Friday, March 30, 2012

Cykel Events Womens GP – Rd 4

The original round 4 of the Womens GP was rescheduled due to a bucket load of rain, and the new date set for last weekend. The race was sure to be on, with our Total Rush team wanting to give it everything to take out the Series, both for the Team and the Individual Ranking where Carly was in the lead. We also wanted the team win on the day, as not having had a full team for a couple of the races, we’d not been able to secure a team win yet!

Starting with the prologue, it was the usual affair. Go as hard as you can for just under 2k, and hope that your hard was in the top half of the field! The split came out pretty much as expected, however SKCC/Giant had one team member not make the A Grade Cut. With all 5 of our team in Div 1, we were looking good for all of our goals. Having recruited sprinter Laine Hammond for the day, we were confident of getting some good results if it came down to a bunch kick!

Just a quick turn around after the prologue and we were away racing. Things were rather subdued, with the SKCC team chasing down anything that even looked like having a flash of pink in it, wary that it could cost them the overall win. An unfortunate accident in the B grade race had proceedings halted temporarily about half way through the race, and after around 15-20mins things got underway again.

There were several more attempts to get away after the restart, but it was clear the race would be decided by a bunch sprint, until Chloe McIntosh of TORQ/BSS put in a last ditch effort to shake the sprinters with a lap to go. She almost held them off, but was caught on the fast run in to the finish, with the Goddess of Thunder, Nic Whitburn of Liv/Giant showing her power once again taking the win from young gun Lauretta Hanson (Kosdown), with Total Rush’s Laine Hammond taking out 3rd.

The results! First of all, we secured the team win on the day, which meant we clawed back some points from SKCC, however it wasn’t enough. They managed to secure the overall series win! We did however keep a hold of the leaders jersey, with Carly Williams taking it out by a small margin over Nic Whitburn, and we also maintained our 2nd position in the team rankings overall. A highly successful series in our first as a team together!

We’re already looking forward to next year’s series and will ensure we have a full team at every round to put us on an even playing field with the rest of the teams.

Winning Team!
Note to self - the tallest person should not stand up on the curb...

A massive thanks go to the following people –

Rob Carson of Cykel Events – without your passion for Women’s racing, this series would never have been ran. We thank you, and hopefully by the numbers you had each round competing, it shows how much we appreciate what you’re doing!

Doug Armstrong – CV Commissaire extraordinaire. Without Doug, the races can’t go ahead. I see him at so many women’s races across the state supporting us and making sure we can race.

Total Rush & Specialized – Of course we thank Total Rush and Specialized Australia for their support. From keeping our Amira Pro’s running smooth, to providing us with (what I believe) is the best looking kit in the bunch. This is just the start of big things to come for the team this year!

Bec Domange – Donating her time to the cause and providing comedic relief on the mic at all of the races, this chick is tops. She even went above and beyond and let us bring her out of retirement for Round 3!

And to all of the girls who have competed across the series. Without the support of girls racing, the series wouldn’t go ahead either. It’s been a great experience getting to race against you all, and for the newbies out there, I hope it’s gotten you hooked on racing so we’ll be seeing more of you throughout the year!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Tour of NZ - The Race Wrap Up!

So, finally I have something worthy to write about, and I procrastinate over it for almost a month.. Typical.

I’ll keep it brief (for me). There’s plenty of blogs, reports, interviews etc out there, so I’m going to be selfish and just focus on the ‘Me’ bit.

I met Janine from the Wheelworks team I’d be racing for the day before the tour started, and Tristan the team manager. Was thankful that they were both super awesome people and I hadn’t landed in a bad team! Janine and I headed up to ‘Palmy’ Wednesday morning ahead of the afternoon’s first stage to meet with the rest of the team.
Introductions done and I knew it would be a fun week. Janine, Ash, Dee, Hannah, Pip and I all got along like a house on fire from the start! Stu, our swanny for the first couple of days arrived after an epic 6 hour ride from Wellington and he and Tristan were the best team support we could ask for. After a team chat, some talking about our goals and what we wanted to get out of the race, and getting our awesome new Pink kit ready, it was time to head to the Team Preso and Stage 1.

A new way to pin numbers! Hadn't seen this before..

Stage 1 – 7.1k TT. Rookie error number 1, in the pouring rain I misunderstood a marshal’s direction and made a wrong turn. My own fault for not knowing the course properly, and not the end of the world. Might have lost about 10-20 seconds, so it’s not like I was going to win it!

Team Presentation

Stage 2 – 137k Road Race. The longest of the stages today, including the neutral it was a 152k day. Neutral was shocking. Pouring rain, inconsistent pace, nervy bunch. In the race, I lacked the power I normally have. Possible cause was Rookie error number 2 for the tour, panicking after the TT that I was slipping down on my saddle too much and lifting the nose of it slightly. DUMB. Anyway, the main climb of the day had me out the back of the main bunch, but I made it in to the second group. We worked together and came in about 12 mins down. Thankful for the stage to be over after battling rain, sketchy descents and super gusty wind that had me close to being pushed off the road a couple of times.

Stage 3 – 121k Road Race. The sky looked ominous, but the rain held off. Thank god! Today was the reverse of the day before with a slight variation, so lots of climbing again. The wind was back again and causing havoc in the bunch. I felt much better today, made it over the first few climbs with the bunch, but then Rookie Error number 3, bad positioning in the long Crosswind section had me caught behind some dropped wheels and I rolled in a couple of minutes down.

Tonight was Stu’s last night, and he outdid himself with the pasta bake he cooked for us. Ash & I, being the only 2 glutards, were presented with what we later found out to be 2 whole packets of pasta in ours, and we managed to eat the whole thing between us… We also went and visited Dee in the local hospital where she had been since a crash on stage 1 where she fractured her back!

Team Photo! Not the best setting...

Stage 4 – 110k Road Race. The day started off with team Karaoke. Old school 80s and 90s hits and some really bad dancing. Spirits were high in the team after our visit with Dee, and we had all decided that it was now or never, it was time to have a crack and ‘Rock out with our Pink Kit out!’ I forgot to start my Garmin at the start, and ticked it on about 6k in to the race. A mistake I would spend a lot of time thinking about later on! The start was tough. I felt like my legs were made of lead. They thankfully came good though, and by the time we’d made it through the first few rollers and up to the base of the KOM climb I was feeling good. It was a tough climb, and I made it over with the 2nd group and had rejoined the main peloton by the end of the descent. Getting to the bunch, they were crawling along. So without even thinking, I went straight past and kept on going. Turning around, I had my team mate Pip on my wheel and a big gap to the bunch. There was a small group about a minute up the road, so we worked together to bridge the gap. Arriving to the breakaway, it was clear that all the main teams were represented, but none of them wanted to work because their GC players were back in the bunch. So after a little while Emma Crum from Cyclosport NZ attacked the group. Gaining a small margin, I decided to jump across to her and we quickly started working together and established a handy lead. Looking at the garmin I was calculating the distance to the finish, and figured we had about 45k. All good, either the break works, or it doesn’t, but if I didn’t try I’d have never known! Going up the KOM the 2nd time was tough, Emma is a little pocket rocket and climbs very well.

In the break

After the climb, we got back into a rhythm of sharing the work going back in to town. All I remember is the burning in my legs, and thinking ‘this could actually work…’ regular time checks from the Comms car had us holding the gap until about 15k to go, when it started to come down. The chase was on. This only spurred us on more with a noticeable lift in the tempo from both of us. Every time check they were gaining, but we stayed positive that we could hold them off. With less than 10k to go, the gap was 37 seconds. That was our last time check! With 4k to go, we turned on to the main highway in to the typical howling cross-headwind we’d come to expect from the past few days, and it hurt. I think that was the most painful 4k I’ve ever ridden. Not knowing if the bunch was breathing down your neck, struggling back on to the wheel after taking a turn, looking for the finish line, and begging for it to come sooner so you knew the outcome. There was no foxing or playing games. There wasn’t time. Knowing Emma has a good kick on her, and suffering as much as I was, I saw the jump at 300 to go, but didn’t have the legs to go for it. So I crossed the line in 2nd place and I was actually laughing. I couldn’t believe we’d pulled it off!
Stage 4 - Pain Rating - 10

No sooner had we congratulated each other, and we turned around and the bunch was sprinting for 3rd. 22 seconds was the final gap! A big shuffle in GC and a couple of friends and fellow St Kilda club members – Jo Hogan and Miranda Griffiths – had managed to move themselves up to 4th and 6th on GC respectively! A great day all around. 

Happy Team!

Alcohol Ban lifted 1 day early. I think it was deserved!

Stage 5 – 119k Road Race. The last day. As we rolled out behind the lead car for the neutral, I had this feeling of being calm. The whole peloton seemed calm. The nerves were gone, the hardest days were over, and this was it. The final stage. An uneventful day for me, I actually felt surprisingly good but just hid in the bunch all day. I was happy with how my tour had gone!
Sometimes you need to be reminded...