Originally, the Primal/MapMyRide powered by BH team was to be excluded from the inaugural Exergy Tour in Boise, ID. Disappointment doesn’t begin to capture the feelings of our team! Just as we completed the grieving process, yes all 7 steps, fate came a knockin’…
Standing in the starting gate at the Gila TT, Susannah Gordon, our team Director, received the call up! She had hours to put together a team roster to compete in this epic event. Distracted by the news and excitement of the invitation she tried to contain her emotions and keep her composure until after all the riders had ridden the TT. When we got the official announcement, the team tent roared with cheers!!! We got IN we’re headed to THE Tour…
Post Gila reality set in, we are getting ready to line up with the fastest and strongest women cyclists in the world, not the country…the WORLD!
The 7 woman squad selected for the Exergy Tour included 4 team riders; Emily Kachorek, Jackie Kurth, Alisha Welsh, and myself, joined by 3 guest riders; Kristen LaSasso, Anna Sanders, and Rebecca Werner. Unfortunately, our own Idaho native Liza Rachetto had previously arranged to ride for the Italian Forno D’Asolo Colavita team when we thought the team wouldn’t be attending the race.
The Exergy Tour kicked off with the Team Presentation Event in the Boise Grove Plaza. It was a classy event! We arrived by bus from the team hotel and were greeted with a VIP reception. The event was hosted by Connie Carpenter, the 1st Olympic Gold Medalist in women’s cycling, and the current voice of cycling Dave Towle. Both the Governor and the Mayor of Boise Idaho said a few words to welcome everyone to the Tour. One by one the teams were presented. It was truly an honor to share the stage with so many tremendously talented athletes. Olympic medalists and hopefuls, numerous national champions, many decorated riders and of course the reigning World Champ Giorgia Bronzini. With our Exergy Tour back packs stuffed with commemorative goodies and our country flags flying high we left feeling inspired and eager to do our very best to get a good night’s sleep for the days ahead!
Day #1 – The Prologue – started the day with a leisurely morning team ride, a few opening efforts and a brief run through of the prologue course. Although that was a bit hairy since it involved one way streets! We rode as a team to the start of the prologue and nerves seemed to be calm. We went into the first night knowing that none of us were about to set the world on fire or win the debut by any stretch. So it was a good opportunity to ease into it and open our legs and lungs up for the next day’s stage. After that violent effort we all had a case of track hack and I could taste blood…it was a violent effort. Once finished we rode back to the hotel for some grub. Much like breakfast, we had dinner in the hotel every night….and yes, it was always the same with slight variations. It’s amazing how creative you can get with the same core ingredients – chicken, pasta/rice/potatoes and something green! That night we huddled around the table watching the Tour Tracker on our phones. It was one of the few nights that the teams actually intermingled otherwise we pretty much stuck to our cliques. We watched in horror as Kristin Armstrong went down…so painful to watch. The Canadian track team swept the podium….those ladies are FAST! Our top placed rider was Rebecca Werner in 46th place.Every morning consisted of the same routine. Head downstairs to the conference room to fuel up for racing. The breakfast spread consisted of 2 different types of scrambled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, potatoes, bacon, pasta, rice, fruit, yogurt, toast and bagels, and of course everyone’s favorite oatmeal! You laugh but there were mornings that I had to fight harder to get to the front of the line for oatmeal then the front of the peloton!! Don’t even get me started on the morning that they put out fresh blueberries…
Day#2 – Nampa Road Race – Just as predicted, the weather changed overnight and we woke up to rain, wind and cold – 40 degrees!! We got creative on how to keep warm /dry with embrocation on our legs, packing tape for helmets, layering vests under or over jerseys, long fingered gloves with medical gloves underneath, shoe covers, plastic bags and wind jackets, etc. Everyone had their own strategies but none seemed to keep us dry or warm. With no GC spot to protect, our goal for the day – stay safe, don’t lose any time and keep our eyes peeled for any moves that looked promising. It was a tough course with a steep pitch of 10-12% called Pump Road – We hit that QOM climb 2x and every time it broke up the field. Digging deep and getting ourselves up and over was a struggle every time. Pic of me in the Idaho Press – American cyclist Jen Weinbrecht and fellow Exergy Tour competitors make their way up Pump Road Once over the climb it was a false flat and some rollers that had the group pretty strung out. A threatening break did escape but was eventually caught and it came down to a sprint finish. In the lead up to the finish, the pace was high, the peloton was tense and everyone was jockeying for position. Not far from the finish there was a crash to the left of me, I watched the World Champ go splat! I narrowly missed it and was happy to finish safely in the main group. 47th place and our top placed rider on the stage. Theresa Cliff-Ryan took the W and was greeted by Kristin Armstrong at the line. It was a pretty emotional day for the Exergy team.
Day#3 – Kuna Time Trial – Another soggy and cold day awaited us. We arrived to the course and were told to unload in a rock and mud parking lot. Our mechanic Dave Welsh and Pat Mayben from Primal did an awesome job of setting up the team tent and wrapping it with a tarp to create a little heat. Tough to rally for a TT in these conditions….desperate times led Susannah and me to Jackson’s, a local gas station a few blocks from the course, for a cup of coffee to get warm and get some extra jet fuel! I tell ya, extra caffeine can always turn a frown upside down! Warm ups were short as we only had 2 trainers and all of our start times were within minutes of each other. Not ideal…so we did a mad scramble that morning to secure a few extras. Luckily we managed to get a 3rd in time for the majority of us to get a sweat going.
The course was an out and back, pretty straight forward with some rollers, nothing major. The tough part was negotiating the wet start ramp and getting out of the starting gates and across the double railroad tracks…yup railroad tracks, oh did I mention it’s raining?! I took extra precautions and sacrificed time to negotiate the start/finishing chutes to be safe. Highlight of my ride was passing my minute girl which gave me a vote of confidence but I knew I had more in the tank that wasn’t untapped due to the conditions. Our best ride came from Emily Kachorek, she rode a solid time and finished 45th .
Day#4 – Queens Stage – After 3 days of racing, the peloton went from 103 starters to 81…and dropping. The race started in a small town, Idaho City nestled in the mountains. This was a hard course, 59 miles and 4,520 ft of climbing. Luckily the weather cooperated, for the most part. We had a neutral roll out and when the motor swung off it was game on! Attacks started early. It was going to be a battle even before we got to the climb. Our team plan, create a presence and launch 1 attack and 1 counter. Jackie and Rebecca had been tapped to represent. The high speeds made their job very hard. Every team wanted to be in the mix. They did what was asked of them by being on the offensive and chasing. Going into the nine mile climb, Emily, Anna Sanders, Kristin LaSasso and I had good position. The pace was challenging and we had a long way to go. A break of 7 got off and the pack seemed satisfied, well not for long. The surges came and riders attempted to bridge. With only 12 weeks of riding and racing in my legs, I could only handle so may before they wouldn’t respond anymore but I knew we still had 3 riders in the mix. I dropped into a chase group with a handful of others. As we descended the climb, I saw a Primal/MapMyRide jersey in the valley solo. It was Kristin, she made a big move to bridge the break and it caught up to her. Emily and Anna crested the 2nd climb with the lead group, a huge accomplishment, but lost contact on the screaming descent. The roads were slick as the rain started to fall and the leaders were flying! Ina Teutenberg sprinted to the win. Overall, the team did great and we were pleased with the day’s results.
Day#5 – Hyde Park – The final stage! Started in a downtown Boise neighborhood and the fans came out to line the streets. It felt like the start of a big crit. Vendor booths, food, games, and a carnival like atmosphere. The media was there snapping pictures and interviewing riders. We toed the line with 68 riders. In honor of Memorial Day we were given a military fly over!!! I had chills, such an amazing experience. The course had a QOM just 4.7 miles in, so the race started with a BANG!…literally, 50 meters in bikes and riders got tangled and there was a pile up. Unfortunately, for me I was a part of the calamity of errors. Lucky for me, I wasn’t on the bottom! The race was over for me before it started but I wasn’t alone. Half the peloton and several of my teammates were caught behind it as well. Many chased their hearts out and never caught others made the catch but were popped when the pace accelerated. It was not the way we anticipated the last day…but hey, that’s bike racing!
The Tour concluded with a rodeo celebration…yeehaw!! We watched a real rodeo, did some horseback riding, learned to lasso and took turns on the mechanical bull!
In a nutshell, the Exergy Tour was a once in a lifetime type of experience. The staff, sponsors, volunteers, city and local residents, and organization were top notch. They thought of every detail and then some…really spoiled us rotten all week long. Grateful that the Primal/MapMyRide team was invited to participate and can’t wait until next year!!! Thank you to all of our sponsors who helped to make this happen.