Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's a Super Week for Velo Girls -- parts 2 + 3

Three Team Velo Girls members travelled to Wisconsin to participate in the legendary week of bicycle races -- Super Week! They'll be racing everyday for eight days -- 6 criteriums and 2 road races. Here are the reports on days 2 + 3 from team member, Jill Eyres:

Wheel & Sprocket Whitnall Park Road Race
Hales Corners, WI -- July 20, 2009
Cat 3/4 Women

This race was the first of two consecutive races that took place in the Boerner Botanic Gardens in Hales Corners, WI. The course was a 2.3 mile counter-clockwise loop with rollers that weren't anything worse than what you find on Canada Road. Very pretty setting, and the best part was that there were REAL BATHROOMS, inside the Botanic Gardens' education center. No porta potties! First class! Beautiful day, not too hot.

I won't lie: I felt like crap the morning of this race. I was not only tired from the race on Sunday, but also pretty demoralized -- not that I had expected to win in Evanston, but getting dropped off the back after lap one wasn't my idea of a great time. "What am I doing here?" went through my mind countless times as we were setting up, warming up, and getting to the line. At the starting line I tried to give myself a pep talk, somewhere between "it's a training ride" and "suck it up."

Whistle blows, off we go. The first lap was not nearly as bad as I'd feared. As in Evanston there was some jostling and sketchiness at the beginning, but after a minor chicane and small descent we hit the first hill, and everyone concentrated on climbing which quieted the lateral movement somewhat. At the end of the loop there was a rather tight left turn followed immediately by the steepest climb of the loop, back up to the start/finish line. The tight turn is where the California girls (us and Dolce Vitas) started shouting things like "hold your line!" etc. Without official race mentors, we took it upon ourselves to offer advice!

I tried to position myself in the middle of the pack, which worked fairly well. At the end of the first loop I felt pretty good, so decided that I would try to stay with the pack for at least the first five laps (out of 10 total). Mission accomplished -- I did it. However, at the beginining of the first hill on lap six, I dropped off the back. I tried really hard to get back on but couldn't do it. I did catch up to a redheaded girl named Jamie who worked with me to catch Dana, who'd apparently fallen off the back soon after I had. The three of us worked together for two laps, and then I hit empty. I told Dana to go on with Jamie, and I did the last two laps by myself. A few girls passed me and I just didn't have anything left to chase them with. It felt like forever but I finally got to the finish line. Yay! I declined Emily and Dana's invitation to do a cool down ride, and instead lay in the grass under a shady tree....

All in all, still not my best race, but not as bad as I'd set it up to be in my head. Two down!

Schlossman Whitnall Park Criterium presented by Honda & Subaru City
Hales Corners, Wisconsin
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
CAT 3/4 Women

This was the second day in the Boerner Botanic Gardens. The course was a shorter version of our loop from the day before, except clockwise and without the steepest hill and the little chicane. The race was 18 laps of a 1.1 mile loop. The weather wasn't much warmer than the day before, but it was noticeably more humid, which made for a more sluggish warmup. I actually wasn't pre-registered for this race, and had been flirting with the idea of just sitting it out. But Dana made me do it, and I'm glad she did.

Just after the start line was a sharp right turn followed by a climb -- again, nothing you wouldn't find on Canada Road, but the turn made it a bit tricky. Again the California girls were calling out for everyone to watch their lines, please leave room on the inside, etc. Awareness helps, and things were not too bad overall there, at least while I was with the pack.

My goal was to stay with the pack for at least five laps, and I accomplished that goal. I got dropped on the climb just after the start/finish line on the beginning of the sixth lap. Learning from the day before, however, I didn't kill myself trying to get back on. I could see Dana not too far ahead of me, but she was working with someone else so I never did catch her. I decided to just hunker down and practice my time trialing, which I was pretty happy about. I don't know if I was going all that fast, but I was using my energy well, and I felt like I could sustain it through the rest of the laps.

At the beginning of three laps to go, I heard the lead car honking and could see the pack coming up on the start/finish line behind me. I moved over to the left and waited for them to pass me, but apparently they'd lost some steam over the course of the last 12 laps because it took them nearly an entire lap to actually overtake me. Fortunately I was able to hop on at the beginning of two laps to go, and got more or less a free ride in their draft for a whole lap. Unfortunately, at the beginning of their last lap, they took off again. I decided to save my energy because I still had two laps to go... or so I thought. When I got to the start/finish, I tried to tell the officials that I still had a lap to go, but they told me I was done.

So I still finished near the end of the group, but I was happier about my experience than in the two prior races. Maybe the races will just keep getting better and better!


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