Tag Archives: kimberley turner
Kimberley finished one of the toughest and hilliest races around, Tour of the Gila, with the Pros (guest riding for our friends I AM THE ENGINE). Despite getting tangled up in a crash on the second day, leaving bone exposed, she finished all the stages and in a better time than the year prior. Read about all 5 days of racing on her blog:
Racing isn’t always about trying to cross the line first. Sometimes you have to take risks to become a better, more skilled racer. Kimberley did just that, and we guarantee it will pay off.
A few days ago, I welcomed the arrival of a long awaited day… the first race weekend of the season. I raced both Saturday and Sunday in Fort Collins, and was absolutely thrilled to win the circuit race on Saturday. Any time I can make back a bit of the money I spend on racing is a day well spent, not to mention it was a wonderful, confidence-building way to begin my season. However, in this race report, I want to focus more on the second day, where I did not win. This may seen counterintuitive, because, after all, who wants to read about, and why would I want to write about, losing?! The simple answer is that no one wins every race, and so losing is just as integral a part of bike racing as the wins we hope to get. Winning is fun, exhilarating, ego-boosting, but in losing races we get stronger and tougher, both physically and mentally.
In the criterium on Sunday, I didn’t do as well as I would have hoped for in terms of finishing placement (another win would have been lovely, but I got 5th), but it was definitely a good ‘personal growth’ race. I took more risks and raced more aggressively than I have been comfortable with doing in the past, which is something my coach has encouraged me to do more of this year, especially in early season races where the potential consequences of those risks matter less than in later, more important races. It is much easier, safer, and more comfortable to just sit in and focus on following the wheel in front of you, and had I done that, I quite possibly could have placed a bit higher. I would have conserved more energy and had a full stash of ‘matches’ to burn on the final sprint leading to the finish. However, that is not how I chose to race on Sunday.
After the first few laps (which were fast) it was down to me and four others. Someone attacked, I chased/bridged, someone else attacked, etc. Then I attacked, and when the other four bridged up, I ended up staying on the front because no one would pull through, but then before I had a chance to recover, Amy from Vanderkitten girl attacked and I got popped (I congratulated her later for her excellent timing). It was really windy, so once even a small gap opened it was nearly impossible to catch back on alone. At that point I my goal became to hold off the riders that we had originally dropped and not get caught, so I settled into a hard, but sustainable pace for what ended up being the rest of the race. I stayed focused and basically turned it into a twenty-minute time trial.
Like I said, I would have LOVED to win again, but I felt good about my risk taking and more aggressive racing, and then that I was able to stay focused, not give up, and keep going hard and not get caught. I’ve been in previous races where I got dropped off the lead group, and then basically eased up because I just assumed I would get caught anyways and didn’t want to be blown up when that happened. So I think that’s some positive growth. As I mentioned earlier, I may have finished better if I had just sat in and hung onto the lead group (and didn’t bridge, attack, etc) but ultimately, that’s not what will make me a stronger rider. I know I am rambling a bit, but I think it’s important for every racer, whether you’re just beginning or racing with the goal of eventually getting on a professional team, to be able to celebrate the little victories and areas of personal growth. This is something that can be tough to learn, especially for those of us people/athletes with perfectionistic or mildly OCD tendencies. This race reminded me that strength comes in many forms, and is not always reflected in the race results.
Megan and Kimberley raced this weekend in Fort Collins and both not only kept rubber to the road, they kicked butt and got a podium finish. Great job to represent the Naked ladies this early in the season.
After an exciting weekend in Moab with the Naked team, I was primed and ready for my first race of the season, which happened to be Cobb Lake Circuit Race in Fort Collins CO. I was nervous because it was my first race in the SW Open field, which meant any female of any category in the region could show up. I was nervous about getting last place and letting down the team. I was nervous because I just had my hardest week of training in 6 months and was fatigued.
However, the race ended up being a lot of fun. And there is nothing like racing to make you stronger, or to teach you how to be a better racer! Here is my recap as well as lessons learned:
- Entrants: 18 women, 6 Cat 1-2, 6 Cat 3, 6 Cat 4 registered.
- Course: 48 miles (6 x 8 mile loops with a 1/2 mile finishing climb on each one, plus ~1 mile section of dirt to boot).
- Finish: 8th. 3rd Cat 3. (Top half finisher)
Within the first lap, one girl had attacked the field, and launched a tremendous pace on the rest of us. We ended up all grouping up in the 2nd lap into smaller groups of 1-5 riders. Luckily I found a group of 5 to work with, though we were sitting 8th-12th in the field at the time. Each lap was harder but I had to concentrate on the race within the race. Rotate, eat, drink, hammer, etc. On the first race of the year, it is hard to pace, so there is always a learning opportunity! Eventually the race ahead was won by my teammate Kimberley in a sprint to the line. My group of 6 broke up in the final 2 miles (on the dirt!), so there were 4 of us going up the final climb. I tried to sit on the 3rd and 4th girls’ wheels and went around them both on the final steep section to finish. I was lucky to finish 2nd in our group the line. For once I made a “move” at the right time. It was fun! The rest of the field trickled in over the next 10-15 minutes.
- Cat 1-2 women are really strong! They all but one dropped me within 30 minutes So proud of teammate Kimberley who won the race!
- Whatever you do, find other people to work with. Even if you are racing for 7th place! The race was over two hours long and it was extremely beneficial to have a “pack” of 4-6 riders to work with, in the wind, up the hill, etc. It helped with focus, and definitely helped with speed.
- You might like what you least expect. My favorite part of the course was the dirt! I have always hated dirt, but I powered through it quite well and used it to my advantage here. I found myself less tired than those around me when I got to the hill each lap. Which was helpful for the finish!
- Never underestimate a sprint! Going into the race I had no particular goals for finishing, except don’t come in last place By the last lap I was thinking it would be Awesome to finish in the top 3 of my “Group” of 5-6 girls. I out-sprinted a few on the steep uphill to the line and finished 2nd in the group, which was a small victory for me. This really helped my confidence for standing uphill and for sprinting, which in turn made me more excited and confident for future races.
- Every race is a great workout, and is great recon for future races. You learn who is fit, who is climbing well, who doesn’t like to corner, who Really likes to pull into the wind, who is the best sprinter etc. It helps so next time you know who to best draft where and how they can make you a better rider. We all have strengths and weaknesses and can learn from each other.
- Hydration and nutrition is always tricky in a 2 hour + race, especially when it is during lunchtime! I was VERY hungry and thirsty by the end, and wished I hadn’t skipped lunch. Cramping hamstrings reminded me of such throughout the race.
- The best bike racers can respond to attacks. This is something I’m not great at and need to work on if I want to keep up in Cat 3. I especially have trouble going hard in the first 10-15 minutes of races, so I was hurting BAD early on, and wished I had warmed up more, or done some openers the day before!
- You never know What will happen to others (or you) in the race. In this particular race day I saw the following occur in various categories: DQ’ed riders for crossing center-line (on the dirt!), DNF riders that dropped out, DNS rider that missed race start (almost 2 miles from registration!), riders with flat tires who got behind, rider who crashed out and broke his fork. The list goes on! So even if you think you are doing poorly it can always come back to you so never give up.
I love road races and the challenges and the teamwork that is required (across teams too!), and this was a fun way to kick off the season. I encourage you all to do some road races in 2013!
Thanks to Dejan Smaic for some awesome photos: http://www.sportifimages.com/RoadRacing2013/CSU-Cobb-Lake-CR/Pro-12
Kimberley had one of the most successful NRC races in her history. This one was definitely a sweet finish for her and included two top 20 NRC finishes. She’s killin’ it this year. Get her autograph now before it’s worth a pretty penny in the future.
Day 4- Cascade Lakes Road Race
Today was a new course for me, as last year, I was time cut after the time trial (which made my personal time trial ‘victory’ all the more rewarding!). The race started and ended at Mt. Bachelor, and although the week had fairly mild weather, at 7 am of the morning of the race, we received an email from the race organizers saying to prepare for 40 degree freezing rain. This presented a slight problem, as I had packed for the trip based on the weather reports—clear skies and in the 80’s all week. I felt like I total rookie not being prepared for the unexpected, as the extent of my warm-weather gear was warmers and gloves, but no clear vest or baselayer. Marcus and I ended up making an early target run on the way out to try to find whatever pseudo-baselayer option we could find in the ‘active wear’ section. We got to the ski resort, which was looking strangely like ski season, and was less than thilled. The race started with essentially a 15-mile descent, so the worst would definitely be the first half hour of the race. I sat in the car wrapped in a blanket until the very last minute, where I donned every warm upper-body item I had and slathered my legs with embrocation.
I started the race with minimal warm-up, as did pretty much everyone else, but it was a steep and straight enough descent that no one got away. After the initial descent, the air warmed and everyone began stripping off layers and passing them to their workhorse rider, who took them back to the team director in the caravan. I, on the other hand, with no such luxury, awkwardly stuffed the warmers and borrowed vest into my jersey. The next five miles was a gradual climb, where there was a string of back-to-back attacks, but nothing got away. Over the next 25 miles, the course was rolling, and the peleton moved along at a steady pace, with attacks continuing to launch. At this point, I will mention the prime frustration of the race—my shifting. At the time, I had no idea why, but my right shifter was supremely uncooperative, and would take multiple taps to shift into one harder gear, and even with repeated clicks would only ever shift to the middle of my cassette. I had to do most of the race spun out, as my hardest gears were unaccessasble the entire race, and my only encouragement was knowing that it finished on a climb. So if I could stay tucked in to the field and approach the final climb in the group, I would be ok.
Around twelve miles to go, a nine-rider breakaway formed, and the gap quickly widened to 3:30. Strangely, no one seemed concerned, even Kristin who was in the yellow jersey. I realized though that every major team was represented, and so the lack of interest in chasing made sense. As we began the finishing climb, the strong climbers started to drill it, and riders began to fall off the back of the group. I dug deep to hang on, as my goal was to finish in a group, not straggling off the back alone. I finished 54th out of 88, which I was fine with (neither ecstatic nor devastated). I immediately took my bike to the SRAM mechanics, where a quick examination determined revealed a completely shot shifter. We drove back to our host house, tired but content, and once again began the recovery routine for the next day’s race.
SIDE NOTE: We spent several hours that afternoon scouring bike shops for a replacement right shifter, with no luck. Marcus even offered to go to Portland to find one (he is seriously amazing… Portland is a good 3-hour drive from Bend). Finally, we decided to take the SRAM mechanic up on his offer to ride a neutral bike for the last two stages, and drove to their house to get it set up and fit to be as close to my bike’s position as possible. When we got there, he offered something I hadn’t even thought possible – strip down my dura ace components and switch my bike over to SRAM, to minimize the new variables I would have to adjust to. This was absolutely amazing, as it added several hours of work for him, but I was so thankful to have the SRAM support there. It’s hard in a race like this to not have the kind of support that the pro teams have, but this kind of help makes it so much more do-able.
Day 5 – Downtown Criterium
Today was the Downtown Twilight Criterium, which was a fairly standard four corner rectangle course. I woke up feeling fairly good, and after a morning ride to learn the ins and outs of SRAM shifting, got to the race course feeling confident and excited to race. My mother in law had come from Seattle to watch the race, and it was great to have that little bit of extra support and encouragement. The main technical challenge proved to be corner three, where the road narrowed from three lanes to one. Riders who weren’t in the top ten going into the corner were forced to slow considerably, and then sprint to regain speed going into the last corner, about 400 meters from the finish line. Basically, my goal in this race was to stay in the field, and as close to the front as I could both to avoid crashes and to be able to take the third corner. A big surprise for all came at the beginning of the race, when the announcer began to call up the top riders and then told the crowd and the field that Kristin Armstrong, who had won two stages and was in the yellow jersey, had left the race London-bound. Many people were surprised she had even shown up at Cascade at all, with her Olympic races less than two weeks away, but I could tell the news of her withdrawal just minutes before the start threw a bit of a monkey wrench into some big teams’ plans for the stage and race as a whole. Without Kristin, Alison Powers, Carmen Small, and Megan Guarnier would be fighting for the jersey.
Because of this, the race was aggressive and filled with attacks and counter attacks by rivaling teams, but despite their best efforts, no break got away. With several laps to go and the main field still together, I knew it would come down to a final sprint. The last few laps were hectic—there was a flurry of desperate efforts to get off the front, and the way the course narrowed going into corner three made it so that a rider could go from the front of the field to the back in a few seconds. Positioning was critical; being on the wrong side going into that corner could be the difference between a top ten and a 70th place finish. I knew this, and so did everything in my power to hold my position, fight for it even (which is hard to do in a field of seasoned pros!) so that I could go into the third corner on the final lap in an ideal position. I came into the corner in a decent position, and charged my bike all the way to the line, and ended up 18th. I was happy with that finish, as a top 20 in an NRC race with this caliber of racers is something I’m proud of. My coach was happy as well, and said I rode a smart and strong race, which made me even happier! From here the day finished the same as most before… a great post and pre race dinner with a glass of wine, a bone-chilling ice bath, ten minutes with the foam roller, and watching that day’s stage of the Tour de France before an early bedtime.
Day 6 – Aubrey Butte Circuit Race
Today was the final stage, and although I didn’t race this course last year in the Cascade Cycling Classic, I had raced the same course at U23 Nationals several years ago. However, although I knew the course, I was still a bit nervous for how it would play out. I knew the day would prove to be incredibly demanding, as NOW rallied to protect the yellow jersey (Alison Powers) and Tibco and Optum went into the race with clear objectives: take the yellow jersey (Optum’s Carmen Small was in 2nd, only 4 seconds back, and Megan Guarnier of Tibco was 3rd overall, 18 seconds behind Powers). Everyone went in ready and willing to race aggressively; the best chance the big teams had was for the race to hard, which would effectively prevent the field from coming to the finish line together.
The first lap of the race was kept at a quick and steady speed for the first ten miles, and then we hit the feed zone climb. That’s when the attacks began, and they were brutal. I remember thinking, “well, I’m going to give it all I have and try to stay up near the front of the field for at least this climb, and I’ll see what happens on laps two and three!” There was two main climbs on the course – one was the feed zone climb, and the other was the QOM climb, which came shortly after. The fact that there’s not much time between the two main climbs makes it an ideal time for teams to launch attacks, with riders getting shelled on the first climb and no time to recover before the second. I knew that if I could just hang on for those few miles, fight to stay near the front despite redlining, I would have time to recover after the QOM. From the top of the QOM to the beginning of the next lap (and what would be the finish on the final lap) it’s only about five kilometers of descent and fast rollers. For this reason, no attacks launched after the QOM amounted to anything, and the field came into the second lap as a large group. Near the end of the second lap, a small breakaway attempt formed and appeared to be sticking. Several teams attacked over the climbs to try to bridge up, and eventually the break consisted of only two riders, Amanda Miller, who had successfully dropped the other riders in the initial breakaway, and Kristin McGrath, who had managed to bridge up to Amanda without bringing any other riders. In the midst of these attacks and counterattacks, I was doing my very best to stay near the front to give myself a buffer if I did end up slipping back a few spaces, and stay protected from the wind.
The two-rider break off the front grew to a time gap that was dangerous to NOW, who would lose the yellow jersey if the two put too much time into Allison Powers. NOW realized this, and worked hard to bring them back coming over the feed zone on the final lap. The field went into the QOM climb all together, a final attack was launched in the rollers that followed, but the over the next several kilometers coming into the finish, all the riders in that group were caught except Kristin. The tempo was fast, and I knew it was the time to hold absolutely nothing back. I was now in the final minutes of the final stage, and I wanted to have no regrets. I moved up several positions, intent on going into the roundabout before the final stretch near the front. I ended getting slightly boxed out, but was still quite happy with my 13th place finish. This was my highest finish in an NRC race, one of only three top 20 finishes, and my first top 20 result in a road race. It was so encouraging to finish the stage race on a positive note, especially after my discouraging untimely departure of last year. I work hard to evaluate my performance based on where I’m at and where I’ve been previously, and using that scale, I’ve improved tremendously. I’m not at a place in my development as a cyclist where it’s a useful or even valid to seek results on par with Alison Powers or Carmen Small, but to see the gap closing, slowly but surely, between our respective levels and strength is so validating and rewarding. I am so glad my coach pushed my to go to the Cascade Cycling Classic when I was hesitant, and look forward to being even stronger next year.
FULL RESULTS CAN BE FOUND HERE: http://www.pros.cascade-classic.org/2012-pro-nrc-results/
Sometimes racing does go according to plan! Roberta shares her experience during the Dead Dog Classic Criterium.
I was going to blog about my own race experience at Dead Dog since Dead Dog is a race that has a lot of personal meaning to me and my cycling goals. Unfortunately, the road race was not one of most stellar cycling performances and it ended getting to know the volunteer EMTs in the emergency tent. I do think those EMTs worked just a little bit of magic for me since the story I am about to tell involves the race that happened in the heat of the next day. As criteriums go, the Laramie course is super fun. Fast turns, chicanes, trains roaring through town, and great volunteers. After watching the 4s race, Joan and I decided to spin our legs in the heat of the later morning sun. After the heat exhaustion that plagued me the day before I was really tired of sunshine and heat. I did partake in an icebath and the team standing in the pond on Saturday after the road race. Joan also had us eat two dinners after the road race and that didn’t necessarily hurt my recovery either. Anyway, there we 7 of us in the 1-2 category and I was 7th in the GC. I was thinking before the crit that when you are in last place, 20 minutes back, there is really nothing to lose if you lay it all on the line to secure a win for your teammates.
Joan and I discussed strategy for the race and we both decided we would do most of the work until we could go no longer and hopefully one of us would hang on for the entire race. It is rare when a strategy that is verbalized before a race actually happens and what happens is even better! The Cliffs Notes version of the 40 minute race was this, Joan was in front, then I would get in front, someone else not on our team would get in front, PRIME LAP- Sprint hard and lead out a teammate for the prime- Joan was in front, I was in front, TIME BONUS SPRINT- lead out teammate for the sprint win. I had the biggest smile the entire race because magically everything fell into place. Naked Women’s racing was dominating and in control! We were blocking others from going for the sprint and Rachel and Kimberly were getting enough rest in between sprints. We had lead outs that looked like they could have been choreographed in a ballet. The energy was so exciting. When it came down to the final sprint, Joan and I both lead out Rachel and Kimberly for the 1-2 win and an overall GC win. Did I mention this was a fun race?
There are times in bike racing when things don’t go as planned. Teammates can feel let down because a plan didn’t execute or someone was having a bad day. Not this day in Laramie. We were a well oiled machine and we worked as a team and we pulled in the win. We were all ear to ear with grins. This is the reason I race my bike- not to win- but to be part of a team of strong, dedicated women. Thank you!
Rory Kelly and Rachel Scott win overall Dead Dog Classic titles
By DAVID WATSON / email@example.com • Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Rory Kelly of Boulder, Colo., won two of three events over the weekend to claim the Senior Men’s Pro 1-2 category at the 24th Dead Dog Classic Memorial Stage Race…continue reading at the LARAMIE BOOMERANG.
Racing in the Rockies
Dead Dog Classic Memorial Stage Race starts with grueling road race, next two stages today By DAVID WATSON / firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, June 24, 2012
There is a tie at the top.
The two professional racers joined hands when they crossed the finish line together after covering their 53-mile Laramie Area Visitors Center Snowy Range Road Race in 3 hours, 2 minutes and 45 seconds…..go to the LARAMIE BOOMERANG to continue reading.
I wish I could have my dog write this race report like he writes our holiday letters. I do not enjoy writing but here goes.
Who talked me into this?
Am I glad I was talked into this?
Yes, now that it is all over. On the last 11 miles of the RR I was cussing both girls out.
RR-54 miles of non-stop wind. Stayed with the lead pack until the start of the climb and then after a few minutes they blew me up. It was hard having those pro 1-2 racers who did age group in our category. The climbing was actually easier then I thought. Was by myself for awhile then caught up with Kendra and worked with her then Megan caught up to me. We all worked together for a few minutes then Kendra fell off. Megan and I stayed together. It was so nice having a teammate to work with.
We’re at the top of the climb. I love descending and I know Megan does not love it as much. I told her she had to stay on my wheel. I did go close to 50 so she did fall behind but I kept hearing her words and Kathy’s (my coach) do not do the last 11 miles alone. I knew the best thing to do was to wait for Megan to catch up so we could continue to work together.
Last 11 miles. Highway to hell. 45+ mile an hour head winds. No fun. Megan and I passed the 2nd place position girl then she caught up with us again but did not want to work with us. We kept trying to rotate and push on but you never felt like you got a break from the wind. Megan ran out of water and I was giving her some of mine. She was getting fixated on no water, which I was down to almost zero. I told her we couldn’t fixate on the fact that we had no water and that we were going to die on that Highway to Hell from dehydration. We caught up with the 2nd place girl again with about a ½ mile left and I just hit the wall. The wind became a head case for me. I told Megan to take off and go get second place which she did. I trudged in and got caught on the line thinking no one was behind me so I got 5th. Lesson learned. Always look behind you. DUH!!!!
Who’s idea was this?
Yes, it will help with muscle recovery.
Ok an ice bath. This was a new one to me. Joan runs my water, throws in 1½ bags of ice. No, not 1 she had to add another ½ bag. No they weren’t 5# bags they were 7# bags.
Sharon, get in the water now. I slowly lower myself in screaming I can’t do this. She appears before my tubs. Points her finger at me. Gives me that mother look and tells me to sit down now. Yikes! I obeyed. She throws her coat on me makes me some hot tea and sets the timer for 12 min. I decided the only thing that would keep my mind off this is to text. My Pen Pal (Amanda C) was 2 doors down and she was in her ice bath so we sat there the whole time texting back and forth killing time. Mama Joan finally comes in and told me I was in there for 14 minutes and my time was up. Thank G-D.
Day 2: Crit
The plan was to have THE AMANDAS worked for Megan and I. We told Megan her goal was to sit on my wheel and I was going to sit on the Amandas wheels and whoever was fresh enough and in the right position was to go for it.
The whole race Amanda C is leading the pack, I’m staying behind her and Amanda B was usually on my left protecting me. These girls amaze me with their skills and giving it their all at these crits. They were work horses the whole race. Leading the pack. In that crit every girl wanted to be on their wheels. Now, now, I get one of them so don’t get in my way. They are loved by all the Cat 4 girls but they belong to me so stay away:)
I didn’t hear the announcer say last lap but the pace did pick up. We turned the corner and I was close to the front but I should have jumped up to the age group girls for the sprint in. I took off past the couple of girls in front of me but 2 other girls came past me so I got a 4th. Lesson learned: Make sure you are right where you need to be before the last corner not after the corner.
FYI: My legs did thank Joan from that painful ice bath and told me it was worth it.
Thank you Joan and Roberta for all the cheering you did at our crit. It was awesome and kept us going just having you there.
TT: Last race of the weekend.
Today was the maiden voyage for my new Focus bike to get out there and do its first race. It’s time to break her in. Amanda C felt we needed to say the Jewish blessing over her. She started saying it perfectly in Hebrew with everyone watching and laughing then this Jewish guy comes over and helps her out with the prayer and adds his version. It was very funny. The Jewish guy and I rode off to warm up and Amanda C looked at me like that is my boyfriend fix me up. Sorry Amanda, next time. I was more focused on my TT and wasn’t thinking about a boy for you.
I knew going into the TT I was 6th overall and I didn’t have that many seconds between the girls in front of me. I told myself not to become a head case with the wind and give it my all. It would be less than 30 min. in the pain cave. I gave it my all and felt great. I did it with no TT gear because I don’t own any. Next purchase. Helmet and skin suit. Came in 8th but ended the weekend in 5th place overall. I’ll take that for my first Stage Race.
Joan, I am still wondering where that downhill is on the TT course that you kept telling us about. The Amandas and I never had it on our TT course.
I’d like to thank all my teammates (Amanda C , Amanda B, Megan, Joan, Roberta, Kimberley and Rachel for a fun weekend. I would like to give an extra thank you to the Amandas for all the entertainment, laughs and encouragement. I couldn’t ask for a better fan club. FYI: Amanda C is president of my fan club if any of you would like to join. There is an initiation fee so she can get a new bike.
Thanks for reading,
Yesterday’s road race was one of the hardest races I’ve done in quite a while. It was a 77.9 mile loop with 5854 feet of climbing, which my legs are definitely feeling today! It started out with about 6 miles of flat/rolling (with a bonus sprint line at mile 6.2) before going right into the first QOM climb. The pace was tough, and until the last 1k of the climb I felt good and was hanging with the group. Unfortunately, as I soon realized, the lack of proper recovery from the previous road race, as Rachel had already mentioned, definitely affected me, and I felt much less strong than I know I can be. After chasing hard on my own for several miles after the QOM, I was caught by a group of about 6 others, and we worked together, rotating through a paceline for what ended up being the rest of the race. We caught a few single riders dropped off the main field, but unfortunately didn’t quite make it to the main peleton. One of the most frustrating parts of the race was the fact that for much of our time chasing, the peleton ahead was in view, but we just couldn’t quite get there – every time we were within a few hundred meters of the caravan cars, someone in the field would launch an attack, and the gap would slowly increase again.
It is sadly ironic to know that I did much more work in the race than many in the main field, who had the luxury of sitting in a large group, surfing wheels, but that I ended up placing much farther back. I kept mentally chastising myself, going through all the “if only’s” – “if only” I pushed just a bit harder to stay on, I could have ridden comfortably, sheltered from the wind, in the field for the rest of the race—for example. But I raced to my best ability given all circumstances, and clearly didn’t purposefully get dropped when I did, and so there are no if only’s, only what was. Near the last feed zone coming into the final big climb, I was cooked. I had done quite a bit of work in the group I was in, trying to chase back onto the main field, and at this point, was dropped from the chase group. I literally lost about 10 minutes in the last 15 miles, and for those last 15 miles was in pure survival mode. I was gauging my effort to avoid cramping, savoring the last half bottle of water I had, and drew motivation from the signs counting down the kilometers to go. In the end, I finished about 20 minutes behind the main peleton, and within the time cut. After Rachel came in, we headed back to our host housing, and I spent the rest of the night doing everything with my power to optimize recovery, and make up for the poor recovery the day before.
I try to remember when I start to get discouraged that I am still young, with much time to continue getting stronger. I mean, look at what a bad-ass Kristin is, and she’s 38! That still gives me 15 years to achieve total domination. Another thing I am constantly reminded of at big races like this is how hard it is to be truly competitive in a field like this, without any race support. As we arrived at the start area yesterday, I watched in awe and yes, envy, to be completely honest, as racers sat in chair with their feet up with their support staff cleaning and preparing their bikes, performing mechanical tune-ups, and giving impromptu massages. However, despite all that, I am so thankful to have the opportunity to be here racing with such strong women who make this sport what it is. As Rachel mentioned, the winning times this year have been significantly shorter than the times on the same courses last year, which just goes to show that women’s cycling is growing, and with it, the caliber of riders. I will now step down from my soap box, with a TT race report soon to follow.
Kim and I have had quite the adventure so far getting to Silver City, New Mexico for the 26th Annual Tour of the Gila big girl race, aka pro race with the likes of Kristin Armstrong and Alison Powers to name a few. Though I don’t quite deserve to be here since cycling is my hobby, and I most certainly don’t get paid (nor could I) to do this as my day job, it’s fun to challenge yourself. Like my friend Alli told me, “even if you don’t have a great race, it’s the cheapest and most effective climbing camp you’ll ever do!”
I’ll do my best to summarize the start of our saga; however, I’m quite exhausted after racing and thumbing for a ride following the point-to-point race.
Sunday-Spun on my rollers for 45 min before swinging by Kim’s to load up the car. The day before, we spent the entire afternoon taking off our generously provided Thule rack on our generously provided team car by Prestige Imports, and outfitting it with longer bars, 5 roof racks, and two wheel mounts (stolen from Kimberley’s car). Before we knew it, our journey began. We drove nearly straight through to Albuquerque. A howling bloodhound on the loose in Trinidad held us up at the gas station. We did what we could to find the owner, but gave him to a panhandling man for safe keeping. Then dinner stop in ABQ at Farina Pizza and Wine bar for dinner, before driving to Socorro, NM for the night.
Monday-Kim and I are great at GSD (Getting Stuff Done)! We both woke up, and got an easy spin in from our hotel room. We both showered, packed back up, loaded all the bikes on the car and were out the door within 25 min. of our ride. Now that’s fast! We arrived early in Silver City, after both of us got car sick from the weaving drive into town through the Gila National Forest. Since we are both about GSD, we drove the sketchy descent everyone has warned us about on stage 2, and confirmed our fears. It’s a doosey. Then went to the grocery, stocked up on plenty o’calories and p’haps a lil’ wine. Unloaded everything at our A-MAZING hosts’ house. Denise and Steve are great folks and we couldn’t have picked better hosts, and a better pad to relax between races. If I get the nerve to do this race again, I’d love to come back here. We have yet to see Javelinas, but make up for it in hummingbirds on their amazing porch with a picturesque view.
Tuesday-Eat and pre-rode the TT course. This will be ridiculously tough. 1500 feet of climbing, yet mostly doable on a TT bike. No one said it would be easy though. And if anything, this is my cheap climbing camp I’ve always wanted to go to:)
Wednesday-Eat and Race. Stage #1, 73.1 miles and too much climbing (4500 ft though my Garmin says more). Our field consisted of 60+ super strong women, mostly comprised of pro’s. After the 2 mile neutral start rolling through town, the gas was on full blast. Several small attacks occurred one after the other, with one sticking through the end of the race. And these aren’t those attacks that I attempt to throw out at a race-this was the real deal. Aaaand if you got dropped on these rollers, you’d kiss your chances of finishing anywhere near the time cut goodbye. On one of the rollers, a girl attacked so hard, I think she wiped herself out. That’s what appeared to happen as I narrowly missed it, running right up on her tire while trying not to dart out of the way causing another crash. Unfortunately, she wiped out some teeth too in her crash. I hope she has a speedy recovery!
Most of the race for me was trying to find a good place to hide and stay out of the wind. Kim did a great job at this. At about our half way point, the entire field agreed to a pee break, since our mechanics don’t allow for us to go from the bike itself. Because the lead group was led to take a wrong turn, this was the prime opp to get her done. So after relieving ourselves, we were neutralized until the lead group could get their time back from the break, and then allowed to go. All very new and very interesting to me.
All was great for me with the exception of my normal leg cramps I can never seem to shake. I’ve learned I can push through them and sometimes if I’m lucky they will go away. They came and went in this race starting at mile 40. Other than the cramps, I felt great…until we got to the last feed zone before the climb. I tried to grab a water but the rider in front of me got it and the volunteer only had 1 bottle. Then I rode very slowly to grab another one from a volunteer reloading….and then it happened. Kaboom-I couldn’t go anymore as the group was pulling away. I chased and chased but alas, I couldn’t do more without walking on the last climb. I kept the group in my sights for the next mile until the climb. Lost a lot of time and should have never stopped at the feed zone.
In starting the climb, I worked with a couple other dropped riders, but was too worked from chasing by myself. They finished a couple minutes in front of me on the 6.7 mile climb (that averaged 11%!). I honestly contemplated walking my bike because it would have been faster than I was riding. I did see a couple other male riders doing this. As I crossed the finish, my only hope was that I made the time cut off (and didn’t get last, but at that point I was just glad to be done!).
Besides the last climb, the hardest part was attempting to hitch a ride back after riding 80 miles and climbing nearly 4,600 ft! It was a point-to-point race with the end being about an hour’s drive from town. And us not being that pro and all, had to beg for a ride because the shuttles that they promised were no where in sight. Awesome. Luckily, Kim hitched a ride with Tibco since they had one spot, and I gave my spot in another vehicle to John Klish. I then hunted with Cat Johnson (who took 9th!) and Amy Charity for a spot and asked the UnitedHealthcare pro team to take us back. We had to wait till they finished, but fortunately and unfortunately they won the stage which means they had to stay for interviews and podium! So we had to wait another hour after the hour we spent searching for a ride before Rory Sutherland got back and then his teammate who took 6th. We finished at noon and didn’t get back home until 4 pm. But thank you to Alex, the United’s amazing soigneur who gave us chocolate, water and chairs to sit in while we waited.
Poor Kim had to wait 2 hours for us to get back in a random guys hot RV because I had the car keys! So much for recovery! We’ll see how this will affect the rest of our race:)
Time to shove more food in my face!