Thursday, December 27, 2007

Year in Review

So it's that time of the year where it's fun to look back at the happenings of the past 12 months. And since I didn't start the blog until October I figured it might be fun to go over the earlier part of the year. This being a pretty superficial and cycling focused blog I'll recap how my season went.

First an overview -

64 race days (48 road, 16 cross)
10 wins, 23 podium (top 5) finishes

States Raced in - 10 - California, Illinois, Wisconsin, Georgia, Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan

March - A training/racing block in Cali to jump start the season. Starting off racing NRC events after having been on my bike outside only a handful of times in the preceding months may not have been the smartest plan. I had some fabulous experiences, met some great people, and got some solid racing in. I was out there for 20 days and had 9 days of racing.
Plus I got to ride through Sequoia National Park on my birthday and stayed overnight alone in my rental minivan in the middle of the park. It was so much fun! Quite the adventure. The racing was a bit over my head but I had tons of fun and learned a lot.
Half of our Redlands team

April - Soon after getting back from Cali and feeling strong from the racing I had a minor mishap on a training ride and ended up with 14 stitches in my face. This photo is five days after the crash since the earlier pics are a bit hard to stomach. Left me eating through a straw for a few days and sitting on the couch. Raced a local crit with a bunch of teammates and Debbie got the big W for us. I also still ended up going down to Georgia for Athens Twilight and Nalley. Fun races but I was getting hungry for some stage racing.

May - A big month for me. Traveled down to Arkansas for Joe Martin - a sentimental favorite since in 2006 it was my first ever stage race. It was a great race and I was feeling decent on the climbs. Right after that I stayed down there for Tri Peaks - another stage race in AR - and although it was a relatively small field I was pleased to finish 8th in the second road race - my only top 10 NRC finish of the year. Arkansas is a beautiful state and I always enjoy racing on the roads down there.
Tri Peaks TT and view

The weekend after getting back from AR I traveled to Iowa for the Memorial Day races. After winning Snake Alley the year before the pressure was on for me to defend. With the rain pouring down the race was soon whittled down to two riders and an attack with two to go gave me the solo victory. I love the suffering of this race!

The Snake

June - Started off with some local WI races. Took a Silver Medal in the State Road Race behind Julie F who had a phenomenal season. Then the city of Grafton put on a fun crit with a huge purse and lots of community support. After being aggressive all race my solo attack with two laps to go stuck and I came through for the win.

Then came Nature Valley which I had gotten to race composite in last year. It's great because it's so close to home and draws one of the biggest fields of women in the nation. This year over 130 started the first stage - a short technical crit - and by the finish of the notorious Stillwater Crit there were 83 finishers. I was really happy to finish 27th in the GC here and had tons of fun at the races. We had a great bunch of Kenda riders and some excellent host families. It was also nice to have my parents, aunt, and uncle came out to watch a few stages plus Dave was up to help support the team.

The Nature Valley Kenda Crew

June wasn't over yet though and a few of us headed to Ohio for the Grandview crits put on by Jay Baumeister - a great promoter and one who is especially encouraging of womens cycling. These were fun races - huge community support and very big prize payouts - I really encourage folks to support this weekend of racing. Debbie took 3rd the first day. The next day Mackenzie was off the front solo the entire race and I attacked with a lap to go in hopes of finishing second. I was swarmed meters before the line and still took a respectable 5th.

July - A quiet first week of July before driving out to Pennsylvania for the Elite TT and Road Race. Seven Springs is a beautiful area and the course has some great climbs, and one screaming descent - I hit 60mph last year! My races didn't go as well as I would have liked and the competition was fierce. Great racing.

Altoona came next and this would sort of cap off the road season for me - this is pretty much the premier stage race for women in the United States. 7 days of racing - over 400 miles - and the women race the same distances (and get even a slightly bigger payout) as the men.
We had a fun bunch of girls on the team for this one and the racing was incredibly tough - the top teams were pushing the pace constantly and with all of the climbing the GC was quickly broken up. A Team Time Trial started things off and thanks to our powerhouse composite rider Heather we had a strong finish.

This is another brutal race of attrition - 105 starters, 65 finishers. I was just happy to be one of those finishers this year and vow to improve for next year's version of the race. This is another one of those races that has an incredible amount of community support. Beautiful scenery too - it's so much fun to be riding on these closed courses that wind and descend through the countryside.

August - Not much happening in terms of bike racing this month. I took a little time off and went down to the Chicago area for a crit in Elk Grove and the following weekend Elite Crit Nationals at Downer's Grove. A few girls flew in for EG and the field wasn't huge but it was stacked with some of the best crit racers from the US and Canada. I put in a big solo attack early on and held the field off for 2 laps and took a $500 prime - I was SUPER excited about that. I got caught behind a crash in the last lap but Gina had a strong finish. Just a quick side note here - this event continues to grow for the men but the women only get one race. Next year they are planning on putting all categories of women (1-4) together in one crit. There are many racers and supporters advocating to change this (St. Louis Revolution) and the cycling community needs to respectfully write to the mayor and promoter explaining why this is not a good idea. It is unfortunate that these organizers do not see the dangerous and unacceptable situation that will arise from this change.

Next weekend at Downer's was monsoon like with all the rain. I pulled out the first day and after miraculously avoiding all the crashes the second day I finished near the back.

September brought some time off while watching Dave compete in the Ironman - he did awesome finishing in 11:14. He is the hardest working person I know and I was so proud of him. And he's back for more next year!

I was going to take the whole month off but Rachel helped form a composite team to head over to Michigan for the Tour de Leelanau. A fun one day road race with a UCI designation this year. Being UCI meant there were many hoops to jump through but it was a great race and I enjoyed being on the same team as riders I normally compete against. Beautiful area and we got to stay in an incredible lake house.

Cross season started and I was hoping to take the overall series win for the third year. This was my first real ride on the new cross bike - just happened to be a race too!

October brought more cyclocross - some muddy, some sunny - all incredibly fun. Had a couple of wins but Devon from IL came up and schooled me a few times too :)

November was more local races and then to Iowa for Jingle Cross and my first UCI cross races.

December quickly came up and after getting second in both WI and IL State races (first WI rider for the State Championship) it was time to go to the big dance in Kansas City. Three weekends of racing in the snow was incredibly fun. Despite the hours spent cleaning my bike up I really enjoyed racing for the first time in December. Nats was of course epic and although several crashes and a flat wasn't exactly how I wanted to finish the season it was a great time nonetheless.

Whew!!! I didn't anticipate that getting so long!

So as you can tell I had a great 2007. Accomplished a few goals but definitely left some room for improvement. Throughout it all I've tried to keep a smile on my face (well . . . except for after my crash when it felt like my lip would crack open!) and enjoy the ride.

There are so many people to thank in helping support me in my bike racing adventures. First and foremost Dave for encouraging me and putting up with my addiction. Mom and Dad and the rest of my friends and family who I see rarely due to the busy racing schedule. Paul does an amazing job organizing and supporting this team and I was very pleased to be a part of it this year. Our team mechanic Mike is another one of those extremely generous people and I really appreciate all the support he's given me throughout the season. Also, there are so many great racers and riders from Wisconsin who I am honored to race and ride with - the social aspects of this sport are incredible! Kudos to all of my teammates throughout the year too - it's been a blast racing with you all!!

I know 2008 holds many more exciting journeys and I look forward to making it successful and fun! Thanks so much for reading!!

Happy New Year!

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