Monday, March 06, 2006

Time to Sleep

After two weeks of being a full on pramateur athlete (that is an amateur who must ride with the professionals), I’m ready for a good long nap. This afternoon Chris and I moved all our crap up 48 stairs into our new abode for the next couple of days, which is actually the house of one of the guys who Chris met in the feed zone over the last week. Five people live in this house (of which we have met only 3 to date) and they have been kind enough to let me be a vegetable on the couch for most of the next 48 hours. Yesterday I toed the line yet again with a collection of the world’s finest female cyclists, and someone up near the front decided to make the day miserable from the start. Right as the car pulled away and we headed into the first climb, 1km from the start, things started to go nuts. The course was a 6.2km loop through the CBD of Wellington (for my true blog fans, you will remember that CBD stands for Central Business District and is a fancy name for downtown). The first climb was a three-part climb of just over 500m gradually increasing from about 6% to almost 10% at the top (that felt even more difficult as the race went on). After the climb we whizzed down the other side for the better part of a minute before taking a sweeping left-hander up the feed zone hill. This hill wasn’t quite as steep and wound around for another 5-600m before shooting you onto a fast downhill and then back into the city for about 3km of crit-style speed. The start/finish was super classily placed on the steps of parliament (which proved to be a great viewing area for the final sprint!) and there were people lining the streets throughout the course. So yeah, right from the gun the heavy hitters decided to make today a selective race. The first three laps were completed around 10:00 which is an average of over 40km/h. The field strung out in a single file line throughout the flat sections and then blew up good going over the hills. I was positioned alright through the first lap and after the hills on the second lap was set up for a good position before a girl “gumbied” (nice word eh? Thanks Josie!) and crashed right in front of me. I managed to avoid hitting the ground, but I did get shuffled towards the rear at this point. Unfortunately, that positioning gerfuffle proved to be the beginning of the end as on the next lap a number of riders in front of me were gapped and while I made it over the first hill with the main pack, I had some difficulty regaining my composure on the downhill and struggled down on the flats. Early on in the next lap I was dropped and tried to fight back with about 7 other girls, but I didn’t manage to stay with the group (although they did make it on to another group shortly thereafter). That was more or less the end of my race. I kept the effort level hard as I wanted to get a good workout in with my last race of this block, but was lapped by Sarah Ulmer before too long. Now, while that does not sound terribly dignified that I was lapped, I will point out that Sarah did manage to chump the international field and lap all but 39 of the 111 starters on the day. I’d like to give some props out to my composite teammate and sweetheart Tina Pic for a 5th place finish on the day to place her in 4th overall for the race to be World Cup leader. Everyone in the field agreed that today was unbelievably difficult (it’s nice to hear that the big girls found it really challenging as well) and as I may have mentioned, I’m a little tired! Having said that, the last two weeks have been an incredible learning experience. I haven’t felt so young and new to the sport of cycling in a long time. I know that I have a great deal to learn, but it’s nice to see that I’m only a few steps away from “making it”. The girls at the top are most definitely faster than me, but it’s a level that I can understand and that I believe that I will be able to attain in the near future. I’ve met a load of super incredible people – friendly, encouraging – it’s been great. I’m motivated to hit the road (after my nap) and do a good block of work this summer to take one more step towards international success.

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