By Jen Dial
Editor’s note: Jen Dial, racing in the HP Women’s Challenge with the Office Depot Team, will be checking into VeloNews.com daily with her view from inside the race. After Wednesday’s stage 1, Jen “had tea’ with the one and only Jeannie Longo, who happens to be Jen’s teammate at the Idaho stage race.
Jeannie Longo asked us to “stop by and have tea” after our massages. And why wouldn’t we? After suffering all day in the wind and winning the opening stage of the Hewlett Packard Women’s Challenge, she has plenty to celebrate. Obviously the celebration has to be such that everyone can race again in the morning, so it was more like “having water.”
At 43 years young, our teammate on Office Depot took every single awards jersey except one, the youngest rider jersey. Sorry Jeannie, there’s nothing we can do about that one!
We’re a composite, and that means riders from all over the place. Helen and Ren from Australia, (Ren is from Tasmania), Jessica, Joan, and I are from the good old U.S., and of course, Jeannie from France. We all showed up for team pictures Tuesday and that was the extent of the “get to know you period” for Office Depot.
We didn’t really make a plan. The first stage, which is usually a day for the sprinters, was for the second year in a row, a day in the gutter. Jeannie missed out on the fun last year, and determined not to make the same mistake twice, she actually instigated the break and rode away from everyone except Saturn’s Lynn Bessette.
The rest of us tried to make it into a nice group. That’s what it’s all about for those of us in the back half of the race when you have two weeks ahead; make a good strong group and ride it in everyday. Minimize your loss.
After being blown around for a few hours and going to the awards ceremony in Idaho City we headed up to Stanley. We’re staying in some cabins that look a lot more rustic on the outside; the satellite TV will keep us entertained until we have to drive the course backward to our start tomorrow morning.
The stage from Lowman to Stanley is an HP classic; about 30 miles of climbing and then a run in on the flats to town. Jeannie has won this stage before, and the blue leader’s jersey might as well be a big target. We’ll do what we can, and hope for less wind.
Meanwhile, instead of having tea before bed, I think I’m going to have a glass of wine. One glass can’t hurt as long as I promise to back it up with a few bottles of water.