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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tulsa Tough

On June the 9th the team and I headed off to Tulsa, Oklahoma, a 5 hour drive in the pimped out Metro Van (it has two TVs, a Subwoofer and Blue Neon lights). Once we arrived we went to our host house, a really nice old home with a swimming pool!! We were lucky again to have really nice host parents who ran around after us, making us dinner, lunch and coming to support us at the races.

Tulsa Tough consisted of three criteriums all around Tulsa. There were about 70 starters in the women’s field including some big names such as Laura Van Gilder, Jennifer Purcell and Christina Smith. Race one started at 7pm in about 40 degrees temp. It started off fast, with a lot of attacks. Someone near the front decided to come off going around one of the corners, making me to do another one of my famous curb hoping stunts. As I jumped the curb a group of spectators had to dive off their chairs as I was heading straight towards them (along with a couple others). In a criterium, when you get caught up in a crash you are able to go to the neutral zone and get a lap out, catching onto the field on the next lap.. I was a bit in the moment and forgot about this option so instead spent the next lap head down butt up chasing the bunch. When I finally got back on we went around the corner and the rest of the crash victims happily jumped back onto the bunch.. Lesson learnt! After a few more laps I felt like I was going no-where, looked down and noticed my tyre was flat (my race number was 13…shows). The rest of the race consisted of my head being elsewhere.. finishing somewhere in the bunch.

On the outside, next to Tiffany Pezzulo (Primal/Map my ride) (one of the nicest ladies (and fastest) in the peleton).

The next day I was determined to have a better day (I got my number changed.. quite superstitious). It was again a very hot day with everyone drenched in sweat at the start line. Was a very fast paced race with attack after attack. I chased a few, did a few, and then just focused on my positioning. With two or three laps to go I got caught up in mid bunch, along with my team mate Kate. Kate is a good sprinter when she is in good position so I let her know I was there and pulled her up to near the front so she was in good position coming up to the last lap or two. Once I got that done there was another attack and I spent the last lap suffering quite a lot. Again I finished in the front part (ish) of the bunch, with Kate somewhere in the top 10. The minute we finished, the lightening, thunder and rain started pelting down just in time for the men’s race.

The final day of racing went over the infamous ‘cry-baby hill’ which was something like the Tour De France. The crowd was HUGE with spectators all over the roads throwing water over you, pushing you, it was insane! There was a gnarly downhill with a tight right hander at the bottom. I felt pretty average for this race, so decided to race it hard and attempt a few things rather then just chilling in the bunch waiting for the finish. Mid-way through the race I did a hard attack coming into the hill, I stayed off for about a lap and then got caught coming up the hill again (the teams did not want anyone getting away). After attempting to recover I cruised in the bunch for a bit more. Then with one lap to go there was a NOW rider off the front, I did an attack again going into the base of the hill, unfortunately pulling the bunch along with me. With the downhill just before the finish I was a little sketchy as it was very steep. Finishing again in the bunch, somewhere in the top 20. Attacking the field up "cry-baby" hill. Photo from Jason Perry; http://www.jasonperryphoto.net/

Overall it was not the most successful lot of racing, but I still keep learning more every race and I had a lot of fun. We now head straight to Wisconsin to compete in the 11 stage Tour of America’s Dairylands.

Liberty Classic

Wow! Basically the best description of Liberty Classic I can think of.
After arriving in Philadelphia on Friday, June the 3rd. Kate and I unpacked our bikes and went for a ride in search of the course. After a few wrong turns we eventually got on track but it was getting too dark to ride the infamous “wall” so turned and went back to the Hotel. Unfortunately our team was unable to enter this race as it was a UCI race and only pro teams or teams invited were able to enter, so instead we were racing for a composite team called CRCA (Century Road Club Association). If it was not for David Jordan (part of the CRCA Club) I would probably not have been able to compete in this awesome event.

The team, me in the middle and Kate on my left (your right).

David helping out with some last minute tyre pumping.

Liberty Classic is the biggest race in America and includes many of the top cyclists from all over the world including Georgia Bronzini (current world champ) and the most successful female cyclist in the world (and the oldest) Jeannie Longo. The course was relatively flat with one steep 600 (or so) metre climb known as “the wall” and another short but steep hill. There were over 100 quality starters. The race was reasonably fast but nothing too crazy with HTC and Colavita driving it and chasing anything that went off the front. In the last 1km everyone was fighting for position, it was like a wrestling match where the people with no fear (or the crazy ones) would get into good position near the front. Coming around the final corner (with 500 metres to go) I was near the front, feeling really comfortable with my position. Next thing a girl swerved right in front pushing me into the barrier, I had to pull the breaks on and go around which was a pain in the arse! I ended up finishing in 13th place. Although the end was a bit of a disaster the race was so cool with the massive crowds and incredible riders. It felt like the whole town had come out to watch the race and was just one massive party.

Climbing "the wall" with Meredith Miller (team Tibco) and Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom).

The finish line, Bronzini wins.. I'm the yellow speck in the background.

Kate and me at the end, 12th and 13th place.. not bad for two newbies.. wait till next time!!!

Photos thanks to Kevin Hatt (our official, amazing, team photographer); http://www.kevinhatt.com/

Next up.. Tulsa Tough! Three days of full on criterium racing.. in some intense heat. Thanks for reading =)


Saturday, June 11, 2011

State Crit Championships

On the 26t,h , 28th and 29th of May the FCS team competed in three Criterium races all around Dallas/Fort Worth area. First up was the Bike the Bricks race, which consisted of a short 30 minute race around the streets of McKinney. There was a pretty big field with 40+ women starters. I was feeling pretty average in this race having had a solid week of training so just stayed near the front, kept safe, followed attacks and had a good all-round work out. To make it even more fun the temperature was a blistering 38 degrees, which Kate and I were not quite used to (yet). After the race Kate and I set off for (what supposed to be) the 40 minute drive back home while Rachel stayed back at the race for work. We had some pretty good directions to get home and felt pretty confident that we would find our way.. Turns out the signing in Dallas is not that great and we drove about 30 minutes past the turn-off (to make it better it was night time, and dark). We decided it was time to stop and ask for some directions so stopped at the closest super-market looking place. Turns out we stopped in China town and ended up in a Chinese market-type place where not many people spoke English. After buying some Chinese vanilla wafers and attempting to understand the directions we set back out on the motor way. We found a familiar looking sign so took the next off-ramp, next thing we have police lights going behind us.. Apparently when you exit a highway your supposed to slow down by about 30 miles per hour.. Woops. We also pulled over to the left side of the road, In America you always pull to the right. I think the police officer felt sorry for us and let us off with a warning; we asked her for some directions and set-off again. After about 30 minutes we found the right signing and followed that, unfortunately the sign we were following was for the 121 North, we were supposed to go south. Everything became familiar all of a sudden and then we realised we were back at the race. So did a U-turn and headed SOUTH on 121, keeping a very good eye out on the signs. 2.5 hours later we were in familiar grounds back home. To top the night off the place we were planning on stopping at for dinner had closed, so we went to a nice Italian restaurant, got take away and got back home.. FINALLY.

On Sunday we set-off to the State Criterium championships at a place pretty close to McKinney. Kate and I were not eligible to win the State Champion jersey however we could still win the prise money and the title. The aim for this race was to work for our team mate Lauren and try to get her over the line first. We did a lot of attacking throughout the race and covered most of the breaks. Coming up to the last lap most of us were still together. I did a big attack but got caught pretty fast with 500 metres (or so) to go. I then quickly got my breath back and with Lauren on my wheel I attempted to lead her up to the front of the bunch, setting her up for the finish. We got to the front couple and she sprinted past, getting 2nd (very close to first). Which was a pretty awesome result considering the sprinters in the field. I finished a few back in 5th. Overall it was well raced by our team, with Kate leading Lauren up toward the front at the start of the last lap and Megan, Rachel, Kate and I covering and attempting a lot of attacks throughout the race.

The next day was the age category state Criterium championships. This is where most of the age groups raced together but there was a separate category winner depending on your age. The aim for today was to get in a break away and make it a hard race. From go there was a big attack, we chased it down and then Rachel went off the front and stayed off for about 3 laps. Just before we caught her Christina attacked and I got straight on her wheel as she was a big threat. We got a big gap on the bunch and stayed away for the rest of the race, lapping about half the field. Coming up to the last 300 or so metres we were cruising next to each other, watching each others every move. Next thing we were going for it, side by side, crossing the line about a cm apart. Unfortunately I was the cm behind so finished 2nd, but having had a great work out! Lauren was able to take out the bunch sprint finishing 3rd.

Overall a good weekend of racing, where we could do some good team racing and have some fun.

On Sunday 5th of June Kate and I will be competing at the Liberty Classic in Philadelphia as part of a composite team. This is seen as a very high level American race where all the top teams compete at from all over the world. Am looking forward to it!