Velo Bella – Kona Crushes NC!

November 27, 2006 · Print This Article

By Dee Dee “Grasshopper” Winfield

This was my first venture into the southeast for racing this year and I was very pleased with the course venue, organization, and experience as a whole. I have previously participated in some of Tim Hopkin’s races and pretty much had a similar feeling about them as I did this weekend. Buck and I arrived late Friday night after dropping Cadence off with my parents whom I owe many thanks for watching her on so many occasions so I can race my bike.

Saturday a.m. we had breakfast with some friends from Charlottesville who happened to be in the area for some nearby mountain biking adventures. We arrived at the race venue a little later than usual. The Kona tent was set up and Steph and Mel were there. We rode the course a few times between races (ssshhh. Don’t tell anyone!), picking lines, analyzing which were better, how to navigate this turn, etc.

We lined up at the start, and I started peeling off layers wondering if I would be warm enough. I thought to myself, if you get cold, just ride harder. The gun goes off, no warning, just blam, the race is on. I hit the grass first but can feel the breath of the riders on my neck knowing that one mistake could be completely detrimental. I remember riding close to the red zone wondering who was behind me, how long they would be there and always the question what will I do if this comes to a sprint finish.

Then the gap formed and Buck was giving me updates, your lead is increasing, keep pushing. I could see Mel gaining on 2nd place by leaps and bounds and thought she might catch her. She ended up with a great finish in 3rd place not far behind 2nd. Stephanie unfortunately had gone down in a crash but worked hard and didn’t lose her poise coming in 10th.

We all had a great dinner together Saturday night, laughing and chatting like we had known one another for years. This was followed up by a trip to the fudge shop next door with the best chocolate truffles I have ever eaten! Don’t tell Alex!

Sunday’s start was very similar only today I put it in my big ring, realizing yesterday I had failed to do so the entire race. I got the hole shot but Amy was right on me. She stayed with me for about 1.5 laps but when we hit the windy road section I punched it to see what happened. It was pretty windy out and I figured if I could get a gap I could keep it. So, I shifted down, stood up and “jammed it”, 20 feet, 30 feet, sweet.

The wind was pretty heavy here and without the draft, I had a small gap on her. She was still coming on strong so I had to keep my focus, keep the heart rate up and increase the gap. Heading into the woods, I gave my big ring some love and then pushed really hard up the woody climb. The course had many turns but most were wide and you could keep a lot of momentum coming through them. This is an area I am working on so it was great practice. I was able to keep the rubber side down and get up the “wall” each time on my bike. Mel wasn’t feeling it but still came in 5th and Steph had another misfortune having rolled her tubular. Note to self, always use more glue that you think is necessary…

It was another weekend of great racing and good times with the teammates. I am looking forward to Thanksgiving and getting the opportunity to do a local race with some friends and family in attendance!

Keep crushin’, VB!

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