TOUR DE WHITE ROCK - 19-21 JULY - WHITE ROCK, CANADA, STAGE 1 - HILL CLIMB - 700m
Ahh... Back by the sea at last.
White Rock (so called because there is a big white rock here) is a small town about 45 minutes south of Vancouver right on the coast. I'm staying in an amazing house that looks out over the ocean - feels very much like New Zealand.
The streets here are the steepest I have ever seen - my house is situated about 3/4 of the way up a street which has a gradient of 23%! So steep that the footpath has non-skid concrete rails every foot of so - it was awesome fun to bike down - just not so pleasant for warming up on or for coming home.
Fortunately the organizers have found a not so steep street (Grad 15-18%) for tonight's hill climb. The hill is only 700m long, but after a few warm up laps I realize its not going to be easy. My legs feel particularly bad today - perhaps a result of the hard criterium just 2 nights earlier and I just don't seem to be able to get amped up for it.
Well it's hard to write much about a 700m race but here goes... I'm second off and start in the 39/21, onto the steeper section and I'm down to the 23... I ride the whole 700m out of the saddle - not sure this was the thing to do though. At the finish I know I haven't ridden well, but after the first 10 riders my time is still the fastest... I fell kind of embarrassed because they want to interview be about my ride - I know that soon my time will be blitzed, when the big guns start racing. I finish the night with the 10th fastest time, the hill climb is won by Sandy Espeseth I'm disappointed with my ride... it was just like a Wellington hill - should have been able to storm up it... hope the legs can recover for tomorrows criterium.
STAGE 2 - CRITERIUM - 30km
With the criterium not starting till late afternoon there was plenty of time for the legs to recover and to take a leisurely walk along the beach and of course to stop at the local coffee shops (no coffee for me - despite all the locals attempts I'm still coffee free!).
My plan was to sort of take it a but easy in the criterium, because tomorrows road race looks really hard and I'm worried that my legs are finally collected an overdose of lactic acid...
Plans never last... and I'm after the first preem a $20 restaurant voucher (great gift for the host family).
While the course is not technical the back 250m straight is a gradual climb, enough to hurt tired legs. Quarter of the way into the criterium Sandy Espeseth and RONA?s Manon Jutras break away and despite all attempts they are not caught and actually go on to lap the field. I take 3rd in the bunch sprint (5th overall - just in the prize money). I happy with how the race went, I feel like I raced aggressively and helped my friend Liza take a couple of preems... these criteriums are a real buzz! For the record Sandy narrowly beats Manon in the sprint finish.
STAGE 3 - ROAD RACE - 82km
At last I feel like I'm racing...
It's an 11.7 km circuit and it reminds me of the Hamilton World Cup Course... 2 major climbs, one that has mountain points every lap and a number of smaller rollers. With $100 up for the first QOM (which is about 3km into the race) I have a feeling that the race is going to be a long one.
I opted to sit in the bunch for the first climb as I figure its best not to use my energy all up in the sprint for the cash... I quickly realise that this is a stupid idea as a break develops so I hammer it over the top and bomb down the other side (it's a awesome descend) and take the sharp right handed and join the breakaway of 8 riders. I didn't realise it, but apparently the main bunch never got back on. The second hill is the steeper climb and I feel great and stay with the leading 3... Sandy Espeseth (Team Kuppa), Leah Goldstein (Team Kuppa) and Manon Jutras (RONA). Now I see the strength of a team. Leigh attacks and Mabon and I try and chase her down... I'm totally maxing out but I don't care, its just cool to be up the front and amongst the action (although it does occur to me that with 6 laps to go I may not make it). For a whole lap Mabon and I take turns, with Sandy sitting on... its great to be helping Manon out (well I hope I was helping), the RONA girls are cool (maybe I'm just biased cause they have a kiwi in there team!). Then the inevitable happens Sandy attacks and we can't jump on and she bridges to Leah... I manage another lap working with Manon - its such hard work and suddenly I long for the peleton to wrap itself around me and give me a break.
Manon drops me on the steep climb and I ride solo for a while before been caught by RONA's Andrea Hannons and Verizon's Erin Willing. We work well again for a few laps - then its back to team tactics with Andrea sitting on... I get totally worked over in the final sprint after finding myself on the front with 500m to go and finish 6th... I really happy, I think its one of my best races since arriving in America but I realize I have to get a bit smarter on the tactics side!
The organization was immaculate... the entire course was in residential streets - when I first saw the course I wondered how they would even run the event... but with full road closure and awesome local support it all went smooth as. So our Canada experience was great - we got looked after so well... I now have 6 days of rest - the longest time with no racing since I arrived here. From here it's across country for my last assault in the USA - Tour de Toona, 8 days of racing... looking forward to another adventure...
Many thanks to my host family - Al & Iris Claney, Liza for the ride and company, Penny Farthing Cycles and all the local Wellington riders. I just got this amazing bike fit done by Tom Coleman of Wobble-naught - Precision Bike Fitting and I feel great on the bike, it was really interesting to see what difference a few small changes can make... for more information check the website www.wobblenaught.com.
Bye for now.