GP Féminin International du Québec
|Just Ride the Bike
"I was a bit wary of getting my hopes up too high at this race. After all, it was my first UCI race and my second stage race and I was a bit intimidated by riding with the 'big girls.'
From the very beginning, the Schwab women, team director and support team made me feel comfortable. They answered all my dumb questions, offered advice and eased my mind a little. Elizabeth was especially helpful. Equally excellent was the fact that I didn't have to do anything but ride my bike! I slept, ate well and never had to do so much as grease my chain!
Every morning we'd have breakfast and climb into the van. Myke Berna, the team director would give us the low-down on the course and set out a strategy on the way to the race. When we arrived, Kern the soigneur would wire us with a radio and put bottles on our bikes. We'd choose from the team stash of race food while Ken the mechanic unloaded and checked our equipment. Then we'd warm up and race and come back to the van where clean towels, chairs, bottles of recovery fluids and sandwiches were waiting. Later we'd get a half-hour massage. This is the life!" -- Catherine Powers
Unfortunately, soon afterwards I got a loud rear flat, dropped quickly to the back for a wheel change. The action still went on in the field. Luckily, the caravan was accommodating and I caught on relatively easily. Unfortunately, then the lower bolt of my rear water bottle cage came off and I couldn't pedal without having to also hold the cage. I tried ripping it off but the lower bolt stood firm. I dropped back to the car for some mechanical assistance. Our mechanic grabbed onto my handlebars and not surprisingly I quickly went down. Myke, driving, saw me riding beside him, then I disappeared and he heard kudonk, kudonk as he ran over something. Later laughing, he told me his immediate inclination was to just keep driving hoping the difficulty would go away.
Luckily, he ran over the bike and did in fact stop to check on things. As the many men rushed around getting me a new bike, I looked at my leg and watched as a golf ball grew up under my skin. Minutes passed, of course, as all this occurred. I chased again with help and still knew I was way back. I ended up riding in with a group of four and then caught two more late in the race. Since I was off the back, I figured I had to be good for something so Christy Nicholson and I gave pace-lining lessons. Our group ended up really cruising along.
Well, cruising smoothly but slowly.
At the other end of the race, Leigh got the QOM from a break, earning herself a beautiful white jersey with little mountains on it. Melanie McQuaid and an Elita rider (probably Sarah) spent much of the day off the front. They were caught super close to the finish by the field. Sarah Ulmer won, Lyne took second, and Canadian Melanie Nadeau third. I wish I could tell you more about how great all of the Schwab riders rode but I just wasn't in any position to see that since I was out -- twice -- as soon as the action started.
After the race, the orgainization had soup, little savory puff pastry stuff, and mashed potatoes. I wasn't going to visit the medical tent but looked again at my little golf ball and decided the wound was deep and changed my mind -- Kern and other riders changed my mind. The medical people waived a cloth of hydrogen peroxide over the wound. "Is that clean now?" "oh, no. It's too deep for us to clean here." Ok, so off to the hospital. There (a clinic actually), I got two stitches (a first, for me), a tetanus shot, and an experience with the very nice Canadian medical community.
August 24, 2000
Today's stage was 123K with 2 QOMs and 1 sprint. Catherine Powers, Gretchen Jackson, and I policed the front. We knew Elita would want to keep Sarah's lead and would be doing the same. Action started at about 30K after the first QOM. A break got off and as soon as they were caught another went. Catherine Cardwell made it in. A little later a Canadian took off and Catherine Powers got on her wheel and sat hoping to get a free ride to the break. The field wouldn't have any of it and they were brought back sometime later.
The break which included Pam Schuster, Sybil DiGuistini, Catherine, Sandy Espetheth, Leslie Tomlinson, Sara Symington, and Nicole Gingles. About 10 miles from the finish Pam and Sara took off leaving the others behind. Catherine tried really hard to get up to the two ahead with no luck. Sara won with Pam second. Catherine's group was caught with 4K to go. Karen Dunne crossed the line 3rd but was given a 20 second penalty for sitting on a car after a crash. Leigh Hobson finished 8th.
I finished in the lead group and felt ok after going down yesterday. Only now am I feeling the stitched up wound.
August 31, 2000
Well, not much for ME to report. The team did great. Leigh, Catherine Cardwell and I think Sue Palmer ended up in the top ten. I ended up way at the bottom of the GC list after getting dropped hard and early in two stages. In the TT I ended up 7th, which is something interesting given the other days. However, as Sue's husband pointed out, I used to win TTs. And in the final day where the climbs didn't start until late in the race I was able to do some team work for the climber/GCers.
Catherine Powers did some nice team work and ended up seconds short of her top 30 GC goal. I loved having another NYer on the team (you can take the girl out of The City but you can't take The City out of the girl). The team realised that so much about me is very NY. In a new mellow/happy mood, I could live vicariously through Catherine. I had all the benefits of being mellow and none of the down-side since there I was sitting opposite myself every breakfast and dinner.
Canada is quite nice, despite two days of pouring down rain. They put on a great race for sure. Everything ran beautifully, on time, with spectators, and excitement. We stayed at a ski lodge. The hosts cooked great fod for us every day. They came to watch the criterium ("We're going to go and cheer you up", which was applicable perhaps only to me.) and watched every rider pass their lodge (I know because I was 2nd to last) on the final day.
I'd "do Canada" again.
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