Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Hot in Herre
Apparently years of living in an igloo cannot prepare you for the weather in the southern States – who’d a thunk? I did try to reverse the effect of my natural tendency towards cold weather (it’s not my fault, my father is from Saskatchewan!) by heading over to Australia for the winter. The net effect is that I’m BETTER in the heat – still not good, and I would wager that I’m now a super wimp in the cold…hmm – was that a good idea? So, this lead in is going somewhere – I promise, here it is: Sunday’s weather was horrendous. It was 80 degrees at 6:30 in the morning and I swear the humidity was 100% - meaning thick enough to breath! ;) By the time we started racing it was already almost unbearable sitting out in the sun (must have been close to 35 degrees – like that switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius?), making for one of the least pleasant 33-mile rides of my life.
The terrain was unrelenting with constant rollers, which under normal conditions I would have loved. However, with such a small pack and my PowerTap in tow (and the associated 23 tooth cog), my legs felt rather horrible. I limped through the entire race having to sit out of the paceline for good chunks of it. We worked the two intermediate sprints to help me keep the green jersey, which wasn’t super challenging, as no one else seemed at all interested in what was going on. The sprints were fun though as it was a downhill go at it, so we hit some pretty good speeds. The girls on Kenda helped me through and I don’t know what I would have done without a feed, which is really quite sad in such a short race!
As we approached the finish and all the girls were settling in for a field sprint, Robin and Caroline attacked about 2km out. The motivation in the pack was minimal and so I just marked the rider who chose to chase. This conveniently gave me a great leadout coming into the finish and I just ducked around the girl chasing with 200m to go and took the field sprint, 12 seconds behind my teammates. Caroline took the win, which was much deserved after yesterday’s suffering, moving her into 3rd on the GC.
I was a little frazzled about just how horrible I felt during the race and needed to figure out how I was going to improve how my legs felt before the roadrace (although a soft rear wheel may have made the day more challenging than I had hoped). We went for lunch at J. Alexander’s again (they had been giving $30 gift certificates to the winners, so I went there 3 times this weekend!) and I ordered the “not your ordinary” Mac and Cheese – it was decadent. The cheese and pasta and bacon was so good, I honestly think I would order it for desert – keep this in mind if ever you find yourself in the south!
Monday (yesterday), was my last obstacle before a 2 week rest period and I was rather eager to get it over with. The stage ended in a 3.5-mile climb that again, I was unbelievably STOKED about. The fun started early as Robin lead me out for the hot spot sprint and we annihilated the field and easily took the win. There is something really fun about hitting top speed – unfortunately this time I didn’t have a wattage on it as I decided that my 27 was going to be a good friend of mine near the end of the day. About midway through the race things got interesting as I discovered that yet again, my rear wheel was soft. We were headed down a lengthy descent, but we were stuck behind a tractor and so we were moving really slow and I knew that was my chance. After a little miscommunication with the commissaire (I put up my right hand and went back to the car where he told me that there was nothing he could do about the tractor and I reiterated that I had a flat – isn’t that supposed to be universal bike language???) but I did managed to get the wheel truck to pull over. I will point out at this time that I then experienced the WORST wheel change in history. I had to get off my bike, pull out my back wheel and take the wheel from the wheel truck (the commissaire and the wheel guy were having a conversation). I then placed my wheel in, but after a few pedal strokes discovered that my brakes were rubbing, so I had to stop again. When I finally got going, I threw down going down the hill and came to a fairly close encounter with an oncoming car. Within minutes I was back on the back (no useful help with motorpacing or anything like that!) and we decided it was time to get things moving. The girls and I then took turns attacking the front, which was fun for us, and fairly miserable for the rest of the pack.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was right after Robin and I had been up the road together (for some reason they didn’t want the two of us to ride away from them…) then Chamblee attacked. The peloton actually just watched her ride away and while we have no idea what her gap actually reached, I would wager that it got upward of 2 minutes. We then road around painfully slowly in the pack for the next 25-30km and waited for the final hill. I had lost my computer with the wheel change and so I had NO IDEA how long we had to go – all I knew was that I felt better than yesterday, but still like my legs felt like they had gone through a meat tenderizer. We knew that we had reached the climb when we hit the 5km to go sign and Robin went to the front to set tempo. I was shed off just before the 3km to go mark and road it in to finish 1:23 behind Robin, the eventual winner (she caught Chamblee with 500m to go – kinda heartbreaking!) The climb wasn’t so bad, and if I had not been so fatigued from weeks of racing, I’m sure I could have done much better as it was only a 5-6% grade. As it was, I was happy to reach the top and hey, I figure, I was wearing the green jersey – I’m allowed to limp to the top of the hill right? I also managed to keep a grip on 2nd place in the GC – so really I figure I did my job…and there was a nice team payout as a result.
All in all, the race was great. It was the first time I really got to work in a team environment and I won’t lie, it was nice to be the ones doing the bullying instead of holding on for dear life just to stay with the group. I’m heading back up to Canada tonight and I’m excited to see Christopher and take a little time to chill out. I’m hoping to hit a shopping center today with my new buddy Sandy, but maybe we’ll do some sunbathing cause summer’s here baby! Last, but not least, best of luck to the girls at Montreal – I’m thinking about ya and your battle with Rigaud.
Oh and while I'm thinking of it - last night I wasted at least 2 hours of my life watching Laguna Beach. I love the OC, but even this is too trashy for me! And one last note - soon I will have my camera and I can stop only having babble...sorry about that. If I can get the picture of my kick ass outfit that I wore to dinner the other night from Caroline, that will go up though ;)