10 podiums in 3 days for Stevens women

The Stevens-The Cyclery team enjoyed some great racing in Syracuse last weekend. Ellen Watters tells the women’s team’s story.

Carrie Cartmill, Emily Flynn and Ellen Watters enjoyed a good weekend in Syracuse, N.Y.
Carrie Cartmill, Emily Flynn and Ellen Watters enjoyed a good weekend in Syracuse, N.Y.

Syracuse, NY. 4 races + 3 days + 4 Stevens-The Cyclery riders (one of them a junior). What does that all equal? A heck of a lot of podiums and smiles and fun, with a little added suffering and sweating on the side. The women’s team and men’s team both went for this race (a larger contingent for the men), but I am just going to chat about the women’s side of things.

Carrie Cartmill, Emily Flynn and I met up in Syracuse for the Syracuse Race Weekend. With 50+ mm of rain in the forecast for Friday we thought that the hill climb that night would be soggy and reasonably unpleasant. The hill climb went perfectly with Emily attacking off the front as soon as neutral was done and holding a break to the finish! Our team sprinter climbed the hill the fastest 🙂 The ride took us through some nice scenery with some roadkill and also a wild turkey crossing. Literally, we had to slow because of turkeys just waddling across the course. The hill climb really began about 13 km into the ride and it was about 950ft of climbing over 2 km. So a Stevens podium with Emily (1st), Carrie (2nd) and myself (3rd). That was definitely worth smiling about.

Saturday morning we had early TT starts for 8:30am. Carrie was to go off first, Emily second and I followed a few minutes later. With a certain amount of timing confusion, about half the women’s pro 1/2 field missed their start times. What that means is you can still go and do your TT, but your start time remains the same (i.e. if you start a minute later then your overall TT time will have that extra minute added to it). Carrie and Emily were told they had missed their time, but each of them finished a really strong 3rd and 6th respectively. Fortunately I was about 30 seconds to my start time, so didn’t have the added time. The sun had finally showed its face for the morning and the wind was just a small breath, which certainly helps racing against the clock. I somehow pulled off a first place finish with my mind more focused on worrying about being late for the TT and not focused on breathing, pedal stroke, etc.

We had a bit of an afternoon break before we went to race a crit. I absolutely loved the location of the criterium. It was based around a large pond in a park with good roads and a nice sweeping course. A small uphill S- turn section with a great downhill swooping left turn, it was fast and fun. After a few attacks by all three of us, Carrie finally launched an attack that stuck. She probably had gained about 20 seconds on the group when I launched an attack on the uphill section. This allowed me to race and catch up with Carrie. From then on we worked together on pulls and kept the gap growing. Eventually by the last two laps we lapped the field (which quite surprised both of us!). I took first, Carrie second and Emily grabbed a perfect sprint for 4th! During a crit they have laps called primes, which are kind of like prize laps. I believe there were five primes throughout the whole race. Emily snagged two and Carrie snagged two, while I took one. A fantastic day of racing for the whole team!

And this is where Starbucks came in. We ended up going for a warm beverage, and needed directions so we stopped at a local motorcycle shop and asked some fairly awesome guys where we could find a Starbucks. Directions were long winded but certainly helpful and we had a good laugh. To our dismay the bikers had just left before we could come back to show them proudly that we had found the place!

Finally, Sunday came with a 100 km road race to have fun with. We left the town of Tully and rode out to get onto the 27 mile circuit that we would do twice before heading back into town. The circuit contained two climbs: Song Mountain and Oak Hill Road climb. Both steady uphills, I personally felt the Oak Hill was the harder of the two. And what comes after a climb but a nice descent! This course had a few 90-degree or more turns at the bottom of descents too, so for a good thing the morning showers had somewhat dried up by that point.

Carrie and another rider took off about 5 km before the Oak Hill Road climb and that break stuck and increased to about 4.5 minutes overall. Emily grabbed some extra QOM points at the top and we rolled along the course at a somewhat decent pace. First lap done, Emily urged me (convincingly) that I would be able to drop the group on the next time up the Oak Hill climb. So I did and with a good distance between myself and the two groups (the break in front and the peloton in back) I became a chaser. I can definitely say that there isn’t much of a greater feeling than being able to race and bridge a gap to your teammate in 35-40km, and then work with her on a few more attacks before the finish line. Carrie had a great attack and I was able to launch my final attack and sprint to finish first, Carrie third and Emily took a nail-biting sixth (it was ridiculously close…. like a hair-width close).

In the GC I ended up with the most points, Carrie second and Emily fourth. I am so proud of my team and how successful we were all weekend! We worked so well together, learned a lot and added a little bit more to our fitness.

Next up, Killington and then we get into our UCI races (Philly and Gatineau). Some hard racing ahead, but I’m excited about what’s already happened and what is to come.

Until then: eat, sleep and pedal!!