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Serena Sheridan in France 2007

Serena Sheridan - reporting from Limoux (11/5/2007)

Results from Le Tour du Grand Montreal Can. (2.1W) 4-7/06/07

Results from Montreal World Cup Can. (CDM W) 2/06/07

Final results from Tour de I'Aude Fra. (2.1W) 18-27/05/07

I placed 5th in the U23 Classement behind Marrianne Vos (Ned), Elena Kuchinskya (Rus), Claudia Hausler (Ger), and 28th overall after all stages.

Hi all, The last few weeks have been relatively uneventful, but I have picked out a few pictures of some slightly interesting things I have been up to lately

- on top of one of the smaller Pyrenees we will be racing 1300m
- the weird French restaurant
- pictures from the on the way to the bigger Pyrenees near the Spanish border
- Podium finish from the French, Saint Salvy de la Balme race.

The world cup in Belgium a couple of weeks ago was an absolute disaster! It was just one of those races where it just all went wrong. A long story short, I basically go pushed into a ditch after a group of girls crashed in around of me. Luckily I bailed early enough and managed to kind of land on my feet, but just my luck it was the climb where the crucial break went. I got back on and finished the race, but was 8 minutes behind the winner. The girls just in front of the bunch I finished with got timed so I missed the time cut by only a few seconds and got my result written down as a 'dnf'. I was so guttered, but out of the 140 starters, over 80 of them got 'dnf,' very lazy of the organizers/time keepers I recon.

I climbed two of the Pyrenees I am going to be racing in the Tour de L'Aude next week if I get selected for the team (find out on Mon). One of them was 1900m the other 1800m. We broke it up into 5km all out efforts, Karl one of the mechanics here would drive 5km up the hill and we would race to him then ride tempo until we regrouped. It was really fun, hard training and the scenery was absolutely amazing, the pics I took when I was in the car didn't turn out very well because it was really bad weather so it was too dark.

It was super cold at the bottom of the first climb, and on our last 5km effort there was snow on the side of the road, and it was drizzly, windy, and very cold. Then we were made to bike down, I have never been so cold in my life, I got brain freeze from the wind chill and almost threw up! We all stopped half way down and the manager took one look at me and made me get in the car, hehe. I was pretty stoked really; he got the heater cranking and ate my big picnic so I was toasty warm and feeling 100% again in no time. I got out at the bottom of the next climb warm fed and ready to go hard again.



The second climb was not as cold as the first and I climbed really well. As soon as we all got to the top we biked to the nearest pub/cafe thing got dressed, ate our lunch, and drank hot chocolate mmmmmmmmmmmmm and waited for our ride home - luxury. Apart from getting cold on that down hill part I had an absolute blast and feel way more confident about racing those massive climbs.

Our manager/coach/director for the Tour de L'Aude, a local Limoux guy took us all out for dinner. It was a very traditional French restaurant in a tiny town way out in the middle of nowhere. The meal had about 20 courses; it all came out on big platters that got passed around. It was really fun getting to try heaps of different things, I ate some pretty disgusting and weird food but some of it was surprisingly nice, the duck gizzard and liver was delicious. The rotisserie lamb that was cooked on the open fire right beside our table was the best. We finished with some kind of traditional drinking game thing. Unfortunately for me I am totally uncoordinated, I totally missed my mouth and it all went straight down my top.

We went and raced a national French race today called the Saint Slavy de la Balme, our team absolutely dominated, I felt really strong. It was 80km long and course that went up one big climb which had three really steep parts to it, then straight back down past the start/finish. The whole course was only flat for about 500m then it went straight up again for another 8km lap. Five girls got away including two girls from our team, Toni and Mitch. I wasn't fast enough to go with them at that stage in the race, but three laps later they had a good gap on the field and the coach yelled at us in the bunch to have a go. So I attacked and got away from the bunch at the bottom of the next climb and caught the break only 4km later just before the decent - stoked I felt really strong. There was one really fast chick in the break she is the ex world cyclocros champion. In the end it was only Mitch, Toni and I and the ex world champ left in the break. I lead out Mitch for the initial part of the sprint the Toni did for the last part, I got on the back of the world champ jumped again but didn't quite pull it off, I still got third, Mitch won and I was very happy with the race.

I'm off to Switzerland tomorrow and racing the world cup race there on Sunday, I will let you know how I get on.

All the best, Serena : )

Click here for Google Map for Limoux , France

Serena Sheridan - Hi from Limoux (23/4/2007)

Results from World Cup Switzerland 13/05/07

Results from Womens Flèche Wallonne 25/4/07

Hope everything is well for you in Nelson.

I'm having a pretty good time here in Limoux, France is so different to anywhere I have ever been before. We are all living in this three story apartment like house, which I'm sure is hundreds of years old. The narrow footpath like streets surrounding it, seem to be only 2 meters wide, and are the only thing separating the almost identical house/apartments.  There are no back yards or balconies to enjoy the sunshine, so people have to let their dogs outside on the streets to do there business, but they don't pick it up, its everywhere!

The scenery is fantastic check out the pictures.

The racing is a totally new experience. Long drives 5/7 hours and really budget accommodation, but no stressful airports - yay! And every thing is so organised. 3 staff (coach/manager, mechanic, physio) to six riders, we are very well looked after. When we are racing all we have to do is get dressed, our meals are prepared for us, we get little communication radios and race snacks put into our pockets, and we hop on our bikes, that have been tuned, cleaned, race wheeled, tyres pumped etc. Even have race bottles freshly prepared and put into our cages for us! All we have to do is race.

My first Euro race was Monday last week, Prix de Pujols, a French cup race. I was very nervous about it, because I had been getting so many scary stories about it being so hard and scaring, because of the huge field 100+, narrow roads with potholes, technical, dangerous narrow descents, with mushy wet leaves and hidden wet patches on the off cambered corners with a hairpin at the bottom, only 2km from the start line, and a really steep 3km climb to the finish line that we do 5 times (see why I was nervous?!) To top it all off I had only been in Europe for 4 days and wasn't sleeping properly because I was struggling to adapt to the time change. I went for an "easy 1hr spin" the day before. It ended up being a hilly 2hr tempo ride, and I blew! Because I was daydreaming and got totally disorientated so I had to force myself to stay with the pack (not the ideal ride to do day before the race!). Anywho the night before the race I had the best sleep and woke up feeling so much better, made myself forget the day before and just concentrated on the race.

There are articles and pics of races I have done on the bike NZ website ( under high performance, then Bike NZ Europe, then ETC rider updates, and there are three articles on the three races we have done under the titles "Close to the podium," "Making the race," and "Prix de Pujols, French cup").

My personal version: I managed to contended with the other 115 starters for a place right on the start line, stoked. There was only 2km of false flat before the knarly descent so I planed to stay in top three till then. The race started I was told to get off the front over the radio a couple of times, but I was actually on second/ third wheel, perfect I decided. I managed to hold my place and was 3rd going into the first decent. The descent shattered the bunch, which all changed and got back together again, so I saved a lot of energy already being in the front bunch. Basically for the rest of the race, I got away in a break away of four, and then got caught. I stayed well placed in the bunch and got away with a group of 15 on the first climb, Michelle H. joined me. We ended up a few minutes ahead of the field and in the end I was told to attack the bunch repeatedly until I blew, to soften their legs while Mitch sat in and went into the finial climb to the finish fresh. She got 7th, and I managed to drag my but up the hill, and got 12th and had a lot of fun.

The next week flew by. I had my first good training ride on Thursday, I had been feeling so bad on the bike until then, so I really appreciated it and gave it everything. I found a very steep 3km climb and did it four times with lots of sprints and surges. Half way up this climb I went through this quant little historic looking town, each time I went through it I passed these four old guys sitting on a bench smoking there cigars with their dogs. After passing them a couple of time they started cheering me on, it was very funny. Then I hammered myself completely on a rolling hilly circuit and dieseled home, it was great.

Berry Classic on Saturday and Sunday was not such an enjoyable race. The first day was 115km with over 120 starters and the race was very fast and technical, my bike handling skills were pushed to the limit. I managed to
push my way through the bunch over and over again and even though I had very little knowledge of the course I seemed to manage to be at the right place at the right time. My legs were very flat and I was unable to climb nearly as fast as I have been at home. Not knowing how steep the climbs are or where the top was didn't help, I managed to get away in good break, but just missed the winning break of two by a few metres and ended up in a break with three others only 10sec behind them for ages, it was so frustrating because they weren't working and Jacque told me to relax and let the two get caught. Then we got caught by the main bunch, I managed to win the mountain prems, to get third in mountain points, then I struggled the rest of the race and only managed to finish in the bunch.  The crowed was on the hill on the finishing circuit was like something from the tour de France, standing right in the way then moving at the last moment. That race was totally out of my comfort zone, almost crashed so many times, it sucked, and was made even worse when team mate Brei crashed hard 200m to go.

Berry Classic on Sunday was 100km which started and finished on a 3 then 5 laps of a cornery, hilly 5km circuit. My legs felt absolutely horrid and was red lining up all the hills just to stay anyway near the front of the bunch. Three girls got away, when we got to the last 5 X 5km circuit we were instructed to team tt at the front to catch them, but the break kept on gaining time on us. I was then told to break away from the bunch solo, this was the first time I have had a team working for me, so even though I felt absolutely shagged already, I was stoked at the opportunity to have a go for myself. So I thought of all the times I thought I had nothing left when training and Max making do "just one more!" and doing "one more" well, and attacked and gave it everything. The team stayed with the bunch and blocked. My job originally was just to do a 15km solo tt and stay away from the main bunch for fourth, but as the break away started to tire, I started to quickly gain on them. More motivation to put myself further into the hurt box, over 15km  I managed to shut down the 56 sec to just a couple of metres within 200m of the finish line, so just before I got to them they sprinted to the finish line. I got fourth, I was pretty gutted but pleased with how hard I pushed myself (threw up twice, hehe) and I knew that I could not have gone any faster. It was the hardest I had ever ridden.

We are racing a inter-regional men's race on Saturday, then driving to Belgium Mon/Tues and racing the Flèche Wallonne world cup there on Wed (see photo on right). Apparently this race is so hard and fast none of the NZ girls finished last year! Anyway I will let you know how I get on.

Au revoir!

Serena : )


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