May 29, 2008
The following is a diary from Colavita/Sutter Home rider Kristin McGrath at the Tour of Gila.
Every year the USWCDP comes across and works with a new rider that really stands out, riders like Alison Powers, Mara Abbott and Katharine Carroll. I think this year's standout will be Kristin, she comes from a big sports background (University of Tennessee swimmer and soccer star) and a big family where she was the only girl so she is tough and determined.
She finished last season as a total unknown but to Colavita/Sutter Home's credit, when I told it this is a rider it should give an opportunity to, it added her to the team. - Michael Engleman
Heading down to Tour of the Gila I felt fit and ready to race. After an awesome massage and then to my food sponsor to stock up for the week, USWCDP director and coach Michael Engleman and I were off to New Mexico. We arrived at our host house on Monday evening and immediately headed out for a spin. After eight hours in the car, my legs felt surprisingly good!
On Tuesday the search for coffee was on. Luckily, we found a great coffee shop right off the bat! A fast trip to the store and we were set with the rest of our food for the week as well as team radios and a French press. Openers on the time trial course again showed me my legs were ready to go.
Stage 1 started with nervous crashes and lots of wind. I successfully completed my first feed (ever) from the car and I participated in the pee break without peeing on myself! I avoided the crashes and the gutter and was ready to climb when we reached Mogollon.
After the first pitch and the flat section, the real climb began. I started to ride tempo and was a little surprised when I looked around and nobody was with me. I was leading the race…then Leah Goldstein caught and then gapped me with one mile to go. I kept her in sight and finished second. Wow, I just finished second in a big race.
The next day I stayed at the front and did my best to stay out of the 50 mile per hour head winds. The time trial came quicker than I thought and I was trying to tell my legs that they felt awesome even though they were feeling a little sub par. I went as hard as I could in the TT and was a little surprised when I finished ninth, maybe the positive reinforcement made it to my legs.
The criterium also went well, which meant Gila Monster was soon to come. My legs felt pretty good when the day started and I was ready to race. After the feed zone the attacks started coming fast and furious all the way to the climb. I did my best to keep my legs fresh but all the sprinting and nervousness took enough out of my legs.
Once the climb started I was with the lead group for a while until my legs finally decided not to go that hard any longer. Michael cheered me on as I time trialed 15 miles to the finish by myself. I managed to hold off a chase group of five to finish sixth on the stage, but the damage had been done. The lead group put enough time into me to bump me to fifth place.
I was bummed I couldn't defend my second place, but overall the week was a success. I learned a lot about stage racing and I was excited that my body responded better to the stage race than it had in Redlands, only one month before.
Now it's off to Mt. Hood!