Today was the last day of the 2014 World Para Cycling Championships and it was also my last ride of the competition in the Road Race. I had such a good ride during the ITT that I didn’t think it would be possible to have two perfect rides! I knew that the day was going to be tough as we were racing at 1:32pm and the weather report was for hot and humid!
Bianca (T1) and I stayed in our room for the morning and only headed to the course at 12:30pm. We have been very lucky as our hotel is basically on the course, so we only have about a 3 minute ride to the team tent area. Today was so hot that I was only going to do about a 10 minute warm up and then use the first lap as a warm up lap.
I met with Peter Day our head coach last night and we discussed how I should ride this race. Usually I only have to worry about one other rider my Canadian rival Marie-Eve Croteau, but we now have an American girl Jill Walsh on the scene and she had won the bronze in the TT. She is very new to trike racing but she was strong on the TT and so I couldn’t discount her in any way during the road race. It is wonderful to have more riders coming through and Jill is roughly the same age as me and also has MS, so we certainly have a lot in common.
I was completely soaked for the start as it was so hot. We had put my jersey in a bucket of ice water, I had dumped a whole bottle of water over my head and had a cold wet towel around my shoulders. I was advised that our staff would be a strategic locations around the entire course to dump water on me and extra bottles at the feed zone, so I figured I couldn’t be any more ready to take on the heat!
I was in my own zone waiting to be called to the start line, but heard them announce the names of all the riders. Being the reigning World Champion I was called up first. The gun went off and off we went. About 800m into the race I looked back to see who was with me and found that only the American, Jill, was there. I assumed that Marie-Eve had had a mechanical problem so pushed on. My plan was just to take the first lap fairly easy and warm up into it. Jill is so new to racing that we chatted as we rode and I told her to not push it the first lap. She was great, we took turns at the front and when we got to a technical turn area she was concerned that she wasn’t good at cornering. I told her not to worry and keep going. Unfortunately she had some gearing issues and when we hit a long steady climb she was in the wrong gear. I continued past her and that was basically the last I saw of any of the riders. So the plan changed slightly!
I kept riding with a good tempo but not pushing it to the extreme. The second lap I kept my heart rate fairly steady and I certainly didn’t feel like I was going to blow up. The 3rd and last lap I picked it up slightly making sure I was taking the corners safely, but working the downhills and trying to keep my cadence up on the climbs.
Towards the end of my 2nd lap I saw my teammate Bianca Woolford (T1) and she had pulled in front of her Canadian counterpart Shelley Gautier, so I yelled at her to keep it up! Unfortunately she was unable to stay ahead of Shelley on the technical downhill the then encounter and Shelley was able to pull ahead. So Bianca ended up taking the silver medal, not bad for someone who has been riding for just over year and I think she will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
I realised on the 3rd lap that Marie-Eve was not racing when I saw her sitting at the side of the road watching! I had no idea that she was’t out on the road! I found out later that she hadn’t been well, which for her would have been a tough call to make, not to race! It is always sad when you don’t have the best riders there taking part. It is what pushes me forward!
I crossed the line in 1:20.43, which was 7:29 minutes in front of Jill Walsh the American and 13:42 minutes ahead of 3rd place Jana Majunke from Germany. So it was an amazing feeling to realise that I had just won another World Championship title!
There were still a couple more races after me, so medal presentation wasn’t until 5:15pm, so it was back to the hotel for Bianca and I to shower and get into some dry cycling gear, then back to the medal presentation.
Thank you so much to the City of Greenville and the organisers for a fantastically run event. The people of this city have been so welcoming and amazing that I don’t know how any other city can top it!