Monday, July 17, 2006

British Columbia Superweek - Loca Adventures

by Bella Loca

British Columbia is a great place to be in the summer - even better if you get to race your bike 8 times in 10 days. I arrived on Friday to compete in the first three events of BC Superweek, and the rest of the Bella team will join me tomorrow night for an evening criterium on the waterfront and then continue racing through July 23.

Travelling to other countries by yourself with a bike and luggage in tow can be difficult... but I think I got the worst of it out of the way on Friday. I flew into Seattle and drove up to Burnaby, which is a suburb of Vancouver for the Giro di Burn Baby. An hour wait on the I-5 at the border crossing put me into a world of suffering... a bad time to have your hydration habits catch up to you! Once I got through (whew!), I drove straight to the event. I found the Dizzy Chicks warming up and a local espoirs team with a Schwalbe tent, and I figured they'd have to be my friends for the day. I pulled my bike out of the travel case, set it up, and went to check out the course and warm up with 40 minutes till race time.

It was a long course on a main drag through town, with eight turns and some gentle hills. Lucky for me, the crew was behind on setting up the course. Come staging time, there was a big truck on the course unloading hay bales. We all took another warm up lap... to find the bumpy, off camber corners were now covered in hay! We went back to the line and waited for the brooms to come out. As you might expect in BC, out of nowhere, the rain came. Out of the sky dumped big raindrops for 10 minutes while we shivered on the line... and all I could think of was that now the hay in the corners was soaking wet. Forget the brooms, get a Zamboni out here!

The rain subsided, and we were off, and quickly. There were multiple $100 primes, and a field of great sprinters. The crashes started early too, but no pile ups. The first half of the race, I rode like someone who had spent all day travelling. The field was dwindling as girls popped of the back with each acceleration. I studied the lines through the turns and stayed in the lead group. Eventually I found my groove, and had some fun near the front. I'm racing on Schwalbe tubulars, and they are super fast and sticky in the corners. Into the final sprint, a long slightly downhill straightaway, things slowed up. A recipe for disaster, and once the sprint was on, there was crash right in front of me. I avoided it, but came in near the back of the group in 16th.

The next day we moved onto the coastal town of White Rock for a hill climb time trial. It was only 700 meters long, but with 16 percent grades. I was matched up with Marni from Symmetrics, who had placed 4th in the Giro di Burn Baby. We paced each other evenly up the hill, and she sprinted ahead at the end. I thought I must have done pretty well, keeping up with her... until I saw the results and I was very much near the bottom of the page. At least it's only July.... still a few months to work on that top end speed for the real season - cyclocross is right around the corner!

Photo Credit: Photo ©: John Blankfort/www.SnapMe.Net from

Today, Sunday, was the White Rock road race. It is actually more of a circuit race, with 8 laps on a 10km course along the waterfront. There were a couple of killer climbs, each lasting about 2-3 minutes and maybe 14 percent grade. The attacks on the first few laps were unrelenting. Finally a group of 4 or 5 got away, and I was happy to see them go. With a teammate up the road, Symmetrics controlled the pace of the main pack. There were some girls still eager to join the break, so the pace stayed high and our group whittled down to about 13 riders before long.

It was great to race on the Kona Queen Zing. The carbon frame is very forgiving on the rough roads, and light as a feather up the steep grades. I even had another racer compliment the bike, during the race. Maybe she wasn't working as hard as me! With two laps to go, our pack shattered, with 5 or 6 girls going ahead, and I was in the next group of 4. The pace through the finals laps was comfortable for me, but lacking a sprint I came in at the back of my group - hopefully good enough for a top 15. I'm not good at math while my heartrate is over 190, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow to know the results.

Meanwhile, I've been wishing I had brought mountain bike! I'm staying at a college campus on Burnaby Mountain. The campus is in the middle of 1400 acres of conservation land, with a network of trails. Every time I drive up the hill, I see mountain bikers with full padding and all-mountain bikes zipping in and out of the trees. This place is crawling with fat tires! Sigh. I'll have to come back another time for some recreational riding.

In the meantime.... I have a feeling things at BC Superweek are about to get turned upside down with the arrival of the full Bella squad! Fresh off some very impressive racing at Cascade, we are going to rock the White Rock Criterium Monday night!

Sarah aka Bella Loca


At 6:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that is a cool picture!


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