Monday, July 28, 2014

The Freedom Tour

I loved this race last year.  It was one of the only races that I was able to enter last year, and I managed to eke out a $50 prime.  I was ecstatic.

This year, I was looking forward to the race again.  Then, I saw the start list.


My gut reaction was... "oh, crap... this is going to be HARD!"  Which, I might add, is a good thing!  But, as a non-sprinter going up against the likes of Amy Cutler, LVG, Deb Leedale-Brown, Lauren Dag, and Kristin Lotito... I was not sure what would happen.  Nonetheless, I was determined to race hard and aggressive.  And, with a lot of solo riders in the field (only Comedy Central and EPS had more than one rider, I think), I knew that working with Meredith would be to both of our benefits.  She got off the front early in the race and snagged a prime, so things were already looking good!  


The race was super aggressive, which I love!  As expected, Lauren launched some strong attacks to try to stay away.  The group would let her get a gap and then slowly start dragging her back in.  One attack saw me try to bridge up to her... as I got closer, LVG came around me and we kept up the pace.  But, with three strong riders up the road, the peloton decided that we needed to come back into the group. 

Things continued fast and furious up until the end of the race.  As we crossed the line with two to go, my legs suddenly felt great, so I launched.  I got a nice gap on the field and immediately turned on TT-mode.  I was feeling great and when I came through the start/finish and heard the bell, I knew that I had a slim chance of holding them off to the end.  I just put my head down and kept riding as hard as I could.  As I took the final turn to the finish, I heard the whir of rear hubs behind me.  I jumped out of the saddle and took the final hill with everything that I had.  Amy Cutler came around me just as I crested the hill and I just kept up the best I could.  I managed to hold off the rest of the stacked field for 2nd place!  



Even as I write this, I'm a bit shocked at the finish.  I'm thrilled by it, but still can't quite believe that it worked out like it did.  It will go down in my cycling resume as one of my best races to date.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Touring with the Fishes

Yesterday was the inaugural Tour de Fish in Somerdale, NJ.  Hosted by the Mambo Kings and the Flying Fish brewery, the course was nicely technical and really fun.  With quite a few true corners and a section of curving chicanes, this was going to be a blast!


The women's field was unfortunately small - with only 9 riders regged for the race.  BUT, it was a STRONG 9 riders that included Deborah Leedale-Brown of EPS, Victoria Hanks and Sarah Grogan of Peanut Butter and Co., Kelley Bethoney from Evolution, Jacqueline Paull from ProPower, Betty Tyrell from Somerset, and BChan and me!

To say that it was going to be a fun race would be an understatement.  

They gave us one lap neutral before the fireworks began.  As expected, I launched first - the second we crossed the line for the real start of the race.  For the majority of the race, we were single file or launching attacks.  It was anything but status quo for this race.  If we did slow down, it was basically only because the riders that were planning to launch attacks were getting their legs back together!  We launched, Deb launched, Sarah Grogan launched... it was aggressive and exciting.

Becky and I both managed to win a prime (COFFEETS!!!) in the midst of the race, which was very cool.  

Our overall tactic was simple... if I didn't get away (which I tried to do!), then we would concentrate on the sprint lead out.  It was a looooong sprint.  But, there was a nice stand of bamboo about 150 meters from the line.  BChan just said to me, if you can drop me there, I'll be good.  So, I just focused on that stand on EVERY single lap.  By the end, I instinctively knew where it was.  Because these girls were on me like mud on a pig and I wasn't going anywhere!

I took control heading into the last lap and set a tempo that I was comfortable with.  I knew that no one would come around me with such a small group... they were going to let me take it to the end.  I began to ramp it up leading into the 2nd to last corner.  After the final corner, I really started to jam.  I started my sprint with the hope of dropping BChan right at those bamboo plants.  It worked!!

Mr. Prokchop managed to capture this video of the finish.  While you can't quite make out the line...

video


BChan took the WIN!!!  Just getting Deb and Kelley at the line by half a wheel or so, we'd done it!  YESSSSS!

It was a tactically awesome day for us... and we're super happy with a win against a really small, but really strong field.  Thanks to the other girls for a great, positive, aggressive race!  

Next weekend, BChan heads back home to the Midwest to tackle some more pro crits at Prairie States! Good luck out there, BChan!!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Post With A Bit TMI...

If you are squeamish about discussions involved saddle sores and other uncomfortable undercarriage issues... consider this your warning and click on this link here.  Trust me, you won't be sorry.



OK... for the brave souls who have remained...

Saddle Sores.  They suck.  Big time.  And, we all get them.  Or, do we?!?!

One quick google search will turn up a host of websites talking about these painful little demons and give you a zillion tips on how to treat them, get rid of them, or keep them at bay.


I know that the ladies on the team and I have had our fair share of run-ins with painful posteriors.  It's not an uncommon thing to keep various "treatment tools" on hand for just such instances.  These include hydrogen peroxide, sterile needles for lancing (oh, yeah... doesn't that just sound divine), hemorrhoid cream (yes, this actually works on some types), alcohol (both the kind in the medicine and the dining room cabinets), and donuts.

Donuts, you say?!?!  Mmmmm...


No, unfortunately, not these kinds of donuts.  THESE kinds of donuts.


In short, saddle sores are awful.  But, here's the thing...

Find the right saddle, the right saddle height, use your chamois cream appropriately - varieties abound, but I tend toward one of these two...



AND... find a pair of shorts that work, you can - in fact - avoid them!

I have had saddle sore issues for YEARS.  Until we went with our new VERGE kit for this year.  The chamois in the Women's Strike Bib is unbelievably, fantastically, wonderfully AWESOME!!  For the first time since I began cycling, I have not had a single undercarriage ulcer!  Not a ONE!  Now, I can't say for sure that the chamois in this short will work for everyone, but... if your underside is unhappy you won't want to be on your bike!  And, we ALL want to be on our bikes.

So, lube up and get spinning, gals.  And, if you're in the market for a new pair of bibs, give VERGE a shot!  :)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Podiums!

Or is it podia?  I'm not sure of the plural of the word (I suppose I could look it up on the interwebs... nah), but we haz them.

See??

We got some Wasabi Warriors on the podium (podia, podiums, podii) this weekend in New Jersey and Maryland.

BChan rode a smart and solid race with a leadout from the Chop for a 5th place finish at the MABRA Crit Championships.  With a super solid field of riders including the other podium gals, Alexis Zink, Michelle Miller, Mary Breed, and Stacey Jensen, we were quite pleased with the end result!  Apparently, so is Froyo - the podium puppy!


Choppah hit the NJ State Master's Road Race over the weekend to defend last year's win.  With some strong competition from CRCA's Chris Hadgis and FinKraft's Meredith Ehn, it came down to a small, 8-rider bunch sprint for the line.  Chop crossed in 3rd behind PA rider Kristie Nichols and the newly minted 45+ champ Jackie Paull, snagging the 35+ jersey for the 2nd year in a row.  Will a three-peat be in store in 2015?  Only time will tell!


Keep pedaling out there, lovely readers.  Keep the rubber side down and enjoy the sunshine and tailwinds!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

ToAD!!!

An amazing race series takes place around Milwaukee, Wisconsin from June 19th - 29th.  Mostly crits, with one road race, these events not only draw a host of the best domestic pros in North America, but also hundreds of men and women from Category 5/4 and up.  It's a tremendous week of racing, and I was so happy to be a part of it this year.

Now... if you want to read a post about winning $1000 primes, stepping up on the podium, or getting your photo taken a zillion times by On the Rivet, you'd best follow this link... because MY post is about survival, pushing my limits, multiple 2nd breakfasts, the best host ever, and a fantastic week with amazing people.

So, here's the recap of our week in Milwaukee!

Little D, BChan, and I headed out to the land of cheese with a guest rider in tow!  Meredith Ehn of FinKraft joined us as our fourth Muskateer, and we had a GREAT time together.  We stayed in an apartment in the city (mercifully close to a Colectivo Coffee shop) with a fantastically awesome host named Jill.  She graciously gave us the run of her place, allowed our clothes to cover nearly every inch of the place, and watched us take in pre-breakfast, 1st breakfast, and 2nd breakfast every day.  The best part about ToAD is that all of our races are in the evening, so we get to enjoy the best meal of the day several times over!


But, I guess I should talk about the races, eh?

So, the maps below show the races that we did.  Little D got there in time for Grafton on Saturday and had a great race.  


The rest of us joined her for the Waukesha Race and missed her while she had to go back to Minneapolis to work for the week.  She rejoined us for Downer and East Tosa though, so we definitely got a bit of time with her!

So, here's how it went...

Waukesha was the first race of the series for us.  Technical and fast, the course looked like this...


The race went well for a while until a few gaps started forming at the back.  Of course, the back was right where I was sitting!  I'm always amazed when I get into the pro fields that some riders are really not very good at cornering.  I guess this is probably due to either upgrading too quickly and not really learning technique, or that they just aren't super coordinated on the bike.  Anywho... one corner on the course caused a bit of trouble as it had a strange downhill drop into an off-camber right hand turn.  People were really slamming the brakes into it and it was causing some pile-ups.  There was a crash that caused us to be neutralized at one point.  Nonetheless, for the first race of the series, I was happy to finish just off the main pack safely and ready to race again the next day.

Then came, Beloit...


A crazy fun course, Beloit crossed over a river twice in the 2nd half of the race.  On the line, my legs were feeling great, and that feeling continued into the first half of the race.  And then... it happened.  I suddenly realized that I was not thinking clearly.  I was going into corners with my mind completely elsewhere.  I was hot.  REALLY HOT.  I was overheating.  Not. Good.  I dropped off the back of the pack and waited for the Official to pull me (my goal for the week was to not DNF).  Thankfully, the course was short, so it only took a few laps for him to get me off the course (PHEW).  I immediately went back to the car, got some liquids in me and prepped for the next day.  Meredith stayed in for a solid finish this day, making sure that CAWES was represented well in the results!

I spent the next 12 hours trying to combat my epic bonk.  I drank pedialyte (ewwww), got some Endurolytes in my system, and kept my legs tightly wrapped in recovery tights!

Next up, the brutal course known as Schlitz Park...


Looks fun on a 2D map, doesn't it?  Except for the fact that the blocks from Pleasant to Reservoir are a relatively steep uphill and the really technical part from Reservoir back down to Pleasant (the part with the 7 turns) is a super fast descent.  Ugh.  This was bound to be interesting.  

The uphill really wasn't that bad.  I mean, it wasn't FUN, but I was comfortable climbing this hill with the pack.  In all honesty, it was a perfect climb for me - the right grade and the right length for me to feel just fine.  Plus, my legs were nice and open on this day and I was feeling great.  BUT... that descent.  Oy.  It was fast and it was technical.  Within two laps, the gaps began to open up and they were nearly impossible to close.  

Meredith and I found ourselves in a nice group of riders that eventually got to sprint for the line.  We came in right next to one another, taking 2nd and 3rd in our "field sprint."  We were happy with the ride overall, but even more happy with our post-ride activity... visiting the Lakefront Brewing Company!


We took the next day off and enjoyed some time with family, friends, and sailing with our hostess with the mostest!

Back to it on Thursday, we hit the road up to Oshkosh!


Finally!  A solid race - with the long straights on two sides, Oshkosh was very reminiscent of Somerville.  A few of my goals for the week were possible on this course, including launching an attack (early on, but launching nonetheless), sitting at the front for a bit (both Meredith and I found our way up front for a bit), and settling in for the finish sprint.  Again, Meredith and I finished right next to one another in the field sprint.  It was a good day and a good race.  

After driving back home, we got some rest and drove back up to the same area for the Fon du Lac race on Friday.


Another nice four-corner crit, Fondy proved to be another solid race for us.  Again, I found that I was able to make some moves around the pack, getting to the front and feeling really comfortable throughout most of the race.  Unfortunately, as we approached the bell lap, one rider suddenly forgot how to corner and made her way straight through turn 3.  While we all stayed upright, unclipping and trying to chase back on while the pro teams were setting up for a major sprint was not in the cards!  So, those of us who got caught out settled in for one final lap to the finish.  

The weekend approached and we tried to keep our legs in shape with coffee and easy morning rides...



But, we couldn't stop Downer and East Tosa from coming!


Downer is an AWESOME course!  We all LOVE this one for it's super fast straights and amazing crowds.  This race is definitely the highlight race of the series... including primes.  Ben's Cycles offers a "Super Prime" that cashed out at $1200 for the Women and $5500 for the Men's pro field.  Needless to say, when that much cash is on the line, the race is FAST!

All was going well until there were a few crashes.  Little D landed softly on her butt in one of them, and all four of us were forced to unclip for the 2nd one.  Though none of us were hurt physically, I was really frustrated, as I was feeling good and was happy with how the race was going.   There was only one more day to go, and it was NOT going to be easy.

East Tosa looks on a 2D map like a straightforward 4 corner crit.  BUT, a long uphill to the finish meant painful prime sprints and, after 6 previous days of racing, tired legs that were not really up to the task.


By Sunday morning, I was feeling pretty wrecked!  But, I really wanted to see how I could fare on this course.  It was hard, and I was unable to stay with the main field.  I'm happy with how I finished, but I'm THRILLED with how Little D and Meredith did!  They stayed in for a tough race that was nearly derailed with 3 to go when I huge crash took out the entire front of the field, including the whole Colavita team!  It was a slow speed mess that left a few riders with broken bikes, and one or two with some pretty unfortunate injuries.  Meredith was pushed up against the barriers and Little D had to unclip and put a foot down, but both passed through the carnage to finish the day.  

All in all, I cannot say enough awesome stuff about these races.  They were well run, fun, fast, and Milwaukee is a simply amazing city.  I know that I am already looking forward to getting back there next year, both to visit with our new friends and to race bikes.  

However, I'm also SUPER STOKED to get back to racing with normal, non-mutant-fast, women this weekend right here in NJ and Maryland!  

Thanks again to Jill for hosting us, to BChan's Mom and Dad for letting us crash at their house, to BChan for providing us with a team car for the week, and to my awesome ToAD teammates.  I had the best time with you all!  xoxo

Monday, June 16, 2014

Race Avenue

The team descended upon the Race Avenue Criterium in Lancaster, PA in force.  Borda, Bad Kat, Kati, BChan, Choppah, and Badger all took to the line for a fast four corner crit with a looooong stretch to the finish line that included a long drag of an uphill.

With a few tactics in our pocket, we knew that we were the largest team in the peloton and that folks would be looking to us to do some work and make things happen.  As we are never interested in disappointing any of our friends and wicked awesome competitors, we made sure to use our firepower to make the race exciting and fun.

A few laps into the race, we began to launch attacks and counter attacks to try to get a small break to stick.  Though we got ladies off the front several times, we weren't able to make a break work with an peloton that was extremely attentive.  Our best attempts happened with 8 to go and 3 to go when Choppah got away for about three laps and Borda took a solo flyer up until hearing the bell on the final lap.

Heading into the final lap, we got our sprint train together.  It was a good attempt, but we got swarmed heading into the third turn and when Choppah came through turn four to the finish straight, the train had been infiltrated!  ;)

Nonetheless, Bad Kat found some good wheels and made it up the hill to the finish for a strong 6th place.

While we didn't have the finish we would have liked... and we lost Badger and Kati halfway through the race to a crash... we still had a strong showing.  I guess Badger wanted to give her Specialized helmet an unscheduled crash test.  Thankfully, her beautiful noggin' was protected by the awesomeness that is the Specialized Prevail helmet.  We're so grateful to have such amazing equipment!!


One awesome part of races like this is hearing from your friends and competitors that they thought we did a great job.  We can't wait to see the photos from the race, as we're sure that some of our photographically inclined friends got some GREAT shots of our aggressive racing.

The best part?  Being together as a team.  There's NOTHING like lining up alongside women that you adore and knowing that everything you do out there is for the team.  We're all super grateful to have a strong bond on the bike and off.

Up next?  BChan, Little D, and Choppah take to the land of cheese and beer for some wicked fast crits.  We're talking about ToAD, people!  The posts will be forthcoming while we're there!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Nebraska, Philadelphia, Arlington, Riverton... we race everywhere!

The Wasabi Warriors have been busy over the past few weekends.  We've raced in local State Championships, Stage Races, Professional Criteriums, the Largest Women's Professional Race in the Nation, and even hopped in with the boys for some speed work.  It's been a blast, and we're happy to write you up a quick little report here...

BadKat joined Mellow Mushroom as a guest rider for the Parx Casino Phillly Cycling Classic.  Lining up with some of the best female riders in the Nation and from around the globe, BadKat had a wicked awesome race, finishing just a few minutes off the lead riders after tackling the Manayunk Wall 5 times.  FIVE TIMES!!!  That 17% grade rips your legs off when you do it once... our fierce little Kat tore her way up that monster with the best women in the world 5 times.  FIVE TIMES!!!

Here's BadKat (on the far side by the blue barriers) ripping it up Lemon hill!

Little D has been out in Minnesota tearing up the local circuit!  She's raced more in the past few weeks than most people do in an entire season.  Turns out those northern folks know how to do this racing thing right!  Well... when there isn't 11 feet of snow on the ground!  ;)

 PODIUM!!!

Borda and Choppah hit the road for the NJ State Road Race.  After launching numerous attacks and trying to get the field to split up for the break, they settled in for a sprint finish.


Choppah took 3rd in the 1/2/3 Women's race thanks to an amazing leadout by Borda, scoring a lovely bronze medal!  :)

Kati headed to Arlington to put in a bid against the Pro women at the Air Force Cycling Classic crits.  Clarendon Cup - which has 5 turns in a 1K loop is probably one of the hardest races in the NRC/NCC circuit.  And, with the pro women's teams lining up at the front to set a blistering pace, it's a race in which the field often shrinks by nearly half before the finish.  Kati raced her rear end off on Saturday before heading to the Crystal Cup in downtown Arlington on Sunday.  A new course for this year, the race was fast and furious and Kati had a great weekend of racing in preparation for the onslaught that is ToAD!

Choppah had intended to scream around Arlington with Kati, but life got in the way a bit.  With no women's races on the local circuit, she found herself lining up with the Cat 3/4 men at the Riverton Crit.  This course is AWESOME!  With 6 corners and flat straightaways, it's a great course for testing the legs and cornering skills and is another race of attrition.  Though 55 riders started the race, only 37 were placed at the end of the day.   Fast and furious!  The boys were absolute gentlemen out there, and though she wasn't able to stay with the front pack of 20 riders, she managed to stay in the race for a 34th place finish (not even DFL!!).

It was a GREAT day and got her really psyched up for the trip out to Wisconsin for ToAD in two weeks!

What's next for the Wasabi Warriors?  

BChan, Little D, Kati, and Choppah are headed to Wisconsin for the Tour of America's Dairylands.  10 days of racing and lots of cheese!  WHEE!!!