Saturday, May 11, 2013

Battle on the Border - Tour de Tweed goes my way....

Tour de Tweed is a multiday, staged road tour including road races, crits and TTs.  I have been keen to do one of these for a while and although my riding has been limited the entry was paid.  What do you do?  You RIDE!  So I headed off Thursday with the mighty Koiled crew to cause some havoc and look awesome.

Based in Kingscliff and Murwillumbah - the race region is truly beautiful.  Having grown up mostly in the northern rivers area I always enjoy being back around this part of the world. Long story short - I ended up having a brilliant Tour and came away with a Stage win, a Stage 2nd and stood clear as the overall GC Winner.  Exceeded my expectations!  If you have time here is how it went.....

Kamp Koiled - setting up home base

Stage One - Road Race
The hurt.  It has been too long.  Somewhere a few months back I got fit enough that I could race dumb and still pull out a result.  Not anymore.  Not riding my bike was showing. The emotional strain too. I managed a wheel touch on the first steep pinch climb due to a dodgy combo of rollback and keen drafting.  Sorry Nic.  I belted myself to tow her back, angry for the silly mistake and feeling like I needed to make amends.  I managed to get us back on.  I was well cooked by this stage - just in time to hit the KOM.  Around this point I am pretty sure I met my max HR. I had thought I might have a go, but given the belting I had just given myself to bridge it was clear to me I didn't have it.  Rolled over in about 6th.  Once over the KOM it was a reasonable cruise back into town with some rollers along the way.  I rode the front and belted the pace with a small group of other girls.  Gina and I tried to break.  Jane and I tried to break.  Nic and I tried to break.  Probably needed to stop trying to break, this was a lot of work.  Too much really. I shouldnt have been continuously driving the bus, but my MTB brain always squeals 'woooot! lets drive the bus. look at me driving the bus. rawwwr driving the bus is fun!'.  In hindsight I don't think I have ridden dumber in my life. Coming into the final straight I was in the first 3 or 4 riders when I experienced a weird sensation in my legs.  Didn't think too much of it until I stood to explode into the sprint.  Double Leg Cramp.  what.the.hell.  I have never cramped in my life - including times when I have ridden for 8 DAYS STRAIGHT! I was lucky not to lose any time - finishing in 15th, with the bunch on +0 seconds.  This put me 10 seconds off the lead and into a very unhappy place.  Where was my body?  I was clearly racing in one I didn't recognise.   It felt wrong.

I know what was wrong - I forgot to bring my Ritte!  Koiled boys roll it in style.

 Stage Two - the TT
Do or die.  I might not recognise my body, but I still had my mind.  No time bonuses up for grabs here.  Just the straight out race of truth and reward for those who could hurt more.  I knew this was probably my only real chance to ride myself into contention.  I needed to ride faster than everyone else.  I needed to gap them. As I warmed up I concentrated on the job at hand.  Shan set my wheels and moved the transponder to the TT bike.  It was an awkward ride - I couldn't find my rhythm, one gear up too hard, one gear down too spinny - it was ugly and I was fighting it the whole way.  Still I passed a good group of the girls that started in front and no-one had caught me - I hoped I had done enough.

TTing through the canefields.

On my cooldown I heard the announcer calling my time as the best so far.  It held.  I came out of the TT +16 up on the General Classification and received the Leaders Jersey.

Stage Two - TT presentations... Sue on the left, Lauren from MB cycles on the right.

Mention here for 2nd place finisher Sue Powell, she rode with a special carbon leg brace as she has no feeling in her lower leg.  She is one of our top Para-Olympians with both gold and silver medals from London in her collection - and a world champ TTer.  It showed.  Man, I love tough people.  This chick is one of them.  I made a point to seek her out and shake her hand at the end of the Tour and politely ask her story.  Very humbling, very cool.

My first ever leaders jersey - definitely a selfie moment right?
Stage Three - the Crit
Warming Up.  And a jersey full of safety pins.

Game on.  I had the leaders jersey and my plan was to keep it.  I had some awesome advice pretour from one of our most successful queensland cyclists - Simone Grounds.  She had warned me the crit was usually full of tired people taking dumb chances and the job here was to finish upright and lose no time.  I checked the results for 2nd and 3rd race numbers and identified my competition on the start line.  Those wheels must not get away.

Plan was to stay near the front but try and conserve. Get through on 0+ secs and steal time if I could.  With a small steep, twisty circuit this would be easier said than done. 

There were plenty of contacts and words exchanged but the bunch stayed up and I finished in 7th, managing to extend my lead by another 3 seconds.   It was enough.  I would be starting Stage 4 in the leaders jersey.

GC Presentation - Day Two.

Stage Four - Road Race
I headed into the final stage knowing that as long as a break didn't go and I could finish with the bunch I was impossible to beat.  As we rolled out I felt surprisingly calm - probably because I was repeating impossible to beat over and over to myself.  I knew there were technical descents, which always work in my favour given my MTB confidence.  I was starting to feel better - somehow the hard consecutive days of racing were bringing me back to form.  Or at least that is how it felt. Maybe it was just the mental state I had managed to access - who knows? Don't overthink it. As we hit the first climbs it was clear a number of the stronger girls were tired and lacking strength. Yes! No breaks would go today.

As we hit the first descent I got my ass to the front and out of trouble.  I always like to be at the front so I can corner and descend on my terms! I heard what sounded like a puncture in the bunch behind me - but it turns out it was a crash.  I am guessing a pedal strike!  Get well soon Sally Duncombe from MB's who took a bad highside stack - she was having an awesome tour.

Rolling with Sally - Get Well Soon!
The crash shook the peleton badly and made everyone twitchy and nervous.   I talked to a number of the younger girls to help settle them down, I am sure for some of them it was the first crash they had seen.  Anna lost her drink bottle - and Jane Youdan in a display of sportswomanship gave her one of hers.  Nice one Jane, you restored my faith in roadies ;)  The race was then stopped as we lost our medic.  Standing beside the road for 20mins is not the ideal way to complete a road race but it has to be safe. So we waited.

Once we were back underway it was on and as I rolled some turns I paid mind not to fall for Stage One's mistakes.  Do not drive the bus. Do not drive the bus.  I was looking for the roundabout right turn into Salt where I knew I needed to be on the front.  Problem was I hadnt preridden it and there were a bunch of roundabouts in a row. Needless to say I stuffed it up - poor preparation leads to poor performance. We hit it and turned right and I was much further back that I intended.  Oops.  I attacked the left hander and managed to steal up to third coming into the final approach with two tight right handers just behind Faye and Dyane.  Chaos! Faye lost it on the corner and put herself in the gutter while Dy rode clear with a slight gap.  I smashed it up the straight to minimise time finishing second to Dyane - but I knew. I'd done it.  And with a 2nd in the stage too!  Congrats to Dy who was on a great ride.

Stage Four 2nd - with Dyane Hannan (Data3) & Faye Goodyear (Lifecycle).
In the wash up - Battle was meant to be a peak for me this year. An A Race. I had written it on paper.  And I wanted to win.  Despite illness and complete handgrenading of my life it occurs to me that somewhere in there, somehow I still did it. It wasn't the usual controlled, clinical approach I have to racing and preparation and I am hoping not to repeat it. As I now start to turn my attention back to dirt for October a small thought creeps in. I am proud of myself.  WEMBO - let's get this done.

Final GC podium - Dyane Hannan (Data3) and Anna Hull (Racing Kangaroos).

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