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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Elite Nationals.

A Week and a bit after Tour De Femme was the Elite Road Nationals. The Women’s field was one of the strongest fields we have ever had, with 48 starters. Our Waikato/BOP field was also very strong with riders like Rushlee Buchanan, Kaytee Boyd, Sonia Waddell, Jaimie Neilson and Sally Fraser.

The race was a total of 123km, with 8 laps of a very challenging circuit. 7 out of the 8 laps we had to ride up a 1.5km very steep hill called Dyers Pass. The race started off pretty fast with Chubby Hale attacking as soon as the neutral flag came down. Three riders stayed off the front for a couple of laps, and then once we caught them Cath Cheatley rode off the front on the climb. By about the 4th lap there would have been about 20 riders in the main peleton with everyone else dropping off on the hill, and Cath about 50 seconds in front.

Going through the drink station someone decided to attack so I missed my drink bottle, the next lap I had nothing so made sure I slowed right down to get one on lap 5. By doing this I dropped off the back of the bunch by about 50 m but getting the drink was very important. Just before I got back on the bunch Rushlee Buchanan attacked bringing along Serina Sheridan. I knew once I had got back on that that break would stay away, and although Waikato had a lot of strong riders in the peleton we were not supposed to chase as Rushlee was our team mate. The next few laps were very frustrating as we sat in the bunch unable to do much at all.

Throughout the race I felt very comfortable going up the hill, usually being in the top 2-3. However going down the other side I was much too cautious and was not confident at cornering at all, which I think was from crashing the week before. Therefore I would drop quit a bit on the decent and then have to chase straight into the head wind at the bottom of the hill, this happening on every lap. By the last lap I was stuffed. At this stage there were 3 off the front including Cheatley, Buchanan and Sheridan and we were in a break away of 8. I felt ok going up most of the climb, although was struggling quit a bit toward the end. Then with 100 metres to go I blew up. The bunch was very close going down the other side but I was unable to close the gap as I struggled too much with the corners, and then chasing straight into the headwind at the bottom. Jaimie Neilson and Jeannie Kahujak caught me just after the bottom of the hill and we worked hard together but could not manage to catch the small bunch ahead. At the finish I sprinted Jeannie getting 9th.

Climbing the hill, with Cath Cheatley powering ahead..

I was very disappointed with the race and with how I had gone, but just makes me more determined to go faster, and to get my down hill confidence back. Next up I have the Bev May Tour, and recently I have been selected to be in the NZ team for the tour of NZ. This race is at the end of February and will have teams from over the world coming to race. Then in Mid-March I may be heading to Texas to race in a team for 3-4 months. Will let you know more when I find out.

The next day Emily, Kate and I supported the guys race, which was an awesome event to watch. The hill was crammed with people, looked something like the Tour De France and was a very exiting race with Hayden Roulsten being too strong and smart for everyone.

Kate and myself supporting the guys.. we made sure we were nice and visible for them to recognise us!

Untill next time

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tour De Femme

On Boxing Day I headed down to Nelson to compete in the Tour De Femme.
The Tour De Femme is a 5 stage tour completed over 3 days, including an 11 km hill climb up Takaka, a 48km circuit race, a 70km hilly road race, a 19km time trial and finishing off with an 80km road race. The field was pretty big for a women’s race with 50 riders starting and it was a good warm up race before nationals as there is not a lot of racing around NZ at that time of the year.

Stage one was the hill climb, the conditions were terrible, raining and very windy. The race had to be delayed about an hour as the weather was quit dangerous toward the top of the hill. Once it was underway it cleared but roads were very wet. I did an alright hill climb, getting a 3rd place, think I may have taken it too easy for the first half, not knowing that the second half was not near as steep and there was a slight tail wind.. Then going back down the hill I slipped on some diesel, ripping my skin suit, and bending my derailleur. Other then that just had a few grazes so was pretty lucky!

That afternoon was the circuit race. By now the sun was shinning and it was hot! The race started off slow, with no-one wanting to do anything. On the second to last lap Jeannie Kahujak attacked and I went with her, we got away for about half a lap picking up some sprint points. When we were caught Dale Tye attacked and no-body wanted to chase. With half a lap to go a few of us went to the front and put the pressure on, the sprint started pretty early with everyone having a go, I managed to get a pretty good position and won the bunch sprint, but 2nd in the stage as Dale was about 2 bike lengths in front at the finish.

Me at the front trying to put pressure on the bunch along with Emily (right) and Kate (left). Photos from Lucid Design.

The next day was the 70km very hilly stage, finishing on a 1km very steep climb. Again it started off pretty slow. When we got to Spooners (a 3km relatively steep climb) everyone was trying to get up the front. Karen, Emily, Emma and I attempted a few attacks, each time dropping a few people. The signing was not very good for the King of the Mountains and after coming round the corner I saw a large group of people so went for it, then realising there was still 300m to go. At this stage there was 3 of us away, I was stuffed after my little burst so I could not sprint again for the actual kom. We were now in a break away of about 15. The rest of the ride was pretty hard, everyone working well together. At the start of the finishing climb Emma Crum and I rode off the front, we got a pretty good gap on everyone else. I managed to out-sprint Emma at the line, although it was very close.

Coming upto the finish of the 3rd stage (on the right). Photos from Lucid Design.

That afternoon was the time trial. I was pretty tired from the morning’s stage, and it was really hot! The course was hard, with a few rolling hills and false flats (and wind). I was not able to bring my time trial bike down so I used clip-on bars on my road bike. I put all I had into it and finished 3rd, with Jaimie Neilson and Dale Tye in front (both using time trial bikes).

The last road stage started off well with Team Fresh Choice (A nelson based team) doing lots of attacks trying to get their rider Jeannie some sprint points. Kate Chilcott (a good friend of mine) was also going for Sprint Ace and with 2 km to go Jeannie was off the front and no-body wanted to chase. I went to the front and went as hard as I could to catch up, with Kate on my wheel. Jeannie had a bit too much distance but Kate managed to get 2nd over the line making her win the Sprint Ace overall. The rest of the race was very on and off with lots of attacks but also lots of slow patches. Over the second to last climb about 8 of us got away, we worked really hard together but somehow got caught by the bunch. Coming into the finish I went about 100 metres too early, blowing just before the finish line. Karen Fulton was on my wheel and passed me just before the line, with Kate 2nd and me 3rd.

Emma and I getting a little gap on the field on the last climb. (I’m second wheel with the under 23 leaders top on). Photos from Lucid Design.

Overall I finished 2nd to Jaimie Neilson, 1st in under 23 and 2nd in King (Queen) of the Mountains.

For more information on this tour or for any photos visit; http://www.nelsonevents.co.nz/TourdeFemme.htm

NSW Grand Prix Series

In Late November I got a call from James Canny, an inspirational Cyclist from Invercargill, asking if I would be interested in joining a team of NZers to go over and compete in the NSW GP Crit Series in Sydney, Australia. I was a little unsure at first as I was not very experienced at Criterium riding and the event included the top Australian riders as well as Americans and a Russian. After talking with my coach we both decided it would be a great idea to build confidence and to learn from the best of how to ride a criterium. So with 2 weeks of Criterium base training (short, sharp efforts with very little recovery) I was off to Sydney along with; Kate Chilcott, Emily Collins, Alex Ray, James Williamson, James Canny, Joe Chapman, and Sam Steele.

The series consisted of five criteriums held over 5 days all over Sydney, including; Bathurst, Parramatta, Gosford, Coogee and Cronulla. We were treated like royalty from the race organises, giving us cars to drive, always being available to help and staying in some very nice accommodation. We travelled with our new friends ‘Vanderkitten Racing team’ who are an American based team specialising in Criteriums. We were also lucky enough to Get John Vande Velde as our driver who is Christian Vande Velde’s dad (who got 4th overall in the 2008 Tour De France).

Race 1; Bathurst

On Wednesday morning we drove to Bathurst from Sydney. In Bathurst we stayed at an amazing place right in the middle of the Bathurst racing track called Mirvac Hotel, Mount Panorama, Bathurst. We were told that the Hotel is booked out for the next 10 years around racing time.

After doing a lap around the track (which we had to have a look at) we headed out to the race in the main town of Bathurst. The course consisted of a square around a little grass field, being a total of 400m a lap! At the start line I was basically shaking with nerves, the field was very good and I was very nervous! Once it had started I calmed down a bit, there were 43 starters, which were a lot on such a small course so it was very important to stay as close to the front as I could. It was a very fast race; I was definitely struggling but managed to stay on the back of the front bunch at the end (dropped about half the field). At the end I was stuffed. Emily had a great race finishing 9th with Kate close behind. Emily and Kate are both very strong Crit riders so it was good having them there so I could try and stay as close to them as I could knowing that I would be following a good wheel.

Above; Standing at the top of Bathurst Track. Below; Emily and I riding Track before we hed to the race.

Race 2; Paramatta

The morning of the race we went for a ride around Bathurst in very wet conditions. My legs felt a little sore but loosened up after awhile. We finished the ride doing another lap of the Bathurst track and taking photos at the top. I am now going to watch that race with a lot more interest as the descent they have to do was unbelievable, very steep and sharp corners… I was scared to ride down it at 20kmh let alone race down it at 100+.

After the ride we got cleaned up and Drove to Paramatta for the next race. This Criterium consisted of an up, and a down. It was kind of like an oval where the finish line was on the up part, and then you would turn left, go down and swoop down to the left and back up again. When we stepped out of the car we got a shock with the heat. Bathurst would have been about 25 degrees, and Paramatta was at least 35-40. We walked straight to the closest cafĂ© and sat in it for about an hour making the most of the air-conditioning and cold water. Once we got back we had a small warm up and lined up at the start line. Again the race was very fast, although this time I felt a lot more confident and was able to easily move my way toward the front each time we went up the hill. The last 4 laps were VERY fast, with team Honda pushing the pace. I managed to stay in the front bunch again with quit a few people dropping. Overall Emily, Kate and I managed to all finish in the top 5 with Emily 4th, Kate 5th and myself 9th. So was quit a good day. Honda’s Rochelle Gilmer got her second win, showing everyone why she is one of the top sprinters in the world.

Race 3; Gosford

Straight after the race we headed to Terrigal, a nice little town with a massive beach! We got a wee bit lost but eventually got to our Hotel at about 10pm. There was a little family owned Italian Restaurant that were just closing when we got there but luckily the Mother of the family felt sorry for us and demanded her Son and Husband stay open if we agree to only order pizza. Besides the angry Husband and unhappy looks from the Son in the kitchen the meal was pleasant and the lovely lady was still smiling when we left. The next morning we went for a stunning ride around the waterfront and hills of Terrigal and then had a look around the shops before heading off to Gosford for race 3.

Gosford was a hot-dog shaped race where we raced on the waterfront up and down a parallel street and then did two 360 turns at each end. We started later on at night so most of the race was done in the dark under street lights, which was a pretty cool experience. I felt really good for this race positioning myself near the front for most of the race. Coming up to the second to last corner I was near the front until a certain Australian decided to cut me off, I had to brake and then she dropped from the bunch so I then had to pass her and chase the girls up ahead. This was not what I wanted to do with less then a km to go. Just before the last turn I got onto the back of the front bunch and sprinted as hard as I could to the finish. The series leader Rochelle Gilmer did not keep her line and went into the Russian who flew off her bike. I just managed to miss her lying on the ground and got over in 9th place. Unfortunately the Russian messed up her face quit badly and had to get plastic surgery the next day, but other then that no bones broken. Rochelle got DQ’d from that race which put Emily into 2nd place and Kate into 3rd (and me 8th) which was an awesome result, showing the class of these two riders. After the race we watched the guys and the prize giving, by the time we left it was about 10.30, and we still had to ride 10km back home. So in the pitch black we rode back to Terrigal with John Vande Velde driving behind with the high beams on and us pretty much sprinting with fear for the 10km journey home. Once home everything was shut, so we had to resort to Delhi rolls from McDonalds (much to Kate, Emily and my disapproval). We then got back to the Hotel and were in bed just after midnight.

Race 4; Coogee
The next morning we packed up and headed to Coogee, a very popular, up-market beach. It was absolutely packed, you could hardly see a space of sand or grass free from sunbathers. This was definitely the coolest place I had been to. We got our bikes out and warmed up. This course was also like a hot-dog but went up one side and down the other. It started off at a comfortable pace until a couple of riders went off the front. I did a few attacks to chase them down as the strong, Honda dream team were just letting them ride away as they had one of their riders in it. After my attack Kate and Emily had a go and managed to get a gap on the field along with 2 or 3 others. After this I sat back and tried everything I could to slow the main bunch down so that they could stay away. This pretty much worked with the bunch being just in front at the finish, but they were not able to catch the front few. Emily finished 8th with Kate 9th. I think I came 11th or 12th. After the race we watched the guys and then chilled on the beach for the rest of the afternoon. Then headed back to our initial accommodation just passed Sydney. Thanks to James Williamson our 1 hour trip took about 2-3 hours. But eventually we got there just before it got dark. Trying the beach out at the end of the crit. With our American friends.

The packed Coogee beach.

Race 5; Cronulla

The next morning we woke up to very hot and sunny conditions. Kate, Emily and I were lucky enough to be given the Bates Bikes kit to wear on the last day, to make us look like a team and show off an awesome kit. This race was slightly longer then the rest of them; it finished on a downhill and had a couple of up hills around the back. It started hard, and then continued throughout the race. I felt very confident now and spent a lot of time near, or at, the front. Unfortunately my legs were not feeling very fresh and were not happy with the sudden sprints. I stayed up with the front of the bunch for most of the way and tried to block any wind from Emily as she was pretty close to coming top 3 overall in the series. Then on the last corner before the descent I got boxed in, on the downhill I got beside Kate and finished pretty much next to her. I think we got 11th and 12th with Emily in 4th.

Us in our cool new Bates Bike kit, looking like a proper team.. and the awesome fluro socks.

The Last stage, If you look closely you can see Emily with the fluro yellow socks, I am 3 ahead of that on the right.

Overall the trip was awesome! I learnt heaps, gained a lot of confidence and had heaps of fun. Thanks to Bates Bikes and the team and James Canny for the trip. Will definitely be going back to that one!!

Untill next time...



After worlds I had a few weeks recovering as the ‘cold’ decided to hang around for awhile. Then first race back was Taupo. Instead of doing the lap around the lake the elite women completed a shorter 80km course which started in Taupo, then toward Turangi (going the opposite direction to the normal Taupo course) and then turned around and came back. It was a relatively flat course except for the Hatepe hill on the way home and a couple other small rollers.

The start list was very good, with the likes of Rushlee Buchanan, Cath Cheatley, Sonia Waddell, Serina Sheridan (etc). Although the race itself was pretty slow as everyone was waiting for Hatepe hill do anything. I felt pretty good coming up to the hill. Cath attacked from the bottom bringing along Emma Crum and they got a pretty good gap on the field. Sonia went to the front and grinded it up with me on her wheel, we dropped the rest of the field and caught up Emma. With about 100 metres of the hill to go my legs decided they had had enough. I tried to ignore the pain but it just was not working, I had not ridden a hill like this since Worlds and I think they had forgotten how to do it. I slowly dropped off the two and went back to a now smaller group. At this stage it was Cath, Emma and Sonia off the front and then our group about 200 metres behind. We all worked hard to catch them up and at the bottom (thankfully) got back onto them. Coming upto the last 2km I felt really good. The pace was on and I was sitting in next to Sonia and Cath. Then next thing I was on the ground wondering what the hell happened. Some rider a couple in front decided to swerve in the middle of the bunch and take down the person next to her, then I went straight over the top.. Literally. I did a nice superman move over the top of my bars with arms out in front. Rushlee and Serina had also come down, as well as Sarah Morrison and Gayle Brownlee. As Rushlee pealed me off the road we eventually got back on and rolled over the finish line, well back from the winners. Luckily my bike was ok!! I just had some road rash and quit a sore knee which would have happened from the impact. Nothing broken or seriously injured so was very thankful, unlike Sarah who dislocated her shoulder and Gayle who broke a rib. However getting back I had found out a good friend of mine, Kate Chilcott had won the sprint over Sonia Waddell and Cath Cheatley. This was a massive win for Kate with such a strong field, she is definitely one to look at for the future.

Climbing up Hatepe. Sonia Waddell at the front, me 2nd wheel, Emma third.

Overall, the race was a disaster. Good fun though.. Crashes are just all part of bike riding!

Thanks for reading =)


Sunday, January 16, 2011

World Champs!

In early September I was selected to compete at the UCI Road World Cycling Champs in Geelong, Australia, along with a very strong team of; Cath Cheatley, Linda Villumsen, Serena Sheridan, Toni Bradshaw, Emma Crum and myself. When I first took up cycling I dreamt of competing at the World Champs at about the age of 30 and then to be selected at 19 years old I was totally overwhelmed and excited (and bloody nervous).

A week before Geelong (Worlds) was a race in Ballarat called the World Cycling Classic. This was basically the warm up race, where mostly everyone doing worlds would compete at. The race was insane, lining up with over 100 of the worlds best cyclists. I felt really good for most of the race, felt confident in the bunch and even went off the front for about 100m on one of the hills. It started off relatively slow, as everyone waited for someone to do something, then with about 2 laps to go the pressure went on with over half the field dropping. At the end I finished in the middle of the bunch (about 33rd out of the 100 odd riders). This race gave me a major confidence booster, I had an awesome time and it was pretty cool riding alongside the worlds best.

The next week everybody settled into the hotel in Geelong, where we rode, ate and slept. Emma, Serina and I had the perfect room looking over the tt course. We were not supposed to do much before the race so we would sit on the deck, watch them ride past then turn and watch it live on the TV.

I decided to get sick 4 days before the race. It got worse as the days went on, feeling terrible when riding and having no energy. I loaded up on as much Vitamin C as I could but think it was too late, although I stayed positive telling myself it would be gone the next day. On the morning of the race I temporarily lost my voice.. but I did feel better! Toni also managed to get sick with a chest infection, not the best start for the team. Other then that I was still very exited to race! Out for a training ride, trying to chase Mark Cavendish who was also out on a training ride 100 metres in front.

Riding out to the race was awesome, the atmosphere was incredible. Massive crowds were lining the streets already, with flags from all around the World. While in the riders area there were camera people everywhere, it felt so professional! We had the team presentation where we signed on and stood on the stage for photos, then had a little warm up and headed for the start line. Each country got called up individually, with New Zealand being toward the back.

Our names up on the start list.

Getting called up to the start.

The race consisted of 8 laps (127km), including 2 rather steep hills each lap. The first hill was just over a km, getting upto about 24% gradient. Then it descended for 2.5km and went straight into another steep, but short climb. On the first lap up the hill there was a small crash in front of Emma and I, I had to put the breaks on and go around it and then sprint to get back onto bunch in front. Luckily made it back up before the top of the hill, although was not feeling flash and HR was already about 5 above my maximum. The next couple of laps I felt comfortable in the bunch but as soon as we hit a hill I was suffering. Toward the end of the 4th lap I completely blew on the hill, the legs didn’t feel too bad but I was suffering to breath. I eventually pulled the pin. As gutted as I was to have to pull out I did have a great time and knew that there was nothing more I could have done. Linda and Cath had a great race finishing in the front bunch with Toni and Serina not far behind.

Overall the whole trip was an experience of a life time that I will never forget, and hope that one day I will be right up there with the top girls.

The Team before the start, me looking abit too serious. (photo from RoadCycling.co.nz)