Stevens women’s team report: Big miles, setbacks and podiums

The Stevens women in South Carolina.
The Stevens women in South Carolina.

Mid March saw the Stevens women gather for a last pre-season training camp in South Carolina.  With just a week before the race season started for some, it was the last chance to log big miles and finish off the base-work that the riders have worked hard on all winter.

While the weather was unseasonably cool, the team still logged nearly 25 hours of riding over seven days before heading home.  Each and every member of the team came to camp with good fitness and was able to get the most out of every training day.

Sadly the camp got off to a rocky start, when the very end of a five-hour ride on the second day of the camp was marred by an ugly crash on exposed train tracks in the rain.

Two riders went down hard on the slippery tracks; while junior national champion Ariane Bonhomme was banged up and sore with a mild concussion, she would be all right.  Team Captain Carrie Cartmill was not so lucky, however and fractured her pelvis in the fall.  While the fracture was not displaced and was far from the hip joint, it means that Cartmill will be off her bike for at least six to eight weeks.

The injury is a devastating setback for the veteran Canadian, but it is a testament to her character that she remained in good spirits and was a positive force at the camp for the next few days while she rested up before flying home to Toronto.  The team will miss their experienced road captain this spring, as Cartmill was both the team’s most consistent racer at the UCI events in Gatineau and Philadelphia last year, and she is also an excellent mentor and team-builder for the younger riders.  Heal up quick Carrie!

Despite misfortune and poor weather the team was still able to accomplish excellent training, working on climbing, echelon riding and sprinting.  These rides allowed the girls to get a better understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how to work together effectively on the road.

The camp was capped off with a big six-hour day that took the riders from Seneca out to the Rocky Bottom area and over the feared Sassafras climb, out around Pickens and then back home.

Just five short days after the camp ended Annie Foreman-Mackey gave the team its first podium of the year at the Good Friday Road Race near Hamilton, Ont.  Outnumbered by several large teams in the Ontario Cup Opener, Foreman-Mackey road a smart race, and executed nearly perfectly on her game plan.  The next Ontario Cup of the year, the Calabogie Classic, will see the full Stevens Racing squad take the line, including 2012 winner Catherine Dessureault.