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TONGA 2 2021 Adventures

Melanie King | Published on 9/13/2021

TONGA2 Crit Melanie King
TONGA 2 omnium this year was my first attempt at racing 4 times in 3 days. I was NERVOUS. I wasn’t sure how my body would do and recover after each race, but there’s no better way to find out than to try (crazy as it may be 😊). I was excited to represent Sorella and give it my best go! Also knowing team mates would be there was the best encouragement ❤️.

Friday night was the Crit in Demorest, Georgia. We would race for 45 minutes (my longest Crit race to date). This was my first year to give Crits a try…….I have to be honest, I got hooked. The TONGA crit was my third and I was excited to give it a go. They combined the Cat 1-5. My team mates, Saskia Hoppe and Kim Nelson, were joining in on the fun. Saskia willingly said she would sacrifice herself to help Kim and I. Thank you Saskia!!!!!! The pace was fast and furious. Wow. Saskia pulled off the front at one point and I jumped on her wheel. It was followed by attack after attack. In the end, I was able to come in 6th in Cat 1-3. I was super happy but also knew I had probably put a bit too much on the line to hang on. Oooops. Kim Nelson was right with me at the line. Strong racing Kim (also our National Masters Crit Champion 2021!!!!!). The best part was hanging out with team mates afterwards and taking it all in.

TONGA2 road race - Melanie King hurting
Next up was the road race in Lula, Georgia. It’s 4 laps around a fairly hilly course (especially the half mile steep climb through the banner each lap). Normally I love this sort of course. I do love the climbs, but my legs were already a bit angry at me from the Crit “fun” the night before. I lined up with team mates, Karen Richardson and Claudia Bailey. Team mates ❤️. Off we went and I knew immediately I was in survival mode. Ughhhhh! On the steep climb of the first lap, Saskia who was cheering, could tell I wasn’t happy. I’m laughing as I write this. She said I had a scowl on my face rather than the happy “I’m climbing smile”. After each climb, I managed to claw back to the front group…..fall back, claw back…..rinse and repeat until the finish. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I was to see that finish banner. Karen finished with me and both of us agreed it was a tough day. Claudia had a great day!!! Hanging with the top group for much of the race with a big smile on her face. So strong!!!!!!!

Melanie King hurting after 2 races at TONGA2

<-- This photo showcases how I felt!

TONGA2 road race 2 - Melanie King
Next up later that afternoon was the time trial. I was tired, but tried to recover in the air conditioning in my car and eat. My background is triathlon so I knew that steady pace is my happy place. Off I went and I was surprised my legs actually felt decent. I came in 4th. Super happy and also super happy to head home for some rest and yummy food 😊.

Final road race……oh I am tired. I fell asleep shortly after early dinner the night before. Here we go!!! Team mate Kim Nelson offered to drive. Thank you Kim!!!!! Off we went. There was a break away group of 6 or 7. Our group did our best to organize and chase. We formed a pace line, but we were unable to catch. I was incredibly happy to see that final banner. I’m going to gush a bit about how amazing Kim Nelson raced. So strong! She flew on the final sprint (even with a crazy speed bump on the final straightaway).

TONGA2 podium Melanie King
I’m not sure how it happened, but I ended up 5th for the combined TONGA 1 and 2. I had to run across the parking lot and make them do the awards again since I was caught off guard, but I wanted to make sure Sorella was there!

Being a part of this team means so much. It goes beyond racing. It is friendship, support and fun. I can’t tell all of you how much I appreciate you.