This,it is part 2 of the previous blog from Serene, talking to us from down under and still in a concussed state.We hope her a quick recovery and a get well soon.
The concussed (3 weeks and counting).
And so, the bad luck continues. What more can I say when my bike was one of the six that didn’t turn up at the criterium venue? I was out of GC contention right away after being awarded peloton time for the unfortunate DNS. Fair – but not so fair. 2m2s to 4 girls – with 2nd being a teammie – it was time to shelf away some personal ambitions and help Grace snare the yellow jersey.
My pleasure, and honour!
“The too-long road stage”
The time-triallist in Grace needed to do her thing, so she duly punctured 20km in. The wheel-bearing road captain, apparently a new niche that Sarah had carved for herself, selflessly gave up her wheel to get Grace going. Meanwhile, I got about my business and captured the full KOM points at the 28km mark. The next 20-25km went by, with me either sitting in the pack or latching onto those purposeful surges by SJ. There was no reason to drive the pace as I waited for Grace to make her comeback. She did, but not quite in time to contest for the intermediate sprint.
More attacks. Nothing went.
To be completely honest, I was stuffed. My legs were buggered and I was nauseated. The humidity, the travels, the lack of mileage/intensity from the yesterweeks and the (still) on-going post-concussive syndromes came together and rebelled in earnest. I considered pulling out but I had a job to do. There was only me and Veronica left to help Grace in her bid for glory – you just have that little extra percentage more for a teammate.
Thankful for a 15-20km respite when then yellow jersey wearer had a mechanical. The peloton ambled along at a very sedate pace by the coast, while waiting for her to get it fixed. It didn’t quite happen – tough luck – but that’s bike racing. I was dealt a bad hand the day before too. On that note, my utmost respect to SJ for finishing the stage sans seatpost.
We needed to get the bike race going. Everyone was getting rather restless.
The rest of the stage was peppered with the classic 1-2 attacks thrown by Grace and me, with #85 and #73 driving the pace otherwise. The former motoring along the flats and bombing the descents; the latter grinding up the climbs. I went for a few solo attempts after finding myself with a good gap atop the rollers but fact was that I was in no shape to do a Tony Martin. Grace wasn’t doing too well with her on/off cramps too so we just readied ourselves for a sprint finish. I was confident we would nail that anyway.
True enough, stage one-two. That bugger was cramping up sprinting towards the finish and was going to take to the comforts of her saddle to power to the line. But I wasn’t going to let that happen with another girl coming quickly behind us. I yelled at her to “GO, GO, GO”, which she did, and I crossed the line jubilant just behind her. Job done. She got all the bonus seconds and I took some of the other.
One step closer.
“The still way too long 2nd road stage”
A yellow jersey to defend;
A polka dot jersey to protect;
A green jersey to fight for.
We gave green a good go but SJ proved too formidable despite her misfortunes of the previous stage. Classy, aggressive sprinter – she deserved it.
I love dots (and stripes) so obviously the fashionista in me wasn’t going to let the jersey slip away. Full points on both KOMs as per previous stage.
Yellow – the all important one – was still to be played for. We weren’t too sure of the GC time gaps but were rather confident that all Grace needed to do was to finish with the same time as 2nd and 3rd, a good few seconds back, due to Grace’s superiority in sprint finishes.
Long story short, with the strength and unity of the Mavettes, yellow was never quite in doubt.
Sarah sat at the head of the peloton for a good 90km of the race – tapping out a solid tempo to deter attacks, and even more impressively, upping the pace to snuff out any dangerous moves. Singlehandedly. Superstar.
I had an armchair ride behind her, “orchestrating” her metronomic riding – I actually thought that she might start hearing my voice in her sleep for the next couple of days. Apart from my voice power, I latched onto a couple of attacks that looked dangerous but really, the Mavettes were always in control.
Veronica was the water girl of the day. You know, in that sort of weather conditions, it is akin to a lifesaver. Probably she wasn’t feeling as fresh as the day before, but she somehow kept going back and forth the bunch to ensure that our hydration needs were cared for. Top teammie.
10km to go.
Sarah had just used up her last ounce of energy to set me up for the KOM. She blew up; I blasted onwards and upwards. Managed a good gap but I knew it wasn’t enough to hold off the bunch behind me. Got caught soon after and an attack went. Grace was in tow, as were the other contenders, so the onus was on me to chase it down. I was stuffed but I still had enough in me to snuff it out.
5km to go. I was sitting 2nd wheel. 1km to go, I was still there. Shit. Not the place to be for an uphill finish. But it was alright, I had ridden the last 15km with Grace the day before and we had talked it out. Along the way during the stage, we also rehashed our plans.
500m to go, I found myself in front. I rode tempo and then opened my sprint with about 250m to go. I went as hard as I could but knew right away that the legs weren’t going to power the bike across the finish line first. The road veered right in the last 100m and that was the shortest line. I took a cursory glance to the side and as I had expected, saw Christina coming up on the right, with SJ in tow. I closed that gap “ever-so-slowly” and right on cue, Grace shot out of the dwindled bunch and blasted past me. She got a good gap right away, which SJ couldn’t close before the finish. Me? I faded but still made it across for a podium finish.
Let’s just say it was one hell of a successful weekend.
2 stage wins.
Bearing in mind it was the first time 4 of us had ever ridden together in a race, you couldn’t have asked for better teamwork and understanding. This is what bike racing is about – the camaraderie triumphs all.
Thank you Serene from the SaddleDrunk Team