September 16 - Winning Cold in Queensland

After a dodgy start, Rochelle bags a good win in front of the family in the Women's Criterium at The Australian Junior and Teams Road Championships in Mooloolaba.

The Club National Championships on the Sunshine Coast last weekend was a great event!

The weather for our racing was perfect, the race circuits were well designed and the spectators' support was amazing. It's the first time I've participated in this event and I was very impressed. I'd like to personally thank all the sponsors, volunteers, competitors and spectators - thank you!

The highlight of this weekend's event was having my family present to watch me compete. I was especially delighted to see the smile on my four-year old sister's face when I won the Criterium last Sunday.

I started the 91km road race yesterday feeling a little 'under the weather'. I had spent two days in bed on Thursday and Friday due to seriously over training earlier in the week. I arrived in Brisbane only last Friday after a marathon trip from Venice to London to Los Angeles and then to Brisbane. After a long break (time off the bike) in Europe I was very eager, extremely eager, to recommence training. Warren McDonald had e-mailed my training plan for the next couple of months and whilst sitting down looking at it, I found myself getting really motivated.

So, I attacked my gym sessions and road rides with all my might and determination, but perhaps just a little too hard, too early. I've learnt a valuable lesson; jet lag can take a couple of days to take its toll. I lasted only a few laps of the road race the Saturday before last, knowing from lap one that the body was not coping. I needed to dismount the bike and head home (to my aunt and uncle's place at Mt Coolum) and crawl back into bed. I was extremely disappointed that I could not push through the race, knowing that some of my family were there watching.

I had a job to do that Saturday night. I had to mentally convince myself that my body could and would be ready to go the next morning for the criterium.

The Sunday morning was not smooth sailing, neither mentally nor physically. I woke up after a deep sleep with a head cold and allergies. Packing the car and preparing breakfast left me feeling exhausted. I fell asleep during the 30-minute car trip to the start, but woke upon our arrival at the race venue feeling a little better. I assembled my bike, pumped my tyres and rolled over to the course. For some strange reason I found every lady entered in my race (except me, of course) waiting on the start line. It was one minute past nine and the race was scheduled to start at 10am. Then the commotion started and my heart rate started to elevate rapidly, a race director informed me that, as of the day before, the race's start time had been changed - therace start was now 9am, not 10am.

I requested five minutes to use the bathroom and take a few deep breaths. I then entered the course and rolled onto the line with legs as cold as a dipping pool! I was praying for a calm start but we all know that in sport, when it comes to competing, one will run with any opportunity or edge they can take over a competitor. With their warm legs, the women attacked out of the blocks. This was certainly a shock to my system but I was consciously reminding myself to sit up and take some deep breaths, staying calm and being ready for every move.

Mid way through the race I found some confidence. I had coped with the aggressive start and knew that my hardest task for the day had been achieved, covering those early moves. The race was extremely short but rarely calm, with all the local (domestic) women serving out what they could, making the race fast and exciting. I was totally unaware of the capabilities of each of these women, so I had no choice but to cover every move. It was apparent from the start that the Queensland (QAS) women were working well as a team.

There were a few crashes during our race due to the tight and technical roundabout at the southern end of the circuit, but what really impressed me was that all the women who crashed managed to re-enter the race and then continued to be aggressive.

Skye-Lee Armstrong took control of the race with one lap to go. She moved to the front and kept the pace high. I sat behind Skye-Lee down the back straight anticipating my move. I attacked exactly where and how I had visualized - entering the final corner. I pedaled hard through the last corner and opened up a nice gap which set me up for the win:I held the gap for the final 100m, winning the Mooloolaba Criterium for the first time.

By the time you read this I will have arrived home from Brisbane, the final leg of my marathon trip home!

Take care, my friends!


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Rochelle Gilmore...