Monday, July 28, 2008

Chicago Criterium and Cross Announcement

After being on the road for almost three weeks it was great to spend a week at home with Dave. We had our floors refinished upstairs so we were camping in our living room all week. It was kind of fun to stretch out on the bed and watch Tour coverage every evening!

Sunday was the first ever downtown Chicago criterium. It was really cool to have a race right near the lake and on Michigan Avenue - very cool venue. And the promoters really stepped up to the plate offering huge money for the races. $10,000 was on the line for the women and we always appreciate the respect of promoters to have a purse that big for the P/1/2 women even though our field size is relatively small. Womens cycling is gaining momentum and we need the support of sponsors, promoters, and current athletes to bring more riders to the sport. Thanks to the city of Chicago and all of the sponsors and promoters for a great race!

Okay - on to the race report :) A talented field showed up with a full squad from TIBCO, Meredith from Aarons, Lara from ValuAct, Team Mesa, Revolution, and many other talented solo riders. KENDA had Catherine, Debbie, Jess, Krystal and myself. Debbie had a pretty nasty crash on the track on Thursday so she needed a little extra boost pre-race. Check it out.

Debbie downing a can of whoop ass

TIBCO raced a smart race and were very aggressive launching riders continuously. Two laps in a prime was called and after a rider was reeled in I jumped with a half lap to go and held off the field for $100. A few laps later I was on Brooke Miller's wheel when she attacked and I went with her. We had a good gap and began working together, a prime was called and I was impressed when she told me she wasn't going to contest me for it - another $100 in gift cards. We were off for maybe 8 laps and had up to 30 seconds on the field. I was thinking this might actually work when Julie from Revolution bridged. The three of us were off for another lap or two but the group was gaining on us and we were caught with about 20 minutes to go in the race.

in a break with Brooke

Debbie ended up going with the counter and was able to snag a $200 prime out of her group of 4. TIBCO continued to launch riders and unfortunately we were unable to cover them all. Amber Rais went off solo and the field hesitated on the chase. I attempted to bridge twice to no avail - Amber is a talented TT rider and put time on us - it was now a race for second.

On the last lap I was sitting third wheel on the TIBCO leadout train when on the backside of the course a rider told me to get out of her way. I didn't exactly appreciate the demand or her tone and I'm a bit ashamed to say I let it fluster me. I lost the spot, riders swarmed around me and I was forced to the inside for the last corner - not the place to be as some riders sat up forcing anyone on that line to slow up and have to work harder to get around. I ended up 18th which was a bit disappointing given that I felt really good in the race and was in good position on the last lap. I learned that I need to be a little tougher and gutsier (if that's a word) for the finish. It wasn't really appropriate for that rider to tell me to get out of her way but on the same hand I shouldn't have let it affect me as I had every right to be in that spot. As the cliche goes - that's bike racing!

All in all a great race and a lot of fun. The team raced well and we were involved in lots of moves and snagged some good primes. Debbie finished right behind me in 20th. Thanks to Paul for coming out to support us and also a shout out to Michael Zellman from SRAM who was the announcer on the back side of the course and gave me some publicity while I was in the break.

Two more weekends of Chicago crit racing action (Elk Grove this weekend and Downer's on the 16/17) before taking a little break and getting ready for the cyclocross season. This will be my fourth season racing and I can't wait. It's always so much fun to change things up a bit for the fall and get into the cross scene. This year will bring a new twist for me as I've been given the chance to race for the Wisconsin based powerhouse team of Planet Bike. For those of you that don't know Planet Bike is a Madison based company that sells some of the best bike accessories out there. Lights, fenders, computers, bottle cages, seat bags, CO2 and pumps, and much more. The best part is that 25% of all profits go towards Bike Advocacy and the company is committed to getting more people out on bikes and making sure the infrastructure exists to do that. Bob Downs has put together an amazing group of riders with the Elite Men Jonathan Page, Marko Lalonde, and Tristan Schouten. He also has a phenomenal group of Masters and Junior 17-18 girls Nationals winner Anna Young. I am really excited for this opportunity and look forward to a great fall season of racing. Thanks to Bob and all of the sponsors for welcoming me to the team. I'll be including more sponsor info in a sidebar very soon.

And while I'm plugging Bike Advocacy check out the American League of Bicyclists and if you're a Wisconsinite the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin. Both are stand up organizations that work hard to make communities more bike friendly and encourage people to use bikes as an alternative transportation.

Thanks for checking in!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fitchburg, Superweek

Been on the road for three weeks and my internet access was not the greatest so I'll try to make the recap brief.

Fitchburg went really well. A solid field of over 60 riders racing and with our squad of 7 we hoped to be a factor in the race. Team Kenda Tire had three (Crowell, Guzman, and myself) in the top 20 after the TT and planned for guest rider Carla Swart to give the intermediate sprints a go in the first road race. She took that job totally seriously and was winning sprints and picking up major points. Hard race with a painful climb every lap and a brutal 2 mile finishing climb. I was our top finisher on the day in 9th and Anne was 21st. Carla did so well she was wearing the green jersey by the end of the day. For the circuit race the next day we worked to try to help out Carla get sprint points and keep myself and Anne in the top 20 GC. Carla is a monster and she nabbed a few points but Kelly Benjamin demonstrated her amazing sprint and took over the jersey. Props to Kat and Jackie C. for working hard in the race to move Carla up and keep her safe. Two riders off the front in that race but most of us finished in the main pack. The final day's crit we would try to keep Carla in the sprint competition as the $$ went three deep. She gave her absolute all, picked up a few more points and secured third place. A few of us were involved in some break attempts but it was a bunch finish. Our top finishes were myself in 12th GC, Anne in 17th, and then Carla hanging on for 3rd in the sprints. An excellent showing for Team Kenda Tire!

There are dairy bars everywhere in the Northeast!

Carla in green

Post race fajitas

Big thanks to Marci, Bert, and Ethan for letting us crash at the dorms - we had a blast hanging out with all of you and Mani the wonderdog! Anne's husband Malcolm and our teammate Becca were also a huge help to all of us racing. They were in the feed zone, helped us load, and Becca made some amazing fruit bars (I need that recipe!). Also a shout out to the guys in SRAM neutral support for helping us out with TT adjustments and other issues throughout the race! Thanks everyone!

After Fitchburg I headed to Syracuse with Ashley from ISCorp to spend a few days with our friend Becky before heading back to Wisconsin for Superweek. We had a blast riding the beautiful roads, checking out the crystal blue waters of Green Lake, and discovering the food wonderland of Wegmans grocery store. Thanks for letting us crash Becky!!

Ashley and I left Syracuse and picked up Anne in Buffalo. Thirteen hours later we finally made it back to Madison. We were going a little nutty in the car and at our final truck stop in Illinois Anne decided she had to purchase a team mascot for the week - meet Phelicia our junior development rider!

We decided she would provide endless entertainment for our adventures of racing 7 crits at Superweek.

The racing started in Chicago on Monday and we were all impressed with the strong riders and teams that showed up for the series. The crits started fast and furious . . . and hot. Temps were in the mid 90s the first three days and we were all feeling the effects. I'm not going to go into all the details of the races but we were trying to race smart and be active in the races. We had some top 15 finishes and were involved in some break attempts. It was fun to be in Chicago and we enjoyed a few morning spins in the city as well as a very cool tour of SRAM Headquarters - thanks Chris. They're doing some really neat things there and their World Bicycle Relief program is inspiring.
spinning in Chicago

SRAM World Bicycle Relief

We met up with Michael and Paul from SRAM at Shorewood and the guys did an interview with us and even Phelicia got a little airtime - check it out! Thanks guys! The videos should be posted below but if not click on these links.

Team interview

Phelicia's minute of stardom

I personally tend to feel better as the week wears on and by the time the racing moved to Wisconsin on Thursday I was eager to get in a break and race more aggressively. Anne and Krystal both were attacking and working hard and I managed a 4th at Shorewood in addition to snagging a $100 prime. Friday's course suited me with two power climbs plus I had extra motivation with my parents coming out for the race. I attacked on the 5th lap and was off solo for maybe 7 laps before Sydney from Revolution and Lorena from HPC bridged up. We were soon sitting off the back of the field. We had tentatively agreed not to lap in due to safety concerns with the course, but with 6 to go Syd closed the gap and we found ourselves in the dangerous mix of the pack. I was near the front with 2 to go when the crash happened and I had nowhere to go. I don't know how you can crash at 30mph and not get hurt but I somehow managed it - soooo lucky. Thankfully my bike worked and I finished the final lap at the back but just by finishing I kept my second place intact. Lorena was not so lucky and ended up in the ER with stitches on her face and a totalled bike. Syd got the win and my points moved me into the top 10 overall for the series.

Thanks mom and dad for coming out to cheer me on - you both are my superfans this year! Thanks also for the tasty food post race!

Catherine showed up for Saturday and she, Anne, and I were active at the front. We all got caught in traffic for the bunch finish but luckily all stayed upright. There were a few nasty crashes this week with Elicia from ISCorp breaking a jaw on Thursday and Bri from Team Rev breaking a hip on Saturday. Rest up and recover girls - we know you'll be back at it soon!

Sunday's race in Evanston was awesome with a great venue and a huge crowd. We were 6 riders strong and we rode a great race with lots of attacks and presence in breaks. Catherine and Debbie were really active and it was a fun race. Anne and Krystal were also attacking and being active at the front. Debbie snagged a $50 prime as well as took 5th place. I was 13th which was enough to get me some more points and secure me a 10th overall in the series.

Overall it was a great series of racing and a learning experience for us all. We really began to race more as a team as the week went on and definitely had a lot of fun. Thanks to all of our hosts throughout the series - Debbie and Jonathon in Chicago and the Franckens in Waukesha. We appreciate all of the support! Also thanks to Paul for helping us out during the week at the races and taking some nice photos in Bensenville.

I'll leave you with some parting shots of Phelicia. Anne and I would get numerous gut busting laughs from our little mascot and posing her in different places. She also served quite useful as a pillow for all of the car rides! She's now been adopted by our teammate Karen's daughter but I'm sure she'll make a resurgence at future races!

Cider with Phelicia

watching Anne warm up

with host cat Jasmine

trying out the bike

sitting in the shade

I've also got to congratulate Dave on his awesome finish in yesterday's Spirit of Racine Half Ironman. He had a smoking time of 4:46 which was 13 minutes faster than last year and gave him 21st in his age group of 120 guys. Way to go!

Thanks for reading!