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All American Gal: The Kimberly Baldwin Diary 2005

Last year wasn't one of her best. After a close call with cancer at the end of 2003, newlywed Kim Baldwin (nee Bruckner) was hoping to come back and represent her country at the Athens Games, but apart from a podium finish at the Tour de L'Aude, 2004 didn't quite live up to expectations. However, cycling's all-American gal is looking to the future with new objectives and a new-look T-Mobile cycling team. Let's see how she goes...

Tour of the Gila

Stage 2 - April 28: Silver City to Mogollon Road Race, 94/71.5 miles

Sprint, Kimberly!

This morning's start was early…early for bike racers that is. Maybe not for triathletes. We needed to leave our house at 7am. And since I need time to spark myself alive with coffee, I set my alarm for 5:30am. By the time the other girls got up, I was sitting happily with my soymilk-infused coffee and even managed to steal the phone line for an instant to check email. Our teammate, Kori Seehafer, has gotten us all hooked to coffee beans from her husband's coffee shop in Louisville, Colorado. We've all bought pounds and pounds of beans from her and Jack and carry it with us everywhere now. Kori and I have even planned out our coffee requirements for our future trip to Tour de L'Aude coming up later this month. Our only teammate that doesn't drink coffee is Kristin, but she's got her Diet Coke fix. Recently though, she's been contemplating trying to switch to coffee. She feels she's missing out on the social aspect of our caffeine-addicted mornings.

Before the start of the race, I was talking to Mark Southard, a cycling friend from Boulder. He had heard that 55mph gusts were possible during the race. THAT would add excitement to an already fun-filled race! I didn't even tell the girls this news as I was afraid they would freak out. As it turned out, however, it looks like we were spared from the gusty winds for today. They may come up tomorrow though.

Today's course was a 71.5 mile point-to-point from Silver City west on NM 90 ending with a 10 mile climb towards the town of Mogollon, at 6800 feet. There were two time bonus sprints of 10 seconds at miles 20 and 37. So our first order of the day was to make sure Genevieve didn't win the time bonuses and increase her time gap. We had the perfect opportunity. At 12 miles, Maggie from Landis Cyclery attacked and T-Mobile's Lara Kroepsch went with her. The field seemed content to let them go, and before we knew it, they had over a four minute gap. Lara took the first time bonus and they kept rolling. We didn't think they'd actually make it to mile 37 but they did. Webcor and Velo Bella kept tempo at the front to try and keep the gap in check. But it was the start of a flurry of attacks that ended up bringing the break back just around feed zone time. While riding, I noticed that I hadn't seen Kim Andersen from Colovita all day. I thought maybe she was being sly and staying at the back of the pack, waiting for the climb. But it's so unlike her to not be up front and making us hurt with her constant attacks. I finally asked her teammate, Dotsie Cowden, if Kim was in the race. Dotsie told me that unfortunately, Kim had gotten the worst food poisoning the night before. I feel for you Kim! You were definitely missed today and I hope you feel better soon!

The weirdest thing happened at mile 58. The yellow line rule had been in effect all day and apparently, the officials were not pleased with our field's disregard of the rule. Suddenly the truck leading the women's race (I think 5 different races were going on at the same time) came to a sudden stop and made us all come to a halt. Luckily no one went flying into the back of the truck. The officials got out and strongly scolded us for not adhering to the yellow line rule. They then warned us that they were going to start giving out time penalties for any more infractions. And then we were on our way again. Man, at the now defunct Tour of Willamette, the yellow line was the equivalent of the edge of the world. In that race, if you went over the line, you were immediately relegated to the back of the field. And if it happened again, you were disqualified. I fully understand their reasoning for this and have no problem with it. Yea, it's a pain in the ass sometimes. But I understand. I'd rather not run into the grill of a semi!

After our forced break, we were back at it. Ina went to the front and drilled it over the rollers, breaking it down to a group of about seven. Then Kori attacked, forcing Genevieve to chase, and we may have lost some more. I'm not sure as I was stuck to Genevieve's wheel and didn't see much else. We took the right hand turn onto the smaller road leading up to Mogollon and Genevieve was driving it. She had had enough of the attacks. By this time it down to her, myself on her wheel, my teammate Brooke Ourada, Lynn Gaggioli, Monex, and Dara Marks-Marino, Ford. Brooke tried attacking with about five miles to go, but I think it did her in and she fell off the group a little bit. The course climbs for about two miles, then plateaus, and then climbs steeply for the final three miles. I've got to say too, when you're on the rivet, a 3-mile to go sign hurts a lot more than say a 5km to go sign. Kilometres just seem to go by so much faster.

With three miles to go, I tried my hand at pulling away, and miraculously, it worked. Almost immediately I could hear my director Andrzej in the radio yelling "Go Kimberly! You have a gap!" That's motivation! Then Andrzej started giving me splits as I kept climbing. As I thought about it though, who was giving him splits? Was he making this up? The final three miles of the climb range between 10-19% gradient. So I found it humorous when at the 1km to go sign, I hear Andrzej yelling at me to SPRINT! Was she catching me? And how in the hell am I supposed to sprint up a 19% grade when I feel like falling over? He tried again at the 500 metre to go sign. "Sprint Kimberly!" And again at 200 metres. I know he's trying to get me to work on my sprint, but I felt that now was not the time. I crossed the line and Andrzej came running up to me to give me a hug with a huge smile on his face. That made it so worth it. When you make your director happy, it's a very good day. And the good news too is that the leader's jersey is pink. It'll match our shorts.

The race is far from over. We've got three tough days yet. But with the team work that was displayed today from everyone, I am hopeful. And I promise to work on my sprint.

Check in tomorrow,