Nature Valley Grand Prix Report
Before I get started with a blog update, I’d like to apologize in advance for the lack of pictures. You see, I’m technologically in the dark ages and haven’t replaced my broken four year old digital camera, and my phone just isn’t fancy enough to handle pictures. But I have thought ahead to e-mail people who did take pictures, and I’ll try to get them posted as they come in.
First, we have many people to thank for helping Specialized D4W/Bicycle Haus have such a successful Nature Valley (Best Amateurs all around!). Our two hosts, Lindsey Hamilton and the O’Day family couldn’t have been moreaccommodatingand helpful. Then we have Ralf to thank for keeping our Specialized bikes looking great (and working flawlessly). And of course, thanks Maggie for being the most fabulous team director!
Prologue – St. Paul Riverfront TT (6.0 miles)
As a new rule, no TT gear was allowed during the prologue. This meant no funny helmets, clip-on bars, or no TT bikes. So we pedaled as hard as we possibly could (in our drop-bars) down the riverfront, through the turnaround, past the start, and up a steep power-climb to the finish. For the day, the team finished in 11th place overall with the following resutls: Chloe – 34th, Melanie – 51st, Cara – 62nd, Jenna – 64th, Ari – 70th. Amazingly, I snagged the green Best Amateur jersey. This means, I had the fastest time of all the Category 2 racers.
Stage 2 – St. Paul Criterium (28 laps, 39.2 miles)
A technical and fast course with some sketchy pavement made for some exciting (andnerve wracking) racing. A large pile-up in the first few laps split the field in thirds. One-third stayed clear of the crash, one-third chased hard for a few laps, and one-third either crashed or put a foot down and claimed a free-lap. Thankfully, none of our team went down. After the stage, the team moved into 9th with the following results: Chloe – 16th, Jenna – 39th, Ari – 44th, Melanie – 56th, and Cara – 91st.
After the stage, I got to experience my first NRC podium and jersey presentation. In the spirit of leading the Amateur competition, I wore my green jersey for the podium presentation with my race numbers still pinned on (I didn’t know I was going to get a new jersey!), my sunglasses fell off my head on the podium, and I left before the podium presentation with all the jersey winners (in my defense, no one told me to hang around!). Oh well, I guess I was winning the amateur competition.
Stage 3 – Cannon Falls Road Race (0 miles)
With numbers pinned, bottles prepped, race-wheels on, call-ups completed, and a mean-looking storm in the distance, the race was put on hold, then cancelled. Reports of tornadoes, golf-ball sized hail, and 60-mph winds fast approaching was the reason for calling off the stage. What a relief! As it turned out, the storm was so severe that extensive damage resulted across southern Minnesota and there were 36 reported tornado sightings.
Stage 4 – Uptown Minneapolis Criterium (28 laps, 39.2 miles)
We all finished with pack time, and managed to keep the Green Jersey another day. This criterium was a favorite of mine for a couple reasons. 1) I’ve never seen so many spectators at a race before and 2) I believe most of them pedaled their bikes to the event. Minneapolis is now ranked (by Bicycling Magazine) the #1 city in the country for bikes and I can see why.
Stage 5 – Menomonie Road Race (76 miles)
Wisconsin is not all flat. The Menomonie course was relentless with one hill after another. The QOH (Queen of the Hill) time bonuses along the course split the field which required some tough chasing to catch back on. The course ended with four laps of a finishing circuit (with each lap having 18 corners!) which dropped a number of riders from the main group. I managed to botch the finish since I wasn’t quite on the wheel in front of me over the finish line. Even though I was just 2 seconds off the wheel (which stupidly assumed to be trivial), the results showed my time as 11 seconds behind the time given to the rider in front of me. If it had been one more second, I would have lost the Green Jersey for the last stage. After the toughest day of racing, Specialized D4W moved up to 7th in the team classification.
Stage 6 – Stillwater Criterium (13 laps, 18.2 HARD miles)
Coming into the day tied for the Green Jersey, I had to beat Sue Butler (another mountain biker) over the line to keep the jersey. Thanks to a call-up, I had a great position at the start and a goal of just hanging on as long as possible. The Stillwater Crit is famous for Chilkoot Hill. At 18%, the hill is enough to shatter the field on lap one. Of the 80-or-so starters, less than 15 finished the 13 laps without getting pulled. I had a great race, and while I didn’t get to finish all 13 laps I was happy to have made it up the hill with the lead group for half the race. The team had a great ride on the final day, all moving up in GC to finish:
27st – Chloe (Green Jersey)
31st – Melanie
32nd – Jenna
48th – Ari
68th – Cara
Ari & Judy (and Ralf) are already on their way to elite road nationals in Bend,Oregon. Chloe is going to switch back to the mountain bike for the upcoming Subaru Cup in Mt. Morris, WI. Melanie and Maggie are back in Arizona and Cara is on her way to Canadian nationals in Edmonton, Alberta. Wish us all luck and thanks for checking in!
Sweet, got some pics from Mel (and Facebook)!