VELO BELLA - The Elite Women's Cyclocross team
The latest report from Velo Bella, Melodie Metzger in the USA
19 & 20 November 2005 - US Grand Prix of Cyclocross Series, Race 5 & 6
#3: Home Sweet Home
After travelling to the past two races in the USGP series, I enjoyed sleeping in my own bed and going through my usual routines in preparation for race day.
So what do you get when you mix the most feminine, enthusiastic, and eccentric women’s cycling team with the US cyclocross national series? The answer is the 5th race in the USGP series put on by VeloBella. My fellow team/club-mates put on the most amazing cross race of all time; done in true VeloBella style under the theme of “Surf City,” we had everything from girls in hula skirts at registration to officials with leis around their necks. And almost as if it was planned, we were blessed with an unseasonably warm day with temperatures in the 80s (Fahrenheit, that is).
The race was fast and sandy with lots of technical sections. Wendy Simms, the 2004 Canadian National Champion and an amazing mountain biker, was able to give Lyne Bessette a run for her money as she finished a mere 5 seconds down from the undefeated USGP series leader. Barb had been feeling under the weather and with the added heat and dust she pulled out of the race. Christine had a stellar finish in 4th, I was the next VeloBella to cross the line in 11th place. Sarah was not too far behind finishing 12th. Erin had an excellent day, rounding out the top 15 and Ann was not too far behind her.
It was a great feeling being on local turf and hearing our names being called out around every corner. I was so proud of my team for putting on such a well-organized, yet fun and amazingly energetic race. Not to mention, the race course itself, which was challenging and well laid out. The UCI Commissaire even said, “Switzerland (UCI Headquarters) will be delighted…!”
The USGP finale was appropriately held in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, CA: A big city for the big final event. The race course was only a hop across the bay from my home in Berkeley, usually taking about half an hour in the car. With nothing better to do than stress over the approaching race hour, I decided to head out of my apartment early, which fortunately saved me from being late.
There was an accident on the bridge and I was forced to sit in an extra 45 minutes worth of stand-still traffic before I would be on my way to the venue. I still made it to the Park with about 2 hours to spare and was excited to see it transformed into a cyclocross party, with fans and racers spread across the entire park. The research lab for my graduate studies is at the University of California, San Francisco, about 10 blocks from the race, so I was also please to see many of my fellow graduate students out there to enjoy the scene.
The course was super technical with lots of turns, singletrack, and sand. I pre-road a lap with Barb and had so much fun, I couldn’t wait to race. The field was big and I was impressed to see a fair amount of the local road racers out there to take on the challenge. The gun went off for the elite women’s field, and as the race course funnelled onto a tight switchback that led into the twisting singletrack that made up the majority of the course, there were crashes and women everywhere. I was disappointed to find myself further back than I had wanted to be, but I managed to make my way into the top ten, where I stayed for the rest of the race. I out-sprinted Josie Beggs, one of the women invited to race for the US at World’s last year, for 10th place. Barb had a fabulous come back from her sickness finishing 4th, Ann had her first top 15 and Erin was in the mix as well. Christine had a tough start to her race, but managed to tough it out for 13th.
Now that the series is over, my focus shifts to Nationals December 10th and 11th, where I will defend my collegiate title on Saturday and race the elite race on Sunday. Next weekend is Thanksgiving and I will be storing away lots of energy in the form of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin pie!
for reading. I look
forward to chatting with you again soon.
All my best,
Velo Bellas compete in the Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross
Series. The series schedule for 2005 is as follows:
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