Tour de 'Toona Stage 6 Criterium
Altoona, Pennsylvania, August 1, 1999
The riders who haven't done the Tour de Toona asked what the crit is like.
All of us agreed it is the hardest crit of the year. The only rival is the
one in Idaho at HP Women's Challenge. This year turned out to be no
exception. Sarah Ulmer, one of the strongest riders here this year, took off
from the gun. Her Elita teammates went to the front to control the pace. We
still zoomed around the tricky course led by Odessa Gunn of Timex and others
wanting to challenge Sarah.
With just short of 15 laps to go, a few riders went down in the first corner.
It was bad enough that the race was stopped while medical took care of Erin
Carter. While the racing here has been strong, fast and competitive, I
haven't seen worse cornering skills in a long while. The courses here are
technical and exhausting, emphasizing weak bike handling ability.
We all waited on the line for many minutes, getting water, thinking about
having to restart, and geared up for the second half of the race.
After seeing the crash, the field seemed a bit calmer or maybe I was just a bit more
warmed up. Sarah Ulmer remained very active, trying to get away despite her
field sprinting ability. Carmen Richardson took a cash prime late in the
race. Leah Toffolon did an amazing job staying at the front in the action.
I suffered greatly, forcing myself to get to the front to stay out of
trouble. In the end, the ever-powerful Laura Van Gilder showed everyone what
she's made of and took the sprint off a great leadout by Christy Nicholson.
The next morning I flew to Winnipeg for the Pan Am Games Road race, losing only all of my luggage -- bike
included -- somewhere along the route. I took the opportunity to take a
really long nap and tried not to stress about not loosening up my legs after
the long travel.