Note from Gav: We are very excited to have Australian Miffy Galloway join us as a guest writer. Here, she tells the story of her experiences at the recent Holland Ladies Tour. Galloway rides for the SwABo Ladies Cycling team and was racing for the Australian National Team during her trip to Europe. Read more about her adventures over on Miffy's blog or @miffyg. Thanks to Miffy for sharing this story!
Day 1 of 6: Nuenen "van Gogh Village" – Gerwen 112km
Yesterday was the inaugural stage of the 2010 Profile Ladies Tour. On the schedule today was 112km of flat, windy, narrow and cobbled roads...But at least it was sunny :) a much welcome change after what was the gale force winds – torrential downpour – ‘i’d rather sit in bed and never leave’ kind of weather of the past week...
Close to 30 teams lined up on the start line for this year’s event; from teams such as HTC-Columbia and Cervelo to the local club teams such as mine (SwABoLadies) and the Rabo Lady Force team. Although it was great to see so many women lined up on the start, I knew I had my work cut out for me to try stay in the top part of the bunch to avoid getting spat and making it a hard day in the office...
Profile of Day 1... The story of the past 3 months of my life: flat.
Things were looking good for the first 15km, was up there in the bunch although a bit nervous as it was my first real race back since I broke my ribs in July. My legs were feeling pretty ordinary as I realised that the last 2 weeks spent riding the hills in Italy – although good for my head longer term strength – was probably not the ideal preparation for the hard, flat, fast and did I mention flat? Race that is HLT. I started losing contact with the bunch after a couple of repeated sprints out of some tight corners where I was greeted with some dirty cross winds. Before I knew it, the bunch had spat me out the back and I was now facing the prospect of riding over 80km solo...Not something I would have like to have to do on the first day of a 6 day tour.
The peloton on a narrow cross wind section
But sadly, that is what I had to do. Stick my head down and try and chase a peloton of 150 riders by myself to make sure I didn’t get time cut. Once I got into a rhythm it was OK, but then we entered a smaller circuit of which ¾ of it was cobbles and by the end of the 1st lap, my whole body was complaining! But I kept plugging along and although it was nearly dark, I finished, and in time cut. Lived to fight another day à check.
Then it was back to the hotel where we were forced to gorge ourselves on pasta and carry our full bellies up to bed.
On the plus side, our accommodation was very nice :) equipped with luxuries such as towels, washing machine and buffet breakfast – I was actually feeling a tad bit spoilt! ;)
Now to rest my legs and make sure that I don’t have a repeat of today’s performance tomorrow!!!!
Wish me luck
Day 2 of 6: Leende – Leende 107km
Day 2 of the Tour and after yesterday’s performance, I knew I had to stay in the bunch at all costs as I didn’t want a repeat of yesterday’s events - a 90km TT against me and a peloton of about 150 riders.
Profile of day 2... flat again much??
Right from the word ‘GO’, the pace was on again and girls were scrambling for position on the rough and narrow roads. The field at Holland Ladies Tour is no doubt by far the biggest field of girls I’ve ever raced against and the prospect of riding in such a large bunch proved daunting to most of the riders. With so many nervous riders jostling for position, the normal ‘ebbs and flows’ of the bunch were wild and untamed and the peloton was described as restless and dodgy by many of the elite riders.
Cervelo keen to set things up for sprinter Kirstin Wild
I was confident with my positioning during the early stages of the race until I took what I thought was the perfect opportunity to take a sip from my bottle.
Unfortunately for me, just as I raised my bottle to my mouth to savor some much needed fluid, the peloton slowed suddenly and the rider in front of me panicked, slamming on the brakes and sending me straight into her back wheel and onto the ground. It was one of those crashes which seem to happen in slow motion, you feel yourself falling and you know there is nothing you can do about it except to accept the fact that you’re about to eat dirt and try and brace yourself to minimize the damage.
Luckily for me, I wasn’t badly hurt, I just lost half my skin in what I’m claiming was a ‘fight with a bear’ instead of telling them the relatively unexciting story that was my crash. I grabbed my bike and after sorting it out which took a bit too much time, set out in pursuit of the peloton – again. Blood was pouring down my leg and the burn on my arm was stinging as the wind was blowing hard against it. I went to jump on the back of my team car to get a hand back up to the bunch when the Commissaires of the race decided they didn’t want me to and so my team car left me, with 100km to go, solo. I chased for about 20min when my team car reappeared and apparently after harsh words with the Commissaires, they were now allowed to try and motor pace me back up to the group which was probably already half way to Germany by then. I tried my hardest to stick on the car but when we hit a rough cobbled section, no amount of screaming or yelling could tell my body to shut up and I felt that my only option was to get in the car because at that rate, I was barely going to make it to the finish, let alone in time cut.
Stage winner Martine Bras won from a breakaway of 3 riders
My number 1 rule I abide by in my cycling is to ‘Never Give Up’ and today I broke it, which is no easy thing to do. I obviously had the choice to keep going but I believe that I made the most sensible one. I jumped in the team car then got panned off to the ambulance to get my wounds cleaned and some painkillers then finally left in the Broom Wagon left to my own devices and ponder what really was a disastrous and very disappointing tour for me.
That night, I didn’t sleep a wink as my arm felt like someone was constantly ironing it and I didn’t have any painkillers to trick my body into thinking that everything was OK…The next couple of days were spent hanging around the hotel, trying to tell myself that I didn’t need to eat as if I was still racing a Tour (Although I was thankful that I didn’t have to gorge myself on MORE pasta) and then I got a very pleasant surprise… but that’ll have to wait until my next post :)