Allison Oishi

For me, riding is an escape

My Favorite Race – Stacey Barbossa

“I could hear her breathing hard, like a beast, behind me — and that made me go even faster.”

“I was in the front row. I kept thinking, ‘Aggressive, aggressive, aggressive.’ The whistle blared and I was second to the grassy off- camber, charged ahead, in the lead as we hit the turn into the woods and… I was off to the races! I plowed forward, my vision pinpoint, 100% focused on what I was doing. I didn’t care about anything or anyone else.

“I sensed that someone was behind me but didn’t know who. I kept the hammer down. I only knew that it was LVG when I heard the announcer call our names.

“I could hear her breathing hard, like a beast, behind me — and that made me go even faster.

“I was feeling good – really good. Calm, strong, in control. I was in the lead for about a lap-and-a-half and heard Rich yell for us to work together, that we had a gap. I could see Kathryn and Katrina chasing. I thought to just plow ahead and hammer, but I could see there was no way I was going to get away unless LVG flubbed. I let LVG get around me. I quickly grabbed her wheel and felt like I could recover. LVG was strong, relaxed and comfortable.

“The announcer barked that Kathryn and Katrina were closing the gap, not giving up. I didn’t want to let them catch up, decided to push ahead – and also test the waters, truth time. I went ahead of LVG and threw down the hammer, trying to drop her AND the chasers. I was fatiguing, getting a little sloppy, not being super smooth in the turns, slightly out of control, but I knew this was the smart play. If I was tired, they were tired, and when they’re tired, that’s when you take them.

“I gapped the chasers, but LVG and I were locked in battle.

“LVG passed me hard with a lap-and-a-half to go. I lost a blip of time on the super-sharp horse pen off-camber, and LVG gained a gap. As we passed the pit, I heard Rich telling me not to let up and I didn’t. I kept standing, kept attacking, closing the gap. Could I catch her? Could I win this race? I forged ahead, focused on getting up there. Yes, yes I could.

“Damn, a small pedal-clip on some more off-camber and she had another two seconds.

“The race ended with a chase. If she made a marginal mistake, I was right there – but LVG is a class act, rode strong and clean. I couldn’t close it down.

“In the end, I was 2nd by 11 seconds. Fair Hill was a dogfight — Kathryn was only 13 seconds behind me.”

— Stacey Barbossa