HP LaserJet Women's Challenge
Stage 11 Individual Time Trial, 40K
Idaho, May 18, 1999
What a day! The course was one hour from Boise where we're now staying, so we decided last night to forgo driving the course and seeing the infamous 13% climb. This morning we headed out at 9am to the course. Our first rider went off just after 11. We wanted to have time for getting settled, for her to warm-up as much as she wanted, and for all of us to see the hill. We drove the course backwards from the halfway point.
WOW! It was wide open and windy (from the side) and hot hot hot. And we were descending the whole time which meant in the race we'd be climbing the whole time. We drove and drove until we got to the top of the climb which we would race up. The view was stupendous. The Snake River looks an awful lot like the Grand Canyon. We were at the top looking out and down. We started at the bottom of this, at the river -- way down there! Oh my, we were freaked. The climb went on for a few miles. I had already decided to do a bike change -- from my road bike, for the climb to my TT bike, for the rest of the race. Allen Lim, our director, would be waiting for me up there, TT bike in hand. It was a good decision, once we saw the hill. No way would I get up this climb on a TT bike, in TT gears, on TT wheels.
Lots of the discussion amongst the riders before the race was how incredibly hard this course would be and how even in the men's' tours there wouldn't be something like this. My aim through all this was to remain calm and not psych myself out. My race started at the top of the hill. Wasting myself on the climb was not the way to go. I would make up any lost time on the flatter parts of the course.
The climb was as hard as we thought it would be. I used a 39x23 much of the way. Twice, I stood in that gear. Rolling into Allen for the bike change, I saw Anke Erlank, who started one minute behind me, ride by. I made a very quick change in cyclocross dismount fashion, and zipped past Anke. As we expected, the next 12-mile section, before the first turn, was the hardest. I kept thinking I was reaching the top of the series of climbs only to crest and discover yet another second top and then a third and on and on.
The corners were heavily marked by cones placed right in the apex of the turn. This didn't become evident until I was way too close and I skidded right past the first corner, did a U-turn and got back on track. The rest of the way, I really got into a rhythm and motored along.
At the end Mike, our mechanic, was so thrilled with my ride. All I could think of was water and how could he be so happy since I felt so awful. Turns out I had the fastest time so far. I held that lead until Longo finished and ended up 2nd. Big day, when I needed one.
The Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Bear and I got on the podium with Longo and Anna Wilson (3rd) and the rest of the top 10. Tina Mayolo had a great ride too, putting us in 9th for team GC. Cybil DiGustini, riding for the under-23 jersey, took it today when she knew she had to. Wonderful news after the string of bad luck team Elita has had at this race. No other jerseys changed hands since there were no sprint spots nor mountain sprints.