March 28th, 2004 – Top Mountainbike Team at Redlands 2004

I’m a little late in catching all of you up on the past week in Redlands, mixing it up with the road chicks, but it was a pretty big week and it took a couple of days to catch my breath and regroup. Now that I am at 37,000 feet on my way back to Victoria I can reflect on the awesome week Team Ford had road racing in California.

The first cool thing is that our team is specifically a mountainbike team, and we were the only mountainbike team in Redlands this year. This is unusual because in years past there would be a number of mountainbike specific teams that would travel to CA to get some training in to prepare for the mountainbike season, but this year it was only us and 26 other road teams. I have to point out at this point that we kicked ass and finished 6th overall, in front of some very good road teams.

So I will break it down for you day by day. Day one was the prologue, a 5km uphill time trial at Mt Rubidoux by Riverside, CA. This was our first top 10 finish of the week as I got 9th in the stage, and Sara Noble, our secret agent from the Rocky Mountain team, took 14th in the stage as well. Solid day one.

Day two was a new stage. Lots of kilometres in the cross wind topped off with a nasty climb at altitude up to a village called Crestline. Basically it is like heading to Big Bear. This was Sara and Daras day, as they kicked ass and rode up at the front, with Sara cracking the top 10 and Dara staying up with the lead girls. Lisa was having a wicked day as well until she flatted on the climb, and still managed a strong finish. I kinda had a rough day, was rode into the ditch, took too much wind, but sucked it up and finished okay.

The next day was another day of flat and cross winds capped off this time with a 10km climb. I was in no mood to parade to the bottom of the climb, and rode very agressively to try and get a break away. In the first 5km I went away with a small break, which was caught, and then I attacked again and noone came with. So I decided to train and see what would happen, and basically rode until the first QOM to steal some points and then waited for the pack to get me. We then rode together to the climb which felt pretty awful to me, but Sara rode at mock speed, and finished again in the top 10. Dara and I rode in about a minute apart and LIsa not far behind that.

The Panorama Point Road Race is a short circuit race of 65km, with a big fat 20% wall in it. I was starting to feel great by the end of the week and was intent on getting out of the pack and doing something fun. A break did get away with Amy Moore from Quark and Grace Fleury from Scuba Genesis (and a Rona and Basis girl who were dropped), and I thought for sure we would be gone but unfortunately noone would work but me…. other plans in the works. But again, no point in going back to the pack, might as well do some training. Eventually Lynn Bessette, SUe Palmer and Kristin Armstrong caught us on the last lap while hoofing it away from Genevieve Jeanson, and I tried to hold on as hard as I could but after pulling for three laps they gapped me on the wall. Our break was caught with that of Jeanson, and that lead group rode in behind the three front runners and I got 8th. The other girls did well in staying with good strong packs as the race really broke apart on this stage.

In the criterium on Saturday we all rode in the pack, and despite covering every break opportunity, nothing got away. Won some money, got some sprint points to take third overall in the sprinter competition, but I couldn’t get up there on the last lap and ended up 14th. The rest of the team stayed in and upright!

So the last day was our very best day of teamwork by far. The race was hard, and although I rode agressively to try and get away, I didn’t have the legs and frankly, was really hurting. LIsa rode amazing and was there on the last two laps, handing me a coke and some water, and offering all kinds of help. Sara was beside me pacing me and encouraging me to not give up ( I felt SO bad!) and Dara was up front as well riding safely with us as a team. Our fantastic riding on that stage, having three team members in the front group and one seconds off, moved us in front of Webcor who only kept two in that group, to take 6th overall.

So if you have been paying attention, our team finished in the top 15 EVERY stage, top 10 for four stages, made all but the last major break, and in general were female bad asses.

It was such a fun week! Sara took 16th overall, I took 19th overall, Dara was 26th and LIsa 39th. Not half crappy for a bunch of dirt girls.

We would like to thank the McClintock family for such a rockstar homestay. The groupie van was awesome.

Thanks to our soigneur/mechanic/driver/personal assistant Ian Abbot for getting us to and from the races happy and in top form!

I also need to thank my coach, Houshang Amiri at Pacificsport National Cycling Center, Team Ford and our Michigan cheerleaders David Myers and Paul Alman. I would like to thank Ford Motor Company, K2 Bicycles, Saucony, Maxxis, Compex, Sundog Eyewear, Shimano, Giro, Powerbar, Descente, Rider’s Cycles, Cliff English (Competitive Edge Training Systems), Arq Salon, Pacificsport and Deuter.

I’m out for a couple of weeks to prepare for some mudstomping in Sea Otter.

Peace.

Mel

March 22, 2004 – Top Spot at First Mountainbike Race of the Season

My initial three weeks in Phoenix culminated with a fun little stage race at McDowell Mountain Park in Fountain Hills, AZ. Our team was doing tons of photos and stuff around the race so we didn’t really bring our "A" game, but we were there to stir it up.

The first stage was an 8mile time trial around the desert. Very bumpy, lots of twisty, turny singletrack.. a fun course. I chose the K2 Razorback SL because the rear suspension really helped on the super bumpy sections. Unfortunately, I encountered a rider with a problem on the trail, in a blind corner, and the only line around her was through a rough little rock garden, and I flatted. I hadn’t put any Maxxis tires on at the time and the flat cost me a lot of time for a 36 minute race (for me, the winning time by Chrissy Redden (SUbaru-Gary Fisher) was 33 ish).

My teammate, Dara Marks-Marino, did well and took a podium spot for the team in fifth, and my other teammate Lisa Matlock was around me in the standings.

The next day was the short track, about a 1000m loop with a cool singletrack section. I didn’t want to finish as a group because I desperately needed time to start clawing my way back up the standings. I got the hole shot off the start line and went mental for three laps just to see what would happen. By the end of the second lap, Chrissy Redden (Subaru-Gary Fisher) and I had gapped the field and we were trying to distance ourselves further. We worked really hard, I had a couple of scary moments where I bashed into stuff, and we came to the finish together. I rode the Maxxis Larsen TT on the front and a High Roller on the rear, and all the bad lines I chose didn’t really matter. Chrissy finished first and I took second with her, and Kiara Bisaro (Gears Racing) was third. Dara moved into fourth overall with a sixth place in the Short track and Lisa finished with a group in 22nd.

The final day was the Cross Country, three laps, and was guaranteed to be a very short race. I needed two minutes to move into the top 3, and I needed more than that for second, so my goal was just to make sure I moved to the top 5. It was HOT, like 94 degrees, and the course was really smooth with lots of wind so there was tons of drafting. I decided to try my short track tactic and see if it would work for the XC…. and told my teammates that was what I was doing. I went super hard off the front, and halfway through the lap, Chrissy and I were away, but Kiara was dangling close by. I pulled hard, trying to get us away from the field and Chrissy and I worked well to keep moving fast. The end of the lap came so fast with us going about 23 minutes for the first one…..and the end of the race came even quicker. There was no chance for me to get away from Chrissy, so I just attacked as hard as I could about a km out from the finish, and managed to gap her to come in alone, with her very close behind, and Kiara coming in third.

The win in the XC was enough to move me up to fourth overall which was good for my first race of the season…Chrissy Redden(Subaru-GaryFisher) was first overall, Kiara Bisaro(Gears) was second, Kelli Emmett(Specialized) was third, I was fourth and Trish Sinclair (Gears) was fifth. My teammate Lisa had a great race, coming 10th in the XC and Dara had a rough day but still rode at the front and took 9th overall.

So I would like to thank my team for helping with my first win of the year… my coach, Houshang Amiri at Pacificsport National Cycling Center, Team Ford and our extra help from Ian Abbot, David Myers and Paul Alman. I would like to thank Ford Motor Company, K2 Bicycles, Saucony, Maxxis, Compex, Sundog Eyewear, Shimano, Giro, Powerbar, Descente, Rider’s Cycles, Cliff English (Competitive Edge Training Systems), Arq Salon, Pacificsport and Deuter.