|- by Laura Weislo of Squadra Coppi|
How NOT to prepare for a big race:
Don't lose your wallet complete with credit cards, ID and race license a week before you leave for the Big Race. I dropped mine somewhere on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Boone last weekend. I'm sure it's in a trash can somewhere, money removed. I only lost $25, but spent a week running around crazy trying to get a new driver's license, credit cards and most importantly, a USA Cycling race license.
In previous years, I may have been up a creek on this one, but since the re-organization of USAC, the member services folks have gotten much more efficient and helpful. I owe many many thanks to Linda Buffetti for playing fax-tag
and getting me that all important piece of paper that says I can race.
Armed with shiny new credit cards and a new driver's license with a slightly less horrible photo, I prepare to take off from the dreary rain of the east coast to sunny southern CA for the Redlands Classic stage race. Six stages long, this race will be the first really high-profile race of the season for most of the North American women's teams. I'll be happy just to survive to finish this race - I'm sure I'll experience levels of pain I never thought possible.
The usual suspects will be battling it out - Genevieve Jeanson, Lyne Bessette, Kim Bruckner... but I'm hoping for a surprise upset by a relative unknown like maybe Velo Bella's Lynn Gaggioli or Felicia Greer. They have both been putting in great performances in the early season stage
races and both are very good climbers. I think being a climber will be very important in this race.
Stage one is the Mt. Rubidoux Time Trial. At 5k, it's not long and with only 400 feet of elevation gain, it's not incredibly steep. This should favor power climbers over the slight of build, but a rested Genevieve Jeanson who skipped Solano this week will try and break her record time from last year of 9:26. Expect the time gaps to be pretty
small on this short stage. The town is throwing us a great free spaghetti dinner after the race. I hope to get in some major carbo-loading and schmooz with all the famous people.
The second stage, the Highland Circuit race, should break things wide open. At 66 km, it's not a terribly long stage, but with about 500 feet of climbing on each of eight laps and two KOM and two sprint bonuses, this stage will separate the contenders from the pretenders.
Those hill repeats should be a great warm-up for the third stage, the Oak Glen Road Race. At 130 km, three mountain points, one sprint bonus and an uphill finish that gains nearly 2000 feet in less than four miles, this stage will send some women packing for home and others will be losing many minutes in the last few miles. I hope Tuesday's schmoozing will have gained me some allies in the peloton, because I won't have anyone to feed me in the race. Perhaps if I'm really nice, I can get a bottle or two from some nice people. Staying well hydrated and eating lots in the early part of the race will be very important in those last couple miles.
The fourth stage is a new one, the Sun Panorama Point Road Race. Sure, it's only 64 km long, but with a ridiculous climb that gains over 300 feet in less than 1000 meters and has grades up to 20%, this stage is going to break some legs. I wouldn't be surprised to see some women walking up that climb, especially since we get to do it four times.
However, I wouldn't expect the climb to change the overall GC much, since there's a screaming descent on the other side. I just hope I can get through this stage without falling over.
The fifth stage is a criterium through downtown Redlands. A technical circuit with two turns greater than 90 degrees, this flat race will be redemption for the sprinters. Look for Tina Mayolo-Pic to try and get revenge after being pipped by the quick and wily Nicole Freedman last year. All those turns are going to be murder on the girls in the back of the pack because of the accordion action. This could spell disaster for some tired legs, probably mine.
The final stage this year is the Sunset Road Race. I hear the circuit is less technical than last year, but it still has plenty of climbing, so there could well be some re-shuffling on the GC. The fast chicks will be battling it out, and the pack fodder like myself will be praying to every deity they can think of to just hang on. The rules
state that lapped riders will be withdrawn and receive a penalty of 35 minutes for the first lap and 25 minutes for each lap thereafter... I'm not sure what that means exactly, but last year half the peloton lost over an hour on this stage. That's just crazy.
Wow. After writing this, I am starting to wonder why the heck I'm flying across the country and paying $180 to enter this race! I'm sure it will be an experience to remember. It's too late to chicken out now, and as my coach tells me frequently "Don't be a wuss." If I have enough energy, I'll try to act as an "embedded reporter" and send in some notes from the field.
Until next time...
Laura Weislo's on-line diary can be found here!