Category Archives: Helen Kelly 2001

Melbourne to Warrnambool – 275km – 13 October 2001

Melbourne to Warrnambool – 275km – 13 October 2001

Conditions: fairly strong S/W winds, 10 – 18°C, 7am start

I only decided to do this race, after returning from the Nationals at Mooloolaba.  I only had 3 weeks to prepare and my preparation had to be juggled with my demanding audit commitments.  September/October is the most demanding time for one of my clients, so I was working long hours as well as weekends.  I managed to do a few 160km plus rides as well as an 800km week which gave me a solid base of km’s.

Two hundred riders lined the start at 7am, with clouds threatening rain.  There were a number European riders, in Australia for the Herald Sun Tour, and doing Warrnambool as a hit out.  The first 20km were neutral but the pace wasn’t just a leisurely roll.  Everyone wanted to be at the front of peloton so I still had to fight to hold position.  The first sprint was at the 23km mark.  One attack after another went down the road from the 20km mark.  The cross headwind, rough roads, train tracks, corners and roundabouts made things quite tough in the peloton.  I was amongst 5 girls with my aim being to win first female and get into a good bunch of guys.

The winning break was formed at the 41km mark.  Nine riders got away and were never brought back.  The peloton was strung out in single file with the cross winds and then splintered into pieces.  I was in the 3rd bunch of about 40 riders.  I was really struggling to hang on and was unable to pull a turn for at least 20km.  I settled into the pace at the 100km mark, just in time for the first KOM.  I was concerned about being dropped from my bunch over the climbs so I positioned myself at the front of the peloton at the base of the climb and crested each climb before the last rider passed me.

We hit the first feed zone after 130km.  Getting a feedbag was interesting.  I grabbed my bag at 35km/hr and the weight of the bidons caused the straps to twist around so I couldn’t get it over my head.  It took me nearly a minute to untwist the straps.  Once it was over my head and swinging around I managed to get my hand in and the bidons out, whilst negotiating the wheel in front and the headwind.  I was wired up and radioed to Bob to tell him where I was dropping my feedbag to use at the next feed zone.

The next 70km passed without incident.  All I was focusing on was eating, drinking, pulling a turn, watching wheels, dodging potholes and hiding from the headwind.  I grabbed the 2nd feed bag at the 200km mark.  This time it didn’t twist which was fortunate because the feed zone was up an incline with mud all over the road and negotiating the slippery mud and other riders took some effort as fatigue had started to set in.

With only 75km to go, down came the rain.  It just drizzled for a while and then the heavens opened up.  There were a couple of rolling hills in the last 75km and they were absolute leg burners.  The final hill at McDonalds at Warrnambool felt like Mt Everest but it was a welcome relief to see the golden arches and know that I was almost there.  All the other girls had dropped out, so by natural attrition I won first female and finished 77th overall.

National Individual Time Trial Championships – 25km – 20 September 2001

National Individual Time Trial Championships – 25km – 20 September 2001

Conditions: winds strong, steady rain, 22°C, 12noon

I rode to the start of the time trial situated north of Budrum, Queensland, on the Sunshine freeway which had been specifically closed for the event.  I had caught a flu last week and am right in the middle of my busiest time of the year which had caused me to missed 4 days of riding.  However, I was hoping that this wouldn’t prohibit me from racing well.

I warmed up well and felt ready to go as hard as I could.  The rain started about 10min before the start.  It would be a nice wet time trial.  We started at 1min intervals heading south for 6km on an out and back course consisting of 2 laps.

The plan was to go relatively hard in the first lap but keep a little in reserve and then really open it up in the second lap.  My heartrate was 190-195 bpm (maximum is 200) throughout the entire race, which is certainly opening it up, however my gear selection was too light, so I was actually over reving it and should have been stomping on the pedals harder.

I had hoped to ride well in the time trial and unfortunately under geared, and finished 10th.  Both Bates and Gollan rode well to finish 1st and 2nd, respectively.

I rode home from the time trial, a little disappointed.  The rain continued and as I hopped my front wheel over a sugar train track, my back wheel got caught on a raised lip and down I went.  I hit really on my hip and immediately felt pain in my aductors.  I made it the rest of the way home without crashing but couldn’t lift my right leg at all to climb the stairs to our apartment.  I had to physically lift my leg with my hands.  Hopefully I will be okay in two days time….

National Road Race Championships – 75km – 22 September 2001

National Road Race Championships – 75km – 22 September 2001

Conditions: moderate winds, 28°C, 12 noon

I woke up feeling lethargic.  My right leg was still sore and I had to lift my leg onto the pedal to clip in.  This race was important to me so I put my leg and feelings to the back of my mind and focussed on warming up.  I did 15min on the rollers, had breakfast and stretched well.  Then I finished my warmup on the road and headed down to the esplanade in Mooloolaba.  We were introduced at 11am and had a neutral rollout to the start, situated 15km out of Mooloolaba.  I had nothing in the legs so decided to sit on the front and spin the legs over all the way out.

The course consisted of 3 laps of a hilly 25km circuit.  There were several short power climbs and one main 3km climb that kicked sharply for 1km, flattened out for 500m then rose steadily for another 1.5km.  The peloton stayed together and road sedately for the first lap.  Although I felt really ordinary I thought I would try an attack and see what would happen.  I gained 20sec on the peloton but the NSW girls gave chase and I only stayed away for 3km.  I fell back into the peloton and tried to recover.  We hit the main climb and Bates attacked.  I tried to respond but had nothing in the legs.  I hovered off the back by 50m and couldn’t bridge the gap.

With only one lap to go, 11 riders were up the road and I was chasing hard with 2 other riders.  One rider dropped off, leaving two of us who continued to work well, but the break had 1.30min on us and I knew we couldn’t close the gap on 11 riders.  We ascended the main climb at a steady pace and I finished 12th about 2min down.

Not an ideal result but I had a few things working against me today.  Anyway, I have Warrnambool to train for so, there is no point dwelling on a bad day.

Victorian Individual Time Trial Championships – 25km – August 2001 – 1st

Victorian Individual Time Trial Championships – 25km – August 2001 – 1st

Conditions: really strong gusty winds, 15°C, 11am start

The time trial course was an undulating out and back course at Castlemaine on a open dead road.  I warmed up on the rollers for over an hour, and felt ready to give it all I had.  My main threats were Emma Carney and Jessica Amy.  I was starting behind Carney which I was pleased with, giving me someone to chase.

The wind felt like a cross headwind both ways – it was unrelentless.  I tried to keep the speed at 40km/hr but the wind was tiring, and on the way back, I was struggling to hold 38km/hr.  I had made up time on Carney and knew I had beaten her.  I continued to go hard, not knowing what time Amy had done.  I stood and sprinted the final straight and ended up winning by 6sec.

Victorian Road Race Championships – 75km – August 2001 – 5th

National Road Race Championships – 75km – 22 September 2001

Conditions: moderate winds, 28°C, 12 noon

I woke up feeling lethargic.  My right leg was still sore and I had to lift my leg onto the pedal to clip in.  This race was important to me so I put my leg and feelings to the back of my mind and focussed on warming up.  I did 15min on the rollers, had breakfast and stretched well.  Then I finished my warmup on the road and headed down to the esplanade in Mooloolaba.  We were introduced at 11am and had a neutral rollout to the start, situated 15km out of Mooloolaba.  I had nothing in the legs so decided to sit on the front and spin the legs over all the way out.

The course consisted of 3 laps of a hilly 25km circuit.  There were several short power climbs and one main 3km climb that kicked sharply for 1km, flattened out for 500m then rose steadily for another 1.5km.  The peloton stayed together and road sedately for the first lap.  Although I felt really ordinary I thought I would try an attack and see what would happen.  I gained 20sec on the peloton but the NSW girls gave chase and I only stayed away for 3km.  I fell back into the peloton and tried to recover.  We hit the main climb and Bates attacked.  I tried to respond but had nothing in the legs.  I hovered off the back by 50m and couldn’t bridge the gap.

With only one lap to go, 11 riders were up the road and I was chasing hard with 2 other riders.  One rider dropped off, leaving two of us who continued to work well, but the break had 1.30min on us and I knew we couldn’t close the gap on 11 riders.  We ascended the main climb at a steady pace and I finished 12th about 2min down.

Not an ideal result but I had a few things working against me today.  Anyway, I have Warrnambool to train for so, there is no point dwelling on a bad day.

Tour de White Rock – 13-15 July 2001

Tour de White Rock – 13-15 July 2001

Friday 13th July Stage 4 – 800m 16% Hill Climb

Conditions: 21°C, 8.00am start – no wind.

This hill was really nasty to sprint up.  It steepened after 300m, steepened again for another 300m, kicked really steeply for another 100m before flattening out for a final 100m to the finish line.  It was a true leg burner.  I was the first to climb so my plan was to just go as hard as I could and hope not to lose by less than a second again.  I ended up winning the climb by over 4secs which I was really pleased with.  This put me 2nd in points with the criterium and road race to go.

Saturday 14th July Stage 5 – 30km Criterium

Conditions: 23°C, 4.00pm start – slight wind.

Before the criterium started, I was introduced to the podium and presented with the WhiteRock tour leaders jersey and announced as being in 2nd position in the omnium points for the combined tours.  This certainly made me a target for the criterium.  The circuit was 1km long with an 800m gradual climb followed by a strong headwind along the top straight before turning sharply left into a downhill finish.

My plan was to conserve energy, not go for the primes and just sit in for a good finish.  Snow Valley and Speed Queen tried repeatedly to work me over, by attacking and counterattacking, causing me to chase.  I created several breaks but they just sat on and wouldn’t work, so I decided to stay in the bunch for a sprint finish.  It was a downhill sprint so positioning on the final corner was critical.  I came into the corner 4th and that’s where I finished.

This gave me enough points to move into 1st place in points.  I sat on the windtrainer for 40mins to try and alleviate as much soreness as possible.  Bob massaged me after dinner and I was in bed by 9.30pm, left to contemplate my plan for the last stage tomorrow.  My plan was to win the overall omnium points, the final stage and the Queen of the mountain competition.  Despite my expectations I slept well.

Sunday 16th July Stage 6 – 82km Road Race

Conditions: 15°C, 8.00am start – windy and raining solidly.

I woke at 5.30am and was pleased to find it raining steadily this morning.  I knew it would put a lot of the girls off and I wanted any advantage I could get.  It was quite cool so I got onto the windtrainer at 7.20am to do a good 35-40mins of spinning.  My legs felt reasonable but my heartrate was lower than usual.

The road race consisted of an 11.6km circuit which we rode 7 times.  The start/finish line was right on Marine drive, a coastal road consisting of restaurants, cafes and surf shops.  It was a hilly road with a 200m uphill climb to the finish line.  Once past the start/finish line, the next 2km contained two small rises but mostly flat terrain into a solid headwind.  We turned 90° left up a steep 200m climb before turning left again, coming back parallel with Marine Drive.  We had 800m of flat terrain into a crosswind before the hill for the QOM.  I attacked here on the first lap but was caught on the climb.  It was about 600m and steep enough that I needed the 21 to crunch up it.

Over the hill, I went to the front and attacked again.  We descended for 800m down a narrow slippery road, reaching 60km/hr.  After dodging two badly located metal manholes, we had a 90° left turn followed immediately by a 90° right turn to come back onto Marine Drive, but heading away from the start/finish line.  There was a pedestrian crossing on this second corner, and the white lines were treacherously slippery.  This was a dangerous area so the best place to be was in the front.  The bunch went through this S quite slowly, so I attacked again and had 20m on the bunch as they came out of the second corner.  The road went slowly uphill for the next 800m before turning 140° right up the final climb of the circuit.  This climb was horrendously steep and required a 23 or 24.  It climbed for about 1km with a hard left turn half way up it.

The bunch caught me by the top of the climb, (which was where the feed zone was located), and I threw it straight into the big ring and attacked.  The bunch strung out as I weaved all over the road.  Only one girl got onto my wheel and soon we had a 10sec gap.  The road did 5 90° left and right turns through some back streets and was the perfect area to get away.  Within a few minutes were out of sight and had extended our lead to 30sec.  It was raining solidly now and the roads were horrendous.  We came back onto Marine Drive and had a strong headwind to contend with.  We worked well together and lengthened our lead to 40sec by the time we came around to the QOM hill for the 2nd time.  The girl I was with struggled on the climb, so I went on alone, hoping someone would bridge across to me.  I rode alone and once over the feed zone for the 2nd time, looked back and saw someone bridging across.  Darnelle is a solid rider, who finished 2nd in the Delta road race.  We worked well together and lengthened our lead to 2mins by lap 4.  On lap 6 a 3rd girl bridged across to us, (it took her 2 laps to catch us) so I knew she had ridden really hard to get to us.  I didn’t think she had much left.

We continued to lengthen our lead and had 5mins on the bunch as we hit the headwind on Marine drive for our final 3km to the finish line.  We slowed to a crawl in the final 1km as we eyed each other off and I pushed in behind Darnelle, anticipating that she was the stronger of the two riders.  She immediately attacked but I jumped easily onto her wheel..  She slowed for a few hundred metres before attacking again.  I stayed on her wheel out of the wind up enjoying her leadout.  With about 40m to go I kicked around her, winning comfortably by 3 bike lengths.  What an incredibly sweet victory.

This gave me the stage win, tour win (omnium points) and Queen of the Mountains jersey.  Two news cameramen were suddenly in my face, followed by 6 journalists.  I totally absorbed the moment.  I enjoyed and soaked up the attention and then went up on stage to chat with the commentator.  Next came the presentations, jersey awards and all the merchandise I’d won by passing the start/finish line first each lap.

What a fairytale finish to my first visit to North America to experience tour racing, after 16 months of riding.  Now I am going to enjoy a rest week and have a few days off.

Fitchburg Tour – 29 June – 2 July 2001


Fitchburg
Tour – 29 June – 2 July 2001


Thursday 29th June
Stage 1 – 20km Individual time trial

The legs were still sore from the HP.  Three days just isn’t enough time to recover
from 1000km of racing.  It was over 30ºC
and quite windy.  I time trialled as best
as I could, finishing 34
th.  I
was 4mins 55sec down on Lyn Bessette (Saturn). 
I have a lot of time to make up so hopefully the legs will feel better
tomorrow.


Friday 30th June Stage
2 – 40 mile circuit race

Today
we rode a 5km circuit 13 times in humid but cooler conditions – 25º
degrees.  The start / finish line was
almost at the crest of a really steep 1km climb on Pearl st.  Just trying to clip in at the start was quite
tricky as it was hard to get any momentum on the hill and with 60 girls cramped
together added to the challenge.  The
clockwise circuit was fast, with a descent through a narrow street after the
climb, followed by a long slightly undulating straight section on John Fitch
Highway, before another right hand corner into Pearl st, the climb.  The climb flattened slightly and then rose
very steeply to the finish.  Certainly a
small chain ring hill.  I was using my 21
and 23 towards the end.

The
race was controlled by Saturn and RONA cycling teams.  Being an individual this suited me perfectly,
as I didn’t have to chase down the attacks.  
I sat on Lyne Bessette’s wheel and followed her every move.  My legs felt quite ordinary so I positioned
right in the front at the base of each climb to avoid being dropped.  After 3 or 4 laps, I warmed up well and felt
good.  I contested some of the QOM
sprints but finished about 5
th each time.

The
bunch stayed together the entire race.  I
was 3
rd coming around the final corner to sprint the hill for the
final times.  I maintained position until
it steepened up and then died in the legs. 
I finished 14
th.  There
was no change to GC – (34
th).


Saturday 1st July
Stage 3 – 69 mile road race

Today
was a hot one, 95F plus, which is well into the 30ºC.  It was also extremely humid with a bit of
wind about.

The
course was an 18km loop which we did 6 times, followed by a climb to the summit
of Mt Wassuchett.  Each loop contained
about 8km of climbing, one really steep and badly damaged descent where we hit
speeds of 75-80km/hr and the remainder of the loop being undulating.  There were 3 noticeble climbs in each loop –
2 being gradual climbs of 1km each, while the 3
rd was an absolute
leg burner.  It was steep and
unforgiving.  It turned right at 90
degrees after 1km and continued for another 1.5km.  I climbed it in the 24 (standing) although my
legs were still pretty sore from yesterday’s circuit race, the T/T and the
Women’s Challenge.

Lyne
and Genevieve attacked on our first lap up the steep section.  I went with them and got into a break of
about 12.  The main bunch caught us on
lap 2 and on lap 3, Genevieve, Lyn and Sue Palmer got away together.  Our bunch, slowed down by Saturn and RONA was
almost doing a Sunday Latte pace.  Sue
attacked Lyne and Genevieve and went solo. 
So Lyne and Genevieve sat up and our bunch caught them on lap 5.  Now Saturn and RONA were both driving the
pack hard to close the time gap established by Sue and I just sat in for a free
ride.  We were doing 60 -75km/hr along
the undulating section, admittedly with a tailwind but we caught a break away
group from the Pro Men and flew past them.

As
I predicted, Lyne and Genevieve attacked on our last climb before the mountain,
and I didn’t have the legs to stay with them. 
I was left in the second bunch about 500m off them.  The mountain climb was 3km but exceptionally
steep.  I stood nearly the whole way in
my 24 and 27 gearring.  My legs were
screaming with pain.  I moved up 13 places
on GC after today and am now 21
st in GC.  Genevieve beat Lyne, however Lyne retains the
overall lead.


Sunday 2nd July Stage
4 – 25 mile criterium

Today
was 89F, about 30ºC with my rough conversion method.  It was really humid though, so it felt just
as hot as yesterday.  I hadn’t slept
well, due mainly to the soreness in my legs waking me up every time I rolled
over, so I was feeling quite fatigued. 
After an hours ride after breakfast, and 40mins on the windtrainer as my
warmup I still felt tired.  I knew I just
had to tough it out and stay in the bunch to maintain my GC position.  The attacks were constant, as Genevieve was
39sec down and was keen to win the tour. 
Saturn again chased every attack while my focus was to just stay near
the front of the bunch.  No attacks
stayed away and it came down to a strung out bunch finish on a slight uphill
into a really strong headwind.

Lyne Bessette maintained her lead, winning the tour.  I remained in 21st position for
the tour. I had hope for 20
th however missed out by about 18
seconds.

Race Report –Amalgamated Tours of Delta and White Rock 6-8 July 2001

Race Report –Amalgamated Tours of Delta and White Rock

The inaugural Tour de Delta was a 3 stage tour held in southern Vancouver.  Instead of having a General Classification based on time, omnium points were awarded for each stage.  A week later, the Tour de White Rock was held, a hillier 3 stage race, which has been running for 22 years.  Points from both tours were amalgamated to determine the overall combined tour winner.

Each tour had an identical format:  a hill climb prologue, a criterium and a road race.

Tour de Delta – 6-8 July 2001

Friday 6th July Stage 1 – 700m 11% Hill Climb, North Delta

Conditions: 25°C, 6.30pm start.

The hill flattened slightly after 200m, then became increasingly steeper over the remaining 600m, before turning 90degrees to the left for a final 100m sprint to the line.

Riders started 30sec apart and I was 3rd last to start.  I hadn’t heard the previous girls times (and didn’t particularly want to know) as I was busy on the windtrainer keeping the heartrate up.  I rode in the small ring, starting in my 21 gearing, moving briefly to the 19 to pick up speed and then gradually shifting into smaller gears as the hill steepened.  As the road flattened out at the top I tried to switch to the big ring but it wouldn’t go in.  I sprinted as best I could in the small ring, a little annoyed I couldn’t get the chain across, and which probably cost me the win.

I finished 2nd, 0.34sec behind the winner, Clare Hall-Patch who apparently finished 3rd in the Junior World Championships last year, and is a rider of the Canadian National Team won the stage.  Third place was nearly 3sec behind us.  Clare received 10pts, while I had 8.

Saturday 7th July Stage 2 – 40km Criterium, Ladner

Conditions: 25°C, 6.00pm start.

The plan today was to try and establish a break, (without Clare in it) and put some time (points) into her.  The Snow Valley team, Speed Queen team and Clare were chasing down all attacks.  Marnie Pratsky (a regional criterium champion) was also a dominant player, and no attacks lasted.

Perhaps in error, I contested a number of the primes, won 4 of them (merchandise and Canadian money), but it took the edge off my sprint.  In the final laps the whole bunch was together.  An attack went on the last lap and I sat 4th wheel but was unable to come around to win.  Clare finished 5th.  This result put me only 1pt behind Clare.

Sunday 8th July Stage 3 – 84km Road Race, Tsawwassen

Conditions: 21°C, 8.00am start – no wind.

I ate at 6.30am and hoped I would feel better once I warmed up.  I felt tired all over and had no energy.  I spun the legs on the windtrainer for 40mins and didn’t feel much better.

The course was a 7.5km loop that we did 11 times.  The course had one steep 1km uphill section immediately before the finish, while the rest of the course was undulating and flat.  There was a Queen of the Mountain category at the start/finish line of each lap.  I struggled up the climb on the first lap, not able to obtain any points, and focusing more on staying with the bunch.  I had taken the edge off my legs (in the criterium primes) and I hadn’t recovered.  I hoped on the next few laps I would pick up.

The next 4 laps I didn’t improve.  I struggled more up the hill and had to chase to get back onto the bunch each lap.  As I felt so lousy climbing today, I should have used other parts of the course such as going hard on the flats to try and break up bunch up to get away, as I couldn’t get away on the climb.  An attack by two riders, Clare Hall-Patch and Darnelle Moore went on the hill on lap 7 and I couldn’t go with it.  The bunch chased relatively hard after the climb but the break remained about 20sec in front of us.

My next mistake was that I stayed in the bunch for another 2 laps thinking we’d bring them back.  However, on lap 10 the men’s field passed our bunch up the climb and passed by the breakaway girls over the top of the climb.  They jumped into the mens bunch (and the commissaire ignored them) and as we came around for bell lap they had over 2mins on us.

I unsuccessfully tried to get away in the last lap.  I suffered up the climb for the 11th time and finished 11th, receiving only 4pts.  I was hugely disappointed, slipping from 2nd in points to 4th.

The Omnium points after the first 3 stages were: Clare Hall-Patch 31pts, Dawn Berg 28pts, Dana Walton 24pts, Helen Kelly 21 pts, and Tania Duff-Miller 15pts.  Clare was not competing in the tour de White Rock so I started the next tour, 7 points behind Dawn.

HP Women’s Challenge – 13 – 25th June 2001

HP Women’s Challenge – 13 – 25th June 2001

Wednesday 13th June – Stage 1 – Birds of Prey to Idaho City – 111km

Conditions: really strong head and crosswinds – 10°–16°C.  I decided to race with knee warmers and arm warmers.

I was quite nervous.  I hadn’t slept too well – I had a lot of trouble getting to sleep.  I warmed up for about 5km along the plateau and hill.

I stayed up in the top 20 down the hill and out onto the first part of the 50km square.  The wind was really horrendous.  I got pushed to the back and made an effort to get back into the top 30.  I saw Anna and tried to sit near her.  I find it hard to keep my position, girls keep moving around me.  This cost me because I drifted back a bit as we did another turn and someone attacked.  The bunch was strung out everywhere.  I got caught behind a group and a gap developed.  I saw someone go around to bridge across the gap.  I jumped on.  She waved me around but I couldn’t work.  She made it across and I just sat on trying to get a good sit.  The bunch was echeloned out into the gravel.  We had 4-6 working hard and I sat on.  We caught the next group and then the next one.  (so we were now 1min behind the break away group of 6 riders).  About 1km later I was pushed into the gravel and nearly lost it.  It took me 50m of gravel riding to get through the soft gravel and onto the tar.  I got back onto the highway and chased, but my heartrate was 195bpm and I was dying.  A Boise Cascade girl had also dropped off and she waved me through for a turn, which I did and then blew up.  We were only 5 metres off the bunch.  Four of us joined up and worked hard right up to the foot of the hill and then I blew up again.  My team mate, Joan’s group came through and I couldn’t hang on to them, as I had just worked so hard before.

I formed a small group of 6 and we had another 50km to do into a headwind.  If I’d managed to stay with the bunch in front, as they had 20 in their bunch, it would have been a lot less work.  I hope I haven’t expended too much energy and will race better tomorrow.

I lost 13min6sec today.  The bunch in front of me lost 10min57sec, while the bunch behind the break away lost 2min5sec.  I am placed 50th on GC.  I hope to be able to do better tomorrow.

Our accommodation, log cabins without telephones, are located 1.5hrs from Idaho City.  We jumped into the creek for a quick splash and then settled in for the long drive.  I had a headache and was really dehydrated.  I drank 4 bottles of water in the car.  I did a quick ride once we arrived and then spent 30min stretching.

Thursday 14th June – Stage 2 – Lowman – Stanley – 93.6km

Conditions: 1°C at 8am but it warmed up quickly to about 14°C by the time we started racing.

We had a 90km drive from our cabin back to Lowman to the race start.  Ren, Jen and I got out with 25km to go and rode to the race start.  My legs felt good, although my quads were quite sore.  I ate my bread roll with banana and honey at 10am and spent 20min on my stretching mat making sure everything was stretched and ready to go.  Todays race climbs for 50km and then is relatively flat and slightly downhill for 43km, with the last 8km of the climb being a bit steeper.

Positioning was really important today given my mistake yesterday.  I focused constantly on pushing up towards the front and stayed about top 10-15.  Joan attacked at the 10mile mark with 3 others.  They died and left Joan out on her own.  I stayed in the main bunch, trying to conserve energy, and stayed there until 44km of the climb, and then blew up.  I couldn’t breathe – I just felt as though I couldn’t suck enough air in.  I was then in a small group that was chasing the main bunch down.  They all got across but I just couldn’t get across the last bit.  I was right in amongst the convoy and only 50m off the back.  I need to try and push a bit harder when I am so close, because dying at this moment effectively cost me the 5min gap that this bunch had on our bunch by the end.

I climbed by myself until I caught Kristy Scrymegour and a Goldy’s  Girl.  We climbed together until the bunch behind caught us.  We had 20 in our bunch to work with, which was fortunate, given the strong head and crosswinds we had for the final 40km.  I wanted to conserve energy and save myself for some later stages.

I finished in 58th place, 6min28sec behind the winner.

Friday 15th June – Stage 3 – Stanley to Ketchum – 99.7km

Conditions: 18°C, cross and headwinds.  I wonder if the winds will ever let up.  Stanley is 6700ft above sea level and I was puffing just walking to the car to pack our bags.  We will be staying in Sun Valley for the next two nights.  The altitude is taking effect and I’ve had slight head spins whenever I bend down to pick something up.  I didn’t feel quite as co-ordinated as I usually do.

We started today’s stage in the main street of Stanley, the only street in Stanley, and had a neutral zone down the street and onto Highway 75.  No sooner had we turned the corner into a cross/head wind, then someone attacked.  I couldn’t believe it!  We were all strung out but regrouped within a few minutes.  This scenario repeated itself for the next 40km to the base of the climb.  However, at the 10km mark, some girl rode straight across my front wheel and hooked her quick release in my spokes.  I nearly lost it.  She bent two spokes causing it to buckle badly and tore off my magnet for my odometer, leaving me with no reading on our far we’d done.  I released my front brake but realised after I’d finished the race that the wheel had been badly rubbing the brake on every revolution.  No wonder if felt so hard trying to climb and push along the flats.  Nothing like a bit of resistance to make it tougher.

The 8km climb was torturous due to its steepness and due to the difficulty in breathing.  My heartrate was 180bpm and I felt like my lungs were being squeezed.  The top of the climb was just under 9000ft.

I descended alone until 3 girls caught me and we worked together to the finish.  It was hard work pushing into a head/cross wind for another 60km.  My adductors and quads were hammered by the time we finished.  I lost about 11mins today.

I am now 72nd on GC and about 28min down.  Definitely not in a position I am happy with, but mechanical problems today certainly didn’t help.  I should have dropped back for a wheel change but I didn’t release how badly the wheel was buckled.

Saturday 16th June Stage 4 – Sun Valley “head to head” Time Trial – 5.1km

Conditions: very little wind, 20°C, sunny – sensational weather.  Trying to breathe while warming up was the biggest challenge.  The air is just so thin.  I did a pyramid warmup with my heartrate on the windtrainer.  I took it up to 165 for a few minutes, then back to 150 then tried for 170+.  It wouldn’t go above 165.  A bit tired and means I haven’t recovered fully from yesterday, which I knew the instant I woke up this morning.  I certainly didn’t bounce out of bed.

The plan for this time trial was to conserve energy and only go hard enough so as not to lose too much time.  It is better to lose a little time on the time trial and be less tired for the circuit race this evening.

I finished in 70th place for the 5.1km in a time of 8min22sec, 1min19sec behind Lyn Bessette.  I am still 72nd on GC.  We will now spend the afternoon sleeping, stretching, and most importantly keeping the feet up.

Saturday 17th June Stage 5 – Ekhorn Circuit Race – 46.1km

Conditions:  24°C Windy (again)

This is a brutal course, a 2.5km circuit through the snow village with a nasty 3000ft climb every lap.  I was in agony on lap 1.  On lap 2, I lost the main bunch and was with a small group of 8.  Each lap was worse and worse.  Our group lasted 10 laps before we were lapped.  I was so relieved to be pulled out!  I finished 80th – not a sensational result.

Sunday 18th June Stage 6 – Shoshone to Burley – 128km

Conditions:  25°C Windy (again)

Slept really poorly – am so glad we’re going down to a lower altitude (back to 4000ft as opposed to 6000ft).  As it was windy I decided to sit right on the front (especially since I hadn’t warmed up well) and set a comfortable pace.  Some girls are just dangerous to ride behind when it’s windy.  I felt good today.  I could breathe and my legs were okay.

The attacks started after 20km and continued every few km’s.  The bunch was echeloned and splintered to pieces.  Ren got into the breakaway but unfortunately flatted.  Lyn Bessette was in the break, without Longo, so I was sent to the front with Joan and Jessica to drive the main pack.  The break was represented by Saturn, Autotrader, Dutch national team, Goldy’s, and Intersport, so our team, Office Depot only had Boise Cascade and the combined French/Canadian team who were willing to work.  I felt so strong today, and driving on the front felt great.  It didn’t hurt half as bad as a motorpace session.  I didn’t push too hard, because although I had to work for Longo, I still want to have a good result on a few stages.  I actually wanted to attack and get away, across to the breakaway, but knew today that wasn’t possible.  With 15km to go, I flatted, but got back on within a few minutes.

I eased the pace after this, as I saw there was no hope of catching the breakaway and no-one was willing to work, so the time gap increased rapidly.  I sat in the wind to lead Longo to the front for the final 5km and finished 13th in our bunch sprint, 25th overall.  Finally, I feel okay though.  I hope now I can start to do something in this tour.

Monday 19th June Stage 7 –Burley to Pomerelle  – 92km

Conditions:  22°C REALLY windy

My roommate Jessica and I both slept in until nearly 8am today.  I have been waking at 5.30am every morning, so we were both really tired from our work on the front of the bunch yesterday.  We ate at Perkins, a local diner, (typical American food), but I found cereal, toast, hash browns and juice to kick start the day.  I followed it up with my usual white bread and honey before the race.

Today was predominantly flat for 70km, with a lovely 22km 6% climb to the finish.  Given it was so flat to start with I planned on doing most of my warm up in the first 10km of the stage. But I really suffered for it by doing this.  We had ridden only 50m out of the parking lot and an Autotrader girl attacked.  I jumped on her wheel and almost died with pain as we hammered along at 50km/hr into a cross wind.  Luckily they bunch soon caught us, but the pace picked up as everyone wanted to be on the front, due to the crosswinds.  So we rode through the outskirts of Burley at 60km/hr.  It was a quick way to warm up.  The pace stayed fast and furious right out to the climb.   As soon as one rider attacked, it was followed by counter attacks, but no-one was letting anyone get away.  We changed direction a few times so I made sure I was up the front, as I didn’t want to be caught at the back of the bunch and dropped.

I sheltered Jeannie where possible and tried to keep bringing her towards the front of the bunch.  She later told me I still didn’t sit out into the wind enough to shelter her.  She only has a 48cm frame so my 58cm bike towers over hers.  I am sure I still give her a good sit out of the wind.  But she is angry that the Saturn team are dominating the race and has been upset ever since she lost the leaders jersey.

I was happy with my climbing today.  We climbed to almost 8000ft and I managed to control my breathing well and kept a rhythm going.

I finished 60th in 2hrs40min14sec, 10mins5sec behind the leader.  I am now 66th in GC.

Tuesday 20th June Stage 8 –Burley to Magic Mountain  – 97.1km

Conditions:   25°C Minimal Wind

Finally, the Idaho winds have died down however at 8am it was already feeling warm and looked to be a hot one out on the road today.  After another breakfast at Perkins I decided to do 30min on the wind trainer just in case someone decided to attack in the first 30sec again!

Bettina, our team manager, wired us up at 10.30am and confirmed what we wanted to feed on today.  I had half coke/half water yesterday, but decided on straight water today.  After the first hot sprint, we can feed from the van at any time and on today’s stage there was one feed zone but they had it right at the base of the final climb, so I fed from the van today, for both myself and Jeannie.

Our ride started at a more leisurely pace than yesterday which was a relief to everyone.  Once we were out of Burley, we headed south for 50km along a straight rode with potato crops on either side.  Occasionally, the huge irrigation sprinklers sprayed us which was a relief to the rising temperature.

The attacks started after 15km or so but the bunch was vigilant in chasing down every attempt.  At about the 40km mark, a small group managed to establish a break which our bunch allowed to hover in front of us.  I moved to the front and tried to bridge across with Meshy Holt (Boise Cascade).  Lyn Bessette (Saturn) called out to the bunch to let us go, but they chased us down anyway.  Once back in the pack, Meshy attacked again, however I was boxed in about 12 back.  This time they let Meshy go and with a lot of work she bridged the 3mins30 across to the break.

Our bunch picked up the pace as we approached the climb which started gradually from the 64km mark.  We crossed four cattle grids which were clearly marked and easily crossed without incident in the bunch.  The terrain changed as we started climbing and we found ourselves in a very narrow rocky cannon with huge rocky barren terrain on either side.  The climb steepened from 85km to the finish at 97km.  The bunch started to stretch out here and each little group found their only rhythm.

I finished in 2hrs56min, which was 9mins4sec down on the winner, who was from the break away group.  My legs felt quite tired today, so I was happy to have stayed with the bunch right up to the last steep section of the climb.  The results of our other Aussies:  Kristy Scrymegeour was also in the break and finished 2mins17sec down, Anna Millward (Wilson) finished 5mins down while Naomi Williams finished 10mins39sec down.

We had a 45min car trip to our new motel at Twin Falls and then went through our afternoon routine of a light wind train session to ease the pain, lots of stretching, a good massage, tonnes of food and sleep.

Wednesday 21st June Stage 9 –Twin Falls to Buhl  – 107.2km

Conditions:   30°C Only minimal winds

Today we headed out of town northwards at a leisurely pace after crossing the Swan River bridge.  A base jumper jumped from the top railing of the bridge just as the bunch passed the centre section of the bridge, causing an interesting reaction by all us girls.  He let out this deathly scream as he jumped out – half of us didn’t know if he was suiciding or what he was doing!!

The terrain was again potato crops with plenty of irrigation sprinklers and freshly bailed hay.  The road was wide, in good condition and predominantly straight.

After 20km the attacks started.  No team was letting any other team get away.  I was keen to form a break and tried to get away with a Boise Cascade girl and later with an Autotrader girl but the bunch chased us down.

We started the first climb as a bunch.  This climb was 4km long with a 5% gradient but we rode it at a pretty fast tempo.  The mountain sprint at the top was won by our team mate Jeannie Longo.  I was just off the back as the bunch crested the top and managed to chase back on.  We did a 15km loop and went up this same 4km climb again.  Just before our 2nd time up the climb there was  a crash in the bunch which took down my teammate Joan Wilson.  Kristy Scrymegeour was also involved in the crash.  Joan managed to chase back on before the end of the race.

I was again just off the back over the top of the 2nd 4km climb but got back on with a bit of chasing through the convoy (or caravan, as they call it over here).  We did the same 15km loop again and then had the 4km climb for the final time before the finish.

My legs were really tired but I managed to form a small group just off the bunch over the last climb.  Our group worked hard over the last 8km to finish 2mins36sec down on the leader.  Anna Wilson finished 40sec down, while Kristy and Naomi finished 10mins30sec down.

At the finish there was a local Buhl pool, and we all jumped in (in bike gear) to cool off.  The water was great.  Buhl, the trout capital of America, put on a trout BBQ for us during the presentations which was great.  We ate platefuls of fish, salad, bread and ice-cream!  Then we drove 45min back to Twin Falls to stretch, eat more and recover.

Thursday 22nd June Stage 10 –Twin Falls to Mountain Home  – 155.2km

Conditions:   38°C  Hot dessert conditions

Today we again headed north through the same crops as yesterday.  The attacks started at the 500m mark, with a number of us keen to get away.  My team manager had formed alliances with Boise Cascade, 800.com, German and Dutch national teams to help try and set up a break for me.  I love the long stages and am strongest over these extra long races.

I went with Meshy Holt (Boise Cascade) at the 500m mark, but the bunch chased us down within 2km.  We counterattacked again but again the bunch were all over us, not letting us get away.  We crossed the Snake River bridge and turned left.  I attacked this time – stood up and dug as deep as I could.  I looked back and Anna was on my wheel.  She pulled around in front of me and sat up.  I didn’t have the legs to reattack.  The bunch again swamped us.

The attacks continued for the next 50km.  I predicted that Saturn were keen for a stage win, and also the sprints and mountain jersey were still in contention, so many teams were keen to keep the bunch together.

The first 4km mountain climb was fierce.  I had to dig really deep to hang on.  The bunch split over the last 500m, but regrouped within 1km.  The tempo eased slightly as the temperature rose and many girls dropped back to our team cars for more and more bidons.  To feed, we raise our bottle, the Commissiare calls up our team car, and then we can take bottles from the car.  Today, we were all going back for 3 bottles at a time.

The bunch stayed together over the 2nd mountain sprint and the next two sprints.  It looked like a field sprint.  With 5km to go, we did a hairpin turn onto a newly surfaced road which was completely covered in loose gravel.  It was really slippery and dangerous.  Gravel was being flicked up in our faces and all over us.  I was not very comfortable doing 50km/hr without the ability to move quickly to avoid potential crashes.  With 2km to go, the roadworks were over and I tried desperately to get towards the front, along with 70 other girls.  The pace had increased to 55km/hr and I was running out of time.  I chose the left side of the road, got half way around the bunch and got boxed in by slower sprinters.  I had no-where to go.  It was most frustrating.  My two teammates chose the right, and one got through the bunch to finish in 10th place.  The overall GC remained unchanged from this stage.

Friday 23rd June Stage 11 –Firebird Individual Time Trial  – 15km

Conditions:   32°C dry, hot weather, light wind

Our time trial started along a straight stretch of road for about 1km and then kicked upwards into a 4km climb.  This was definitely a hill to do in the small chain ring (particularly after having raced for 9 days now) which zig zagged up the hill at a 5% gradient.  It was a grainy dusty road which was closed to traffic so we could pick the least steep corners to keep the momentum up.

Over the other side, we turned onto a highway and amazingly, had a tailwind.  It is not often on this tour, that we’ve had the pleasure of a tailwind, but it was a welcome relief.  We rode for 8km on this highway and then turned onto a racing car track for a final lap.  This track was ultra smooth and very nice to ride on.

Jeannie Longo rode a great race and was leading the time trial until Lyn Bessette, the last rider to start, beat her by 24 secs.  I rode hard but at about 80% of my maximum effort as I plan to give the criterium and last road stage a good go.  I have 6mins on the next GC rider and will only move up a spot if I can gain at least 6mins on the 57th placed GC rider.

Saturday 24th June Stage 12 – Idaho Statehouse Criterium  – 55.5km

Conditions:  35°C  4pm start.

The criterium was 45 laps which took 1hr 23mins to complete.  It was one of the toughest criteriums I’ve done.  After 15mins I was really struggling and kept losing my position.  After every lap I was further and further back.  At the 19min mark, I was dropped and rode about 40m off the back of the bunch.  My heartrate was 190 and I was really dying out there.  I couldn’t believe I was going to get dropped so early in the race.  I knew Bettina wouldn’t be impressed.  I stood up and sprinted back to the pack.  It really hurt – but I luckily timed it when the pack was easing up and

I finished 44secs down in a bunch sprint.  GC has moved to 56th overall.

Sunday 25th June Stage 13 – Middleton to Boise (Hyde Park) – 88.3km

Conditions:   28°C

Thankfully today is the last stage.  I am starting to feel really tired from continuously preparing for each race, warming up, getting nervous, racing, cooling down, etc.

There was one 4km climb in the stage, with the bunch splitting into several groups up the climb.  Within 5km of the hill however, all bunches had reformed and we rode into Boise as one peleton.  The five laps of Hyde Park were fast and furious.  The crowd lined the circuit 10 deep, so the noise was deafening as we rode through the finish zone.  I wasn’t able to force myself into the Saturn lead out and finished 30th in the bunch sprint.

My GC has remained at 56th overall.  I guess I am fairly happy with that, however, it is a shame I did so poorly early on in the tour, as it was quite hard to make up this lost time.  I did move from 72nd on GC to 56th over the last 7 days which I was really pleased with.  This showed that I was gradually finding form and feeling stronger as the tour progressed.

Kalgoolie Criterium – June 3rd – 45mins – 1st

Kalgoolie Criterium – June 3rd – 45mins – 1st

Conditions:   30°C Only minimal winds

The course was a T shape, with U turns at each point.  There was a gradual uphill to the right end T followed by a long downhill to the finish line.  I did a 20km pre start to turn the legs over and managed to find some glass in

I warmed up on the course to get the heartrate up and test the corners.  They were sharp corners so getting the right angle into each corner was critical to avoid loosing too much speed.  The last words I remember Bob calling out to me was “have a safe race – you’re heading to the USA on Thursday”.

I got around the first corner perfectly well, moved to the front of the peloton and took the corner at the apex at about 40km/hr.  Before I had a chance to ease some speed off, my back wheel slide out and I hit the ground, still holding the drops.  I couldn’t believe what I had just done.  Fortunately the whole peloton moved around me, so only my pride was hurt, along with a little skin off the elbow, hip and ankle.  I took a lap out, checked my wheels and then rejoined the peloton.  I settled in for a couple of laps and then attacked.  Two guys came with me, but they wouldn’t work hard enough so I counter attacked and dropped them.  I hovered 10sec off the front for what seemed like ages, before slowly my time extended out to 15sec and then 20sec.  Each time I looked back, a group was working hard to chase me down.  My heartrate was 180 BPM and we were only 15mins into the crit.  My lungs and legs were really hurting.  “Only 30mins to go” I kept repeating to myself.  Eventually I got a time gap of 30sec but didn’t let up.  I knew if I slacked the pace they would easily bring me back.  With 1 lap to go, I knew I had it won and eased off.  I crossed the line 20sec in front of the peloton.

Time to chat to the commentator, cool down and prepare for the handicap race in the morning.

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