10 January 2008

A Great Start

Things are starting to get busy for me, so I thought I would break my usual habit, and try to keep things pretty fresh this season. The hard thing is trying to find some down time this week, but I got a few hours today spare, and maybe even a little tomorrow. So think it might be time for some shortened reports, at least that way I won’t get too far behind. You should be able to figure it out a bit by now, when I waffle on, I’ve got lots of spare time, when you don’t hear from me for a few weeks, I might actually be working for a change. I have great intentions, but sometimes a few of my life’s necessities get in the way, but I’m sure you can figure it out as the season passes.

Oneone chases down the break with Alexis in it. Race #1

The weeks racing started the moment I landed, with the start about two hours from the time we arrived at the course. The racing started with a bang, right from the start, the girls were flying around the square course, with the worst corner right past the finish line. I had three Women to look after, but for the life of me, I was having trouble spotting them in the field. Out team clothing was still in the air, en-route from Italy, so they were wearing all kinds of various colours for the week. The teams were run by most of the States, so it was really hard to work out who was in what team. The start of each season is hard enough when many of the girls have swapped teams, wearing different kits than the season before, but you get the hang of it pretty quick. But this was crazy, with a whole load of different uniforms for me to decipher, as well as trying to find my own girls in mufti. But once they were underway, neutral service looked after the mechanicals, so I relegated myself to spectator and photographer, trying to spot my team mates.

Alexis wins the first race of the year, gets the yellow jersey, race #1

Right from the start, the pace was on, some pretty fast speeds for the tight corners, and yes there was a few crashes. I happened upon the ultimate spot, here I was not disappointed, with the first crash coming on at about the halfway mark. Funny enough, the only Kiwi in the field, Rosie McCall was the culprit, taking down about ten other girls, as well as herself. But things got a bit spread out, the heat was starting to get to most of the field. With a top of 40’c for the day, I pityed the riders battling it out for positions. Alexis Rhodes, broke out with about 15mins to go, and stayed away for the balance of the race. Taking the yellow jersey for the day, and a well deserved win. My other two team mates, Oneone Wood and Kate Bates (same team as Alexis for the week) raced hard, and it was hard to tell if they were helping out Alexis, or concentrating on their State teams.

The rest of the week continued much the same way as the first stage. The second crit was run out at Portarlington, this being the same course they use for the up and coming Geelong Tour. With a nice long climb to the top of the hill, the girls were starting to hurt, right from the get go. The best thing was, right at the worst part of the course, there was a nasty headwind, most of the riders were crawling, as they broached the top of the hill. Even thought the descent had started, you could barely tell with the slow speed of half of the field. But we retained the yellow jersey for the day, with a young 16 year old taking the win.

Alexis in Yellow making her move, trying to break away. Race #2

Things continued for the rest of the five days, with another win for us (Team High Road) by Kate bates, taking out the 4th race. Things were getting exciting, as there was about five girls who could win the series going into the last race. Sorry but the details are all a blur, I think I will use the old jet lag excuse for my tardy memories. But I am sure you can find the results somewhere on Cycling News. By the fourth stage, I had been working on a whole load of random bikes, seems there was a shortage of good mechanics around the teams, and I just seemed to be working on any, and everyone’s bikes. Hey, I didn’t mind, kept me from getting bored through the week. Most of the girls were racing in Europe last season, being English speaking, I knew most of them well enough, I just had to get over the ethics of the situation, (working on the oppositions bikes). But I wanted to make sure that everyone had the same chance, I hate the thought that they might use the bike as an excuse for not finishing or winning.

Kate looking good, middle of the shot. Race #4

With temperatures running up to a high of 42.5’c for the week, it was a killer trying to work in these conditions. I was running from tent to tent, sorting my own team riders out, also I was dragged from bike to bike all over the pits. I am sure I lost about 10 litres of sweat a day, and still waiting for some team clothes myself, my all black outfits for the day, were kind of a heat trap, my phone reading 52’c when I pulled it out of my pocket on the hottest day. But who knows, could have been the fact that I was watching 60 girls on bikes whizzing past me, every few minutes. The last three days were right on the beach, but for the all the right reasons, I could not even dip my feet, let alone chill out in the seas for a few minutes. Oh well, I am sure I will get a swim in soon.

Kate takes her first win of the season, race #4.

Next up the Australian Nationals, a few of the Men are racing, and a couple of the Women, so I am sure I will have a bit to do for the week.

And some pics here for you to look at.

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