Wednesday, June 16, 2010

3 week update

Taken after Tulsa Tough Friday - a scorcher! Photo: Jason Perry

Mostly photos - but at least it's something.

Catch up - May 22/23 - 2 local WI crits - we showed up en masse with about 8 girls every day and our aggressive racing paid off. Kaitie won in Hartland after attacking with 4 to go and I won the field sprint. Team Kenda's 3rd straight race of going 1/2 - pressure on. Next day in Sussex Beth and Kelley got in a break with 2 other girls and went 2/3 after being subjected to the fierce sprint of Holly M. Kaitie won the field sprint for 5th.

Ahhh Memorial Day racing in Iowa was next. Another huge turnout of Kenda riders - 11 on the start line. We even had our excellent manager Paul and fantastic mechanic Mike along for the weekend. We needed them - Ashley busted a shifter and was forced to ride Paul's bike - not exactly fit to her.

Snake Alley is one of my favorite races. Seven (?) cobblestoned switchbacks up, a fast technical descent, a few more flat turns and repeat. We do 12 laps and it ends up being just over 10 miles and about a 30 minute effort. Yeah it's short but it hurts. I won this race in 2006 and 2007 so coming back and getting anything less is a bit of a letdown. I knew last year's winner Amanda Miller was coming back and she is phenomenally talented. I'd give it a shot though. Somehow I led the first lap, Amanda passed me, I grabbed her wheel and looked back to see Jill coming up to us. Next time up the snake it was game over though. Amanda danced up the climb and a group of myself, Jill, Ashley, and Lisa V. remained. Lisa attacked up the snake the next lap and so began each of us riding in our own little caves of pain. I think the first 7 riders came in solo . . . Kenda happened to have 4 of those riders. Ashley was 3rd, I was 4th, Jill 6th, and Kelley 6th. Nice work team.Oh, and did I mention it was hot? Near 90 degrees and muggy - ick - the girls try to cool off in the shade.
A little spectating on the Snake is always a fun post race activity. Made even more fun by short shorts and tan lines. Here Beth, Lindsey, and Jackie strike a pose.

I don't really have many pictures from the Sunday in Muscatine. We sort of screwed it up a bit when Lisa got away solo after a small break was off. Gotta work on communicating a bit better in the race but luckily Kaitie is a superstar and won the field sprint for 2nd. Jackie was 7th and I was 8th.
Monday in Rock Island I also don't have any pictures from. After having a good aggressive race and keeping the pace high a crash in the final corner mucked things up and took nearly everyone in the race down. Luckily no one was seriously injured despite an initial scare by my friend Chris R. from St. Louis. Catherine was our top finisher in 5th, Jackie in 7th. REALLY fun weekend with all of our various teammates. HUGE thanks to Mike, Mary, and Paul for all of their help!

The next weekend was a trip to Tulsa with Ashley, Beth, and her boyfriend Ross for some NRC racing. $35,000 up for grabs and we went down there in search of it. Always easier said than done. Above all Tulsa is an awesome city with an incredible community of cyclists. These races are so professionally put on with a huge expo area, 2 huge jumbotrons, great announcers - the whole thing is quite a spectacle and a really fun experience. We had wonderful host housing as well - thank you so much to Marty and DeeAnn, and the Watson family!!

Not a whole lot to write about the races. We'll just leave it at the fact that we raced to the best of our abilities and had a lot of fun ;) Oh . . . and it was hot again - mid 90s and humid. I never got the chills anyway but some of my teammates did.

The jumbotron - impossible to try to take a photo of.
Going for a $400 prime . . . ummm, not so much!
Jill and Kenda before Sunday's race
Tom's Bicycles Party tent - thanks so much for all of the hospitality guys and gals!
A solo move by me - c'mon . . . somebody want to come with?
Here's the hill from Sunday's race. The fans were unreal - I felt like I was in the Tour or something. And the guys with the hoses spraying us at the top were awesome.

I think our best finishes were in the low 20s . . . just outside of the money . . . dang!
Here we are with our great host Marty and superstar announcer Dave Towle.

Came back home to a busy week of work and Bike to Work Week. We at PB take that pretty seriously all year round but we have something extra special for the week. Bacon on the Bike Path . . . oh yeah, ride your bike and you get some tasty bacon. Here's Chris and Heath hard at work on the grills.
The best part was we transported everything we needed for the event (25 lbs. of bacon, 144 donuts, 50 pounds of fruit, tent, tables, etc.) by bike. Sweet.
And the week just further proved that we live in one of the best cities in the country for cycling. Riding on the paths and biking to work puts a smile on my face every day. I counted 110 cyclists on my 11 mile commute one afternoon - impressive.

And that brings us to this past weekend and the State Crit Championships. I will add a report but for now you'll just have to look at photos. Thanks for checking in!
Photos thanks to John Wilke!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Don't call it a comeback

Thanks John Wilke!

Okay . . . ummm, is anyone still visiting this poor decrepit site anymore? I don't know what's happened to me. Seriously . . . I like blogging and I really do miss it. You know when you procrastinate something and then you feel guilty about neglecting it? And then it turns into a vicious circle where you continue to ignore it and then feel more guilty? . . . No? . . . yeah that's probably just my twisted psyche then :)

Well here goes - an attempt to return to blogging.

Where to begin? I'm going to try to give a whirlwind update so bear with me. We'll see how good my memory is and how detailed I feel like getting. The bicycle adventures started back in the beginning of April . . .

Georgia was awesome. Dave, Cider, and I headed down with a whole brigade of Wisco folks. It was incredible. We had amazing weather, a really cool and huge rental house, beautiful roads and scenery, and great company. We were just outside of Dahlonega and were surrounded by 6 glorious gaps. I love climbing mountains. Just getting into a rhythm and ascending for 15-30 minutes is awesome. We went and rode Brasstown too and I'm not ashamed to say I had to get off and walk. That was one really steep mother. All in all a perfect week and I was super happy to get almost 450 miles of riding in.

The next weekend began the race season with Hillsboro Roubaix. A nice road race down in Illinois that always draws a good crowd. Needless to say not my greatest race. Maybe I was still tired from Georgia or maybe I just needed to do more intervals in preparation! Kaitie and Beth both stayed in the lead group and Kaitie finished a strong 6th. I was back in a second group and finished :)

The next day was a local crit and with 7 Kenda ladies on the line we knew we had the numbers and now just had to race smart.
My teammate Kelley and I got in a break with Rachel from ISCorp and as the laps dwindled we attacked and counter attacked. Luckily it worked out and I took the win with Kelley taking 3rd. A bit of a boost to the ego after Hillsboro's lackluster performance!

The next weekend was another local crit and after some good aggressive racing by Kenda. Beth had an awesome last lap attack and nearly held it but the race ended up with a field sprint. . I led out a little to early and was beat out by Jessica from Hollander. Still, I wasn't too disappointed in 2nd.

A weekend off for some family time and a wedding and the following weekend was a road race in Baraboo - northwest of Madison. I ended up in a break of 6 with my teammate Kelley but unfortunately got popped on the climb on the last lap. I was in no mans land the rest of the race and luckily held off any chasers. Kelley raced smart and strong to take the win! Again a little frustrated by my lack of fitness but I know my training was a bit reduced this year and it would take longer for me to start feeling good. Luckily I've got some good teammates!

And then came one of my favorite races all year. I went down to Arkansas for the Joe Martin Stage Race. It's a great race in itself but I really love the entire experience of going down to visit with the host family we've stayed with 3 years now. Carolyn and Marion are the best and this year they took in almost the entire team! They willingly let 6 riders plus Paul and Mike take over their home and they are exceptional hosts. I woke every morning to the smell of bacon frying and the elaborate team dinners every night were out of this world.
The team we had put together for this race was exception as well. A really great group and we had our best finish ever at this race. Representing Kenda were Amity, Anna, Catherine, Jill, Melissa, Mitzie, Silke, and myself. Anna finished 12th GC, I was 23rd and as a team we finished 5th behind 4 big teams. Huge thanks to my teammate Jill who helped me chase back on after dropping my chain twice during the second road race. After 10 miles of pacelining I sort of gave up hope but seeing the race caravan approach was a thing of beauty! Finishing 13th that day was a slight bit of redemption. The next and final day was a crazy 12 corner crit with a solid little climb to the finish. I unfortunately went down on a slippery corner that plagued riders all day. I was in the front group of 30 and with 4 laps to go a girl went down in front of me and I had nowhere to go. I slid nicely across the road and left a good chunk of skin in downtown Fayetteville. Luckily nothing too serious though and I took my free lap and managed to finish 15th on the day and move up in GC. Lots of girls went down on that corner throughout the day and the medical area was full of girls getting rash scrubbed out after the race. Yeowch!Thanks to everyone who helped make this race such a huge success for Team Kenda. Team Manager Paul and mechanic Mike were instrumental in keeping us organized. Our two host families were unbelievable - Marion and Carolyn are truly the greatest hosts ever and their neighbors Wes and Kathy were also gracious enough to host a rider. Thank you all for your generosity!!

A couple of days off after the crash was much needed. Nothing too bad - just road rash - but still oozing wounds are not real comfortable. Super excited for the next weekend of Wisconsin racing though with Jill flying in from Boulder and Ashley returning from her collegiate season.
Saturday was a 40 mile road race in the hills northwest of Madison. The course was a 20 mile loop with two mile long climbs each lap. A field of 16 with myself, Jill, and Meredith representing for Kenda. Over the first long climb we were down to a group of 5 with both Jill and I making it over the top. A lack of organization by the riders caused a few more to catch back up. Jill got a separation over the top of the second climb but saw the group coming back together and eased up. Again a lack of riders willing to work together caused the group to remain at 7. We were pretty frustrated by a few riders and decided to really attack the next climb. I gave it a go midway up and saw Jill pull up next to me. The other girls were just slightly behind and I told Jill to give it her all. A gap quickly formed and I sat on the remaining 3 riders as they struggled to get organized. That hesitation was all Jill needed to increase her lead and soon get out of sight. Being a good teammate I sat on the other three until the final climb. One rider upped the pace and I sat on until near the top when I attacked hard and got a gap. I had 5 miles to the finish and I knew the other girls were getting tired from the day's effort. Luckily I was able to hold them off and came across the line for 2nd. Jill had a good TT effort on the day and rode 14 miles solo to take the win. An awesome display of teamwork and a satisfying finish with the old 1, 2 punch!

Sunday was the Wheels on Willy Criterium in Madison. Team Kenda came out in full force with 9 riders toeing the line in a field of 30. Ashley, Beth L., Beth E., Jill, Lindsey, Meredith, Monique, Shelley, and myself. Not everyday you can comprise a third of the field! With those numbers the pressure was on and we wanted nothing less than a win. The plan was to be aggressive and get 2 of us in a break. From the start attacks came from Jill, Ashley, and Beth keeping the pace high and the field strung out. Nothing quite stuck until about 10 minutes in when Ashley attacked with an ISCorp rider in tow. A gap formed and some of the other riders began to try to chase. The field got a bit closer and I saw the ISCorp rider falling off so I attacked hard and bridged up to Ashley. Thanks John Wilke
We began to work together to hold off the hard charging field. Ashley was taking strong pulls and I did my best to equal her effort. Soon we saw our gap increasing and we knew we just needed to ride steady for the next 30 minutes. Back in the field a chase ensued and the remaining Kenda riders were covering any bridge attempts and doing what they could to keep Ashley and I off the front. It was another perfect example of strong teammwork and soon we saw two laps to go and the field not far in front of us. Electing to stay off the back, rather than ride back into the field, we enjoyed a slightly easier last lap and raised our arms in victory as we crossed the line. Ashley, who instigated the move and worked really hard to make it stick, took the win and I was again thrilled to take 2nd to my teammate. Thanks John Wilke
A last lap attack by Jill nearly stuck but she was pipped at the line - still finishing a strong 4th. A fantastic race and incredibly fun. We had wanted to get two of us in a break and little did we know that there wouldn't be any other riders with us! Congratulations to all the Kenda riders at the race - go team!

Alright - I think that should do it for now! Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Winter Break

photo thanks to Madison Guy

Well I definitely took a long break from blogging this winter! I guess I didn't feel the need to really update on the mundane details. This is, afterall, primarily a bike racing blog and I can tell you that there was definitely no bike racing for me these past three months.
It was a long season in 2009 and with 75 race days (a new high for me) I needed a break. Plenty of cross country skiing this winter with one of the best snow seasons we've had in years. Consistent, good snow from early December through mid February.
I also stepped up my bike commuting and rode the 22 mile round trip most days. Studded tires and ski goggles were key items in making that happen. Over 800 miles this year so far just riding to work.

But it's mid March and the bike season looms and it's time to fire up the blogging again. I will continue to race with Team Kenda on the road this season and can't wait to be out on the roads with both my new and familiar teammates! A trip down to Hillsboro, IL will bring the first race of the year on April 10 for the Hillsboro Roubaix - a sure to be fun 60 mile road race that usually draws a solid Midwest field of riders.

But first up is a week in Georgia riding with a group of UW cycling alums. Nothing like riding in the mountains to help kick your training up a notch!