Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Sometimes the hardest choice to make, is to just stop. To forget your obligations, commitments & the feelings of letting other people down, and to put yourself first.
Interestingly, I find it easy to advise others to do this, but when it comes to myself, I ignore my own (great) advice. "Do as I say, not as I do" type of thing. Well, this weekend I had to stop and listen. Hit with a virus that struck at 4am on Saturday, which had me feeling like I had the Worst Hangover in the World, without having had the enjoyment of the night out prior.

I lay there at 10pm that night, barely able to move, still contemplating how I was going to pack my bike in time to leave at 6am for a flight to Tas the next day. The answer was that I wasn't going to be able to.

Thanks to the understanding of my Team Manager Liz, the race organisors & my Teammates - Kate, Jo, Lizzie & Jess - who I still feel I've let down, I was able to focus on getting better. It's now 4 days later, and I've only just managed to go for a ride today, so I can only imagine the damage had I tried to race Sunday evening. Without me, the girls still pulled off a great race, finishing with Lizzie taking 3rd and climbing us closer and closer back up to the top step of the podium!
Now it's time to rebuild in time for the LSL Supercrit at SKCC on Sunday, where the Women's race has a huge $10,500 in prize money thanks to Anchor Point Village & Liv/Giant. We've got a strong team, but the field is also extremely competitive, and I can't wait to get my race nails painted again and to help the team battle it out!

If you're in the area, head down to White St, Port Melbourne for the 11.30 start to see some of Australia's best female cyclists duke it out! http://lslsupercrit.com.au/

And while you're in blog reading mode, catch up on everything happening with my team this summer over here! - http://specializedsecuritor.blogspot.com.au/

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Taupo Cycle Challenge & the OPI Women's Road Race

Thanks to a chance meeting on a Specialized Dealer ride in Adelaide at the start of 2013, the Specialized Securitor team were encouraged to attend the 2013 Lake Taupo (pron – “Toe Paw”) Cycle Challenge to compete in the OPI Women’s 100k Road race. When the team asked for Volunteers I jumped at the chance, even though it meant missing the NSW GP series this year.  Taupo is a place I’ve heard so much about and always wanted to visit!

Obligatory "didn't see the sign that said don't climb on the statue" pose..

The team for the race consisted of the ‘non sprinters’ as they were otherwise engaged for the crits. Myself, Cassie & JFay crossed the ditch in the hope of being the first Aussie’s to take home the women’s title, a hard task given the race usually comes down to a bunch sprint!

Arriving very late Tuesday night/Early Wednesday morning, our grand plans of riding a lap of the whole lake (160kms) was quickly quashed as we slept in until almost lunch time and were still feeling pretty smashed when we did manage to get up. We met up with the race directors Doug & Raewyn Simmons, and a friend of theirs Dave who was to be our guide for our ride that day. A couple of hours on the bike, checking out the main race hill and it was already nearing the end of the day so we chilled out, made some dinner, and hoped the gloomy weather would pass so we could get in a nice ride the next day.

Dreary day for a ride, but still stunning scenery!

The next day wasn’t too pleasant either, but we headed out – this time with Doug as our ride leader – with the intention of checking out some of the local hills that we could see off in the distance. As the clouds rolled in though, and the rain got heavier, the call was made to head back to shelter. Thankfully the sky cleared as we came in to town and we had the chance to be tourists and get some photo’s at the lookout. Then we headed to catch up with Mark & the crew at Top Gear Cycles in town, where we managed to get the bikes cleaned and tweaked in to tip top shape ahead of the 2 days of racing we had to come! It was there that we found out about the XC Eliminator race that evening, which instantly pricked up the ears of Jenny our MTBer, and got Cassie and I keen to have a play as well.. Despite me never having ridden a MTB before! The boys at the shop were kind enough to lend us a couple of bikes to use, and it was decided! Off to race #1 for the weekend we went..

Finally the rain cleared! Thanks for the ride Doug!

 The Eliminator race is a short track that you race 3 other people down and, in this case, the first 2 across the line go through to the next round. Cass & I entered Novice, and were racing against 1 other girl.  First round went ok, we were super cautious and made it through well. Then they gave us another run, and I got a little too confident and actually went on to the berm.. And promptly exited it half way up.. *Uh OH*. I was running flat pedals and had no way to control the bike and in slow motion I came down.. Cassie was right behind me and had nowhere to go and toppled over me. I hadn’t got the memo that the ‘Eliminator’ name didn’t mean to Eliminate the other competitors for real.. We lay on the ground for what felt like forever pissing ourselves laughing. Cassie’s feet were clipped in and she couldn’t get out, and I just couldn’t get up for laughing.. No harm done thankfully, and a very funny story to tell.. Jenny was up next and managed to burn around the course super fast and put the 2 of us to shame..


The next morning we were feeling like celebrities.. As the only Aussies in the race, we were invited to do an interview on MoreFM with Andy on the breakfast show.. Our first time doing a radio interview.. Ticking off another first! Another easy spin with Dave & Doug, pre race rego where we scored a sweet little pack of OPI Nail Polish (was I in heaven or what?!), and then it was time to put the feet up ahead of race #2 for the weekend - the Bodyfuel Cafe Crit that evening. Held on a tough C shaped hotdog style course, with the wind blowing, it was set to be a tough half hour.
Radio stars!
A small, but strong field lined up for the Crit, and I was stoked to get to see Hannah “big hairy balls” Van Kempen and Pippa “motorbike” Sutton for the first time since the Tour of Wellington almost 2 years ago! Despite a recent big crash, Pippa was true to form and went off the front solo for several laps, picking up some sprint primes, whilst Hannah showed herself to have improved so much since I’d seen her, taking an aggressive approach and winning a sprint prime as well. It was a hard, aggressive race, with the course taking its toll, and with 2 laps to go Reta Trotman launched from the bunch with our team just missing the move. We tried to bring it back, but just didn’t have the firepower, and Reta soloed on to take the win. We finished off the podium, but happy with the hit out ahead of the main event the next day. 

After some of NZ’s finest Hells Pizza, it was off to bed ahead of the early start the next morning for the OPI Women’s Road Race. As the event is run in conjunction with the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge, where over 8000 people participate in riding around the whole lake, we have to hit the road early to ensure we’re back in time to not cause any issues. Our race runs out the last 50k of the lake, turning and coming back the way we headed out. 

We awoke to a fair amount of wind and gloomy skies. But spirits were high and we were looking forward to seeing what was in store for race #3. Around 30 starters left town, and you could feel that the knowledge of the hill and the wind had the bunch quite placid. Things were quite civil until the first hill out, when a few attacks were launched but were quashed quite quickly by Dee Bell – another Wheelworks 2012 teamie – who set a solid (read – painful) pace up the hill. Things carried on similarly for most of the outward journey, with only 1 real breakaway sticking for a while. Cassie was super domestique and controlled the bunch though, until we were nearing the sprint and the Liv Giant NZ crew took over and dragged the break back and set up for their sprinter to take the prime.

Heading back in to town, the wind was whipping up and dampening any thought of attempting to get away, so a quick chat with the girls and we knew we had to try and establish a break before the hill, otherwise it was likely to come down to a sprint. Coming in to the only other hill before the main climb, I attacked to try and get a gap. With everyone fairly fresh, it was chased down quickly, as was the counter attack that Reta Trotman launched with Jenny in tow. Not long after, Jenny had another go and managed to get a gap with Gayle Brownlee of Liv Giant, and Hannah Van Kempen. The 3 appeared to start working well together straight away, and established a nice little lead, with the rest of the bunch seemingly ok with the situation. Cassie & I were happy with the combo, and when Reta attacked up the climb we let her go across because we knew she was strong enough to help the break survive. As we crested the climb, a group of 8 of us had gone clear from the rest of the peleton, and the girls started working together to bring the break back. Fortunately for us, we picked up Gayle along the way, and the rest of the bunch joined back on just after the descent, which made everyone keen to not work together and the break seemed safe. 

So many bottles of bubbles.. so little time!
Coming in to the finish, the headwind nullified any attacks as soon as they were made, so it was about trying to hold position for the long draggy sprint. Cassie managed to hold a good position and hit out early, drag racing to the line and just getting pipped for 4th. A solid effort given she’d hardly be classified as a sprinter!  We crossed the line to find out JFay had taken 3rd as well as the KOM, with Reta Trotman attacking the break to get away for the win. All in all, we were really happy with how the race went, given it was our first time together and where we’re all currently at, physically & mentally!

Prize giving that evening for the Cycle Challenge was unfortunately a bit damp as the rains rolled in just as it was about to start. The spot prizes, which everyone is eligible for as long as they’re present, were all drawn, and I was all ready to run through the rain and mud to claim the Holden Car.. But my number didn’t get drawn. Damn it. 

A massive thank you to Doug & Raewyn, OPI NZ, Josh, Dave, Kay and everyone else we met who was involved with the running of the race. Everything was so smooth and easy, the race was so well run, and I couldn’t recommend the entire event highly enough to anyone.

They even take the piss out of their own accent!

This isn’t the last you’ve heard about Taupo though.. Still to come is a run down of Sunday.. A day of fun, fear and firsts!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Oceania Champion & Racing Worlds..

I wasn't really sure what to write about this subject.. It's been a bit of a surprise followed by a stressful few weeks with leaving my team, organising a bike, organising guest rides for upcoming races, and then planning to get to them. It’s all left me a little frazzled.

There will be a few people surprised to see my name on the list, because to be honest, it’s not like I’ve had a stellar season here in Europe. But I didn’t know this was coming. My season wasn’t structured to plan for this, and my focus wasn’t on making the team this year. I wanted to come here, experience a season as a full time cyclist in Europe, and learn the ropes as much as I could. So how did this come about?

Basically, back in March when I finished 2nd at the Oceania Road Champs, I was actually the first Oceania resident to finish. This was only established a few months after the fact, and therefore not really communicated to anyone, including myself. I started hearing things when the rumors over who would be selected for the Long List for worlds started circulating which was late July.. A quick email and it was confirmed that I was in fact the Oceania Champion, and as such had automatically qualified for a much coveted position on the long list. On top of this, there is actually a place at the World Championships race reserved specifically for me on top of the 7 others that Australia has qualified for. However this does not mean I will be going. I still have to be selected to be a part of the team. I have to prove I won’t be a dead weight and am able to contribute to the team objective and make an impact on the race.

I think I can do it given the chance, the support, and the opportunity to do so. To race for Australia, to help the team to win the Worlds, that’s motivation enough. I don’t care if the job given to me means I’ll be out of the race within the first 30k. None of that matters. I know what it feels like to win races as a part of a team, and for some reason it seems to drive me more when I have the team goal to work for.

So for the next few weeks I’m trying to race as much as I can to prove I can do it. The clock is ticking, and being that the parameters around selection are tough in an environment where you’re basically going it alone; I’m pushing the proverbial uphill to do it. But it won’t stop me trying.. 

I have to finish by again saying a HUGE thank you to Specialized Australia & Europe for helping me out whilst I've been here. Their support has been invaluable and I only hope to repay them and make them proud!

Sweet Ride!

Thanks to the huge intercontinental combined effort of many many people, I am lucky enough to be riding the 2013 S Works Amira for the rest of my time here in Europe. I know that sponsored riders opinions of bikes are usually taken with a grain of salt, however I need to just state - WOW.

I don't know if it's new bike syndrome, or just the bike, but it feels like I'm comfortable riding my bike again. Cornering and descending, where I'd been a bit hesitant lately, feels so smooth. It could be the fact that the bike comes with the sweet as Roval Carbon Clinchers, which I'd had the pleasure of test riding back in Aus, but hadn't had a proper run with them.

To be honest, I don't care if it's the placebo effect. It is just wonderful to feel like when I pedal, the power is going through the bike and making me go where I want.

And really.. It looks pretty darn sweet too if you ask me!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sparkessen Giro

So the Summer racing season here in Belgium is in full swing. Most weeks there are at least 3-4 Kermesses on, plus there's some UCI racing on the calendar dotted in there too. So after getting back from Limousin it was straight back into it with a Kermesse in Strijpen/Zottegem on Tuesday afternoon. The race was supposed to be 90k, however due to the 35 degree heat they cut 2 laps off the race which gave us about 75k to race. 10 laps on what turned out to be a lumpy course with a nice little kicker of a hill out the back. Although the ride there my legs felt like lead, I knew I'd work into it so I was looking forward to the race! It's not often you get any hills in the Kermesse' here! Had a good race, with each lap feeling better and better and tried to split things up on the hill.. We managed to halve the bunch by the end, both through the hills and the heat taking a toll, and I did my usual trick of avoiding getting mixed up in the sprint and rolled in just inside the top 20. 
On the descent - Strijpen Kermesse
A couple of days later and it was off to Bambrugge for another 90k race! This time we were lucky enough to have Graeme drive us, which we were extra thankful for once the heavens opened resulting in the last 5 laps being in torrential rain. My slow to wake up legs had me sitting too far back early in the race and I missed the break of the day which ended up sticking, and then every move I went with was the wrong one so I rolled in with the bunch happy to be able to dry off..
Lucky I wore my black socks....
The next day we were picked up by Rene for the trip across the border to race the UCI 1.1 race, Sparkassen Giro. This race is an all day festival in the town, with participation rides, the womens race, a Men's Post Tour Crit, Derny races and then fireworks at the end of the night. It was a great atmosphere to race in! Our race was short for a UCI race, at only 78k, and it was very straight forward.. Go around the town centre, head out on a main road slightly uphill for 5k, do a U-Turn, and motor back down the other side of the road. Repeat this 6 times and you've got a sprinters dream race. The team were keen to come away with a result, and having 2 sprinters we were in for a chance. Coryn and Eileen are both on form with some good results lately, with Jane, Lucy, Gaby & myself to support them. With Kirtsen Wild & Chloe Hosking in the bunch, there were lots of teams hoping to force a break away, so it was an agressive race from the start. We were well represented most of the moves, with Lucy doing her trademark solo attack which lasted about 1k before she was reeled back in. In the end the inevitable sprint happened, except the difference being the first person around the corner hit it too hot and came down disrupting things a bit. Coryn recovered well and sprinted to an impressive 5th, with Kirsten Wild only just pipping her on the line. Eileen had a solid 14th place in what was her first European race in a long time. I felt good during the race and made my way into a few moves, but being the scaredy cat that I am when it comes to a sprint, I sat well out of the argy bargy that was going on and stayed safe.
Skinsuit Sunday!
So basically from what was a very disappointing start to the second half of my season, I'm happy with where I'm at now. Racing into some form and being active and actually being a part of the race instead of pack fill is definitely good for the head, because I have to admit there were a couple of times a few weeks back where I'd started doubting myself and questioning if I should be here. I keep reminding myself that this is my first season out here and that every race and every challenge that comes my way is a learning experience and will make me a better rider and racer. I feel so young in terms of cycling age, especially when hearing stories from team mates who are almost 10 years younger, yet have twice as many years racing experience!
Rolling to the start of Sparkessen Giro
Next up for the team is the Lotto Cup race Erondegemese Pijl which is a UCI 1.2. Another flat, fast Belgian race where hopefully we can improve on last weekand hit the podium!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Live to fight another day

So, after Krasna Lipa we headed back to Belgium for some R&R before packing the traveling circus back up and heading to the next race. On the way through, Carla & I stopped in Cologne for the night and spent the morning wandering around the beautiful town, getting some proper coffee and doing some window shopping.
In between tours, there was a Kermesse on in Moerzeke, so a few of us headed there for another hit out! It was a good day for the team, with a break eventually sticking with one of us in it, and Jane rode great to stay away and finish 3rd on the day. 
Before we knew it though it was time to hit the road again, and we were on route to the Limousin region in France to race the 4 day tour there. For this Tour we had the Chief Rene, Pamela on her first outing as a swanny (who, mind you, did a fantastic job without having any experience or even the guidance of Mr B!), and Eoin the Irish Mechanic and chief coffee maker was back again. I was even learning how to understand him a little better this trip! The riders were myself, Coryn, Lucy, Laura, Ciara & Anne. 
Limousin - Right in the middle of France
A quick stop overnight somewhere just south of Paris, and by Wednesday we had arrived to our race accommodation.. It's fair to say it wasn't the Ritz. We were basically camping in wooden huts, exactly like what I'd stayed in a few years ago with Alli & Natalie in my first ever Belgian racing experience. The team had been given 2, with room for 5 in each room, which basically had us taking up all available floor space. Thanks to Vienne deciding the accomm wasn't up to scratch, a hut became free and we could spread out a little more. Eoin also decided that the team van would be comfier and roomier and took up residence in there! 
Our little hut
Team presentation was the evening before the race, so we got that out of the way and stopped for pre race Pizza in Le Grande Bourg.. A quaint little town that was filled with random mannequins dressed in different costumes. The forecast for the whole week was hot, and I generally like the heat, so I went to bed that night really excited for the race and ready to get into it! Especially as I was starting the race with my own bike!
Team presentation
 I woke up early the next morning and knew things were not right. I had what is unfortunately becoming the all too familiar feeling of nausea and before long I was ill. Not ideal.. However having felt like this before a few times in the last few weeks, I figured it would pass within a few hours and I should at least be able to start the stage that afternoon and hopefully by the next day I'd be feeling ok. I made it through thankfully, and my motto for the week became 'live to fight another day'. Lucy and Coryn rode a great race finishing up the front of the front group after being active throughout the day trying to establish a break, with Coryn being only 1 place off the Young Rider jersey!
Eoin preping the Bianchi's!
Day 2 was the Time Trial. Thankfully I woke that morning feeling better, but still went in with the idea of trying to save as much as I could for the next 2 days because I knew I would still be depleted from the day before. A stomping ride by Lucy had her finish 7th, and move up on GC into the top 10. 
Outdoor Dining
Day 3 and the aim was to try and move Lucy further up GC and if any breaks went, make sure we were represented. All of the climbs were in the first half of the race, so most of the attacks were going here. There were lots of attempts to get a split in the field, and it was great to race with Coryn & Lucy properly and for us to be able to cover moves and really make a difference in the race. Nothing stuck and it was all together at the end though, and so no change on GC. Again - Live to fight another day!
There were some good points about our Accommodation! Recovery swims :)
One more stage left, 127k and 38 degrees forecast. With only 1 second between first and second on GC, it was always going to be a tough day. I was struggling to find my legs in the first hour, but gave everything I had to help chase back a break and then just couldn't recover in time to make the split over the 2nd climb of the day. As is typical though, about 20 minutes later I felt amazing and did so for the rest of the race, but that's racing. I was disappointed not to be in the front bunch to help Lucy & Coryn, but in a way I was satisfied with the choice I made at the time. I'd prefer to be out the back of the race after having contributed to the team goal, instead of just sitting on the back of the bunch and making it to the finish with them. Coryn managed to finish 8th as well, and Lucy finished 9th on GC in the end, so a good day/week for the team!
Race ready
So for myself personally it was a disappointing week, but there are still some positives to take from it. For now though it's back to the base in Belgium to regroup and get myself off to the doctor to suss out why I keep getting sick! This week will see us race a couple of Kermesse's too, before heading across the other border to Germany to race the Sparkassen Giro in Bochum.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Holiday over, back to racing at Krasna Lipa!

After a super fun couple of weeks in Girona with Miss America, it was time to get things rolling again and pin a number on! I'm not here for a holiday you know ;-)
Krasna Lipa is the first ever European race that I did, and one that I was hoping to do well in this time around. It's also the tour that I seem to just not have anything go right in...
We began the journey to Czech by dragging our bike bags on 2 trains and a bus to get to Barcelona Airport. Cursing the bikes the whole way, we would come to regret thinking how nice it would be to not travel with bikes when we arrived at Dresden airport to that long wait by the oversize baggage door, and the sinking feeling that our bikes had missed the plane... Our fears were confirmed at the baggage services counter which then led to many frustrating phone calls to Vueling customer 'service' and 48 hours of being told they hadn't even located the bikes yet. With only 2 flights to Dresden a week, the next one landed right when our race was due to start, so we were trying everything to get them to send the bikes to another nearby airport but it was proving fruitless.
The rest of the team pre riding the course.. Coryn and I had no bikes so were in the car..
Queue our Knights in Shining Oakleys.. The Swiss National Team. They had 2 spare bikes which they kindly allowed us to borrow, even though it left them without spares! Coryn at least had a spare pair of shoes and pedals, but everything of mine was in my bike bag.. A lesson well learnt and I'll always carry a pair of shoes with me now! Thankfully Gaby has the same size big feet as me and had a spare pair, so I was on borrowed bike, shoes, pedals, helmet & glasses! Not the ideal way to start a tour, but at least I was starting!
Lunch in Germany on the way to Krasna Lipa
So the race.. Day 1 and I felt pretty shitty. After not having ridden for 2 days and all the other factors, my legs were pretty flat and I just didn't feel confident on the bike. Euro brakes, everything a size too big, compact cranks added to a sketchy and nervy bunch and not having raced for a month all combined to make me fairly useless. Just because Murphy was in a playful mood, he threw in a plastic bag getting wrapped around my rear mech and the subsequent chase back on, so when we hit the last big descent my legs just couldn't go any faster and I was out the arse. Yep, dropped on the downhill.. So much for being able to help the GC rider in our team! I grovelled over Vapenka and made it back in to Krasna Lipa a few minutes down on the main bunch.
The best part of the day was getting back to our Accommodation and finding out my bike had made it to Germany! After dinner - the Czech staple of Chicken & potatoes of course - Rene and I headed to Dresden airport where I was reunited with all of my race gear and my Bianchi bike. Happy Dayz!!
My Bianchi!!!! So happy to see this :)
Day 2, feeling a lot more confident being back on my bike, but still with legs like arse. Going backwards up all of the climbs, and struggling to move up in the sketchy bunch, it was another day of feeling useless. Carla and Lucy rode well again and maintained their spots up on GC ahead of the 3rd stage time trial.
Day 3 is the double day. A quick trip over the border to Poland for an 18k Time Trial, ahead of an afternoon road race back in Czech. My goal for the time trial was to just try and spin the legs out as much as possible whilst still making time cut, hoping that I'd come good for the afternoon stage. Lucy stomped the TT and came in 8th - moving her up to 13th on GC - whilst Carla succumbed to the stomach bug that had been plaguing her all week. The afternoon road stage yet again had me grovelling and being packfill, but another solid ride by the other girls in the team saw Coryn get 8th! 
Czech staple.. Chicken & Potatoes.
The last day sees the race go up a solid climb on a big lap, and then tackle 3 laps of the infamous Vapenka. With Lucy in 13th, we wanted to move her up in to the top 10 if possible so the plan was to try and split the bunch on the first climb and for her to hopefully get away in a small group on the final laps. Riding to the start of the race I felt better then I had all week. Better late than never I guess! My finish line was at 42k, the top of the first climb, and as we hit the first ramp things were going to plan. The bunch was lined out until we got over the crest of the first pinch where the lead car put out the red flag and the race was stopped. A bunch off the back had been sent the wrong way, and then the Aus & Koga team cars couldn't be located. In the end we were stopped in the middle of the road for 45 minutes before being sent on our way and then told that the race would be shortened by 1 lap. Sticking to the plan I led up the climb and split things up, and then blew near the top and lost the bunch. It was a beautiful day and so I enjoyed the weather and scenery and waved at all the families who were out watching the race and rolled in to the finish.
With the stop and one less time up the climb, the race was changed a fair bit and we didn't succeed, but at least we tried and I found a glimpse of some form coming back.
Riding to the start of the race
So the week didn't go as I'd hoped, but I have to take the positives and focus them on Limousin in a weeks time. Things would have been much harder at the race if it weren't for the tireless efforts of our support crew..
Eoin (Owen) - Our team mechanic. At times I could barely understand a word he was saying because of his accent, but he was great with the bikes and the added pressure of setting up our borrowed bikes was all handled without a worry.
Mr B & his apprentice Lucy - Our Swannys. These guys were rock stars. Food shopping, bottles, feeding, and the best bit - the massages. Lots of laughs too kept the mood light when things weren't going to plan!
And Rene - Manager/DS, having the contacts to get us some bikes to borrow and following us around in the team car for 4 days! Added trips to Germany and Prague (for Coryns bike), plus the drive from London and back, I'd say he'd have had to have clocked up about 50 hours behind the wheel in the space of a week, at least!
Rene, Mr B, Eoin & Lucy enjoying a well earned Vino! From cups made from empty water bottles.. Classy.
Next up is a week back home in Belgium before heading to France for Limousin!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Oops.. Been a while!

Half Way update!
Yet again it's been quite a while since an update.. And of course so much has happened since then!
I raced the Holland Hills Classic, Wodecq Kermesse and Gooik-Geerardsbergen in the last weekend of May, and had some mixed results. Wodecq went well with a top 10 finish, but I had a bad day at Holland hills and then some mechanical problems at Gooik. I just chalked the weekend up to experience and then started a nice mid season break off the bike. Unfortunately at the end of the week off I came down with a virus, so was layed up in bed for half of my break :(
The following week my month at home in Belgium came to an end and it was time to head back across the channel to England! There were 4 crits lined up for the team to race, including the London Nocturne and 2 of the 'Tour Series' races. Still suffering from the virus, but not wanting to let the team down, I took to the start line and experienced a whole new world of creeping. It was a great experience though, with the Nocturne being raced in front of huge crowds, and the Tour Series races being fast and furious, similar to the Bay Crits, but it was quite frustrating feeling completely useless in most of the races. Even when I did start to feel a bit better and find some legs on the final race in Aylsham, the torrential downpour and tight course saw me hit the deck (and barriers) hard after someone came down in front of me. 
Roast Lamb and Potatoes care of Chefs Amy & Coryn in London!

Tour Series start line. Heaps of fun racing with Ella & Coryn, despite how bad I was going!

Mid ride  Calippo Frosts in the Spanish heat with CT
After all of that was over, it was time to set sail once again, this time to the oh so sunny Spain! Getting back to Girona felt like coming home. My Yankee team mate Coryn and I arrived for 2 weeks of training & we couldn't have been happier. Thanks to the generosity of Dan Jones we had an amazing apartment to stay in (or rather, to take over) right near the centre of town and with zombie blinds which made sleeping through the early morning sunrises very possible. The weather was perfect, the training roads are always great, we got to catch up with heaps of friends and even made some new ones, and we even managed a couple of trips to the beach! It's fair to say that we could have happily stayed there for the rest of summer, but soon enough it was time to leave and get back in to racing.
On top of the world! Or at least on top of Rocacorba - with Miss USA
Rocking out to Acca Dacca with a Cameo in the new Green Edge video.. #neardeathexperience
Dinner by the beach with new friends!
Next update will be all about Krasna Lipa! Missing bikes, bad legs & an overdose of Chicken & Potatoes..

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Time for some more racing!

After the other girls and Graeme all left to head back to their various countries, I was on my own for a while. I had a nice relaxing time, setting my own schedule and catching up with James and Jake who are living only about 40k away. A roast night, and a night out in Gent, some sopping wet, muddy rides, and the week flew by. Already it was time to race again, another Kermesse in De Pinte, just south of Gent. No car, so I had to ride there and back, which meant for a long day in the on/off drizzle & rain. The race was uneventful, I was feeing a little flat, but I got through ok and thankfully had a tailwind home! Thanks to Bart for holding my stuff while I raced! 
My best friends over the past couple of weeks.. Becoming an expert bike cleaner.
Soon enough everyone starting arriving back to the house for the next block of racing, 3 x 1 day races in Holland and Belgium. Due to some injuries and illness, the team was down to just 4 of us, myself, Anne, Jane & Gaby. 
It's fair to say that summer is currently no where to be seen..

First up was the Boels Holland Hills Classic. As the name suggests, there's actual hills in this race! Most of them made famous by the Amstel Gold Race, including the Cauberg which featured in last years World Champs Course. I had a rough day, not feeling the best and struggling to get power down. Things went ok on the hills, but once I found myself having to jump around some dropped wheels in the crosswinds, I only had so much and found myself in a group off the back. We were pulled by the Broom Wagon just before the feedzone/Cauberg, and then had an adventurous ride back to the start finish with a big group. Things were fine while the sun shone, but about 10k from where we needed to be, things got a bit cold and everyone started getting rather hungry! After several stops to ask for directions, we made it back to find out how the race had played out, and it was time to head home.

Holland Hills.. Yep, in the gutter yet again!
Day 2 was set to be in Aalburg in Holland, however the team decided to instead race the local Kermesse in Wodecq, only 15k up the road. Anne's knee wasn't feeling the best, so only 3 of us raced, however we all started because they were offering bags of cookies, coffee and some start money to everyone who raced. It was a really nice course, with some gently rolling hills, and I was back to feeling myself. I kept active in the first part of the race and managed to get in a few breaks, but nothing that stuck, and whilst I was having a bit of a rest a breakaway managed to go. 2 girls got away and the race from then was quite negative with no one wanting to chase the break, and a lot of people trying to go across. I had a crack coming into the last corner with a fast finish, but just proved to be a good leadout for 5 other girls.. I held on for 8th, so not so bad in the end, but it's fair to say I was disappointed with missing the break.
Gooik Team Presentation
Day 3 it was time to get the climbing legs back on again and tackle Gooik-Geraardsbergen-Gooik. This one had some of the most famous Flanders climbs including the Muur, which unfortunately was taken out of the race due to roadworks. I was feeling good again and looking forward to the race. Things were going well through the first few hills and I'd made the front half of the race, until we hit the long cobbled section and I went backwards so fast it was quite laughable. Next time I'll run a bit less pressure in the tires and will get some more cobble practice - which shouldn't be hard given the area we live in! I was just off the back of the main group with one of the Argos Shimano riders, but we weren't able to close the gap and were reeled in by the chasing bunch behind us. With 5 local laps to go, we were again pulled from the race as there was a small group off the front and the short laps meant to continue would mean we'd be lapped. Another disappointing end to the race, and the weekend, but there were some positives to take from all of the races.
The 'Bosberg'. My first cobbled climb in a race... ouch.
The racing eases off now for a little while, so I'm taking a short break before starting the 2nd half of the season. Things will kick off in London on the 8th June for the Smithfield Nocturne which I'm looking forward to racing, although a 35min crit will be a rude shock to the system. Then followed by a few of the Tour Series crits that same week. Should be a fun week back on the left hand side of the road, and I'll definitely be hitting up some good cafe's and outlet stores when I get a chance! For the next few days though it might be time to play tourist for a little bit, if only the sun would come back out...