Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day Racing in Iowa

Krystal, Mike, me, Monique, and Ashley before Snake Alley

Had a great 3 day weekend of criterium racing down in Iowa. Solid fields of riders came out for Snake Alley, Melon City, and the Quad City crits. Team Kenda had a crew of 4 riders in the 1/2/3 races with myself, Ashley, Catherine, and Krystal. The racing was fast and fun and we had some great finishes throughout the weekend.

Ashley, Monique (who is still recovering from her injury but came to support us!), and I (plus the Cider dog!) left Madison Saurday morning and got to Burlington just in time to see our mechanic Mike race the Cobble Climb. It's a ridiculously steep cobblestone alley that riders race up on mountain bikes. Mike did it in a kilt and rocked it - he finished 2nd in his age group - way to go Mike!

The clouds were moving in and there were a few sprinkles but luckily it stayed dry for our race. With almost 40 riders this was the one of the most talented fields this race has seen in 5 years. After winning in 2006 and 2007 and then finishing 2nd last year I admit I was hoping to go for the win (I mean this is the goal of racing right? :) But realistically I knew that would be extremely tough given the caliber of riders. Just 12 laps . . . 12 very painful laps.

From the gun Iowa native (Lipsmackers rider) Amanda Miller pushed the pace and had the group strung out with gaps opening quickly. Within the first two laps a group of 5 of us had formed - Amanda, TIBCO's Meredith Miller, Team BH's Devon Haskell, myself, and Mercy's Kim Eppen. By lap 4 I found myself gapped with Kim on my wheel. I tried to stay connected to the group of 3 but every time up the climb found that they slipped further away. They were in sight until about 4 laps to go. I'd look back to see that there were no chasers within sight. Kim never took a pull and I just tried to keep the pace high. With one lap to go as we were about to enter the Snake I see Devon being pushed as she had dropped her chain. I was nearly on her wheel and she got a small gap over the top. Through the backside of the course I got closer to her but as we neared the finish I decided to not try to outsprint her as I hadn't had "it" to make that front group. As we approached the line I was just behind her with Kim still on my wheel. I expected we'd finish in the order we had pretty much been in the entire race. Kim popped around me at the last second to take 4th.

Now I know the phrase "that's bike racing" can apply to numerous scenarios. Riders get mechanicals, some riders choose to conserve their energy as much as possible, crashes happen. All of these things can drastically change a race and the finishing results. I made my choices, I knew the possible outcomes. But I still wasn't real pleased at getting pipped at the line by a rider who sat on my wheel nearly the entire race. I know I'm not the smartest rider and perhaps my racing ethics are a little stupid. Oh well, the difference between 4th and 5th place is slight . . . no hard feelings - that's bike racing! :)

Catherine raced great and finished just behind me for 6th and Krystal rode amazing to take the final money spot of 12th. Ashley unfortunately dropped her chain on the first lap and had to run up the snake but fought through the race to finish 26th.

Sunday's race was the Melon City crit which is a one mile circuit with a short climb, and a crazy speed bump through a park. Over 50 women started this race. Several teams were well represented and it was a fun race with lots of attacks by Lip Smackers, Alderfer Bergen, and Team BH, and us. With so many teams represented and several strong solo riders a break never really formed. The group was whittled down to just over 30 riders and with 3 laps to go Meredith Miller went clear of the group for a prime and that was that. She's such a strong rider and once she turns on the gas she's gone. On the last lap I was trying to get in good position but was a bit far back and the usual last lap shenanigans forced me to have to slow down to get around on the outside and try to move up. I ended up 11th and my amazing teammate Catherine managed to get 3rd behind Amanda Miller. Both Krystal and Ashley rode really well and finished strong in the group.

We had a great afternoon spectating races in the park and socializing with other racers. It was really fun to catch up with people I hadn't seen in awhile and it was a beautiful day to be outside. Also thanks to some local DICE riders (and former Kenda rider Deb Wood!) we got in on a tasty pasta dinner - thanks for having us over Hammer!

The final race of the weekend is the Quad Cities Criterium in Rock Island, IL. Known as the "cage race" it's an hour glass shaped 8 corner course with wire fencing surrounding the course to prevent ignorant spectators from ambling out onto the road. It's totally flat and generally there are some crashes. The finicky spring weather can also add rain into the mix which it seriously threatened to do on Monday.

We got out early to watch Krystal in the womens 2/3 race - a unique category and a great race to watch.

****** I'll add the last part of the report soon!! ******

I forgot my camera (doh!) so thankfully Monique came out to support and take tons of great shots - I'll post some once she passes them on to me.

HUGE thanks goes out to our amazing team mechanic Mike and his wife Mary for all of their help throughout the weekend. We are so spoiled when they're around! And it's always nice to roll back to the car post race and have your pick of cupcakes, rice krispie treats, oreos, and frosted animal crackers :)

What a fun weekend! Thanks to everyone who came out to race/spectate/help out!

I leave tomorrow afternoon for 3 NRC crits down in Tulsa, Oklahoma - a new state for me! There's nearly $40,000 on the line and with 90 women signed up the racing is going to be pretty ridiculous. We'll have a team of 6 Kenda riders - should be a blast!


Devon said...

MMMmm... thanks for sharing the Oreos :) Nice job this weekend!

-JJ said...

It may be bike racing, but there are ethics any seasoned racer should know. Eppen has had many incidents such as that, both on road and mountain bike racing which have gained an unfavorable reputation sad to say.
Well done on your part!

Mo said...

Hey--waiting to hear a fab race report from Tulsa! I'll get the rest of the pics to you soon! Fun weekend! Next year I'll be back on my bike for the Snake though I have to say spectating was a bit more relaxing than riding it! Great job Kenda!

Meredith said...

Kristin, always fun to race with you....great read! i need to get back to blogging..but for now I'll keep reading yours :) best of luck at TT this wkned