Ossola Sport

Irena Ossola – Dedication and Determination

Italy and Belgium

IMG_3483

After Spain I traveled to Italy and spent the week training, visiting family and getting ready for traveling/racing in Belgium. On Sunday the 19th was Trofeo Binda. A Women’s World Tour race, and just 10km from my house. It was a top race and I saw the top women in the world riding on my home roads. I was disappointed to not be able to race it, but because my team did not come and was not listed for the race then I couldn’t either. Once a race is classified as UCI (international), it has to follow a whole other set of rules and thus becomes much more strict on who is able to race.

IMG_3557 IMG_3602

 

 

 

The day after the race I traveled to France and my team director picked me up to go to our house for the week. We are staying just on the France side and less than 5km to the Belgium border. Everyday we have ridden to Belgium and on the race course for the race this coming Sunday.

 

IMG_3677 IMG_3689 IMG_3715IMG_3785

Wednesday was the first race here and a UCI race also, but not World Tour. On the levels of race status the top is World Tour, then UCI, then Continental/National.

I felt good and was excited to see what I could do in my first big Belgium spring classics race. The first part went very well, but on the first cobble stone climb, and also most important, I got pushed while going around someone and then blocked by another girl. So I found myself less than halfway up standing like a chicken on the chopping block. I got back on as fast as I could and pushed myself all the way up as hard as I could. But at that point the front of the race was so far ahead and not possible to jump across. So I was stuck behind with a slower group and not happy about my finish.

But as my director said, it’s my first experience and learning how Belgium racing works. It’s technical and tough. Not just about pushing up the climb, but being in front at the start of it and riding in the right spot too.

I am looking forward to Sunday and know I can do well.

IMG_3782

Tour de Valencia

IMG_3405

4 Days, 4 Stages.

This was the team’s first race of the year, and my first big race.

Day 1- Team Time Trial, 5km.

I was planning for an individual time trial, but found out the evening before that it was a Team.  We were not ready for this as only 2 girls (myself included) had time trial bikes.  The plan from our director basically put me and my teammate on the front pushing the majority of the time.  It was a hard effort on my part, but going against big 6 woman teams it was hard for us to contend.

IMG_3407

Day 2- 110km Road Race  – 31st.

A solid finish considering there were a couple tough mountain climbs and that is my weakness.  I finished in the 2nd group with a couple of the other top sprinters from other teams.  It was also 32 degrees/90 degrees, so a really hot day considering its just spring.

IMG_3409IMG_3417
Day 3- 87km Road Race-  18th.

Good top 20 finish.  The 2 climbs were not that hard and I was able to stay with the front group no problem.  The last 20km were a drag race for positioning and getting set up for the finish.  My sprint is strong but in the final 400m I was not in the best position and got pushed back, I always want to be better and know I could have been top 10.  Learning and have to shake off the cobbwebbs after a long winter of not racing.

IMG_3432IMG_3431

Day 4- 97km Circuit, 4 laps- ??

I’m not sure what my finishing place was.
The last stage was all flat and a great race for me. VERY FAST.  I felt great and was in great position for the finish.  Unfortunately, with 6km to go 2 girls crashed in front of me and as a result so did I.  I was not hurt so got up right away fast, but it was too close to the finish and so I couldnt get back in the race.

IMG_3448
IMG_3447

 

Overall it was a good first step for the season and I am very positive for my fitness and how I feel.  It’s just the beginning of a long season ahead.  With a top 20 finish I am looking forward to what is to come.

 

IMG_3393

 

IMG_3514

Also, during camp there was a camera crew and journalist shooting for a documentary.  The woman is working on a story to show the difficulty of a top UCI level women’s team to compete and succeed in a sport that is so divided from men’s cycling.  It will be shown on Radio Canada, one of the largest Canadian TV networks.

IMG_3426

 

End of Winter Training, Off to Europe

First off, I apologize for the delay in posting.  When training volume gets higher and then I have to travel a lot I don’t have much free time.  So here is a big post with lots of pictures and what I’ve been up to the past couple months.

 

Arizona

From the beginning of December until mid February I spent in Arizon training to be ready for this year. I took 2 weeks away over Christmas and New years. It was a great couple months and a lot of hard work.

My time in Arizona finished with a feeling of fatigue and a bit of delusion for why I didn’t have the spark I usually do. I was able to ride long amounts of endurance, but when in a group ride I really struggled when the pace picked up or with intensity.  When I went back to Santa Fe I got a blood test for my iron and discovered that it was incredibly low and the lowest I’ve ever had it.  So I immediately started taking an iron supplement.  Iron is so important, and since I don’t eat much red meat and was training at such a high level my iron continued to drop and I felt more and more fatigued. It’s a feeling I’ve never had before and the tired and lack of power in my body was quite worrisome.  But I’m glad I figured it out.

The weather was up and down all winter, and now as I was leaving it was holding out with some warm sunshine. I packed up all my stuff and headed back to Santa Fe on Feb 15th. It was a long drive, but I was also looking forward to upcoming travel that made me excited but also nervous. My legs are pretty much allergic to travel, so I always fear cramping when I go on long trips in a car or plane.

IMG_2617

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2672

 

 

 

IMG_2738

 

Santa Fe

Arriving in Santa Fe I started having some cramping right away, so I knew this would be a week of rest and recovery before Europe. I was not worried for my fitness as I have a HUGE base from this winter’s training. So I took this time to swim, unpack my car, see friends/family, and pack my bags for a long 2.5 months in Europe.

IMG_2806 IMG_2822  IMG_2893

Europe

I left February 21st and began the LONG few days of travel. Going through Atlanta to Toronto, then spending the night there. The next day flying out of Toronto to Montreal and getting a flight from there to Paris. The overnight flight didn’t involve much sleeping, but I tried getting up and walking around as much as possible. Arriving in Paris our team soigneur (massage therapist, and overall helper) picked up me, Sarah, and Frederique (my teammates from Canada).

We drove in a tight van 6 hrs to Bordeaux. There we arrived at our director’s house. It’s a small farmhouse in a VERY small town (like 5 houses), and beautiful countryside. The next couple days we relaxed, rode, and had a team presentation for the smaller national team, DN17, that we attended as well.

The first evening, I got a small massage from David and I think that helped with cramping. I still had some cramps after the massage, but the next day on a small ride I didn’t have any so I was positive. It was the following day on a longer ride that the cramps came in full blast. At first I held back and thought to do the relax thing for them. But soon realized that they were in the cramping “zone” where I have to “break” them. It’s a strange feeling, but the only way the cramp stops is if I do slow pedaling and really hard pushing (big gear). I also did some intervals and it makes them go away. The cramping traveled all over my legs, going from my glute (butt), to my quad, then the other quad. At home I relaxed but knew to really get the fatigue out I had to get back on the bike and spin. So I got on the rollers and sure enough my other glute cramped before all was complete. I knew that that was a turning point. Unfortunately I was once again feeling nervous for ANOTHER round of travel.

The next day we got in the car at 6:30am and drove all day (11hrs) to Peniscola, Spain. It’s a small town on the coast. It was a LONG drive, and unlike the plane, I couldn’t get up and stretch/walk as much. So as often as I could I got out for a little bit. But by the end I was feeling the drive fatigue and sitting. My legs were not happy and even started cramping a little in the last hr. So as soon as I arrived I asked to get on rollers, and to David for a little massage. I took it easy on the rollers and just listened to my legs. My quad started wanting to cramp at one point, but I just got off and stretched it and then after it was ok. With the little massage also, in combination, it was my saving cure for this trip. The next morning I got on rollers again and despite some interesting sensations from my legs, they never cramped. I was cautiously optimistic. In the team ride I took the first bit super easy, but then soon realized I was in the clear and began to have some real fun.

IMG_2853

IMG_2922 IMG_2937 IMG_2986

Spain Team Camp

It has been amazing here. There are 2 teams, the DN17 developing girls team. And SAS-Macogep, the UCI pro women’s team. So about 16 girls in total. There is the director, Jean-Christophe, David, our siogneur, and a couple other people that are here helping out. It is an amazing set up and the support is so fantastic. I am very impressed and grateful to them all for the help. They are obviously experienced as the rides everyday are organized into times and efforts. I really like riding with this development team also, because these younger girls are very strong and growing in the sport. This big group makes the rides fun because we are all at different levels and specialties, so we push each other and have fun too.

The weather has been great. A bit cloudy the first 2 days and a little cool. And now 2 days with sun and warmer. Still wearing long sleeves everyday, but shorts haven’t been a problem.

I am feeling great and having so much fun. I feel my endurance and strength on the bike and have no problem with efforts or being with the group or guys. I am so excited to race next week and for the whole season. The first race for the team will be the Tour di Valencia. Here in Spain starting next week on the 8th, Wednesday.

Tour di Valencia- 4 Stages, 4 Days- TT, RR, RR, Circuit. I will post more information and about my results and how it goes.

IMG_3018 IMG_3178IMG_3057

IMG_3051

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3045 IMG_3072 IMG_3115 IMG_3128  IMG_3160

Eternal Summer, Training in Tucson

IMG_1341

For the past 3 weeks I’ve been in Tucson, AZ training and getting ready for the 2017 season.  My base miles are building and I feel stronger everyday.  It’s been a tough couple weeks but I also know it’s getting me ready to race hard.

IMG_1244

The weather has been pretty much perfect and I’ve been enjoying the short sleeve weather.  Mt. Lemmon is a great mountain for hill training.

I’ve also been using Redington pass for training, it’s a dirt road that goes up and over this 5 miles climb.  A tough ride, but my coach says it’s my weight training for strength.  As I ride up I sure feel that, and know there is no one doing this kind of training.IMG_1397IMG_1316

Last week I met with one of my personal sponsors to take pictures for their company and to use in marketing.  Integrated Health is an amazing company based out of Tucson.  They provide me with supplements that help me recover and keep training hard.  There is nothing else like it on the market and the quality is beyond anything in stores.

DSC_0323DSC_0223DSC_0127DSC_0294DSC_0100IMG_1386This Thursday I leave the winter paradise to spend 10 days in snowy and cold Canada.  I’ll spend my holiday there and have a little rest and trainer time.  Then beginning the new year I’ll head back to Tucson for the January/February portion of my training.  And it’s sure to be a challenge. 😉

IMG_1097

 

A month in Santa Fe

IMG_0318

It’s always a good feeling to come back to Santa Fe after a long time on the road.  And 6 months was definitely a long stretch.  I arrived back at the end of October and have spent the past month focusing on my diet, training, and cycling life.

IMG_0543IMG_0324

I brought back a new mountain bike from Europe and was so excited to hit some trails.  It was so much fun to do some cross training and getting back in shape.

IMG_0309

IMG_0330IMG_0535

I also went hiking with my friend Hannah and caught up on friend time.

IMG_0453IMG_0526

IMG_0665

SANTAFONDO!!  I organized a cycling event called Santafondo, which was a big group ride/ granfondo from Santa Fe Brewing Company.  With only 2 weeks to organize I was busy contacting cycling groups, making fliers, and going around to bike shops to spread the word.  One of my sponsors and a great brewery in town, Santa Fe Brewing Company, hosted the event.  We met in their main location and rode a 50 mile loop south of Santa Fe.  It was a huge hit and had over 50 people show up.  The weather was great too and just in time before winter arrived.  I loved doing a community event to get cyclists out and active riding together.IMG_0492IMG_0666IMG_0623

IMG_0605

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, and yesterday the first snow fell on Santa Fe, I think it’s time for me to head to warmer weather.  After the month in Santa Fe I’m ready to go to Tucson and start some solid winter road training.  I’ll be there until mid February, then I’ll come back to Santa Fe for a couple days before heading to Europe.  On to the next adventure 🙂

IMG_0310

 

Guiding in Southern Italy

Over the past 2 months I’ve been in central and southern Italy working for Butterfield & Robinson as a tour guide.  It’s my 3rd year working for the company and this year I guided 4 trips in Puglia.  If you don’t know where Puglia is, it’s the southern most “heal” of Italy.  Guiding is a good break from training and racing where I can make some money to support myself and do something different.  In the trips we did all kinds of activities with the travelers.  Since 2 were private trips it was especially different.  For the family we had gokarting, archery, a scavenger hunt, and a magician.  In the last trip I guided, that was also private, I had the extra budget and organized to have a private boat on the second day.  This was a huge highlight of the trip and loved the opportunity to do something unique.

After guiding finished I went back to Northern Italy for about 10 days and then at the end of October flew back to New Mexico.  I’m excited to be back and back to training.  Especially with a new mountain bike that I bought and can get on some trails in Santa Fe.  November will be time to get back in shape and into training for 2017.

IMG_0309

If you’re curious …. A day in the life of a guide:

The Trip: The B&R trips are 5 nights usually. So pickup on the first morning the travelers go by private bus/car to the bike storage where bikes await.  Nights 1&2 are usually at 1 hotel (for Puglia this year it was south near Otranto), then Night 3 is just 1 night in a more “city” hotel (for Puglia it was in Lecce), then nights 4&5 are in another hotel (for Puglia it was north of Lecce and Ostuni, just outside a town called Savelletri).

The Day:   Every morning I wake up about 6am to either get in a run/bike ride, or to get stuff ready for the day.  Then we get the bikes ready and a table with snacks for the travelers. The travelers leisurely wake up around 8 and have breakfast, they meet at the bikes around 9.  They head out on the route with one guide on the bike and one in the van as support.  The ride to the lunch spot usually involves a coffee shop stop or van stop along the way.  Since you can never have enough coffee or snacks.  Lunch isn’t just a light little snack or sandwich, but has the full meal complete with wine.  After lunch there is another section of riding to get to the destination of our previous or next hotel.  There is usually a long option for anyone that wants to go ride more.  Travelers usually arrive at the hotel about 4, or 5 if they did longer.  Then everyone meets about 6:45 for a drink and 7:30 for dinner (if we can manage to get the restaurant to cook that early for our Americans).  The dinner usually runs super long, even with a quick service, and finishes about 10.  Then the last to leave at about 11. Then travelers go to their rooms and we guides head back to our rooms or hotel (if we are out of the trip hotel). But for me, the day doesn’t stop there.  I usually work another 2 hrs on minor accounting to keep track of spending, and then work on video editing which I show the final night.  So my night ends between 12 and 2 every night.  I cram in a few hours of sleep and then rise and shine again for another day of running this fun and exciting trip.

The Guide:
We have a few days prior to the trip(s)  to prepare and see the routes, hotels, and restaurants for the trip.  Like a dry run, its called a pretrip.  Then on trip everything is already organized, confirmed and run through.   While on trip I feel like personal time is pretty non existent.  I am constantly working, running, or thinking of whats coming next to plan on the trip.  It’s partially the nature of the job, but also partially how I am as a perfectionist and giving more than 100%.  Our days are busy and a big puzzle of problem solving that keeps me on my toes.  It is like no other job in the world and feel like I’m almost an adult with so much responsibility but also like a kid when I find myself having fun with travelers.  As guides, we are cyclists, hikers, picnic makers, hosts, sommelier, historians, comedians, everything and in-between.  B&R guides are superheros that manage to be at two places at once and behind the scene fairies to create the impossible and make miracles happen.

 

IMG_9348

lanterns on the final night

IMG_8887

guide hosted picnic, I made this one 😉

IMG_9162

farms near Alberobello

IMG_1721

Dinner in a castle with private music

IMG_9200

stopping along the coast

IMG_9260

the gate of Acaia

IMG_9236

quick stop for an olive oil tasting

IMG_9469

Italia Training and Ardeche

Over the month of August I had been in Italy training up and down mountain passes, but nothing could quite prepare me for the feat that lie ahead at the Tour de L’Ardeche.  The race started September 1st and went until September 6th.  With 7 grueling stages that never gave a second of rest.  It was hard climbing everyday in high heat, intense competition, and long races.  The first day I went out hard since it was the only “sprinters” stage.  It was a circuit course with a small kicker of a climb each lap.  I felt good and with 20km to go I attacked and went solo.  I got 45 seconds on the pack, but in the last lap just before the only gpm/qom they caught me and it was a race for the finish only 4km later.  I was dissapointed to not hold for the win, but I was also proud of my strength and ability to be aggressive.  I won most aggressive rider for the stage and 200 euro that was on the 16th lap of the circuit.

IMG_8634

The second day I felt the fatigue and pain in my legs from the previous day.  I struggled, but also stuck it out.

The third stage contained the epic climb and finish at the top of Mont. Ventoux.  Since I am not a climber and had no real chance of doing well this day I stayed with the peleton until the bast of the climb and then went up at my own pace.  Which actually wasnt too bad as I continued to pass other riders along the way up.

The 4th stage was actually potentially harder then the 3rd stage with mont ventoux.  Because after the difficulty of that climb there wasnt much rest, so going into another day of almost the same elevation gain (2900m) was so difficult.  I struggled, but stayed tough to complete it.

IMG_8626 IMG_8616

The 5th stage was a short time trial.  But without a TT bike I really couldnt compete with the girls with full equipment.

The 6th stage was my best chance at a good result and I went in positive to do well.  But unfortunately on the 2nd and last climb my legs felt heavy and blocked.  It was a day of incredible wind so the pack was split up very easily through the valley.  I dropped back and finished with the second group.

The 7th stage was more hills and hard from the start with 3 main climbs.

 

I completed the race, but the last 2 days I was in survival mode as my body was feeling the repercussions of dehydration, fatigue, lack of recovery/massage, and overall tiredness.  The first day I dug deep and payed for it the rest of the race.  I was sick the first night, which i think was bad food, and after that felt constantly neaucious.  This made it hard to eat well feel good going into each race.  I also learned the huge importance of massage in cycling and this race.  I did not have anything to help with recovery until the second to last stage.  The build up of lactic acid and fatigue in my legs was difficult to overcome each day, especially when each stage started racing hard from km 1.

I am extremly grateful for this opportunity that I had though and the strength I gained from this race.  I will carry it on into next year and will make me tougher for any other races that lie ahead.

IMG_8672 IMG_8674

 

Euro Racing

IMG_7314

The past couple weeks have been an incredible experience. For cycling I have made a huge step in just a short time. Racing in Europe is a whole other level of racing and I took the challenge ready to succeed.

The team began this Euro trip in Toulouse, France, where we spent a week of training camp in southern France to get our legs ready to race.  Here are a couple pictures from riding, visiting Toulouse, and going to the start of Stage 17 of the Tour de France.

IMG_7459IMG_7440IMG_7391

 

Then we traveled 10hrs north to the region of Bretagne, in the north-west corner of France.  It was a long drive but I liked seeing the french country-side.

IMG_7491

On July 17th began the tour of Bretagne. A 5 day stage race with a short prologo TT, 135km RR, 11km TT, 120km RR, and 110km RR. I was initially surprised by how close the cyclists ride here and despite bumping and touching at high speeds there are rarely crashes. I had fun with the technical roads and speed that these women race.

I had some great results and took big risks as well. The first day for instance with 40km to go I attacked and went in a solo break. I was caught in the last 5km and finished 7th for the day.

Results:

 

Tour de Bretagne

Prologo 2km TT part uphill: 55th (20sec back)

135km Road Race: 7th

11km TT: 25th (no tt bike or would have been top 10)

120km Road Race: 21st

110km Road Race: 15th

GC overall finish: 21st

IMG_7492 IMG_7531

Belgium:

GP Zottegem-Strijpen : 2nd place – break away with a Rabobank woman and Lotto for the finish. Hard race but very fun. Including some difficult cobble sections

IMG_7608

IMG_7607

In a second race the next day we worked on the offensive by attacking a lot. We got my teammate solo with 30km to go and so I played defense after that and went to close attacks by other teams. She stayed away and so the team got the win.

 

IMG_7626

Racing in France and Belgium were an amazing opportunity and a great step for my professional career. I was always in the front of the groups and strong enough to attack and close breaks that were dangerous.

 

IMG_7786

 

Now I am in Italy at my family’s house for some good rest, recovery, and training in the next couple weeks. I will hopefully be doing some more racing and racing in france at the end of August in the Trophe D’Or and the Tour d’Ardeche.

IMG_7798

 

Santa Fe, then to racing

Back to Santa Fe

After Gila ended I drove up to Santa Fe and spent 2 weeks resting, training, packing and getting myself ready for the next adventure on the road.  It was a bit stressful because I was packing to be away for about 5-6 months.

IMG_6682

IMG_6767IMG_6778

Aside from training and packing I made time for something very important to me.  I visited my old elementary school and talked to the 6th graders about being a pro cyclist.  Ted Freedman, my PE teacher from the school, was my biggest motivator to begin running and still follows my journey.

IMG_6812IMG_6808IMG_6799

 

 

 

It was great to be back on home desert roads in New Mexico

IMG_6863IMG_6851

I was also in Santa Fe at the perfect time for this years Bike & Brew Festival.  Its only the second year but it was a great event and so many people.  I spent time at my sponsors tent, Santa Fe Brewing Company and met some new bike lovers too.

IMG_6861IMG_6882

Once I left the plan becomes a bit complicated with travel and racing all over … the world.

So here’s a rundown update on results and travel so far:

North Carolina

-USA Pro Nationals, 28 May – 35th

For Winston-Salem, Since they were UCI races I had to be a part of a team, so I guest rode for Fearless Femme.  It was great to put on the kit and race for such a great team.

-Winston-Salem Crit, 29 May- 7th

-Winston-Salem UCI Road Race, 30 May- 20th

IMG_6947IMG_7014IMG_7013

Canada

-Gatineau GP RR, 1 June- 9th

-Gatineau GP TT, 2 June- 17th

IMG_7026IMG_7036

Now I am in Ontario Canada to train for just over a week with my coach before heading to Wisconsin for Tour of America’s Dairyland.  A 10 Day crit series.

IMG_7072

Then I’ll come back to Canada for some more training

6 July – To France and Belgium- Tour of Brittany and a couple races in Belgium with my team

Then I’ll stay in Europe to keep racing until mid September

After that I plan to spend some time working and/or resting away from racing.

 

 

Gila Monster

This past week I raced in my second ever Tour of the Gila.  It was 5 days of hills, sun, wind, and low oxygen.

Stage 1: Mogollon Road Race

I went into this day with the objective of sprint points.  There were 2 intermediate sprints in the race before the steep uphill climb to the finish.  I felt good and went for the first, but after avoiding a crash about 100m to go I was 4th, so no points.  Not too long after there were attacks and I made the break that stuck.  10 of us stayed away for 60km until 5km to the climb.  Since the intermediate sprint came while we were away I went for that and snagged 3rd for 1 point.  When we hit the base I turned on tempo mode in my legs and rode up smooth.  It was a great start to the race and had a lot of fun overall.

IMG_6579

Stage 2: Inner Loop Road Race

I set myself up to go for the first of 2 sprints, but 12km in when the sprinters attacked for the line my legs didn’t have the same idea.  I crossed with the group but that was also when the first hill began.  The effort from the first 10km and fatigue hit me hard and I struggled on this climb.  I focused however on the technical downhill and used that to catch the group in front of me.  We rode pace lining through the valley that presented a challenging wind the whole way.  I was a bit mad to not stick with the front pack, but considering the girls in this pack, they were all the main sprinters and non climbers, so I felt a little better about my position.  Getting to the last climb and over towards the finish we continued to work together. It was a VERY hard day and even though it was a group of about 20 there was no hiding or relaxing the whole race.

IMG_6575IMG_6576

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stage 3: Tyrone Time Trial

Since I was not sitting in a top GC spot, this was a race that I put in a good effort, but also didn’t dig into deep fatigue.  Even though it was a TT, this course didn’t lack in hills.  Here’s a shot from the turnaround.

IMG_6570

Stage 4: Downtown Criterium

My favorite stage of the race.  I wanted to be top 10 and knew I could even be top 5.  I stayed relaxed throughout the race and in good position.  There was a crash on the hill about 5 laps in which I had to get around and catch back on, but it wasn’t any big worry. Just left a little apprehension in the midst of riding so close to others. With 9 laps to go I focused more and set myself to stay in the top 20.  3 laps to go was hard and fast with everyone moving and working for position.  At 1 to go I was set up perfect, 7th or so wheel and holding strong.  But when the turn came going into the hill a couple girls came up on the corner and “pinched” me off my wheel. Meaning they got in a position and so close that I had to ease off or risk a crash.  Up the hill I worked as hard as I could knowing it was the crucial moment.  Into the downhill in about 20th, then passed some girls before the final turn.  In the finishing stretch I gave it my all and crossed in 16th.  I know I could have done better, but after this hard week I held strong.  This is a picture from the race, my dad came to watch and cheer me on.

IMG_6617

Stage 5: Gila Monster Road Race

Last day, I was so ready to be done, but as a Pro and loving to race I sucked it up and got out to fight hard.  This course was basically the same as the 2nd day course but backwards, and finishing on top of the climb (the gila monster).  The first set of hills were tough and my legs felt like bricks, but I stayed calm and hung onto the pack.  Into the valley it was a huge fight as the wind split up the group and made it hard just to stay in.  Through the rollers and slight uphill the wind did ease however and I was able to settle in the pack for some “rest”.  The race went by so fast that by the time I looked at my garmin we had already done 50km, in just over an hour.  The pack got to the bottom of the climb, the Gila Monster, which is basically 16km up, and the group shattered. I stayed relaxed and started at a good pace.  By about 3km in I had passed quite a few people and found myself with a couple other riders going at the same speed.  I stayed with them and then just as the hill turned into rollers and some downhill 3 of them dropped back and our group became 5.  We rode steady all the way to the finish and I was really happy with my performance and how I felt on this last grueling day.

IMG_6634

Tour of the Gila was an amazing experience.  I did not finish very high in the GC, but I also entered this race not expecting to do well.  The objective was more for fitness, experience and to keep racing.  Each day I had ups and downs, but I am happy with how I pushed myself each day and came out with solid results.

IMG_6557

Awesome mural in Silver City done for the 30th anniversary of the Tour of the Gila

 

Now I am back in Santa Fe and ready for some big time REST! Going through over a month of travel, racing, and packing I am stronger but also tired.  Redlands, Joe Martin, and Gila have given me another gear and I am excited to keep racing…. soon.

I will be here for 2 weeks, and then travel to Winston-Salem, NC for USA Pro Nationals and the Winston-Salem Classic UCI race.