I am currently entering my 3rd week of what I am calling my own Grand Tour. Who needs to travel to Italy to watch or partake in the Giro d Italia? While the racing and terrain might be a level above my tour, know that my tour is definitely not for the weak.
After traveling and training all winter long for the track season, including World Cups and World Championships, I was looking forward to some down time or more appropriately some couch time!! And while I did have some, it did not take long for the racing itch to start. I have to be honest I was missing my Peanut Butter &Co.Twenty12 girls. (I know most of the girls on the team might be shocked to read that last statement, I am also known as El Diablo) So when the call came about the Tour of the Gila logistics, I was hesitant at first, but knew it was for the best. Thus began the start of my Tour.
Week 1- Silver City, New Mexico
The SRAM Tour of the Gila has been a long standing stage race in the United States, and somehow in my 17 years of racing I have managed to avoid it, until the last 2 years that is. I was greeted by my smiling teammates who were all eager for the high altitude, dry heat, and climbing, lots of climbing. I by no means am a climber, I don't like altitude, and I don't like dry heat so I was ready to race. There is nothing like pulling on your Peal Izumi kit that first day, bright and early in the morning and knowing you are going to be suffering like a dog in about 3 hours. What a way to start 3 weeks of racing. Some highlights of the week included development rider & teammate Tayler Wiles taking her first NRC podium, I followed it up with a 2nd place in the crit, getting pipped at the line by Canadian phenomenon, Clara Hughes. Some might say the Royal Wedding was also a highlight, but for me finding out my royal name (according to E-Online) HM Queen Lauren Arabella Tamayoham of Ashevillebury somehow seemed appropriate my teammates were princesses and duchesses; we certainly had a laugh about that. What can I say - some people are just born with royal blood. Peyton Skelton's kind wife Amy baked delicious scones for the occasion. It’s funny how many Americans became 'British' that weekend!
After Gila was over I was on a plane to my next location - ‘stage two’.
Week 2- Southeast Crits, otherwise known as Speedweek And speed it was. Nothing like some fast four corner crits to get the legs going! Oh and they were usually twilight races. After having one day as a travel/ rest day I started the first race in Beaufort, South Carolina, followed by a short drive to Walterboro, South Carolina. Then for another travel/ rest day we drove 3.5 hours to Charlotte, North Carolina. To make the drive more exciting, someone (I am not going to say names, they know who they are) decided to let the car run out of gas and sidetracked us about 30 minutes or so. Next up for the series was Spartanburg, South Carolina, followed by Dilworth, North Carolina. Yes while all these races are in the southeast region, they are not just one town over from each other. I had the pleasure of seeing the beautiful countryside that is the south. Last leg of this trip was a drive to Atlanta airport where I embarked on my 3rd leg of my Grand Tour- Tour of Chongming, China.
Week 3 - Tour of Chongming, China
So here I am currently after more than 24 hours of plane travel, sitting in my hotel room at the Tian He hotel in Chongming, China. What can I say a Grand Tour cannot be complete unless you travel around the world.
Fortunately between the start of this leg and the end of the last leg I had 2 days of no racing. I know most people might think I am slacking, really in the Giro they only get one day but they also don't fly for 1 day straight either. The first stage is done and dusted, and while it was pretty straight forward the weather tried to throw some excitement our way with decent winds and rain, down-pouring at times. We all survived made it through and ready to fight for the 2nd stage tomorrow. I even managed to get a time bonus, currently placing me 5th overall in GC. Hope the rest of the stages play according to plan as well. The Tour of Chongming Island concluded on the 13th with Tamayo's consistency placing her 7th place in GC with only 7 seconds separating 2nd through 8th place.
Since I am the only one that has completed all the stages so far in my Grand Tour, I am the tour leader and don't have to worry about the competition. So soon I will have a new line on the resume. Completing a Grand Tour is no small feat, and I will be happy to chalk one up for experience.
Thanks again to Peanut Butter & Co.Twenty12 for all the support, the Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter is like gold over here in China. Especially with some of the food they try to serve!
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The Exergy/Twenty 12 riders will be contributing on a regular basis to Cyclingnews, although content will have a team emphasis, its my hope to create a hub for women cyclists fun stories, informative articles, health and wellness tips and the occasional peloton gossip column.
The Exergy/Twenty12 team: Kaitlin Antonneau, Kristin Armstrong, Theresa Cliff-Ryan, Jackie Crowell, Andrea Dvorak, Cari Higgins, Kristin McGrath, Greta Neimanas, Jessica Phillips, Coryn Rivera, Lauren Tamayo, Alison Tetrick Starnes and Tayler Wiles. International riders include Canadians Rhae Christie Shaw and Heather Logan-Sprenger along with Switzerland's Pascale Schnider.