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Archive for February, 2017

The Bump Circuit Race

After a successful season opener racing the Folsom Winter Crit with Senders, Illi and Diane, I was pumped to line up again the next day at The Bump Circuit Race in Livermore with Sara, Melanie and Illi. Sara and Melanie had raved about this race in the preseason, so I was pretty curious about the famed “bump” power climb—how steep was this thing anyway?

We lined up with a pretty big and powerful field, alongside some ace sprinters. Each of us covered attacks early on, but things really got moving when Melanie put in a massive attack and went off the front solo. Nobody matched it, and Melanie buried herself for the team for most of the first lap, allowing the rest of us to take it easy and wait for the next development. That came soon enough, with a strong attack from Hanna which split the field. Illi and I ended up in a group of 5 with Hanna, Claire and Megan Ruble. This was a motivated group so the pace was high, but Sara and Christina from JL Velo were chasing hard. The gap to Melanie came down slowly, and we caught her just at the top of the bump. After that, our group of 5 stayed together, with Illi and I able to chill out because we knew our teammates were hot on our wheels.

Finally, we were closing in on the bump for the last time. Our group of 5 lined up side by side across the road, each of us looking for an avenue to open up the sprint, but nobody ready to make the first move. As we rounded the final right-hander, I could feel the pace pick up. I thought it would be hard to come around the leader on the bump itself, so I kicked hard to come around on the left in the downhill before the bump. However, my plan to switch from the big to the little ring mid-bump was…not a good one to say the least! I was mashing, mashing, mashing, and then suddenly…oh no! I was spinning, spinning, spinning! My chain had not shifted at first, and then suddenly moved to the little ring! But Illi, who had a much smarter plan to tackle the bump, solidly kicked on to the line and won the sprint!

All in all, I was pretty proud and thrilled by the teamwork we used to win this race, and I drove home high on the satisfaction of being part of a smart and strong team. A solid weekend of racing for the Folsom Bike/Trek women in the
books!

Also, a big shoutout to our sponsors, Folsom Bike, Trek, Bontrager, Jakroo, GU, Athleticamps, Oakley and Hoo Ha Ride Glide, who keep us on the best equipment, kitted, fed, comfortable and ready to rock it every race!

Liz

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Folsom Winter Crit

 

First, sorry that it has taken so long to get this race report up, things have been hectic with the start of race season aligning with job interview season. Me, Senders, Liz, and Illi came out for the Folsom Winter Classic crit for a kick off to 2017 – Judy, Fanny and Erin also showed up to cheer from the sidelines. We were all feeling fast in our new Jakroo speedsuits, which worked out well with the field waiting for Folsom to be the aggressors. Let than 10 minutes in, after some attacks and chase downs, two riders dangled very close off the front. I powered up to them and expected to be marked right away, but no one followed and I went right past them. With that separation, I didn’t like the idea of going solo for the next 40 minutes, so I put my head down and hoped I would catch the field before the race ended.

After 25 long minutes, I made it back to the field. The Folsom ladies that had been marking attacks, were eager to start attacking and having fun again. Even though they were always closely marked, Illi and Senders still managed to snag a couple more primes. When we got to the last lap, I found out designated sprinter, Liz and led her out to the last corner. She sprinted away and was the first one to cross the line, while Illi nearly caught her for third place.

With that, we started the season out with a sweep of the podium!

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Thank you of course to the volunteers and Sierra Nevada for putting on a great season opener.

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British Track Nationals

Illi Gardner

A few weeks ago I flew over to Manchester for the British track nationals. Most of the winter was spent doing track-specific workouts (a lot of time in trainer hell) rather than long base miles. We signed up a few months ago – I’m unable to compete in the US nationals as I’m not a citizen so we decided to just go for it. It seemed like a crazy idea then and was an even crazier experience but I’m really glad we went.

The level of competition in the UK is high. There is a massive focus on track in the BC system and everything is very structured. They were all experienced and relaxed while I was freaking out about warming up next to Katie Archibald (and trying not to fall off the rollers).

This was (slightly worryingly) one of my first track races. I started doing track in August for the Bi-National games in October, which I loved, but the field was small. We went down to the LA track a few times, which is similar to Manchester, but nothing could quite prepare me for this!

The first few days were spent adjusting and testing out the track. I got to join a team GB session which was quite scary but very cool! I also had the opportunity to test out the starting gate, which I had never used before.   

My first race was the 3k individual pursuit on Friday. I was terrified. I had a good start for the first time ever but ended up completely fading (first lap was 23 seconds instead of the usual 25…then 17…a few 18s…and into the 19s by the end…). It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great. I know better for next time.

The next day was the scratch race. Qualifiers were in the early afternoon and finals in the evening. The top half of the two heats moved on to finals. There were twenty-something people in my heat and throughout the race I made sure to stay relatively near the front. Qualifiers were half the distance of finals; 20 laps, which took five minutes or so. With five to go it got a bit out of control. I found myself right at the back and panicked. I was desperately trying to move up, but so was everyone else around me. Suddenly there was one lap left and I was definitely not in the top half and so wasn’t as careful as I should’ve been. I’m not entirely sure what happened: we were at the first turn and I think I was trying to get in the same space as the girl next to me and we bumped shoulders. Phew, stayed upright–or not. I hit the wheel in front (really? How did I manage that?) and went down along with two others. Physically I was alright but really embarrassed. There was no reason to crash, and I obviously couldn’t finish the race because it happened in the last fifteen seconds. To fly all that way and waste everyone’s time, money and effort…I was really angry with myself. I broke my helmet but managed to borrow a spare – everyone was very supportive.

Next, and last, was the points race. My positioning was terrible; I left giant gaps and just wanted to make it through upright with yesterday’s crash still on my mind. Hopefully with experience I’ll be able to move on from things like that with less difficulty. It was a pretty fast heat but I could’ve done a lot better.

We watched finals which was fun. The velodrome was packed. I wish I had gotten to ride in them but it was all down to me so I can’t complain!

Although my results weren’t good, it was a crazy and fun experience. I got to race with those at the highest level, meet lots of nice people, and learn a massive amount.

We wouldn’t have even been there if it wasn’t for Beth and Jakroo – her help with training and support during the trip was amazing – thank you! I will learn how to do all the bike maintenence soon, I promise…

Now on to the road season!