In one week’s time…

Every day seems like any other, but so much is learned. Things I’ve notice:

  • Although my name is Terra, it’s pronounced differently since the rr’s are rolled. It’s fun having a new name in a new country. Te’-rra
  • In our small town of Alaro you rarely walk on the sidewalks because they are pointless in their narrow ways. You just walk the streets and try not to get hit.
  • Also in our town and many other small villages, restaurants don’t open until late or not at all. Or only on Wednesdays, Saturdays for dinner and Thursdays for lunch. Yep, makes total sense. Last night we walked all over and ended up eating at home because nothing was open.
  • This island functions on coffee and dessert! Seriously.
  • Daily I’m trying to sketch the day in writing (suggestion per guest Heather)…it’s hard.
  • Driving the van at times is NOT for the weak hearted with switchbacks and cyclist from both directions, however I’m feeling more confident daily.

Pictures from the last week:

Guests from my inaugural trip were wonderful! Shared music, laughter in sag van rides, tandem bike talk (and rides), and so much more!

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Tandem!!

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Just Hanging out with Marianne Vos at the gas station on van support day…IMG_0811

#guides

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Shenanigans!

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Monday was Palma day as uber tourist!

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It’s been a while so I went to church…was beautiful!

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We met some Unicorn friends from Vienna (#bburd) on Saturday and got in a huge coastal ride on Tuesday!

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That’s about 93 miles and 9,560ft of climbing –  so AWESOME!

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The bike shop in Alaro is quite the hang out for rainy days or just to get solid internet (where I currently am and it’s closing ASAP for siesta). Oh it’s also owned by the current Madison World Champion, David Muntaner!! Check out the walls and tables in this place!!

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I did a little recovery spin out to Sineu and tripped on a wonderful street market. Not sure why I didn’t take my camera to take shots but here is one that was taken along the way. I believe these little lambs had just been born that morning (dad, I used the telephoto lens on this one!).

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I love this camera!

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Lastly, even in rainy days are beautiful in Mallorca…we managed to get in about 50km in the rain with two climbs.

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Mallorca…where I fell in love with climbing

Well hot damn climbing becomes fun when you have an awesome place to do it in! Seriously, I’ve never enjoyed 5-7% grade so much in my life. Spin to win! Our fleet and what I’m riding is a Trek Domane 5.9 with Di2, a compact crank, and currently I have carbon wheels rocking. I am loving it! I won’t go into detail of the climbs we hit throughout the week, but EVERYTHING here is gorgeous! There is nothing I love more than riding through little villages and stopping for coffees. And the coastal line…don’t get me started.

If you would like to geek out feel free to creep on me via Strava…yes I’ve now caved to the Strava. Without power info it’s my only way of capturing that competitive edge. Keep in mind when I’m with the guests, times are what they need to be for those purposes.

Made it over in one piece and barely any jet leg. The key was staying up the 34 hours strait until Sunday night (left US Saturday afternoon). The flights I had were great and fairly direct. This picture is out my window of the moonlight hitting the wing. It was this beautiful the entire way!

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I am settling right into Alaro which is an adorable town right next to Santa Maria. Santa Maria is pretty center to the island, which makes it perfect to access a lot of riding all over the island without climbing out of a town.  We have a cute apartment and make great coffee every morning for (currently) the three of us, Jason, Lisa, and I.

One of the main streets in Alaro right outside the bakery in the morning.

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My room with a view…and wonderfully sunny in the morning :)

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There are many random details I’d love to share, but I’d like to keep this entry short. See pictures below for a few things (right click and open in a new tab for full quality view). I’ve discovered Skype and its beauty of calling/chatting for very little to nothing. Huge win there! For those looking for contact info, it’s listed below.

Skype: terra_james

Instagram: completerradise

EU Phone Number: +34 691 945 205 (iPhone people, text away it’s free!)

Mailing Address:

Read’s Hotel
Attn: Terra James (Trek Travel Guide)
Carretera Vieja Santa Maria Alaró sn
07320 Santa Maria del Cami (Mallorca), PM
971 14 02 61

My lifeline in Mallorca, a cortado. Spanish for cut, which basically means it’s espresso with just a cut of steamed milk vs. a cappuccino. Muy bien!

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My two co-guides, Lisa and Jason, showing me the ropes!

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For those following on Instagram you may have seen this one, Sa Calobra. It’s one of the crowned jewels of the Island. To me it was like Lord of the Rings meets cycling heaven!

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A nice little solo ride I did last Thursday. No coastal line in this one, but it was one of my favorite quiet places between Col de Orient and Col de Honor. These guys weren’t up for much conversation as they had their work on the greens.

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On Friday, we rode through Pollenca to land at Cap Formentor which is the light house on northern end of the island.

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Mallorcian!

Very early this morning Christmas came once again and we received the schedules for half of the season. I haven’t been this excited since I received my custom made track frame! There was no sleeping from 1AM-4AM. I will be based and guiding ride camps and luxury trips in Mallorca, Spain.

Also, there is plans to have a party on Friday, March 14th and anyone and everyone is welcome to stop in and say hi/bye! Details to come, but will be in Minneapolis. Possibly the Midtown Exchange Building Rooftop Party Room.

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Living the dream

I’ve been dreaming about this post for five months and now that I can unleash its news it’s hard to even narrow down the title let alone the rest of it. Over these months I’ve made a lot of changes in life. At times hard decisions were made that I wouldn’t have even considered months prior. In August after the last road race outside Chicago deep thinking set in about what I wanted for 2014. I started considering giving up the thing that’s meant everything to me for the prior six years, racing my bike. I sought professional help to piece out my thoughts. I even went to a psychic for input. No lie. She made sense and helped me realize in one sentence that I had reached the goals that I had set out for cycling. But her statement indicated that I no longer needed to race and could move on to something new. What? Quit racing?

Going into the fall I hit the reset button, new team (The Fix Studio Elite CX Team), different discipline, and less traveling. It gave me time to adjust back into living a normal life. As a team we set out for Madison’s Trek CXC (late September), however I could only race Saturday. I luck out when I pass through/stay in Madison as my good friend, Sean Peotter, lives there with his wife, Tara, and roommate, JV. That Saturday after a very poor performance on my part I got the night off! This was the first time all year on a race weekend that I got to cut loose. I took advantage of that around a bonfire in Sean’s backyard. Sharing great wine, marshmallows and stories. I couldn’t have been any happier. Little did I know how much that night would impact my next life’s chapter. Sean planted a seed that stuck with me my whole drive home.

This sprouting idea would mean giving up everything I currently knew as normal. I got home to my beautiful 1100 square foot condo with a downtown view ten floors up and asked myself if I really needed it? What did I really want? I wanted to travel. I wanted to enjoy riding my bike. I wanted less gray walls at work and more interaction with people. I wanted worldly experiences.

I sat on this idea for several weeks not really sharing it with anyone…mostly because it’s one of those “Are you crazy?” ideas. Plus I needed to be sure about this before springing it on my mom and coaches. It wasn’t until a long weekend with my girlfriend, Melissa, up on the North Shore sitting in a cabin with no electricity that gave me the extra push sending me off the ledge of my reality.

Upon arriving home I wrote a long email to my family. I’m pretty sure they had no idea how to respond. I don’t blame them. It gave my mom some time to think about it while visiting my brother Kory. Our first conversation (mom and I) happened almost a week after the email went out. She simply asked me if it fit into my five or ten year plan? I laughed and stated how those plans went out the window when I was 28 (the moment I raced the track for the first time). She warmed up to the idea (I think) after some time and talk.

Beyond breaking the news to my mom, breaking it to my coaches was second hardest. Why? Well they put a lot of effort into my training the prior year. I didn’t want to let them down and my potential for the 2014 race year was good if I wanted it. As always they made time to sit down for a talk and as always they were 100% supportive of my choice. Not only supportive but excited. I can’t tell you how damn lucky I am to have them in my life.

That was that…I started to liquidate. The beautiful condo – gone. The Ducati motorcycle – gone. Eight hefty bags of clothing – gone. Bike equipment I didn’t need -gone. To keep this less wordy…I moved four times in two months. I don’t suggest it.

A great quote I recently read in the book, The New American Road Trip Mixtap is “The more you know, the less you need.” by Yvon Chouinard. Stuff is just that, stuff. Experiences and connection to others is what you carry with you always.

Are you on the edge of your chair wondering what I’m exactly up to? After a long road I’m more than ecstatic to announce that I’m one of the newest Guides for Trek Travel!!! I will be based in Europe starting in just a few weeks and will be there until the fall. This coming Friday we receive our schedules so I’ll know specifics at that time, however Spain, France, and Italy are good possibilities (or all the above). The Tour de France is almost a guaranty as there is a large demand for those trips and Trek now owns the Trek Factory Team, which gives us very cool access.

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The process for applying to be a guide with Trek Travel has been a long one. Beyond a large bundle of application information you send in November/December, there is an all day interview in Madison in January, and then 10 days of guide training in Solvang, CA in February. If you make it through all that, you get a contract to start living the dream! There is an article written by Inc. talking about the process.

Now this job is no easy task! The application process itself is good insight into what’s to come. The logistics involved in making the magic happen is dumbfounding. I am very excited for the challenge! To have ability to travel months on end to places I’ve never been and meet people who will have an affect on me forever sounds like a perfect transition from…umm anywhere.

Yes, this means my accounting profession will be put on hold. It also means I will not be racing in 2014. At first that was a hard pill to swallow and now I couldn’t be more confident that this is what I want. In the cycling community I know a single rider can make a difference. I apologize to my racing and riding friends for my absence this season.

This post is two part; first because I wanted to share what I’ve been up to and why I am absent this year. Secondly, any time I’ve shared this news to friends and family there is a spark of what they crave in life followed with some hesitation. Not always, but enough that I’ve taken note. Go out and chase life! It may mean you have to give up a few things and be uncomfortable at moments and test your patients, but if it’s truly what you want it can happen. It’s not the lack of resources; it’s the lack of being resourceful. Bottom line, be happy and thank you for reading.

Oh and each year I seem to fall in love with a song, kind of like a theme song. This is 2014:

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Bike/Stuff Sale

Yakima Stickup 1.25” Hitch Rack (used just this summer) – $150

Fi’zi:k Arione CX K:IUM Saddle (new) Rapha Edition – $100
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Rudy Project STERLING HELMET in Le Fluo Green (used for a stage race and a few other times, never dropped) – $50

Thomson X2 Stem 10 degrees 31.8mm Length 100mm (new) – $50

SRAM XO 10-Speed Rear Derailleur (new in box) – $160

SRAM Force Carbon Crank 53/39 BB30 (new in box) – $260

Challenge Criterium 300 TPI 700x23c Black/Brown Road Tire(1) (New) – $40

WHEELS:
Mavic Ellipse Track Wheelset with Vittoria Open Corsa Evo Tires 23mm (used one season) – $250

BIKES
I am 5’5″ and both these bikes fit me nicely. If you are 1-2 inches in either direction, they may work for you as well!

ORBEA Aluminum Hardtail Mountain Bike:
• Shimano Deore XT Crank,
• Shimano Deore XT Shifters
• Shimano Deore XT Front and Rear Derailleur
• Shimano Deore XT Disc Brakes
• SID Team Rock Shox Fork
• Zeuz Carbon Stem
• Crankbrothers Carbon Bars
• Orbea Carbon Seat Post
• Kore Tubeless 26” wheels with Kenda Karma tires
• Selle San Marco Saddle
• Ergon GP1 Grips

Price $900

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Email me at terra b james at gmail dot com

Mandatory Mountain Time

Life is about balance, ying yang, work/life, our chi, in relationships, time dedicated to being on the bike, time off the bike, and maybe on which bike. Recently I took an entire week off my bike. There are several reasons why. I’ll leave those up to your imagination. I had to start back into it somehow and I couldn’t think of a better way to ease back in then to go mountain biking with my coach, Sophie, and friend, Amy.

It was my first time on the mountain bike this entire year! I have ridden countless miles and not one of them was over dirt (intentionally). It was incredibly zen! Prior to the ride I had even gotten my bike ready to sell (with reluctance) and after, I called myself a fool for the thought without having a replacement.

For me, I crave change. Let me rephrase that…I crave continuous differential experiences. Or like my co-worker, Stacy states, I have my hand in every honey pot I can find. Maybe I didn’t realize the magnitude of this craving until recently. However now more enlightened it will be taken into consideration for all avenues of my life, including riding. I need variation and I believe mandatory mountain time might be the trick to breaking up the monotony of training on the road.

Even today I got out on my CX bike over to Wirth Park. Every fall I rediscover how awesome it is to have a dirt play land within a short riding distance. It’s so liberating to fly through the woods, venture over obstacles, and nearly hit numerous trees. I wish I could record my internal monolog as I ride. This blog could write itself if that were the case because the thoughts flow like my tires over the rocks and roots. Hah, yes sometimes choppy and maybe not as smooth as I had hoped.

So the point is find your mountain time, whatever that may be.

Tour of Elk Grove

New Rule: Write race report within 48 hours of ending race.

That whole full time job and training keeps eating into my time to write and before I know it, it’s a week from the time I crossed that finishing line.

Last weekend was Tour of Elk Grove and the last NRC (National Race Calendar) event of the season. This meant strong teams would show and there would be plenty of opportunity to suffer on a bike. Interestingly enough all three of our races utilized the same pavement stretch of 4.5 miles. And flat as a pancake.

Thursday straight from work, Larry Foss (coach), Corey Coogan (CX teammate & friend) and I took off towards Chicago. With no use of the radio, we had plenty of time to converse. I greatly enjoyed the assortment of communication styles in the car. Both Corey and Larry were willing to put up with my inquisitiveness on a variety of topics for hours!

After a night’s sleep outside of Madison we rolled into Elk Grove with just enough time to catch the tail end of the managers meeting (that’s code for we were totally late). Friday kicked off with a 4.5 mile prologue (time trial). I was relieved to learn the prologue didn’t really count towards anything in the “stage” race. My time trial skills are minimal, however every time I complete one I am eager to get stronger at them (possibly with better equipment too). My thoughts run wild regarding time trials. It’s such a great place to learn about yourself, your willingness to suffer, and then to push that level further. Sometimes it’s just down right funny the shit you think about while on the bike. Earlier that day as our car raced into town for the meeting, Larry and I were testing the limits on our bladders. It was painful in all senses of the word. With one more question to end the road trip I asked Larry what hurts more, his bladder or a time trial. He said a TT he can handle, the bladder is a harder feat. With a not so legal move on our part to relieve ourselves, the question became a mute point…for the time being. It wasn’t until a few hours later as I raced against the clock that I revisited that question. As I felt the onset of pain in my legs I compared the two situations. At their peak I honestly felt they were pretty damn similar. However on the bike you have the ability escalate the situation with a lot less mess. Any way that’s a lot of words regarding a time trial I didn’t do that great at, but it was a fun experience. I liked the course (turns!). I finished 1:48 off the winner.

The following day we had an 83k “crit” on much of the 4.5 mile TT course from Friday. As Amy Cutler (FCS Cycling) mentions in her blog, the “crit” had an identity crisis as it was later identified as a circuit race. This meant no free laps, but there would be feed during a handful of laps. The race started off being fairly uneventful. There were a few sprint laps (bonus seconds) here and there, but the pace was manageable. Half way through the race, I was sitting top 20 when the race came to a screeching halt with a crash right outside the 180 turn past the start/finish. In slow motion I saw the initial two go down slightly to my right so I went left. Then the ripple effect of a few more girls crashed to the left where I had planned to sneak through. Tough luck, I was off the bike, running around the mess, and cx mounting back on to chase my ass off! I tried hard for a lap. Two Colavita gals came up and signaled for me to get on. As we came through the cash sight again, there was an ambulance on the course, a girl on a stretcher, and a neutral flag waiving. Perfect, we’ll restart! Oh no no no, as I sat up and the Colavita gals kept charging I realized they weren’t really neutralizing us. In my opinion this was total crap. When there is an ambulance ON the course, I think it’s cause to stop the race and restart. At that point with no free laps (as it no longer was a crit), there was nothing to do but start racing the clock again. This was a 2-day stage race with a time cut to worry about. I paced on for 20+ miles with one more eventful moment…a damn bee stung my thigh! Really jerk bee? Kick a girl while she’s down why don’t you.

I went back to the host home that night a bit disappointed. In part this disappointment stemmed from the reoccurrences of crashes this season. It’s one thing to not be strong enough to stay in a pack, it’s another to be handicapped by mistakes outside your control. There have been a handful of moments I’ve question what I’ve committed myself to and if it’s worth it all. I ended up making the time cut, so I would fight another day. Tomorrow’s a new day right?

Tomorrow was a new day! With the final race of 70k on a 7ish mile course with lots of turns (see below-ignore the red line, that didn’t happen) there was nothing to loose. Half jokingly my coaches said to imagine a shock collar around my neck, if I drop back past top 20, a button will be pushed. Got it, stay smart, stay out of trouble. I stole every spot possible, slithered into any crevice, confidently putting my bars in front of hers to entitle myself a slot, and at moments sacrificing a few watts to move up the side for better placement. It’s a hard act with a lot of smart women out there with the same plan. Like an ocean wave, you can be riding on top and in an instance another wave comes and you’re put under. Reshuffled like a desk of cards.

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Since the top women would be fighting for final NRC time (bonus seconds), it was sure to be a good race. I laughed hard reading Lauren Stephens’ (Team TIBCO) tweet of “Today is gonna be a #barfight at #ToEG Please keep your hands, feet and knees inside the ride plz”. The top teams drove a strong pace. I did do a fine job of staying top 20, but had no reason to be on the front. A group of seven had gotten away and the peloton hesitated for a few minutes. I assumed a representative of each strong team was in the break, which meant we might be having a parade ride in the peloton for the remainder of the race. Oh boy I was a pleasantly surprised when Optum called back their gal from the break in order to work for the team and the train pace began! A Fearless Femme gal hollered out in an embellished southern accent “We got’r selves a real good ol’ fashion chase on our hands” with a gesture of a lasso. Damn straight we did! We were flying! The course felt like a crit with its variety of corners and our speed. The gap to the break had grown to a minute. That did not deter those Optum girls. I’m dumbfounded at their strength driving that pace when I was barely hang on for the ride mid-pack. Someday…someday. With a half lap to go we caught the break in a corner. To be expected it was a craze of girls jockeying for spots and repositioning with three turns until the final sprint. I stayed on the outside to the right down a long stretch as I wanted nothing to do with flying elbows. Looking back this is where I would have done something different. I wanted to save what I could for the final sprint, but by conserving I missed out on moving forward on the outside. The peloton was like bees swarming the final turn into the sprint and there just wasn’t anywhere to shoot through. I finished with the same time as the winners, but in 44th. What a ride! Our time was 1:42 with an average speed of 26 mph. Seriously, if every race could be like that, sign me up! The night before I had questioned so much and that race reminded me exactly why I love racing my bike. Pushing your body to the limits, railing a corner perfectly, moving through the pack like a pro, and smiling to a teammate at the finish line.

It was a great way to end the road season. It sets a tone for the next season. I had originally planned to race a few more events; however there have been a few sponsorship struggles.

Stay tuned as I hope to post a few more times with road experiences (maybe even backtrack on a few races) and topics I’ve been reading about.

Thank you for reading!

The Next Chapter

With the conclusion of NVGP 2013, this means break time! I’ve now had a few days of no riding! Ok confession, I did an AM spin with a friend Monday morning, but just to enjoy the conversation. It’s been absolutely wonderful catching my breath! I had dinner with a friend and took my dog to an actual dog park! This weekend brings my cousin, Jen’s wedding and time with family. To say the least I appreciate every relaxing, non-pressure moment.

In regards to my arm that had been giving me pain (crash at Tulsa Tough) during NVGP, it is indeed fractured. Tuesday morning I woke up and decided I was annoyed enough to go get more x-rays. It’s an avulsion fracture of the radius. Which means a smaller chunk of bone has pulled away from the main bone. I like to call it my bone island…just hanging out off the coast of radius. I wiki-ed avulsion fracture the moment I got off the phone with the doc and this is part of the main description:

Generally muscular avulsion is prevented due to the neurological limitations placed on muscle contractions. Highly trained athletes can overcome this neurological inhibition of strength and produce a much greater force output capable of breaking or avulsing a bone.

Cool, does this mean I can consider myself a “highly trained athlete”?!?!? All I had to do is break my arm?

All kidding aside, I’m glad I checked into it. I will be a lot easier on it than I would have otherwise.  It will be several weeks of stabilizing the arm and icing. Nothing major will need to be done and yes I plan to still ride and train. Per my coaches there will be no cobble training though.

Looking forward, I’m excited to go back into training mode. I love racing, but I also LOVE training. Now that the weather is better it will be fun to get hours in on the bike with fun groups.  It will also give me time to reevaluate what the rest of the summer looks like, reflect on the lessons I’ve learned, and what areas I can improve.

Thank you to all those who were so encouraging during NVGP and cheered me on!

NVGP Day 2

I had that good feeling heading into 93 miles. I wasn’t really nervous even though this was the longest road race I’d had ever raced. We started out SO conservatively which was very surprising since there was a KOM at mile 5 and mile 10, then sprint points at mile 20. It was a giant group ride.

The first KOM came and went almost like nothing happened. Then something happen for us (Kenda). Amity and Parrish attacked the group right after the first KOM. SWEET! This means I have something to do, to think about. So up to the front I went. Sitting in the top 3-8 riders checking out what was going on. Soon Gaby and Jenny were up there with me doing our best keeping eyes out for anything. However Optum pretty much just kept their train. They didn’t like us there, however none of their verbal abuse even came close to pushing me back. As long as I have a reason to be up there, I will be. With that we stayed up there while Amity and Parrish took KOM at mile 10 and also the sprint points (in reverse order) at mile 20!! Hell yes, pretty cool little move and show of strength. Proud of my teammates!  Shortly after the sprint points they came back. The race continued with some fireworks off the front for about 10 miles and then simmered again. Really uneventful. Fine by me as road racing isn’t my strength (yeah, we’ve been over this). Miles 40-50 were hard for me because the road was a chopped mess of bumps and I felt every one of them in my wrist. I thought if this continues there is no way I’ll get 93 miles in. It seemed to get better as I didn’t remember much until we hit Cannon Falls again. We went through town and on one corner a few girls went down. Then the weirdest shit happened…they STOPPED the road race on our route out of town! Seriously it was mayhem of girls dropping trou and getting feed from support vehicles (yes, I took part). It was all due to a sheriff that had taken the 3 girls off the front down the wrong road in town!! Idiot. So we lined up, gave the 3 girls with the break their start and continued on our way.

For no good reason there was a crash a few miles later. I had been a big slacker sitting in the back, got around it, but had a lot of road to cover back to the pack. I burned some serious matches trying to bridge. I didn’t want to leave it up to the caravan to help me just in case so I put everything I had into it. Then the caravan came. I tried to get on one car that had a few chasers, but didn’t have it in me to speed up onto it. Finally Sophie came through with the Birchwood team car and I sucked that draft like I needed my life saved. Slowly I got back into the pack.

Since Optum made their train at the front nothing happened. Neither Lululemon or Tibco made any moves that stuck or moves at all. Optum was just protecting jerseys and only let smaller teams have breaks leave here and there.

There was a climb that I nearly fell off the back around mile 70ish. I was tired and there was feed at the top that I needed. I got back in with a little use of the legs. It was time to focus on moving up for the gravel section. The whole time thinking about gravel I was most concerned about girls keeping it up straight. I moved myself to the top third of the pack…perfect. When we hit the gravel around mile 80ish I realized quickly that my position was good, but I had something a lot worse to think about…the bumps! The gravel was about 1-2 miles long and sadly my arm was done. I no longer could hold my bars on the right side without shooting pain. It sucked as I flew backwards in the pack and soon off the back. I rode the remaining 1-2 miles slowly and knew after that even if I got into the circuits I won’t be a safe rider with my inability to hold the bars correctly. 83 miles is all she wrote and being off the back by a minute got us pulled from the race with a qualifying time for tonight’s crit.

I feel okay body-wise, but my arm concerns me. I will be taking some asprin or ibprofin in route tomorrow if I continue after tonight. I’d like to continue but it really sucks not being 100%. This race is something I’d been thinking about since October last year as a target and the best I can do now is a stage placing.

Any ways thank you all for the support who read this and send me messages! Hope to see a lot of faces tonight cheering on all our local gals who are racing!