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Friday, May 20, 2011

Tour De Grove

On Thursday the 12th Rachel, KC, Kate and I left for a 9.5 hour drive to St Louis to race the Tour De Grove Criterium series and NRC race. There were 50 starters with most of the top teams there including a full Tibco and Colavita team. The first race was a 55 minute plus 3 lap Criterium in a rectangle shape. We started just before 9pm so it was very dark! Dark clouds were hanging around but luckily we did not get wet. The race was full of attacks, with nothing sticking, finishing with a bunch sprint. Kate and I were hoping to have some sort of lead out but it was pretty hard to actually see who anyone was so we ended up just going for it, finishing pretty much next to each other on opposite sides of the road, with Kate 8th and me 9th. We then warmed down while watching 150 odd pro men racing round the circuit, was insane to watch, with Pure Black totally dominating the race.

The next race was the NRC Criterium around a very sketchy circuit, with lots of corners and metal plates on the road. To make it even better it was raining and the course was very slippery. People were falling off left right and centre, it was more a finish in one piece sort of race. Coming up to a prime I got in a break away of 3 but the Tibco girl had a lot more balls around the last corner then I did, going around it about 5kmh faster. Around the final corner the girl at the front took it too wide and came off, wiping out quite a few people. I rolled over the line some where in the bunch happy to be in one piece. Was not the best day on the bike but was good for my mental toughness! We were not able to stay around to watch the guys as we were completely frozen but got home to find that Pure Black Racing had helped Mike Northey pull of an awesome win in the pro race!

The final day of racing was very action packed! It was on another corner filled, slippery course with a nice up hill to the finish. Again it was raining which added to the fun! 5 minutes to start Kate and I were attempting to de-attach Kate’s wheel from the wind trainer, as it got stuck and we could not get her bike out. I rode to the start line to ask the starter to hold the race for a minute. Luckily we still had time to find the closest male spectator and get him to have a go at getting it off. 2 minutes to go we were all on the start line, to find Kate’s back break was rubbing.. I waved over a mechanic looking person and he fixed it (the wheel was not on properly thanks to the wind trainer incident). We were exhausted with 30 seconds to go, feeling like we had already raced! Next thing we were racing and it was wet! Kate and I both got in almost every break, as that was the safest place to be in the bunch. There was a break away of 2 riders up the road, Kate bridged across to them then another girl goes and I got straight on her wheel. Next thing we were in a break away of 7, including 3 Tibco girls, a Colavita, Kate, myself and another rider. Coming up to one of the primes I went early on the hill, and managed to (finally) win it! The rest of the race was just Tibco, Kate and I working hard to keep the break away. With one lap to go we had over a minute on the field, I took a drink and started to choke on it, not being able to breathe. I was a bout to stop but luckily something cleared and I could breathe again! So I chased back on. One corner to go before the finish the Colavita rider came off in front, I had 2 choices; one was to ride over her and fall off, or jump the curb. I went for option 2 and managed to get a puncture and crack my back racing wheel in the process. With 200 odd meters to go I rode the puncture until the wheel would not go around any more. I then jumped off my bike and ran across the finish line, getting 6th just ahead of the main peleton. I was pretty annoyed as uphill finishes are my strength and I was feeling good.. but that’s bike racing! Kate did awesome finishing second in a Tibco sandwich, a well deserved podium finish!

Trying to get the organiser to hold the race while Kate tries to distatch her wheel.

The new way to finish a bike race, trying something different. Photos from GoPate; www.flickr.com/photos/gopate

Next up is the Texas Criterium racing series and some good solid training.

Until next time,

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Joe Martin Stage Race

On Wednesday, May the 4th, Kate, Lauren, Megan and myself headed off to Fayeteville, Arkansas, a 5.5 hour drive from Dallas, to compete in the 4 stage, 4 day Joe Martin Stage race. We were lucky enough to get another awesome host house and host mum, Trish, who ran around after us like we owned the place!

There were about 40 Pro women entered, including a strong Colavita, Tibco and Specialised team. The first race was a 4km up hill TT. I have only done a couple of these, in my club champs back at home so did not have a clue how to pace myself. I decided going out at about 80% and hitting the 100% mark with a km to go was the best option. It seemed to work and I crossed the line completely spent. Getting 6th place, 24 seconds off first. Lauren finished in 15th , with Kate 18th and Megan 34th . A week before the race I had got myself some Zipp 303 wheels (to replace my Reynold that fell off the roof). They felt so fast, although I am a little scared to use them. Coming back down the hill I felt a little wobbly, thinking it was just because they were new wheels and I wasn’t used to them I carried on. When I got to the bottom my wheel started screeching and the hub was burning up. I went to the SRAM guys and they found out the manufacturers had put the wrong piece in the hub. After a bit of stress I got the new piece in and they are now running amazingly.

The next day was a 100km road race out in the country of Fayetteville. It had some good rollers but no major climbs. There were a lot of attacks but everything got chased, nothing was getting away. 20 kms out from the finish a girl came down a few in front, I had some one on my left and right so had to go straight into her. Luckily I had slowed down enough to falll on her without too much speed. I then jammed my front wheel out of her pedal and timetrialed it by myself for just over 5 kms back to the bunch. Coming up to the finish I tried to get up as far as possible, there was a tight right hand corner and then a 300 (or so) metre little climb to the finish. I started from too far back, not being able to wind my gear up enough, getting 4th place. With Kate in 5th, Lauren 24th and Megan 28th.

Finish of the first road stage, me on the far left (in the red & white)

The third day was a 100km lolliepop race, where we headed out, did 2 laps of a circuit and then came back on the same course. There was again A LOT of attacks, some being quit dangerous with good riders getting some distance. Kate and I spent most of the race chasing them down (if we missed the break). But again all the breaks eventually got caught. With 15kms to go I had a go, getting a pretty good gap. I stayed away for about 4-5 kms, then looked behind and noticed Tibco on the front chasing me down.. that was the end of that. The finish included a winding downhill, that went to a slight false downhill.. So it was going to be fast! Not being my ideal finish, I stayed safe coming down the hill sitting mid-bunch, then crossed the line in 15th.. So a pretty average finish but was happy to get over the line safely! Kate had an awesome finish just being piped at the line by Joe Kaisanowski (Tibco) for 3rd. So Kate was 4th, Lauren 13th and Megan 16th. Me second wheel, behind Colavita.

The final day was an 8 corner, up and down criterium. I went into the stage sitting in 7th place. I positioned myself right up front for the entire crit, chasing quit a few attacks. Coming around the last corner I got on Kates wheel, we started from too far back but she gave me a great lead out, I left the sprint too late and finished 4th (again). Kate finished 8th, Lauren 26th, and Megan 33rd. Overall I finished in 6th place, and 1st in the young riders category. It was a pretty hard few days of racing as Kate and myself had to do a lot of work as well as trying to finish strongly. I learnt even more and had a great time so a pretty successful few days.

On the podium getting the young riders leader jersey.

Thanks for reading =)