Nature Valley From the Little Bella

June 23, 2006 · Print This Article

By Jen Joynt

First, I would like to clarify for the record that Jane, Kele and I all Absolutely Did Finish (ADF) the Stillwater Crit and the race. For some reason in the results, they list us all as DNF; we were pulled as were many other riders, but we finished half the race.

Okay, now that I’ve cleared that up, on to the races. Day 1 was the time trial, a flat, windy course. Not really my ideal course, but I went as hard as I could and paced the course pretty well. I achieved that burning pain in my stomach about 2 miles from the finish and kept it all the way to the line.

Day 2 was the first road stage. 133 eager women trying to get out of the wind led to many close calls, a few small crashes, and then a bigger pile up a few miles from the 2 mile gravel road. This turned out to be a critical moment, as those behind the crash had to chase hard and could see that the peleton was already broken into multiple groups of 20 or so from the crosswind. I found myself behind the crash and did not chase nearly hard enough to get back into a good group. Then we hit the gravel road, which was super painful. Women were sliding out all over the place, and it was really hard to keep your momentum going. My Schwalbe tires stood up well to the task, and I just went as hard as I could. Once we left the dirt, I grouped up with some women. Then I heard John on the radio saying that Colavita was dropping back. Good news for me as I waited for them to come along and drive a good pace. We caught up to a group with Jane in it. Then we saw Kele. Eventually, the pace picked up quite fast in a crosswind section, and my legs died. I caught up to Kele a few minutes later. And she and I rode in together.

Next up was a downtown Minneapolis evening crit. And the big excitement for this race was the crazy thunder, lightning, hail storm that hit about 40 minutes before the start of our race. So much for warming up. We all jumped in the car and watched the weird weather. Our race was delayed and shortened due to the weather. But considering how crazy it was before our race and the second storm that hit while the men were racing, we really lucked out.

Day 4 was the second road stage in Mankato. We were greeted by a hot, sticky day for this one. The air was super thick, leading many riders including me to wish for some rain. It was also another windy day, although the guttering portion of the race waited a little longer than the first road race. Kele got herself into a break with some strong women, and they got the gap up to 40 seconds. But then it seemed like the wind picked up, and we could see them. The gap dropped quickly to 15 seconds, and then the chasers really put on the speed. Unfortunately, this led to the long string in the cross wind. Gaps were opening all over the place. I could not close them. A few women, including Jane screaming encouragement, came around me. I clutched on to Jane’s wheel for as long as I could, but not long enough. So I ended up in a chase group with a bunch of women.

The final event was the Stillwater crit, which is a bit like Cat’s Hill, only much harder. The race starts right at the base of the main climb, which is long enough that you begin to feel the pain of your efforts about 1/2 up. Then there are 2 more easier climbs on the 1.5 mile circuit. Then some super fast descending turns, and you are back to the hill. The race started out fast, with the definitive move going on the second lap. I hung on as long as I could, 3 or 4 laps I think. Eventually, Jane caught up to me with a few people, and I hopped in with her. And then Kele came flying down the descent, and I hopped on for that ride. So we all three finished together when we were pulled after 27 minutes of racing or so.

It was a super hard week, but we really supported each other through the race. And we had awesome support from all the Twin Cities Bellas and even some Fellas (who I heard cheering on the Stillwater hill). It was great having so many fans cheering for us at all the races, which is all thanks to the local Velo Bellas. And I had quite a few of those fans admiring my super cute Queen Zing; she is fast and a head-turner. And a final shout out to John Coleman, our all-around super support guy, who made the hard days of racing a whole lot easier.

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