By Emilia Fahlin
So, here I’m sitting awake at 6am, which is not really standard for me, with a cup of coffee and no idea what to do. So i thought, why not tell a few stories from my last week in America?
Before heading to Minneapolis for the last race of my american stay i got to spend a long week at Ally’s house in Asheville, North Carolina, and that was fantastic! Just to get away from the hotels and feel a bit like home was so good for the head. And how well i got treated then! Got spoiled to the most amazing smoothies i’ve ever had, standing in the fridge waiting for me when i got back from a long training. Every evening Ally got this interesting mix of veggies and greens out of the fridge to go aggressive with through the juicer. And we also had numerous barbecues out on her terrace, her boyfriend John being in charge of the grill and us girls making this super good veggie boats to put on the grill. I think my parents are thrilled to have me back home right now, all motivated to replicate and have them try all healthy good concoctions i learnt from Ally.
After that week i was ready to take on to some racing again!
I have been to Nature Valley two years ago, and knew a bit of what was awaiting us. The hardest day for me was definitely the first day, having a double day with the time trial starting at 8:30am. Ouch/ But we had a fun crit in downtown Saint Paul in the evening which was cool! There was always a lot of people out and i’ve been missing that exciting crit atmosphere america offers.
As i mentioned, it was my second time doing this race, and it played out exactly like last time i was there, having stage 3 cancelled due to extreme weather conditions. Driving home from the race venue we passed through the worst storm i’ve ever been in. Ian, our brilliant director and mechanic for the week from HED Cycling, excitedly pointed out the Wall-clouds in the sky and a second later tells us that thats where tornados normally forms from. A couple of minutes later it rained so heavily everyone was pulling over under a bridge on the highway. It was kind of a scary but a cool experience. We got home safe to hop on the trainers in the garage for a little pedal.
Last, and now the only road stage was where we had a chance to try and change the GC/ It was a rolling course with 4 steep QOMs. Indeed a tough course and we rode well as a team, taking turns attacking but Optum, who had yellow, and seven girls patrolling the front, didn’t let anything go.
I thought there’s nothing to save and attacked on top of the last hill, we have to make them as tired as possible! I got a gap, and looking back after a bit I now saw another team on the front, Exergy. And that really pissed me off to be honest. Why would they help Optum? But they would get back for that.
I got caught and when we got in on the final 4 x five km circuits Amber launched an awesome attack. Oh, they had to work hard for long to close that, and everything was a long line. At this point everyone that was left suffered, and with Amber brought back it got down to the last lap and Exergy put up an incredible lead out.
With 2km to go i thought Loren and i better get up there, so we motored past the line to swing in at the back of their train. By now we knew the final well, and the last straight before the final turn was slightly dragging uphill, and a perfect place to start our attack. I jumped their train with Loren on my wheel, we had to get first in to the final corner.
Having Theresa Cliff Ryan getting stressed when we jumped passed her gave an extra kick, and we flew through that corner in first and second, coming out it was a long 250m to go, so it was just to keep step on the pedals. I realised with few meters from the line no one was coming around me. Putting an arm in the sky i look to my right and there is Loren all smiles high fiving me, she held of for second!
Couldn’t turn out much better, every girl rode an awesome race and to come home with a 1-2 was pretty cool! That fire i felt inside during the stage came out in the end, and it felt really good we finally were able to beat them!
Last stage was probably the most brutal one, with a critt up and down this 23 gradient climb. Short, but not less painful. Amber unfortunately got a mechanical by the end and lost her GC spot, but Ally rode like a machine and she helped me secure my second place in GC and the white young riders jersey. That jersey was definitely a boost. Still being counted as young, sweet!
This week we got some incredible support from Ian and Vince from HED. They took such good care of us, we only had to show up on scheduled time and pedal our bikes a little. They brought us to Chipotle at least 3 times and fixed mosquito protection cream when we needed that.
Ian even came to the airport as a check-in assistance with my little circus of luggage consisting of 2 bikes, a box of wheels and a suitcase i had to take home. So i wasn’t even tired on the flight and could watch 3 good movies!
Anyway, i had a great adventure in America but also enjoying being back in Sweden for a couple of days now, sleeping in a normal bed and not getting woken up by the 4 year old host house daughter.
Next up swedish nationals this weekend!