Its finally here, the racing block I have been waiting for, for what seems like forever! Here is a schedule for what my next three weeks will look like:
April 19-23 - Tour of the Gila in Silver City, NM
- Day 1: (today!) 110 km road race
- Day 2: 120 km road race with 3 categorized (i.e. huge) climbs
- Day 3: 26 km long time trial, lots of rolling hills and cross winds
- Day 4: Downtown Criterium, also hilly!
- Day 5: The same as day 2, except in reverse
April 24th - Travel to Redlands, California
April 30 - Race Dana Point Grand Prix
May 3-8 - Race Redlands Bicycle Classic (another 5 day UCI stage race)
My trip started on Sunday afternoon, when I traveled from Toronto to Tucson, AZ, where I met up with Lori, who is guest riding for our team this week.
We arrived in Tucson fairly late, so we stayed in a nearby hotel for the night. Monday morning, we built our bikes, and drove over to Ben's Bike Shop in Tucson, because you always need to make a bike shop stop in every city. We went for a little spin in Saguaro Cactus forest to get our legs moving after the flight. Such beautiful views!
Especially the view of my Cervelo S5 looking fast and race ready!!
The clear blue skies, bright sun and winds are actually endless here!
Monday afternoon, Lori and I drove to Silver City, where we met up with teammates Jamie and Karlee, who have been hanging out in the area since racing Alabama last weekend. Silver City is situated at 6,000 feet above sea level. This elevation makes it hard to perform at peak power due to reduced oxygen in the air, so many athletes spend time training at altitude to allow their bodies to adjust.
Lori and I are staying at the home of a very sweet lady, Diane. She has a lovely home overlooking Silver City and has graciously allowed us to invade for the week.
The back yard
View from the kitchen window
Today we raced the first stage of the 5-day stage race. In stage racing, there are individual podiums for the top 3 riders on each day, as well as an overall leader competition, sprint competition and climbing competition.
The first stage was relatively flat, only 2335 feet of climbing across the 110 kms. This made it a day to collect some sprint points. Jamie is a very talented and crafty sprinter, so the team decided to help support her in this competition today. We didn't get it quite right on the first sprint, at 30 kms, but had another shot on sprint 2, 58 kms into the race. About 5 kms before the sprint, I attacked the peleton, got a small gap but was followed closely by a United Health Care rider. The field pulled me back, and Jamie counter-attacked, was pulled back, and I attacked...few more times and eventually Jamie made a clean break and soloed a little over 2 kms to take the sprint points and bonus seconds.
The course then turned into a strong headwind, which drastically reduced the pace of the race over the next 30 kms. There was little action from the peleton, with only a few attacks being thrown, but nothing that stuck.
With 15 kms to go, the pace really ramped up, and teams started to assemble at the front to position and protect their riders before the final turn and 3 km long finishing climb. The United Health Care team, definitely the dominant force in the women's race field, set up a strong lead out and launched their rider, Katie Hall, who won the stage.
The Rise Racing girls finished 30th (myself), 37th (Karlee), 40th (Lori) and 45th (Jamie) - however, Jamie's bonus seconds from the sprint put her 39th in GC.
It was a good opening stage for the team, and I am really excited to see how we do over the next 4 days of racing! I'm off to eat some more carbs, stocking up to fuel tomorrows gruelling 120 km race.