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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A non spandex-related update!

The good thing about being in America on your birthday is that you get to celebrate it for more than one day. Of course you have to celebrate it on New Zealand time, which is the day before America, than you celebrate it on American time. So that is indeed what I did. This year is the ‘big’ 21. I don’t like it, I still don’t believe I am this old. I remember looking at 21 what felt like yesterday thinking that it is so long away until I reach the ‘adult’ days. Now I have made it, it does not feel any different and my maturity level still seems the same as it was five years ago. But I guess what I think and what is true are really two different things.

So this year I celebrated my NZ birthday racing the streets of Redlands. It was the most painful birthday I have ever had. People didn’t seem to make it any easier for me just because it was my birthday… rude. That night the team went out for a Thai dinner, Rachel and Adrian had secretly brought in an amazing, delicious, flourless (for the gluten free dweebs in the team) chocolate browny cake. Yum. That was a pretty cool surprise to end a really good day. I then got dropped off to my good friends Kate (Chilcott) and Emily (Collins) house, where all the Vanderkitten team were staying as the next day we were in for some big birthday celebrations.

The next morning (my American birthday), Kate, Emily, Jazzy (Hurikino) and I set-off to Disney Land! I had always dreamt of going to Disney land, but did not think it would actually happen. So to spend my 21st there is going to be a pretty awesome memory. We met Lauren Rowney and Rebecca Warner (cyclists) there and spent the next 12.5 hours walking (and walking, and walking), going on incredible rides and experiencing something pretty cool. I loved it! Needless to say I was totally shattered when we left at 11:30pm that night. Below are some photos of the day;

That night I stayed with a good friend, Monica Martinez, who I had met in New Zealand when she was on an exchange from America. She kindly woke up a 5:30 the next morning and dropped me at the LA airport to fly back to Asheville. Once returning back to Asheville I had mail and presents on my bed as well as a happy birthday sign on the door from Emma. Yep, that’s right, Birthday number 3. Rachel cooked up a delicious Mexican dinner and then Emma had made two DELICIOUS cakes. A polenta berry cake and chocolate toffee brownie made into the shape of 21. Let’s just say I am glad I had done some hard racing because there was no way I was going to leave them to waste. They were incredible!

So now I am a bit gutted my birthday(s) are over, only 349 days until my next one =)

Charlotte criterium is the next race up on Saturday, A big crit because of the rather large purse available, so will be some big names there I am sure. Will keep you posted.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, April 8, 2012

San Dimas and Redlands

After returning from Florida to Asheville for a couple of days, Emma, Annie, Rachel, Adrian and I flew to California for some more racing. This time it was the Redlands Cycle Classic which is a 4 day, 4 stage tour and is part of the NRC series (the National Racing Calendar) so has all the biggest names in it (from America, to Australia, to Europe (and NZ =).. everyone).

Before Redlands was a build up 3 stage tour called San Dimas. Lining up next to people like Kristin Armstrong and Clara Hughes was pretty cool, as well as all the top teams from over the world. The first stage was an up-hill prologue.. Lets just say I am glad I don't have to do that again for another year. Then the next day was the road race, in the absolute pouring rain and freezing cold. It was miserable, and fast! Our team again rode really well, Joelle (team mate) got in the break with

Kristen Armstrong, Clara Hughes and Alison Starnes and then we tried to control the bunch and let them stay away. Because Joelle was up the front it meant we did not have to do a thing, just stay safe up the front and chase anything that went. We ended up dropping a bit over half the field. They screwed the finish up for the leaders so Joelle finished 3rd. It supposed to be 8 laps, then when we came through for the 6th they said there was one lap to go, so we only completed 7 (think it was something to do with everyone being border-line hypothermic) whereas for Joelle’s group, they made them start the 8th lap, then stopped them half way through saying what-ever order they rode through the start/finish line on the 7th lap is there finishing place.. A bit screwed up! When we eventually rolled in I was able to give my team mate Jade a big lead out before the finish (she was higher on GC so we wanted to get her as much time as possible). She did great and got 3rd in the field sprint.

Time-trialing it up the San Dimas climb.. Terrible choice of aerodynamics.

Riding in the beautiful Californian sun.

The next day was a criterium. It was hard, and fast. Jade got in a break up the rode with Ina Yoko-Teutenburg (German National Champion) and a couple others. So again our job was to sit in the bunch and chase breaks. Jade did awesome and got second in the sprint to Ina (one of the fastest sprinters in the world).

The next couple of days were spent relaxing and getting lots of massage! We then went to Redlands for the next 4 day race, the big one! Again it started with a prologue, and again my legs did not like it particularly. The next day was a 115km road race. It was pretty fast but was good fun at the same time. The aim was for me and a team mate to go for the KOM points (King of the mountain) and my other team mate, Joelle, to get the sprint points as they were also time bonuses. We did exactly that, with my team mate and I getting first and 2nd each time up the climb and Joelle getting a handfull of time bonuses. Coming into the finish was fast. We had dropped about 3 quarters of the field by this stage, starting with about 85 and finishing with about 25. Joelle finished 2nd, literally mm away from first. Great race for her!

Getting the tt bars set-up before the tt.

The next day was a criterium around the streets of Redlands. It was fast, it was hard. My job was to try some attacks and start the big lead out with one lap to go. With 1 to go I went to the front, lead out super hard and then blew up.. it was awesome. Further up ahead my team mate Joelle had managed to dodge a crash right in-front of her on the last corner, and come from a standing start to winning!!

The last day was another road race. 9 Laps of this hard, fast course with a rather large hill in it (total of about 110km). It was fast from the start, and was painful. The first time up the climb bout 25 of us broke away, and then as the race went along it slowly dwindled to about 19. With the KOM points Jade, my team mate, was a couple up on me from the previous day so it was important to help her out so she could be assured of the jersey. There were 3 laps that were up for points and on one I lead her out with about 200 metres to go, she got on my wheel and then past me with about 50 to go.. I blew with about 35...Still got 3rd though.. Success! Leah and Denise were both super aggressive ad got in some long break-a ways, unfortunately getting caught but working for us as it makes the other teams use their energy to chase. With 4kms to go the plan was for me to attack and give it everything, just to attempt a break.. I did that but could only stay up for a short while; the teams were on me fast. The rest was a grovel holding on for dear life. Joelle got a 2nd bringing her up to 3rd place overall. Jade won the KOM Jersey (I got 3rd by 1 point) and Joelle won the sprint ace Jersey. So was a very successful first NRC race for the team. I can not wait for many more ahead!!

The start of Jade's leadout for KOM. Spot the shoes.

Team meeting before one of the road stage at Redlands.

Next stop, Disney Land!!

Thanks for reading =)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Delray Beach Criterium

Since my last blog I have been to Florida, back to Asheville, California (Redlands and San Dimas) and now back in Asheville again. The first race on my calendar was the Delray twilight criterium which is part of the American Criterium series and is raced in Delray, Florida. We then had another small criterium to do the next day before returning home to Asheville. Here is where I supposed to break down the race, lap by lap, but instead the experience of Delray was pretty surreal, so I’m going to start with that. We arrived outside our host house, which thanks to Kristen (team mate) was a super nice place. A 3 storied town-type house next to the river, with a Jacuzzi, a boat docked up right outside the front door and a plasma flat screen outside on the deck (which you could watch while in the Jacuzzi). So the accommodation was pretty top-notch. Then after the last race we visited friends of the family we were staying with. We drove there in their Porsche and super cool mini. Once arriving we got on a boat and boated to a restaurant about half an hour away. The views on the boat were incredible; the houses were stuff you see on TV, was definitely a city for the wealthy. We then docked up, had dinner and boated back. Was an awesome night, but the houses we sore were pretty ridiculous.

Now for the racing. the Delray beah criterium is part of the USA Criterium racing series. Our team was all over the world, with some in Europe and others at another race in America so the team that went to this criterium had no sprinters, so was going to be more of a practice working together kind of thing (as criteriums generally turn into a sprint). Our team rode really well, making the race alive, where we attacked the entire way through. Then Kristen (team mate) got up the road and stayed away for about 3 laps, unfortunately getting caught with 200 meters to go. I then got into 'sprint' mode (Which I don't really have) and managed to get a 3rd place.. So was happy with the first race! Then the next day was another criterium, not quite as important but still a good one. Our team rode agressively again and gave me a perfect lead out (I was now the team sprinter for this race, which for me is a bit of a laugh), unfortunately I could not win it but got 2nd by about a tire width.. damn.

The finishing straight at the race. Love racing in the dark!

Not the best photo, but the only one I could find on the podium.

The next day we got up at about 3:30am to catch the 6:00 flight. We are all getting quite used to these ridiculously early mornings. Below is a picture of us at the airport, after a solid 3-4 hours of sleep (I think I am eating my breakfast out of some Tupperware).

Now it is Asheville for 2 days, then to California for Redlands and San Dimas Stage races! I cannot wait!!

Will keep you posted,