Gabriella Nordin at Tour of the Battenkill

Gabriella Nordin should be known to the female racers in the Scottish scene and to most of the men who pay attention to the women’s scene. But to those of you who don’t, she is a 25-year old postgraduate student who races in the tartan and black of Pedal Power RT.

I had noticed Gabriella entering some pretty big races recently – she seemed to be taking the sport about as seriously as an amateur can do. She raced the Tour of the Reservoir this weekend but unfortunately was caught in a crash that scuppered her race. She is coached by pedal power employee Gary Hand, who also races for KTM Road and Trail and is current Scottish Elite RR Champion. “Having a specific training program makes it much easier to juggle training with my studies. This is the first season that I’m doing structured training and I’m noticing the benefits so far,” she told me.

She has contributed to the blog her report of her race at the Pro/1/2 women’s race at the Tour of the Battenkill, a one-day race in Cambridge, upstate New York, in the style of the European Cobbled Classics.

Battenkill
Gabriella, 2nd from right

Also known as America’s ’Queen of The Classics’ and the largest pro-amateur race in North America, at 65-miles long, including many long, steep climbs, dirt roads and gravel sections, I knew it was going to be a tough day out. The line-up for the women’s elite race was really strong including riders such as Kathleen Giles racing for the US Navy team and Catherine Fleury who finished 10th in the U23 Olympic Cross Country last year.

I flew over a week before the race. This gave me plenty of time to recover from the jet-lag and catch up with my family there who I hadn’t seen in ages. My mum is American so everyone on her side of the family lives there. Got a few hard training sessions in before the race and fuelled up on plenty of food and sleep so come race day I was feeling good.

It was a cold, crisp day (0 degrees to begin with!) as we assembled at the start line. The first climb was after 10 miles and until then everyone was just cruising along at 16mph chatting about non-cycling related things. It almost felt like a Sunday social ride! However, as we approached the climb people got their race heads on and were fighting to be in a good position in the bunch. Two girls attacked right before the climb and I was out of my depth trying to cling on to their wheels. I didn’t look behind me until we reached the top and then realised that 7 of us had got a good gap to the rest of the bunch. Unfortunately this was short-lived and we got caught on the steep descent following the climb. So now the bunch was all together again. The next big climb was at 30 miles. Until then there were a few attacks but they all got brought back.

It was on the 2nd climb that the winning break of three riders went. Stephanie Wetzel (Colavita Midatlantic) really but the pressure on and brought Kathleen Giles (who won the race) and Cecilia Davis-Hayes (CRCA: Stan’s NoTubes p/b enduranceWERX) with her. I just didn’t have the legs to follow despite absolutely destroying myself. Ended up in a chasing group of about 15 riders. A few riders were dropped on the remaining climbs so we were down to 10 by the time we approached the finish straight. Coming in to the last corner I was in a bad position right at the back of the group (rookie mistake!). Sprinting is definitely one of my weaknesses in cycling but I always like to give it a good go. This was proven successful as I passed three riders before the line and just managed to squeeze in to the top ten. I had no idea what position I got so went to ask the commisare who said I got 10th and told me to go and collect my prize money. I couldn’t believe it. Was absolutely over the moon with that result in such a high profile race and considering it was my first time racing on dirt roads!

For the next few months I’ll be racing the National Women’s RR series mixed with some local races in Scotland. My biggest target, however, is the Swedish National RR Champs which takes place at the end of June.

Looking forward to the season ahead and continuing the learning curve!