Saturday, June 14, 2008

Stages 2-4

All things considered... this year's Nature Valley went much better than last year's Nature Valley. You may not remember, but last year I raced my first criterium (ever) in March of '07 and within a couple months upgraded enough to go to Nature Valley with my team. Turns out, my first 5 day stage race lasted 18 minutes and it isn't because I'm just that fast. Anyhow I made it until the 4 stage this year- I'll give a brief rundown of this years events...

Stage 1: St Paul Criterium. Rain and carnage. Everyone started the next day.

Stage 2: Cannon Falls Road Race. I had a good starting position and was moving up ever so slightly... and then we crossed a wooden bridge... and then... everyone stopped and we were directed to turn around. Within a half mile from the start, the comm 1 car took us the wrong direction. So, the people in the back were now in the front and vice versa. For me, bummer! All that good momentum was lost. Anyhow, the "neutral" start was anything but neutral. I think my HR was about 240* for the neutral start. There was more confusion when we took our first left turn- the lead moto ref went on the left side of the median and the lead car went on the right. Clare burned up her matches hauling herself up on the other side of the median.
*I'm exaggerating, the highest I have ever seen my heart rate is 187-- actually a new high for me this week.

The first Queen of the Mountain (QoM) was soon after the first turn and the pace was high. Maybe I didn't get a good enough warm up or whatever... but I found myself dangling... and then passed by the moto ref, then passed by comm 1, and then passed by team car and team car and team car... you get the point. I was fading and working really hard to get back to the group. I could see that it would be so much easier up there! Next thing I knew, I was by myself-- but I could see Clare just up the road, so I chased her for a couple miles. I beat her up for the 2nd QoM and we worked to catch 2 more riders (just so you all know that is a joke, by this time-- no one was even at the QoM line). I didn't realize, but there was a group of about 12 right behind us. I know it may sound crazy, but I was relieved to see that I wasn't DFL. We were fairly organized and things were going well- I thought. Our "chase group" was smooth for the most part, although we did have a couple surgy susans in our group. All in all, it was nice to race through the country side in MN-- kind of like being home. yah.

The stage finished w/ a 5 lap circuit that I was able to watch. Cari hung in strong and did well, finishing just a couple minutes behind the main field. Tina Pic came away with the win-- check out her credentials.

Stage 3: Time Trial
An approximate 6- mile time trial- out and back course with a steep hill tacked on to the end. Not that I am GREAT at time trialing, but I am beginning to enjoy this event. Among some of the teams I think there was some confusion with the rules. They were time cutting at 125% of the winners time. Translation: anyone who came in with times above 125% of the winner's time was to be cut. Some riders chose or were told to "roll" it and ended up getting cut. Bummer for them. Kristin Armstrong won the time trail by 42 seconds-- she finished with a smokin' time of 13'44" and second place was 14'26". HUGE win, especially over a such a short course. I finished in the top 88 of 123 and didn't get cut-- Clare top 71, Cari top 64.

Stage 4: Minneapolis Criterium
Second race of the day (TT was that morning)- I felt good, excited and ready to race. But, for me a series of unfortunate events unraveled infront of me and I was cut from the race early. Bummer. Here's went down.
1. Staging. We were planning on staging 15 mins before the race, we got to the start 20 mins before the race and everyone was there. We had to start in the back.
2. Kristin Armstrong sat at the front for the first 8 laps and drove the pace at the beginning- super fast. The field was completely strung out the entire time I was in the race.
3. I'm learning to be aggressive.
4. The back of the field was beginning to gap and I was moving up one by one clawing my way back to the main field. The girl in front of me almost crashed in a corner when we were very close to closing the gap. I had to slam on my breaks to avoid running her over. The thought of actually crashing went through my mind... crash and a free lap or being done. At that point we had a group of about 4 and we were working to get back on, but we couldn't recover from that gap that had just formed.

I was pulled, along with 5 others. I was pretty bummed. I know that pace was hottt for a long time and the teams are stacked with world-class riders-- It is still tough not be able to hang in. Clare almost made it to the end until she detonated... Cari hung in until the end and finished with the field!

Gabe and his friend Mike came to watch last night and I was able to get a bite to eat with him after the race.

For me, that is it for Nature Valley 2008... until next year... 3rd time is a charm???? The girls race today in Mankato, an 86-mile road race-- and Sunday for the Stillwater Criterium. Today, instead of the RR, I am pretty sure Missy is going to send me out on a ride to get some miles!


Anonymous said...

Yo Kate, I have been laughing at your adventures. I am so very proud of you and miss you several times a day. Does DFL stand for what I think is does......... bad, bad girl. Love you Yomoma

becx said...

Good work, Kate. You've come a LONG way since last year and this will move you even farther along. I got flamed off the back of that crit in 2003 and vowed never's just experience that gets you there. you ARE strong enough and this is part of the learning curve. You're handling it like a pro. Humm. That's why I hired you! Good work..I'm uber proud of you and the team.