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VELO BELLA - The Elite Women's Cyclocross team

Velo Bella Website

The second report from Velo Bella, Melodie Metzger in the USA

 

29 & 30 October 2005 - US Grand Prix of Cyclocross Series, Race 3 & 4

Friday:

Up at 3am for another early departure, Simon and I made our way to the airport to catch our 6am flight to the east coast.  We arrive in Boston, got lost in the maze of tunnels and finally made it to our host housing with enough time to do a spin on the trainers, grab some food, and settle down for a much needed goodnight’s sleep. 

My teammates Barb and Erin were already on the east coast and were enjoying the hospitality of our host family.  Our host mom, Nancy, is an amazing artist, with an even more amazing collection of FLAIR.  One thing that sets the VeloBellas apart from the other women in the elite field is our flair, that is, anything and everything pink, blue, pretty, fun and goofy we can put on our person to show spirit.  Erin and Barb found Nancy’s studio in no time and were busy decorating their helmets with sparkles, and writing their respective nicknames (Biscuit, and Barberella) on their bright blue Limar helmets in puffy paint.    I joined in and put ‘SweetPea’ in pink on the sides of mine.

 

Saturday:

Our host-housing was definitely sent to us from Racer Heaven.  We rose to the smell of coffee and breakfast pouring out of Nancy’s kitchen as she hustled around cutting fresh fruit and stuff.  This was a pleasant distraction from the gloom that was heading our way and beginning to show signs through the windows.  None of us seemed to notice until Bruce, the host-dad, gave us a call to let us know that it was cold, real cold, and that snow was beginning to fall.  Bruce was part of the organizers and had left earlier that morning to set up the course.  

Cross races are only about 45 minutes long; it therefore amazes me how dramatically miserable the weather turned from the start of the race to the finish.  Half-way through my hands and feet were frozen.  In order to actually shift my bike, I had to look at my shifter, then look at my fingers, and then carefully watch my hand move towards the shifters to rigidly click the gear over.  Running was awkward and felt like I was slamming blocks of ice into the ground with my legs.  There were no toes or ankles that I could feel.  

Even more amazing was the amount of snow that was beginning to fall.  The tracks of the rider in front of me were getting covered faster than I could get to them.  I was never so happy to finish a race.  One of our pit boys, Zach was there as I rolled into 10th place.  Thank goodness he was there as I was useless and frozen solid.  He took off my gloves and walked me and my bike to the car where Barb was getting changed out of her wet, cold clothes.  I was scared that my fingers were going to fall off, but being a local, Zach told me that since they were still pink I was going to be alright.  

Then it hit and I screamed for about 5 minutes through the pain of them coming back to life.  Erin soon joined us and did her fair amount of screaming as well.  Christine was staying with her good friend Ronnie, so we didn’t see much of her all weekend, but I imagine she was going through the same thawing process we all were. 

All in all we had a great day of racing.  Barb pulled off an awesome 2nd place stating that her legs were ‘divinely inspired’, Christine was 4th coming back from her nasty crash, I was 10th, and Erin was 22nd.  We finished the day sitting beside the fire and laughing at our epic experiences.  Nancy cooked an amazing dinner which culminated in crème brulee and chocolate fondue.  Yes, this was heaven for sure.

Sunday:

Through all the snow on Saturday, we were promised again and again that the weather would clear and we would see temperatures in the sixties for the following race.  ‘Yeah right,” we thought, “there is no freakin’ way!” 

Sure enough they were right and I opened my eyes to a bright blue sky.  It was 9 a.m. and already all of the snow had melted.  The house, keeping in mind that we were all from California which is much like the southern coast of Victoria, had a new energy.  If the conditions had been the same as Saturday’s we probably would have opted to stay in bed and enjoy the warmth of our cozy abode, but instead we were ready to tackle the 4th race of the USGP series. 

The previous day’s precipitation made the course fast, tacky, and lots of fun.  Racing today made up for every bit of misery experience yesterday, as I whipped around corners and through massive puddles of mud.  I had a great race and placed 8th, Barb got 5th, Erin got caught in some blowing tape but still pulled off an impressive top half, while Christine experience another bought of bad luck and was run off the course by another rider.  She still managed an impressive 9th place, finishing only a few seconds behind me. 

Today was Bruce’s birthday, and with a tip from Nancy earlier over breakfast I managed to fully embarrass him by having the announcer share it with all the fans during our race.  I know he appreciated the thought later as he said good night to us, knowing we would be gone by the time he got up and mentioned that he felt like he was sending his own kids off…  

The next race is on our home turf – Santa Cruz and San Francisco!  Best of all, the VeloBellas are putting on the first race of the series – should be fun!

Till next time,

Melodie

 

 

The Velo Bellas compete in the Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross Series. The series schedule for 2005 is as follows:

October 8, Portland, Oregon
October 9, Seattle, Washington

October 29, Gloucester, Massachusetts
October 30, Gloucester, Massachusetts

November 19, San Francisco, California
November 20, Watsonville, California

 

 

 

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