Valley of Fire Stage Race
February 23-24, 2013
Emily Georgeson/Helen’s Cycles
2nd Place GC
I was very relaxed going into Valley of Fire Stage Race, likely because I decided to race only 3 days before the start. Four of us from the women’s elite contingent of Helen’s Cycles out of Santa Monica, CA decided to take the last minute voyage to Overton, NV loading up 5 bikes, 2 trainers, too many bags and 4 giddy women. My Helen’s teammates constantly inspire and educate me about racing, and I knew the VoF weekend with my veteran teammates Suze Sonye, Shelby Reynolds & Priscilla Calderon (PC) would be a learning opportunity I could not pass up.
Saturday Morning – Time Trial:
We pull in just in time, 1.5 hours before we roll to the start line. No matter how early I get to a race, I always feel like I am rushed until I am on the line. Shelby helped me put on my borrowed aero bars, I jumped on the trainer and warmed up beside my focused teammates.
I roll up the line, ready to rock it. Cheering for Shelby who starts one minute ahead of me, I step up to the line wait for the countdown and I start hammering. My main focus was not to go out too hard. I roll down and note the cattle grazing out one mile from the start. The course went by very fast, I just stayed focused on the girls in front of me. Before I knew it, I was at the turn around and got to see my teammates coming behind me. I give a yell of excitement! Downhill much of the way back brought me back to the cattle quickly. Just then Belinda Eschenwald (LaGrange) sneaks up on me and passes me with force. I know the finish line is coming up, and the uphill kicker to the finish line gets me out of the saddle to pass Belinda back, as well as a few other girls who bunched up on the last hill. Out of the saddle to the line!
Team Helen’s meets back at the car, talking about the course, packing the car, I run over to see the results and Suze takes 3rd with me in 4th! This brings fire to the group and we are ready to own the next stage.
Saturday Afternoon – Criterium:
The course was around Moapa’s High School, a simple four corner course complicated by raised road “dots” & reflectors in every corner, right on choice lines. Unfortunately, there was a crash in the men’s race before ours, delaying and then shortening our race because of daylight concerns. We lined up with our team plan, bring PC to the line for the win. The race was pretty conservative with Helen’s and LaGrange taking turns working the front. With 3 laps to go we start organizing. On the bell lap Helen’s is lined up, me, Suze, Shelby & PC. We’re rocking it into corner 1, in corner 2 Suze tells me to hit it, straight into the headwind. Turn 3 Suze takes the lead and brings Shelby and PC to corner 4 – PC takes the inside line and takes the win. Shelby close behind in 3rd. Awesome! Two races done, 3 Podiums!
Sunday Morning – Road Race:
The course started with a gradual 20 mile climb through Valley of Fire State Park, then a descent to the desert floor, turn around for a 10 mile climb with a long rolling decent back to the finish in downtown Overton.
Today’s goal was to move me up in GC from 4th place. The race rolled out slow, nice to get the legs warmed up on the climbs to the top. A few attacks on some hills broke the pack apart, but the decent allowed most to regroup before the turn around. The howling side/head wind finally ended at the turn around. Then Julie Cutts, holding the #1 GC position , attacked solo. No one chases. Helen’s is present in the front, turning up the pace. I ride up to Suze and ask her what our next move should be, she tells me it’s time to go. I wait until a little roller and attack off the front, quickly a four person break is established. I attack again to gain more distance from the pack. Flavia Oliveira, (DNA Cycling p/b Plan7) rolls by and says “Let’s go!” and takes off but I cannot catch her wheel, she goes off the front, solo, to chase down Julie. Now there’s three of us, Hannah Swan (Strive Racing), Anna Sanders (FCS/Zngine p/b Mr. Restore) & me. 2nd place and 3rd place GC are behind me now. It’s up to me not to let Flavia gain too much time for her to take 2nd place in the GC at the finish line.
The three of us start working together, rotating through, and really flying down the decent. Finally, we see Flavia and Julie ahead of us. The USAC official keeps telling us between 15 to 20 seconds to the two leaders, and 4 minutes to a chase group behind us. We keep working hard to chase the two leaders down for miles, but we can’t seem to pull them back in. Before I know it, we’re back to Overton, to the last stretch. Hannah had fallen off on the last attack up the final hill, and I was sitting on Anna’s wheel, not sure how far she’d pull, I waited patiently and as we approached the finish, I attacked from behind and took 3rd place. Minimizing time loss to Flavia, I move to 2nd place GC to wrap up the weekend.
I am stoked to have this experience at a Stage Race. I am extremely thankful to have very supportive teammates and friends who believe in me. It makes me strive to keep learning, push for successful performance and execute team plans. Helen’s Cycles continues to be an engaged and passionate sponsor continuing their generosity in supporting