was a 90 degree turn about 400m from the finish. I wanted to be first through the turn as the others were not very good at cornering, but they were pushing too fast so I backed off and scooted on the inside of the turn for a quick acceleration that I was able to hold onto for the win of my field sprint.


I ended up finishing 6th in the GC for the Fememina B, which came with a trophy and $90. Not bad for a last minute adventure. I am very grateful that this trip sort of fell in my lap and fear did not prevent me following through. It was an amazing experience all around, but what a treat to race with these accomplished young women primarily from South and Central America. Once again, I am honored to be able to represent Sorella Cycling outside of metro Atlanta.