Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tour Feminin - O cenu Ceskeho Svycarska, CZE, 2.2 - Stg 1 & 2

So here I am in the Czech Republic, racing for the Czech Army team - Dukla Praha - in my first ever UCI race.
Some said I was crazy for this adventure.. "You've only been racing bikes a few months, give it time" etc etc, but I'm all for throwing myself in the deep end, and considering I was planning on coming to Europe anyway, I figured why not??

First off, the team. 6 girls including me, all the others are normally on the team and have raced with each other before. Then there's the Mechanic, the Team Manager, and the swanny. Added are the Team Bus and the Team Car, and here I am racing with a full on Pro experience!

Day 1 - 116km, Start/Finish - Krasna Lipa

The day was planned out, and the schedule translated to me, Team Breakfast in the dining Hall, then team lunch, then we depart to get to the start in time for Team Presentations and sign on. It was a 1310 start time.

After Presentation, i went for a big of a warm up ride, then got a quick leg rub, before going to head out for a bit more of a ride only to find half the field already on the start line, and it was 20 minutes to race start! So for fear of having to start completely at the back, I jumped in too, and waited.. and waited.. HR was sitting around 130, I felt sick, it was hot, and I was bloody nervous!

Finally we got underway and it went like this - fast, slam brakes and yell WOAH, fast, slam on brakes and yell WOAH.. There was a silly stack only a couple of k in, and I really wanted to move up, but I started in the middle of the pack, and I never got even close to the front. 170 girls take up a lot of room on the road! The first big climb started about 15k in to the race and due to my lack of being able to get past about 100th wheel, I found myself off the front pack quickly with a bunch of about 15. Almost made it over, but the heart and lungs just gave out! I was still feeling like I was about to puke, and it was soooo hot!
That's pretty much how things stayed for the next 100k, we picked up a few other girls who'd been dropped along the way, and no one was really too keen to do too much to chase after about 50k, so the pace slowed and we just concentrated on getting to the finish. There wasn't much talk either, considering everyone speaks different languages! When they did speak, I had to wonder if they were doing a Bridget - "My bits hurt!!"
Had a quick glance of my average HR after an hour of racing, and it was 178!
Made it over the final killer climb and then we rolled through 17mins down on the leaders. Looking at the results it seems there was some serious action where the race was at!
I completely underestimated the climbing that there would be.. The Mocka didn't look too bad, but there are a fair few steep pinches around that sap the legs!

Finished the night with Team Dinner, then Massage, and then an earlier night to bed. Jet Lag really sucks and I'm struggling to sleep. Combined with sharing a room with 3 girls all gibbering away in czech non stop, I'm a little sleep deprived!

Day 2 - 110km - Start/Finish - Jirikov

Today was set to be brutal. 3 laps around Krasna Lipa which included yesterdays final climb, and then back to Jirikov for 3 more laps with a slightly less steep climb. Yesterday's 30 degrees was set to be topped, and it didn't dissapoint. The Garmin says we hit about 33/34 by the end of the stage.
Learning from yesterday's start line mistake, I headed out earlier for the warm up and managed to get 20 minutes.
Another 20 minute wait on the start line in the hot hot sun, and oops, I've forgotten sunscreen. Going to pay for that!
We got under way and it was similar to the previous day. HR was a little more under control though, a few less nerves, but still the pack was twitchy, and yet again getting past 100th wheel proved elusive to me! There are lots of train crossings in these races, and they're quite bumpy, so there's ofter a massive slow down to go over them. About 15k in we were stopped at one, but the pack was all together so no issue, then 20k in we hit another, and there was a stack taking out about 20 from both sides of the pack. I even saw one of the English girls climbing back up the embankment! I managed to get through unscathed, but a big gap opened up and we spent the next 5k chasing back on, which meant I was on the back for the 1st time up the infamous Vapenka climb. So I started the climb near the back, what's new? and as predicted didn't make it over with the front bunch. We chased back on though, and made it back at the same point, roads too narrow to attempt to move up! 2nd time didn't go well at all and was dropped pretty bad.
Spent the next lap with 2 other girls Who almost dropped me coz I was pretty fried!!
Up Vapenka one more time, another couple of bottles in the feed zone and then drama! The team bus came up to give me a coke and in the handover hit the edge of the road and fell in to the ditch!! OH MY GOD! I turned back to make sure they were ok. With limited english, they said - OK! RACE! so I headed back on my way and caught the other girl who I'd been with.
Yet another train stop and a group of 10 or so caught us. Yay, more workers!
With a little outside assistance, we managed to stay ahead of the charging Peloton and got on to our final 9k loop before they overtook us. Rolled over the line as a bunch except for yet again someone stupidly attacking and sprinting for no reason. Results aren't out yet, but I think we were about 17/18 minutes down again. Hopefully just enough to stay within timecut..
Yet another 1500m of climbing today, and I feel like I'm burnt to a crisp from the beating sun!

Oh, and both days we've had little cobble sections! Only about 50m at a time, but YUCK!! And some stretches of road are so rough they're like cobbles..

The Mechanic has just set up my bike for the TT tomorrow morning.. Disc wheel and all! On the table now getting my 3rd massage in as many days... I could get used to this life!

On tap for tomorrow - 21k ITT, with no flat bits (surprise surprise!) and then a 104km Hilly Road Race in the afternoon.. And at least as hot as today.. Oh Gosh..

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