Verita Stewart

Writer, blogger, social media | Racer of bikes with Specialized Women's Racing Team|

More January racing: Nationals & Santos Womens Tour

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Wow. I’m back to work and the reality that is paying for my racing shenanigans.

This month has been a big one for me and by all means it’s not over yet. Last month, this month and next month, has been and will be full of racing. Tour of Bright, Nationals, Tour Down Under and next, Cadels Race, something and then Oceania’s in Toowomba.

I’ve been so busy that I’ve barely had time to get my nails done. This post will be short and sweet.

Nationals…. Cramp city

I went in with a whole lot of expectation. Mainly that I’d finish. Last Nationals, I didn’t finish – I completed 7 laps before being pulled off course. So this year it was my personal aim to better 7. Let’s just say that this race was a whole other kettle of fish. I knew it was going to be fast and the 7 would be tough… Bay Crits had shown that there were a lot of women that were in form and a lot of talent out there with the aim of taking the top step, so it was no surprise then that it was ON from the gun. In fact the first three laps for me were the fastest of the whole 100km race. For me the 1st climb was the 2nd fastest, the 2nd climb was the 3rd fastest and the 3rd climb was the fastest of the race. The third lap is where things started falling apart for me, I started to question if I’d finish.

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PDitty Images

I don’t think it was the pace that got me… it was my legs that were falling apart. Letting me down. They were cramping. Bad, bad, bad, cramps. Cramps that meant that I nearly gave up and had me dangling off the back multiple times. It was here that I experienced a new level of pain. Both physical and mental. My legs didn’t want to pedal, they would grab at me each pedal stroke. My head told me to give up. I didn’t want to give up. I had to finish that race. There were times when I dangled off the back, where I sucked wheel, dug deep and even crawled back through the convoy! I took motivation from the Hells500 QOM cheer squad, from my coach, partner and many friends each lap. I had people yelling at me to keep going…so I did. I pushed through the pain and I finished that god dam race. I ended up in a group of about 10 riders and rolled with them until the finish, +4.32 down. I think we were all in a similar world of pain! I could barely get off my bike my legs were so crampy.

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PDitty Images

Why did I cramp? Now it wasn’t hot, at all. In fact it was mild. In hindsight, I was just dehydrated to start off with. I didn’t drink enough fluids the day before. In fact, I barely drank anything. Lesson learned. I never want to experience that pain and disappointment again. But on a positive note, I finished that race! Jenelle, my team mate came in top 10 too! Peta Mullins took the win in an impressive show of strength.

Full results here

Santos Women’s Tour

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The first Tour of the NRS season and run along side the Tour Down Under! Four stages, two road races and two crits. We had a full team, with Jenelle, Liz, Jaz and Anna-Leeza ready to rock.

Stage 1. 60km road race, from Woodside to Murray Bridge. The profile was deceptively down-hill. It had a number of pinchy climbs that were sure to split the bunch. Split the bunch they did. It was a race that was full of fast climbing and full of gutter action! Liz managed to grab some intermediate sprint points, Jenelle and I finished managed to finish just off the front group. Orica-AIS showed their massive strength and class in putting us all in the gutter and taking the win! It is an awesome feeling to race with these pros – many of which race OS and are my cycling idols! This was the fastest 60km race I’ve done. The average speed was about 42km/hr. Valentina Scandolara (Orica AIS) took the win.

Stage 2. 35 minute crit in the CBD. We were racing before the men, so the crowds were huge! It was so exciting to race in front of so many people. Again a fast one, at just under 45km/hr. Nothing really to report here, Melissa Hoskins from Orica-AIS took the win. We finished on bunch time – my legs were almost ripped off. Lord.

Stage 3. Road race from Tanunda to Campbelltown. The QOM was on the top of the infamous Checkers Hill climb – which reaches a 23% gradient – this was going to be a race splitter! Our team objective was to ride together and near the front so that we could get over the QOM with the lead group. As we turned the corner into the QOM myself, AL and Liz were too far back and watched Jenelle climb over for 3rd on QOM and stick with the lead group. That group organised themselves fairly quickly and managed to stay away with Jenelle finishing in 6th position. We were in the 2nd group of about 20 riders that finished +1.14. Jaz finished in the 3rd group. This effort moved us into 4th in teams classification and Jenelle moved up to 6th on GC – only 6 seconds behind the leader. Georgia Bronzini came away with the win!

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Stage 4. Victoria Park Crit. Again going with the theme of this tour – it was fast. Our objective again was to ride together, towards the front with the hope that we could move up on teams classification and maybe move Jenelle up as well. The peloton was split in two after the first lap – this was not great for our teams classification aim! AL and I were stuck in the middle and worked hard to try to bridge back over. The front group seemed to sit up after a few laps and we all came back together after a few laps. The pace was high, I was struggling but determined to stay on. Struggling with position, I was towards the back, but each lap would make an effort to move up to my team mates. Before we knew it the race was over. Melissa Hoskins took the win!

Overall 1st Valentina Scandolara, 2nd Melissa Hoskins, and 3rd Loren Rowney (Roxsalt). Jenelle 7th, me 20th, 27th Liz, 29th AL and Jaz 59th. We finished up 4th on teams classification, and 3rd in the NRS teams aggregate – which is awesome for the 1st race of the NRS season! It was an awesome experience to ride with such an experience bunch of women, I learnt heaps from this tour, straight to the knowledge bank.Full results here.

Bring on Cadels Great Ocean Road Race on the weekend!

We consumed 3 jars of peanut butter, 3 jars of honey, 4 loafs of bread, 6 packets of rice cakes, 25 kgs of bananas and 12 bottles of soda water… we are looking for sponsors from Kraft, Beechworth Honey and Sunrice…know anyone?

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Someone asked me recently how I keep motivated when ‘winning’ the race isn’t necessarily my objective, when surviving is reality. That is the beauty of riding in a team and having a great support network around me. I find often my personal ‘wins’ come from helping your team mates and executing our team plans. Some of my most satisfying moments on the bike have come from these ‘wins’. I take the small gains or learnings from a race, rather than looking at results I look at what I did within the race – I moved up, I rode with my team mates, I climbed with the front group, I learnt something from other riders…Those learnings are valuable to my progress and the motivation that I am improving as a rider and my training is paying off #patiencegrasshopper. Most importantly, my coach, my partner, my team mates and my friends all believe in me and in my goals and dreams – having them as my support network is number one to my motivation and success! Thank-you.

Specialized, Securitor Financial Group, Capo Cycling, Adidas Eyewear and Pro4mance Sports Nutrition are the sponsors that keep us going! Thanks to PDitty Images and Kirsty Baxter Photography for the pics 🙂

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Author: Verita Stewart

Cyclist for Specialized, Instagramer, blogger, desk sitter, coffee lover, recycler

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