Stage 3 - April 29: Inner Loop Road Race, 77/64.2 miles
Day of the team
As we were getting ready for today's stage, I thought back to what I was doing exactly a week ago. I was free-falling out of the sky at 162mph. It still freaks me out. My friend, Jessica Phillips, and I went sky-diving just outside Boulder. We were both very uncertain about the whole thing beforehand. And I'm not jumping at the chance to do it again. But it did make me feel like no matter how fast I may be descending on a bike, it'll never compare to the feeling of jumping out of that plane at 17,000 feet. I kept that in mind today while we were whipping down a 1000 foot descent with a lot of 180 degree turns. It's all relative.
Today was the day for the team. Team work is such a beautiful thing. I was so incredibly proud of my girls - they worked their butts off! Not that anyone had much to begin with anyway either! Rebecca Much really impressed us all with her determination and workaholic attitude. Lara really recovered well from her two-up 40 mile break-away yesterday to take the reins again today. And leading the charge, as always, was the ever-present, always at the front Ina-Machina. Kori and Brooke stayed protected with me in case I needed them at the end. All in all, it was the day for my team.
From the start, Ina kept tempo at the front. She and Rebecca set tempo up the first climb to Pinos Altos, and the girls all came to the front for the descent into the national forest. Just before the first feed zone at mile 21, Genevieve increased the climbing pace so much that just three girls were left...Kristin Lasasso from Lipton, Gaggioli, and myself. I was feeling kind of naked up there alone, but my team soon caught back on during the aforementioned 1000 foot descent.
The first attack came from Cat Malone (Webcor), and Anna Millkowski (Lipton), soon bridged up to her. We didn't mind at all, as the time gaps in this race are pretty big. Lara, Ina, and Rebecca set tempo at the front, keeping me safe and protected. The wind was really strong and a couple times we were hit with threatening rain drops. But overall, it was a great day for a bike race.
With about 20 miles to go, we hit a long, windy climb. We could see Anna and Cat ahead of us, so I got ready for the counter attacks. I was feeling really good since my team had done all the work for me so far. So I was ready to take over if need be. Iron-will Ina stayed at the front and set tempo straight into the wind with me on her wheel. Finally, she called in the radio to Rebecca to come to the front and take over. As soon as Rebecca got there, Ina faded off and floated to the back. I thought that was it for her, and I didn't blame her at all. She literally had been at the front for almost 65 miles. Rebecca pushed herself farther than she thought possible. I kept encouraging her as she rode the field to the top of the next climb.
All of a sudden, I saw a flash of pink and Ina came screaming up from the back of the pack and launched herself. I want her legs! At first there was no response from the field, and that was all the hesitation she needed. Away she went. Finally, Kristin Lasasso tried to bridge. There was a flurry of attacks trying to follow Kristin, but nothing stuck. Kristin eventually caught Ina and the two of them worked to come in together, finishing 1-2. The field sprint for third was quite jazzy. Five time bonus seconds were still up for grabs for third place, and Genevieve took those easily. I'm not sure how much was left of our field at the end. 78 miles up and down at altitude takes its toll on the pack. Our course took us over the Continental Divide not once, but twice. And there are definitely some tired girls on T-Mobile tonight. We were originally planning on going to the showing of 'The Tour Baby' at Western New Mexico University tonight. But now that the race is over, massage, dinner, and bed sound much better!