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All American Gal: The Kimberly Baldwin Diary 2006
With both the men's and women's teams as one in 2006, Kimberly Baldwin now finds herself part of the all-powerful German-based T-Mobile squad. Everything is "pretty much kick-ass" is how Kim describes things. And once racing begins, kicking ass is something she's intent on doing!
Montreal world cup and Tour du Grand Montreal, Canada, May 27-June 1
Montreal mayhem part 1
Our T-Mobile team completed the 10-day Tour de lAude on May 21, and at 2:30am on May 22, I was on my way to the airport to fly home to Colorado for two days. Never have I looked forward so much to two days in my life! I dont think I slept the entire way home because I was so excited. Im sure my fellow passengers on my final United flight from Washington D.C. to Denver were wondering what the hell I was doing in the bathroom for so long. I had been wearing my compression tights the whole time, but really wanted to take them off before I saw my husband for the first time in months.
Those compression tights are great, but they certainly make me look like an old lady with them pulled half way up my chest. So I struggled in that tiny airplane bathroom trying to get my tights off, basically giving myself a wet paper towel rinse off, trying to make myself look presentable for Chris - if he only knew the struggles I go through to try and look nice for him. That night we went to Whole Foods for dinner and I felt like a kid in a candy store. I could NOT decide what I wanted to eat it all looked so good. I think all I did for two days was eat. Well, not quite, but sometimes it felt like that.
Home is home. Its a beautiful thing and Ive never been so happy to be home. But after two blissful days, I was packing up again to fly to Montreal. It seemed surreal, especially since I had to fly straight back to the Dulles airport in Washington D.C. We were heading to Montreal for the big World Cup race, and then the four-day UCI Tour of Montreal.
Our numbers were dwindling and we only had four starters for the world cup race on Saturday, but that was all we needed. Judith Arndt was not always second on this day. She won the hardest world cup of the season, beating out Nicole Cooke, to finally finish FIRST. It was an amazing and beautiful thing to see the smile on her face. My teammate Amy Moore did an amazing job herself in the race and every time up the climb, she would fight her way back to the front group to come up and help me. Kim Anderson had gotten sick at the end of lAude and since this wasnt a race you could actually ever just sit in, she decided it best if she didnt start. We missed her in the race, but it was so encouraging hearing her scream for us as we came around each time. I was pleasantly surprised at how good my legs felt too. I had never raced both Tour de lAude AND the Montreal World cup so I really didnt know how my legs would feel. But I think taking a few days off really did wonders. And the win really did wonders for our team and our morale. Excellent, excellent work Judith. Theres no better champion.
After a day off of riding the bike path and drinking lots of coffee, the Tour du Grand Montreal started on our American Memorial Day. Obviously there were no celebrations going on in Canada, so it seemed really weird to be there, since Memorial Day is always a fun holiday at home. Anyway, the tour started with an 11km time trial in the town of Lachine. It was 2.5 laps. It was like a recipe for disaster. Remember to go around twice and on the third lap half way through, remember to take a right and turn towards the finish, all the while merging onto the course with other racers. I figured it was going to be the proverbial cluster. For several riders, it kind of was.
The first rider off, a Mexican national team girl, started on the ramp. She was the only one to be unfortunate enough to use the ramp, because when they let her go at the start, she fell right off the ramp, onto her face. I believe she may have even been taken away in an ambulance. So no more ramp.
A Webcor rider swerved during her time trial to avoid a pedestrian, slipped on a manhole cover, and rolled her tyre. Two riders, Aussies in fact, missed their 2.5 lap turnoff and kept going around for another lap. Im not sure how far they got before they each realised their mistake and turned around. And finally, a Chinese national team rider powered her way straight through the finish line and kept going through the start line again (which was 400 meters past the finish line) and just kept going. Im not sure how far she kept time trialing before they found someone could signal to her that she needed to stop. It was a crazy day, and I feel lucky that our team got out of there unscathed!
The following day was the Rigaud road race. We raced four 24km laps that had a rolling 3-4km climb each lap and then two 13km loops that had a super steep 1.5-2km climb each time. During the first four laps, it seemed that the pace was steady, nothing was really happening, and it gave me a chance to chat with some of my friends that I hadnt seen in a while. But then girls kept riding by me with ripped shorts, butt cheeks hanging out, torn jerseys. What was going on back there? Apparently there were several crashes, but luckily none of the T-Mobile girls were caught up in any of them. It really made me want to stay as close to the front as possible and try to stay out of trouble!
The action really started on the final two laps with the steep climb. It all broke up on the climb, and holy crap, it was steep. Later, Ina had to laugh at one of the pictures on Cyclingnews. Theres a picture of Olivia Gollan and I trying to get our butts up the climb and I am so far over my bike, it looks like my head is in front of my front wheel. Ina said she was surprised I didnt flip over head first! The first time up the climb, the front group was narrowed down to 15 riders, with Judith, Kim, and I still in the mix. It stayed really active with a lot of attacks flying, and Erinne Willock was off the front almost the entire lap. Going into the climb for the final time, Kim drove it at the front to try and bring Erinne back, and sent us on our way. At the top came 11 riders. And the whole way down to the finish, we all took our turns attacking. Olivia Gollan came out on top. She escaped with about 2km to go and just held it off for the win. Judith won the sprint for second and Trixi Worrack, Nurnberger, was third.
It was a super hot day and very muggy, so a group of us went straight to the fountain in the park afterwards to rinse off and cool the bodies. Wow, did that feel good! Two more stages left an evening criterium and another hilly road race on Thursday. So until then, happy riding.
(Read part 2 of Montreal Mayhem)