Here I am, at the airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I’m drinking a coffee from Colectivo, which has been a daily ritual for me. I’m at the end of my three week bike racing trip guest riding for CRCA StansNo Tubes p/b Velo Classic Cycling. #critcamp as we’ve dubbed it. I can’t believe it’s over already! What a learning curve it’s been.
Starting my racing at Tulsa Tough was definitely a baptism by fire. Less than half the field would finish each race! The first race, Blue Dome Crit was intense! We averaged 43km/hr over 60 minutes and my heart rate peaked at 212bpm and averaged 199bpm.
The 2nd race, the Brady Crit was much the same, fast. I felt I held my own in these races, finishing top 20 in both these. It was really hard racing and as much as I fought my way to the front for the final laps, I would somehow get stuck behind someone, wasn’t able to get on the lead out trains of other teams and sprint into better positions. That’s something I will work on.
The final days racing at Tulsa was on the infamous Cry Baby Hill… I have heard so much about Cry Baby, I watched the previous years video of Lizzie Williams squeeze through a gap to sprint into 2nd place. I was so pumped for it. The crowd spectating was amazing. It was like a giant frat party!
The race was hard, the decent much harder than the climb, because of a sharp right gander right at the bottom. I was feeling comfortable during the race, until a rain storm that neutralised the race for 30 mins. We lost our momentum, but the torrential rain was dangerous as there was a river running down the hill and visibility was next to nothing. There was only 1/3 or the starters left at this point! Once our rain delay was over, racing started again, much much faster than the first half. I knew that I would have to be in the right position on the last lap if I was going to finish well. It came down to the final lap, everyone was in a frantic state trying to get to the front. I moved up positions, then just before the corner got stuck behind someone going backwards. Bugger… After the corner I sprinted to 12th. I did everything I could to finish where I did! I was absolutely stoked. It sounds silly to be so happy with 12th, but I was, and still am.
The quality of riders in the field was amazing, the big teams such as Pepper Palace, Coltivita, BMW Happy Tooth, IS Corp, UHC among others… No wonder it was hard racing. I’m happy to have finished top 20. I can’t wait until next year, definitely have to come back to Tulsa. The crowds, the prize money and the fields, how could I not!
Next up was Tour of America’s Dairyland. 11 days of back to back crits. The fields were smaller than Tulsa, about 40-60 each day.
The first race at Shorewood was just like Tulsa, fast at 42km/hr. It was great to race with fellow Aussie Lauretta Hanson, we even spent some time off the front in a break together!
I might not be fast finisher like the sprinters, Tina Pic or Lauretta who have dominated Dairylands, but I gave each race a red hot go, improved my bunch skills ten fold and helped my team mate BrittLee finish 2nd in Grafton, numerous top 10s and finish 9th in the omnium.
I had a heap of fun at the Shlitz Park Crit where I spent some time off the front, and at Road America where I managed to come in 10th despite feeling rubbish all race. We lost Sara to a crash on day 9, which was a sad point. It also knocked a lot of confidence out of me. I finally got it back on the last days racing, just as well, because it was the hardest of them all. So fast and flat, so many riders got dropped. I was happy to hang in there, just.
I’ll miss all my new #squad friends – you’ve been awesome, I’ll miss the tacos, the coffee rides, the dancing, crap ghetto music, wholefoods and adventures!
I’ve done 14 crits in the short time I’ve been here in the U.S. I’ve learnt a lot, that’s for sure. I’ve got the bug and hope that I can come back next year for a longer period to guest ride with a team again.
I’ve stayed upright, kept all my skin and my Specialized Amira has been an absolute dream. Can’t wait to get back to Australia, have a decent coffee and put on my winter Specialized Securitor riding gear – I’ve missed it.
Thanks to my Stans NotUbes team mates, BrittLee for allowing me to ride for her team and for showing me around NYC, Sara keeping me company at Tulsa and for road tripping with me and Jen for the funny cat videos!
Huge thanks also to my Aussie Team Specialized Securitor for allowing me to guest ride for three weeks, can’t wait to get home and apply what I’ve learnt! Next up, Sam Miranda Tour of the King Valley!
Make sure you check out my weekly column on Ella Cycling Tips and my Strava files from racing!