May 10, 2011

Pan Am Championships: Victory for Canada!

The Pan Am Championship road race was this past Sunday. It was a 96 km road race consisting of 6 laps of a tough circuit containing two short, but steep climbs. The combination of heat and altitude (7000 ft!) made the race pretty challenging.

We knew going into the race that the American team would be the team to beat as they had three of the best cyclists in the world. We also had some of the best cyclists, but also strength in numbers with a full team of six riders.

Our original plan for the race changed quickly when Clara broke away with a rider from El Salvador while descending the second climb of the day on the first lap. Wow can she corner fast! We weren’t really sure if the breakaway would succeed being so early in the race. With Clara off the front, the US team was forced to chase to try and bring her back. The rest of us Canadians did our best to thwart their efforts, and the gap grew steadily. Some of the other teams were quite active in the race and set a blistering pace up the climbs and threw down some strong attacks. It’s been awhile since my legs have burned that bad! Going into the final lap it was evident that the break would not be caught. They had increased the gap to over 5 minutes! This meant our group would have a sprint for third. We tried to set up a lead out for Joelle. It didn’t quite succeed and Theresa took the sprint for third, with Joelle in 4th

Overall it was an awesome day for Canada with 5 riders in the top 10. Clara took gold after attacking her breakaway partner on the last lap. Joelle finished 4th, Denise in 6th, Heather in 8th and I finished 10th. Karol-anne finished with the pack in 25th after throwing down an impressive last minute attack to increase the speed going into the finish. This race qualified Canada another spot for the World Championships which is pretty cool.

I’m now in Little Rock, Arkansas. Yesterday was quite the travel day! Up at 3 am, Medellin- Miami- Chicago- Little Rock, arrived at 10pm. I really need to learn to sleep on planes.

Next up, Tour de Grove in St. Louis for some crit racing. 

I'll upload a few photos when I get a better internet connection!

May 6, 2011

Colombia- Pan Am Champs

I finally made my way to Medellin, Colombia after three very long days of travel. Brussels – Chicago, overnight, Chicago-Miami- missed connection= overnight- Miami- Medellin- Arrival! I was shocked and impressed that my luggage actually arrived as well.

I had a very funny experience leaving the airport. There was not enough room in the car for my bike in the CCA car, so we had to get a taxi. Up rolls the smallest taxi I’ve ever seen. I thought there was no way my bike would possibly fit, but the driver and a few airport staff were determined to make it work. In goes my bike sideways, no the doors won’t close. Maybe horizontally with the front seat down? Um where will I sit? Finally we get it in the trunk, but it won’t close. That’s no problem for this driver though.. next thing I know he is unlacing his shoes and using the laces to tie it down! Haha only in Colombia!

From the airport it wasn’t too far of a drive to where we were staying. Apparently the whole team had just moved from the official race hotel to one that was a lot quieter and way closer to the course. I was warned early on of the evil aggressive duck that attacks innocent guests. I named him Harold.
I soon discovered that the other ducks are just as crazy and do not hesitate to chase you and to nip at your heels. They mysteriously seemed to leave the owners alone, hmm.. 

It was nice to get to ride my bike outside again after all of the travel. I rode with Karol-Ann up the road right outside our accommodations. There were very beautiful views of the city and Andes. I did notice the altitude while riding. We are actually quite high up, Medellin is around 4900 feet.

The men’s and women’s time trial was today. Clara won the women's tt which is so awesome! The other riders had great results as well with both Denise and Rob finishing 5th!
Here are the full results:

I'm really excited to race the road race on Sunday. Hopefully we will get a chance to check out the course tomorrow. 

May 4, 2011

Weekend of Luxembourg

I have to begin this post by saying Luxembourg is beautiful! Luxembourg city is this mystical mountainous city with beautiful rivers running through it, and old castles and bridges scattered everywhere. It’s just so gorgeous! It was a nice to race in a different country, and against a few different teams. I have never seen more perfect roads, the lack of road ‘furniture’ did not go unnoticed!

First up was a team time trial on Friday night. This was really just a show of a race. No real results, no pressure. Despite it not counting for anything, we were still prepared to put in a solid 5 km effort. Luckily it was still light outside for our start at 8:40pm, some of the later teams were not as lucky. We did however get to start just as the rain began. The race was 3 laps, crossing two bridges on the course. It was going really well up until about the 3rd corner when the combination of rain and wheels touching led to a crash with one girl hitting pavement. It was really unfortunate. This also gapped off another one of our teammates from the group, so we were down to 3. The finish time counted on the third person, so we kept going, hoping our teammates were okay (they were). It was tough with just three of us, but we all put in a solid effort, all while taking the corners with extra caution. We actually won 28 euros for our effort for 19th place! Haha that money went towards waffles..

Saturday was the Grand Prix Elsy Jacobs, a UCI 1.1 race. It started with a big 50ish km loop of rolling hills through the Luxembourg countryside and forests, finishing with a  circuit which included two climbs for a total of 114km. I was sitting a bit far back in the first loop, but wasn’t too concerned as most of the action last year happened in the finishing circuits up the climbs and in the wind. Made it through the first circuit ok, climbing well, group still together. Second lap was where everything fell apart. A tough pace was set up the first steeper climb. This shattered the group and I didn’t realize how big the gaps were getting until the descent. I tried to bridge across but just didn’t have it! A group of 20 riders stayed away to the finish. I finished 4th in our group of 60 for 24th/143 starters. Excitement of the day was my pedal breaking and foot flying out accelerating to the finish, thankfully no crashes came of that. Leah G. rolled in with the same 60 person group as me.

Sunday was the  another UCI 1.1. We did the same loop as yesterday, but with a different finishing circuit with one smallish climb for the feed zone and a monster of a 1 km climb before a downhill finish. First big loop was fun. The pace wasn’t too tough, and I stuck near the front to stay out of trouble. It was nice to lead up a few climbs and not worry about random braking or getting pushed around. My main goal was to enter the circuits at the front of the group going into the steep climb. I actually did and ended up about 10th wheel descending to the start/finish. Perfect! Unfortunately this is where things started to go downhill. Literally. I don’t even know how to explain what was wrong with my bike at that moment. I think it’s just a dropped chain, but when it’s back on something is very wrong with my bike. It feels like my breaks are on, but they’re not. I shift some gears, spin the pedals but no power is transferred to the bike. WHAT IS GOING ON? Sort of freaked out trying to figure this out as I quickly went from 10th to 150th wheel trying not to crash everyone as we take a corner and hit a hill. Luckily Karlee rolled up at that instant and handed me her bike! Wow, so awesome of her to do that! Unfortunately we both quickly figure out that Ritchey and Keo pedals are not in fact compatible. Darn it. Would have been so perfect! (Realized looking at my wheel after the race that my entire cassette had somehow come loose from the wheel, not sure how that happened.) We got my bike a new wheel then motor paced the car to the climb. Unfortunately too much time had been wasted to this point and the group was moving very fast as the finish approached. I time trialed two laps passing cyclists that had been dropped, but still get pulled with 3 laps to go. Oh well, what can you do, that’s bike racing for you! Sunday was still a fun day of racing, we had an awesome display of teamwork, Canada got on the radio with two attacks from Karlee and another impressive one from Leah G. on the final climb, we saw Frank Schleck who was very nice, and Luxembourg is absolutely beautiful.

This race actually marked the end of my 2011 April European racing campaign. Overall it was a fantastic experience. I finished 14/15 races! Last year I was lucky to get my name in the results. We had a great team of girls and we all kept up a good morale despite all of the set backs and any bad luck that came our way. Crazy to think this is only the start of the season and there is still months of racing to come!