Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dairyland race report: Madison Crit

Dairyland race report from Bec:

Madison Race Report
Teammates: Haley and Jane
Winnings: Primes!

The final day of the Tour of Dairyland was fittingly raced in the state's capital, Madison. We went in circles around the impressive Capitol Building, which kind of seems ironic, as I'm sure the politicians inside were doing the same thing, just in a different sense. It was a great place to finish the week of racing, with much appreciated clear skies and probably the best conditions of the week.

Once again it was on from the gun. Vanderkitten had returned from taking 2nd place in the Glencoe GP in Chicago the day before, and were obviosuly high on confidence and motivation, as they pushed the pace from the start. The course was a short 0.6 of a mile, heading downhill after turn one until kicking up into a long drag to the line out of the third corner, which definitely sapped the legs, and the prospect of clambering up it 50 times was slightly daunting.

Attemps at breaks were made, but they mostly just strung out the field. Everything was covered pretty quickly, and it looked like the field was keen for a bunch sprint, after the breakaway succceeding the day before at Downer. Webcor floated around the bunch, and Haley was right on her game continuing to cover moves, before getting a blow out heading into the fast 3rd turn, and expertly holding it up and playing it cool before rejoining a lap later.

I was riding soft as a marshmellow and didn't have the legs to outsprint my grandma, so decided my best chance at making something of the race was to have a crack at a prime. A $100 sprint was called, and I went hard early, hoping to psyche anyone out of coming as well. It thankfully worked and I was able to take the climb to the line all on my own. I kind of went a little hard and found myself with a much bigger gap than planned, which forced me to try and make somthing of it, so I hung of the front for the next lap or two before being swallowed up and almost spat out, just clinging to the back to recover.

The next prime was called for $20. After all the big money being thrown around during the week, expectations were high, and people had become a bit lackadaisical about a mere $20. But 20 bucks is 20 bucks right, and that kind of money can buy you a heap of cheese, or ice cream, or milk (or maybe even fireworks) in this wonderful part of the country! Haley sensed her chance, and with images of swimming in pools of Dairyland's finest custard in her head, jumped ahead and claimed the prize. I'll leave it up to your imagination to decide what we spent it on!

Coming into the final laps, the big hitters were moving to the front and really pushing the pace on the off camber corners. Webcor struggled to move up, and on the final sprint up the hill got caught behind people who suddenly sat up. Forget at least rolling to the line, just slam on the brakes right in the middle of the hill. No worries mate! Really that was our own fault though, as making a run at the line from 20th place belongs in the "What NOT To Do In A Bike Race" book. You live and learn.

All up it was a great experience. Awesome fast racing, heaps of choccy milk, good company, and fireworks. What more could you ask for?!

Thanks to all the girls, and especially to Coach Dan for putting up with us during the week.

Take it easy


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tour Of Dairyland - Fond du Lac

Tour of Dairyland - Fond du Lac

Day 4 in Dairyland started with a bang - literally. We got the most pressing matters out of the way early, and stopped to stock up on fireworks on the way to the crit. Judging by the amount of explosive material heading out of that shop, these Midwesterners really know how to have a good time! With the important business dealt with, we piled back into the monster truck and trundled off to downtown Fond du Lac, where a flat and fast 4 corner, 1km circuit awaited us.

The whistle blew for the start and the field bolted like a startled rabbit towards the first turn. On a course like this, position is everything, and consequently everyone wanted THAT good position. The ends were maybe 40 metres long, with the straights being nice and long and wide, so if you were willing to stick your nose in the wind, there was plenty of room to work your way up on the straights before melding in nicely before rounding the bend and consolidating or doing it all again.

Thankfully the rain held off, but there was some blustery wind to contend with. The back straight, aided by a tailwind was super fast (think 50k/h), and plenty of attacks were made, but none got much ground. Webcor put in a few jumps, and Haley patrolled the front like an over zealous security guard high on caffeine, letting nothing escape out of arms reach. There were plenty of primes called to keep things strung out, with Team Type 1 and Mellow Mushroom sweeping the majority and laughing all the way to the bank.

With 5 to go they called a $300 prime, and Laura Van Gilder, in the leader's jersey and having dominated the week, danced across the line as if her name had already been written on the cheque, before holding position as the pace got hectic over the next couple laps and duly taking out the sprint as well, in front of no less than Cari Higgins. All at an age where she's old enough to be mother to half the field. Respect!

Haley continues to rep the green, and rode strong and aggressive the whole race, finishing the best out of the team in a credible 26th. We finished the night on a nice note with a free dinner put on by the Dairyland organisers. They're looking after the women really well and it's much appreciated. We're off to Milwaukee tomorrow for the Downer Classic, so keep your ears pricked for news of what will hopefully live up to its name and be an absolute classic.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tour of America's Dairyland. Sheboygan Criterium.

Race: Tour of America's Dairyland. Sheboygan Criterium.
Date: 6/23/11
Teammates: Jane, Bec, Emily
Placing: 17th, one spot out of the money

This race in Sheboygan was super fun. Highlights included meeting Emily's extended family, a rainy course, a woman pushing a cart getting onto the course, and beating Dan at how many times we could say "Sheboygan". Low points were an early crash that took out some girls and a result one spot out of the money.

Sheboygan is a cute little Wisconsin town that was selected by a Reader's Digest Survey as the Number One Place in the Nation to Raise a Family. The town has miles of Lake Michigan coastline. When Jane and I were warming up and talking politics along the lake, we saw a burnt out hull on display of the Steamer Phoenix that burned there in 1847. This set and eerie tone to my start of the race.

The crit was a good 4 corner course of less than a mile. The rain ceased for a bit to actually dry the pavement but girls were rightfully cautious for the first couple laps though there was an early crash. The race was fast and position was key. Attempts were made to break but nothing got away. At one point in the race along the back stretch, a woman pushing a cart decided to walk across the street in front of the oncoming pack. Luckily she picked up the pace to a quicker walk and we just barely missed her.

I finished 17th but had a good time racing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ripon Time Trial (Tour of the Dairyland stage 7)

Race: Ripon Time Trial (Tour of the Dairyland stage 7)
Teammates: Haley, Bec, Jane
places: 11th, 15th, 27th

Today we had a much earlier start for our race than yesterday, though I was not nearly as caffeinated as my previous race report.

At promptly 8am we left our hotel to drive off to Ripon from Waukesha, and I promptly fell back to sleep in the car...

After we arrives, signed in and pinned out numbers, the Bridge team (and Dan) went to ride the course as a warm-up, I was a little nervous about time and it seemed like we were kinda pushing it as I saw the first few people in our field started before I rounded the last corner of our backwards course lap, but luckily we made it back to the start with a few minutes to spare (disaster averted!)

The Bridge team started one after another and Haley and I decided that as motivation I would try to catch her and she would try to stay away from me. I was able to keep her in my sights for a good amount of time and we both passed 3 people.

The course was fun, rolling hills and lots of wind, but luckily not too much rain (I tend to like to see when I time trial), but gotta love the courses that bring on the suffering and don't know when to stop, but this did make it difficult to get into a good rhythm because the combination of hills and wind kept changing.

The bridge team finished reasonably well, with two of us in the money. Haley was 11th with a time of 38:21 and I was 15th with a time of 38:36 (I was a little disappointed with my race today, but you can't always have your best performance and I'll use it as motivation to do better next time). Jane finished 27th with a time of 39:22 and Bec was 30-something.


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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tour of Americas Dairyland, Schlitz Park Criterium

Date 6/21
Race: Tour of Americas Dairyland, Schlitz Park Criterium
Category: Women's 1/2/3
Location: Ridon, Wisconsin
Teammates: Jane, Bec, Emily
Place: 16th, in the money!

Today was the Team's first race at the Tour of Americas Dairyland. The race was 4 days in out of 10 and we fresh off of racing Pescadero except for Holly, who is studying, and Mary, who is at Nationals.

The venue for the course was at the Schlitz brewing company. Historically it was once the largest producer of beer in the world. "The beer that made Milwaukee famous."

The criterium course consisted of a short flat leading to a hill of 200m with 100m of it being pretty steep. Then to a nice flat and a winding downhill. The downhill was slightly sketchy and there was only really one line to ride otherwise you would end up in a pothole, which at speed would send your rear wheel hopping sidewise.

20 minutes in, the race was halted since a huge thunderstorm was in the works. We waited under a parking structure by the van for maybe 30 minutes before we were re-started and had another 40 minutes to race. Coach Dan Smith wisely said before the re-start "Think of this as a whole new race." which helped with perspective on the next 40 minutes.

The remainder involved riders slowly coming off the main group on the hill or through the winding downhill until there was a group of 18 of us. With 3 to go on a prime lap, Kristen Lasasso, riding for Mellow Mushroom, went off the front and no one caught her. I tried to stay in position for the last lap, passing 2 on the downhill and sprint for 16th place.

The Merckx style TT is next.
"When you're out of Schlitz, you're out of beer!"

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Dunlap TT

Date 6/8
From Emily, the Dunlap TT report on weekend of dodging raindrops
Race: Dunlap Time Trial
Category: Women's Pro/1/2
Location: Davis (think lots and lots of farmland)
place: 4th

on the morning of June 5th I awoke, bright and early... well early anyway it wasn't particularly bright outside, in actuality it was pouring and I was hoping that the rain would let up for the race, I still can't really get a grasp of the whole rain the June concept, damb global climate change (angrily shakes fist at the sky) after having the mandatory dose of caffeine to get myself up and running I set out for the  race and to my delight the rain had let up, though it was a little iffy as to whether it would hold through the race (but man I was glad I'm not a junior racer, getting up at the crack of dawn to be drenched is not really my cup of tea, i have this thing where I kinda like to be able to see when I'm riding, silly isn't it?)

soon after arriving I checked in and and pinned my number and in no time it was time to get warmed up. I prefer to get long warm-ups in prior to time trials, so I gave myself plenty of time to get going. To prep for the race I did my new favorite warm-up, a moderate-to-high intensity interval followed by some high cadence spints (I liked this warm-up, suggested by Karen at Redlands, so much that it has become my standard mode of getting ready to race) of course i do throw in my own flavor a bit to get me pumped to ride hard, fantasy metal! (I have kinda eclectic taste in music and today was definitely a dragonforce type of day) I arrived to line up for my start a bit early (being slightly OCD I to err on the side of early), and had a nice chat with Linda prior to my start, because let's just face it Linda is awesome :)

this year there was a start ramp for Dunlap which was something new for this race, I felt as if I was getting tilted a little too much prior to my start, but I was able to correct and there were no issues (thank goodness, it would have been totally embarrassing to face plant off the start ramp :P) I felt pretty good and I ramped up the pace and shifted into hard gears and soon was able to slip into a nice rhythm of 26-27mph, I passed my 30 second and 1 minute riders relatively early on, my 1minute 30 second person was Olivia Dillon so I didn't think I'd be able to come close to her, but I decided to make trying to see the green dot of her Irish national champion skinsuit far off in the distance a goal, I didn't but I like to give myself tough goals to work for so that I can push myself to my limits. When I hit the headwind section my speed dropped, but I didn't let it phase me and just tried to keep my speed as high as I could sustainably.

The rest of the race pretty much continued along those lines, with only the sound of my breathing in my heart and the occasional thought of checking speed and some motivational internal self talk. After turning the final corner and seeing the finishing tent in sight I put my head down and gave it all I had to try to save precious seconds and was able to increase my pace all the way to the line. After catching my breath and cooling down, I faced another challenge... waiting for results (which normally isn't so bad, but I was fighting theclock once again to try to get to a physiology study group on time because passing my classes and getting my master's degree is kinda important too, though as it should be second to bike racing :P).

After results were posted I saw that I was 4th with a time of 45minutes and 15 seconds, not bad overall, and I still made it to my study group on time though that was not nearly as fun of a race...



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