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Tour de 'Toona

Hollidaysburg Circuit Race (60 miles)

We thought the rain would hold off. It didn't. On the third and final lap the skies turned dark and opened up. Lightning hit all around us. The climb on the second lap strung the field out.

I thought we were all attached and was wrong. I ended up in a group just seconds behind the field after the climb's descent. We surely would catch back on. Because of lack of strength (mine included) and group inefficiency we kept losing time until we cold no longer see the field ahead of us. So sure we would catch back on, I made the error of not sprinting to move around the gap I saw ahead of me.

The rain made the rest of the race not so fun. The descent is fast and moderately technical. There are also steel bridges, railroad tracks, and many corners in the loop. Lyne Bessette won the stage by attacking at the bottom of the power climb finishing sprint. Sarah took 2nd with Karen Spore (who rode with Charles Schwab at Solano Beach and Santa Rosa) 3rd. The rest of the Charles Schwab riders made that front group.

Martinsburg Circuit Race (80 miles)

For me, this race turned into a real low. Autotrader attacked often, never establishing a meaningful break. Elita covered the front diligently to retain Sarah's leader's jersey and give her another opportunity for a stage win. Mostly the race was slow with everyone waiting for the big climbing day to come.

Meanwhile, I struggled each minute to stay in contact with the group. From the day before I learned that huge gaps formed at every corner and with any increase in speed. With all my might I watched for those gaps and closed them instantly or sat on Caryl Gale's wheel as she closed them. I did finished with the field but it took lots out of me and I felt terrible and entirely depleted. Sarah won, Allison Sydor was 2nd and Tina Mayola 3rd.

The Epic Blue Nob, dirt climb, Sugar Run Road Race (95 miles)

Today the race started in front of Jaffa Mosque, rolled up and down for 22 miles before passing Jaffa Mosque again. We then headed out towards the Blue Nob climb, which has a long false flat lead in, becomes steep, then goes over three bumps to finish on a long false flat.

With the way I felt yesterday, my plan was to ride for the team on the first loop, guarding the front, bridging gaps or whatever else was needed. As soon as I woke this morning, I realized I felt good and would probably end up dong the whole 95 miles. Surprised by this, I kept these thoughts to myself and waited until we started racing.

In the race, I was ecstatic about feeling like a bike racer again. I easily rode in the front and did my work. I got a flat and easily caught back on. I easily got water for the team before the climbing started. Over these last months of feeling bad, I promised myself that I would treasure any moment I felt good, so I spent the entire race thinking how cool it was to be able to ride my bike.

Once the Blue Nob climb started I knew the real racing would begin. The field has been waiting for this since the prologue. Lyne Bessette had been riding quietly for the last days as had Tracey Guadrey. On this course, Blue Nob splits the field irreparably. Once over the climb, each group stays as is. Lyne attacked at the very bottom, taking with her a group of about 20. The Charles Schwab climbers Leigh Hobson, Katrina Berger, and Catherine Cardwell all made that group. With them were Anne Amplonius, Annie Gariepy, Sarah Ulmer, 3 880.com riders, all the Autotrader riders.

Marie, Laura, and I finished the race together in a large group including many of the Elita riders, who have been riding for Sarah all week. Up ahead of us, Lyne made her move on every climb splitting things up. It came back together each time until the final climb when she stayed away with Tracey Gaudrey alone trying to catch her. In the group behind them Sarah and Annie Gariepy with Catherine worked to chase those two ahead. Lyne won by minutes over Tracey who came in 2nd by 20 seconds. Tina Mayola won the field sprint for third.

Leigh took third in the climbing competition, by making Pam Schuster cry on one of the QOMs. Despite her moan, Pam retained her lead in the climbing competition. Lyne Bessette took 2nd.

 © 2000
 Elizabeth Emery
 John Tomlinson
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