Elizabeth Emery Sport
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BMC Software Criterium
Austin, Texas, April 9, 2000

On the road again. The biggest innovation of the trip was the modification I made to my travel accutriments. I got rid of the big bag with wheels. Coming home last trip, I realized that the bag itself weighed way too much. I've used instead a normal duffle-type bag. I also have paired down what I've brought with me - a travel outfit, one pull-on pair of pants, one pair of shorts, two t-shirts, a long sleeve shirt and cycling clothes. It's nice not to have ten bags with me in the van, then in the room at the host family's place.

Charles Schwab is staying with one of Nicole Freedman's MIT school mates in Dripping Springs, Texas about forty minutes from downtown Austin. As usual, we've taken over the place with tons of food on the counters and in the frig, suitcases, air mattresses, and people everywhere.

What an amazing race! I'm talking about the BMC Software Criterium in Austin, Texas. The field was star-studded, aggressive, and hungry for the big cash prize. The crowd was huge - estimated at 40,000, enthusiastic, rocking (it's a big music town), eating, and cheering loudly. BMC put on a well-organized, professional show.

Charles Schwab Team arrived from our host house in Dripping Springs late in the afternoon. We got dressed, hooked up to the radios, and got onto our bikes. Downtown Austin isn't the best place to warm up - traffic, one-way streets, big event going on. Laura Van Gilder had warned us about that so we had prepared to just roll around hoping to get in a few efforts between stoplights. Instead, the promoter had set up a couple dozen trainers right by the staging area. As Laura said, it was the nicest thing someone could do at one of these city races. The toilets had even been set up right close by. Someone was thinking.

Most of the big women's teams sent full teams here for the race. Not surprising, with the huge prize list -- $4,000 for the win AND!! $250,000 for the single person who wins all four of the BMC races scheduled throughout the season. Timex, Saturn, AutoTrader, Charles Schwab, Elita had five or six riders each. Jane Cosmetics, P & G, Proteus, and others were also represented.

photo ©2000 Royce Walston, Jr.
The race was sixty minutes on the four-corner, one-kilometer course. Adding to the excitement the first corner led to a sharp uphill. The best line to ride was on the inside, which meant all riders tried to be there, causing extreme congestion. It turned out to be easier to maintain momentum on the outside.

The next corner, after a fast downhill, had a shocking dip in the best line, meaning the better line was once again on the outside on the smooth pavement. The third corner had to be taken to the inside. The outside was slick and rough. The one multi-person crash happened there, when Odessa Gunn took it too wide and slid out into the barriers. On a different occasion, I felt my wheels rumble through the corner before I found the better line on the inside. At the start finish, there were cobbles and a large dip/pothole that I hit about 75% of the laps. At the start line, it was announced that there would be 15 primes - either for cash or Saturn Team Points - throughout the race.

The racing was exciting. Our host family watched and were super thrilled with the speed and the cornering. With the laps so short, each lap lasted just above a minute. Again, it must be said that the women racing scene is getting more and more aggressive. The first half of the race was fast though on the mellow side except for the prime sprints. At the halfway point, Autotrader started sending people off the front. The runner, Andrea Ratkovich, went a few times on the climb, showing her power. We were covering anything that went up the road as was Saturn, who, with their sprinting power looked for the field sprint.

Laura, the strongest of our team for the day, made it into a few breaks. With two laps to go, Saturn took the front and started their famous leadout starting with Suzy Pryde, ending with Clara and Nicole Reinhart taking the win. Clara ended up second. Karen Dunne finished third. Laura won the Saturn Teamwork Challenge and took sixth. I was 20th, just in the money.

 © 2000
 Elizabeth Emery
 John Tomlinson
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