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Suze Woods Journal
 
By Locutus
Date: 8/3/2002
Suze Woods Journal
 

TOUR DE TOONA 2002 – JULY 29-AUGUST 4, CENTRAL PENNSYLANIA
Stage 1 – Altoona Individual Time Trial – 3.5miles (5.7km)

3.5miles and it was mostly uphill, but gradual enough that after pre-riding the course we opted to put aero bars on.

We didn’t start till 7pm, which was great as the heat from the sun was slowly diminishing. We had to start up one of those ramp things, just like the Tour de France! 10m after the start ramp there was a sharp right hand corner, having never started on one of these before I was scared I was going to completely miss the corner and plough into the barrier. I didn’t, I took the corner just fine and actually felt pretty comfortable though out the TT. My time of 10.46 was 19th fastest and not too many seconds off the top ten. It’s always nice to get the first stage done. Manon Jutras (Rona) narrowly won from Leah Goldstein (Team Boise), there times we’re just over 10mins.

Stage 2 - Johnstown Circuit – 73.2miles (115km)

Crash – that used to be my nik name at the bike shop when I rode Mt Bikes, but it’s been a long time since I’ve gone down in a road race.

Today’s course started in Johnstown. I took an instant disliking to Johnstown when we arrived there, parking was impossible to find, traffic jams everywhere and everyone seemed in a rush or grumpy.

RONA was riding ultra aggressive today so there were heaps of attacks. It was a 24mile circuit with only one major hill and everything was been chased down. Lap 2 I got in a great break of 7, but we only lasted about 5km. Up the hill on lap 2 and a group of 10 got away, I was so annoyed as I was caught back in the bunch and couldn’t chase across up the hill.

The last 10km of the course was really technical winding its way though city streets. Somewhere into lap 3 we caught the front group and the attacks began again. 5km to go and we were flying…I stayed near the front (away from the crashes – I thought). Around a corner and a Saturn rider when down in front of me along with several other riders. I had nowhere to go but over her and over my bars. Luckily for me I only hit my knee and sprain my wrist slightly, but by the time I untangled my bike I had lost the pack. I joined another rider and we went as hard as we could to the line – losing 48 seconds to the bunch. Nicole Freeman (RONA) won the bunch sprint. I was annoyed to have crashed, but count myself luckily that I didn’t do myself or bike any serious damage.

Stage 3 – Altoona to Johnstown Road Race – 101 miles (160km)

It’s the 3rd time I’ve finished a race in tears since arriving in America, the first was at the top of magic mountain during HP, the second was after climbing 7000ft in 100F in the Cascade Classic…but today surpassed all the others. Today was the worst sufferfest. Today we rode 101miles(160km) and climbed nearly 8000ft, raced for over 5hrs and to make matters worse we didn’t start till 1.30pm, so it was stinking hot and the first feed zone wasn’t until 57miles into the race.

Well we had 1.2miles of flat before we began the first climb of the day, fortunately while the pace was steady it wasn’t as frantic as I had been dreading and I stayed happily with the front group and gradually the pack behind regrouped. From the top of the first climb the course undulated but gradually climbed to 40 miles and the first QOM. At approx. mile 15 Heather Albert (Goldy’s) attacked solo..."let her go and fry out there" was the call from the big teams…a call they would no doubt live to regret as her lead steadily grew to 7mins.

I stayed sheltered in the peloton as much as possible knowing that the climb at 70miles would decide the race. Eventually some of the teams got organized and decide to chase Heather, they actually wanted our team to help…but being a composite team (Total Trainer) and our highest GC is 14th we smiled and shook our heads.

72 miles and Blue Knob loomed above us….I gritted my teeth and held on to the front pack till 1km to the top…I found a new max heart rate 191 (4 beats higher than before)…Over the top with Jessica Phillips (team Saturn) and 2 Diet Rite girls and we quickly chased the front 6 down.

The only thing that keep me going up Blue Knob was that is was only 20miles from the top and surely it had to be all down hill….I was totally wrong they found every stupid hill between there and Altoona. About 15miles to go and I totally blew I thought I was going to throw up, I drank as much as the officials could give me and sat on the back of the pack. Up one of the steep hills our pack was groveling…I thought I was in my big chain ring…I look down and I’m in my 39/25 - bad sign.

5 miles to go and people start attacking – our group is now about 15. God can’t people just ride together to the end…I know its racing and if I’d had any energy I would have done the same…the 1km sign is a huge relief and I use the last of my energy to cross the line…not sure on the place top 15 I guess. I’m in a totally bad state, I can’t eat, drink or talk for at least 30mins. I feel bad, as I can’t even thank the people who are helping me. All around there are other cyclist lying on the tarmac…slowly, slowly, we recover and talk someone into loading our bikes onto the roof…its 8pm by the time we drag our weary bodies home. Heather was awesome today, I don’t know how she stayed of the front by herself for 90miles. Sandy Espeth and Laura Van Gilden took 2nd and 3rd. Only 60 miles tomorrow and 4 more days to go.

Many thanks to our host family – Joe & Marcy, my teammates Erin, Laura, Melissa, Cindy, Kristen. Penny Farthing Cycles, Wgtn…2 months of trashing and the bikes still going sweet and all the local Wellington riders (see ya next week). 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.


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