Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Elk Grove report

Photo thanks to Lyne Lamoureux

So . . . the report from the weekend!

Saturday the weather was not ideal. It was spitting rain and about 70 degrees as I drove down to Chicago in the morning. Three Kenda riders this weekend with Catherine, Joelle, and I. I met up with my teammates, Paul, and regional rider Karen Drennan and her family who were housing Joelle for the week. Luckily the rain was light rather than an all out downpour but still the roads would be very wet on the 2 K course and with corner one being a 180 we all knew the field might be nervous. Looooong sprint finish with about 600 meters to the line from the last corner - into a headwind. Plan today was to be aggressive and go for primes and hopefully help out Joelle for the final sprint. A solid $3000 up for grabs and with only 21 riders toeing the line only one would not get paid. A good crew of riders though including Laura Van Gilder, 3 BH riders, 3 Vanderkitten, and 2 Team Rev.
Photo thanks to Lyne Lamoureux

The race started pretty fast and as we finished lap 1 the bell was rung for the first prime. LVG and Joelle had their first match up of the day with Joelle snagging $50. Two laps later she took another $100. Photo thanks to Lyne Lamoureux
The racing was pretty fast and there were some aggressive moves but no breaks were really forming. Catherine won a prime for $100 in there as well. The rain had subsided by mid race when a $150 prime was called out. The two sprinters dueled again with LVG this time getting the cash. A lap of rest before the bell was heard for another $100. Chris from Team Rev put in a hard attack and got a good gap. A moment of hesitation before the chase ensued gave her some separation but the field was getting closer as we made the final corner. With 400 meters to go I attacked and passed by Chris with 50 meters to go to get the prime. I had a gap and decided to work it for a bit as there were only 6 laps left at this point. As I came around through the finish LVG had bridged up to me we began working together. I wasn't pulling through too hard though as I knew we were really hoping for a field sprint for Joelle. Photo thanks to Lyne Lamoureux
The next lap the hard charging but splintered field was nearly on us and as we went through corner one I heard a rider hit the pavement. I looked back to see Joelle on the curb! The worst was that we had just seen 4 laps to go - the end of free laps! The field was now a few small groups with a lead group of 8 of us including my teammate Catherine, LVG, Kristen from BH, Jeannie from Mack, Leigh from Vanderkitten, Megan Elliott, and one other rider. A group of 4 riders was just behind us and we finally got organized to try to stay away. With Joelle out of the race it was now up to Catherine and I. On bell lap things slowed down a bit as riders prepared for the sprint. I didn't want the group behind us to catch and I can get a bit impatient . . . so . . . as we rounded the last corner with about 500 meters to go I attacked and hoped Catherine could sit on wheels and get in a good position. I was passed at maybe 150 meters to the line and watched as LVG won the race followed by Jeannie, then Catherine grabbing 3rd. I held on for 7th.

It was great that we were able to still get on the podium but we were all pretty bummed by the bad timing of Joelle's crash. We still walked away with a lot of prize money on the day and were satisfied with how we raced as a team. I told Joelle not to dwell on it and just be more determined for Sunday's race.

Sunday was a beautiful day. Sunny and warm with a bit of wind that wasn't too noticeable on the sheltered course but still created a headwind on the finish stretch. Same exact course as Saturday which is a bit disappointing. Not exactly my idea of a great crit course but so it goes. More money and primes on the line today and our strategy was the same - get some cash, race smart, protect Joelle as much as possible. A few more women came out for the good conditions and there were about 30 on the line.

Again we started pretty fast with BH going from the gun. As we came across the line a $100 prime was called out. Sitting second wheel on the back stretch I decided to attack out of the third corner. I had a bit of a gap and pushed as hard as I could through the finish stretch to get the money. Sweet. Still had good separation from the field so I got into TT mode - might as well let my teammates sit in as much as possible and get the other riders to chase.
Two laps later Paul tells me on the radio that a $200 prime will be called out next and if I can push it a bit harder I might be able to grab it. The field is about 10 seconds back. I get out of the saddle and go for it figuring the money is well worth the effort. My gap opens (also due to a crash on the 180) and I come through the line alone for the $200. One more lap away solo before the field gets closer and I decide that I've had enough time off the front. $200 is called for the mid race prime next lap and Catherine and Joelle are up near the front while I sit in the pack for a bit. I am ecstatic to see Joelle take the cash over LVG in a close sprint. A lap or so later she grabs another $100. The primes keep the racing fast and exciting and thus far no other team has been able to take any of them. Somewhere in there Catherine takes $100 as well. We're down to three laps to go and a final three place prime is called with $200, $100, and merchandise. I attack on the back side of the course but am caught before the final corner. Joelle and Catherine are near the front and as we barrel down the last 200 meters it's another duel with Joelle and LVG. Joelle just barely comes around Laura to get the top spot. Unbelievable! We're up to $900 just in primes and there are two laps to go.

The last lap comes and Team BH is at the front. Then the pace slows a bit as riders try to prepare for the sprint and I get on the front for the last half of the lap. I try to keep the speed up and after we round the last corner I'm leading the group until about 200 meters to go when riders jump. I try to grab the passing wheels and hope that Joelle has positioned herself well. I'm out of the saddle trying to finish in the money and as I cross the line I hear that Joelle has won! Such a cool feeling to have the team on top again. Catherine finished well for 7th and I got the last money spot at 20th.

I feel like the three of us raced really well together and our numerous primes throughout the race proved that but it is always nice to take the win. Joelle is an incredibly talented rider and her sprint is amazing. It is so fun to race strategically and try to help out a rider like her.

Huge thanks to the Drennan family for hosting us for the weekend. Joelle, Laura, and I all stayed with them and it was lots of fun. Karen, Greg, Ian, Nora, and Emma are all pretty passionate about cycling and their generosity is much appreciated! Loyal blog readers may remember our mascot from Superweek last year - Phlecia. Emma has been taking great care of her for us and she came out to cheer us on Sunday ;)

Also thanks to local rider Ricardo and his teammates from WDT-Allvoi for hosting us all for a dinner on Saturday night. The Italian food was amazing!

And last but not least thanks so much to Team Kenda manager Paul for all of his help over the weekend. And thanks to all the great sponsors. This season has been exceptionally fun and successful and we couldn't do it without your backing! Kenda, Blue, SRAM, Thomson, Powerbar, Rudy Project, Headsweats, Skins, and Plant Solutions.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Elk Grove

Another weekend of racing in the Chicago area. Our two days of racing for $8000 were a little overshadowed by the mens $152,000 three day event but we'll take it nonetheless. Sounds like plans are in the works to make the womens racing even better for next year though. It was a very good weekend for Team Kenda. Only three of us racing - Catherine, Joelle, and I - but we were able to really take control of the race and it ended up being a fantastic weekend for the team. A full report is to come but here are some pictures for now.