The LG Factory Team p/b Fuji Bikes raced our very first UCI event last weekend in the beautiful city of Gatineau, Canada.
The riders were greeted by Tim Gallagher, our manager at the airport in the new team car. Our first stop was a food. Nancy Jones aka The Map Maker found a gem of a restaurant named “The Foolish Chicken” http://www.foolishchicken.ca This place is a must stop and eat if you are ever in Ottawa. We even got t-shirts as souvenirs!
With our belly’s full the ladies set out for a training ride with sponsor and support staff Ronnie Bratcher. It proved to an adventure filled ride with cool bike paths next to the water, gravel roads, single track off road, city commuters dropping the hammer, ducks, Canadian Geese and black squirrels.
Early to bed early to rise, the team & support had a busy Pre race day. It started with a breathtaking ride into Gatineau Park. The sights were incredible and the hills were great openers for the legs. The team presentation was up next. It was pretty cool to have all the participates in one room.
LG Factory Team mechanic, Michael Barman had difficulty with delayed flights but once he landed it was game on. Prepping the bikes, washing the car, putting on our K3 Holders http://k3holders.com, and getting the spare wheels ready in case of a mechanical.
With the late arrival of guest rider Debbie Milne safely tucked into bed we were ready for some sleep.
The guys were up at 5am lubing chains, prepping musette bags and packing the car for the caravan. Melinda racing the Time Trial on Monday was up and ready to help her teammates by handing out bottles in the the feed zone. Ronnie like a true sovereign, helped with everything including social media, photos and giving perfect handouts of fuel in the feed zone.
Nancy Jones, Debbie Milne, Elizabeth Lee, and Cheryl Fuller Muller made their way to the start area.
We signed in on the main stage where the victor would be later crowned.
The sun was shining and we were all smiles.
The ladies lined up, lap cards showed 12 and the caravan got into place. The nervous energy filled the warming air and with the official announcements complete we took off from the start. The course was technical and fast. Attacks were launched immediately and Nancy responded going with the very first move. The attack was unsuccessful and dragged back within seconds.
This being my first UCI event I wasn’t prepared for the road race to be even more aggressive then most of the NCC Crits I have lined up for. Handle bar to Handle bar, hip to hip, overlapping wheels, the riders fought each other filling in the tiniest gaps just to move up or hold position. We rolled along the course in a tight formation only to reach a technical portion or chase down an attack at leg screaming, single file, high speeds.
A breakway finally made its way and dangled up the road for several laps. Several heavy hitting teams were not represented so we were fairly confident it would not stay away. With lap cards clicking off we reeled the breakway in and the race winner looked like it would be determined by a field sprint.
Debbie and I had perfect communication during the race and with 1 to go we planned to move up the outside setting up for the final kilometers. Debbie took me up to around 10th wheel sitting pretty until we both got swarmed going into another technical overpass. Hindsight is always 20/20 and I learned a lot from this trip and event. I tapped into every reserve and beyond in this race. Going into the last 1K at blazing speeds we did everything we could to try and make up the lost ground. Into the last roundabout the final sprint was on. Cheryl and Debbie finished 27th and 29th respectively. Nancy and Elizabeth missed the time cut (Hors-Delais) finishing 54th & 55th.
The Ladies and Support worked very hard and we look forward to racing on this level more in the future. Next up is the UCI event Parx Casino Philly Classic on June 2nd.
The team thanks all the sponsors, friends, fans and our families. This would not be possible without you All.
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About the Author:
Cheryl Fuller-Muller is the team owner/director and a rider for the Louis Garneau Factory Team p/b Fuji. In between running a team and training, she is also a mother of one Son and an employee at her family-owned bike shop, Reality Bikes in Cumming, GA. She has been racing on the road since 2006 and won the US Masters 35-39 National Criterium Championship in 2011 and won 5 medals at US Masters 40-45 National Track Championships in 2012.