Monday, March 29, 2010

Jeff Cup Recap

This past weekend was the team's first race of the season! We headed down to Charlottesville for the Jefferson Cup Road Race.

The race: 40 mile race (4 laps of a 10 mile course)

The field: Cat 1/2 mixed with Cat 3 gave us a field of about 40 women. Some big names included Laura Cook of Vanderkitten, the Fruit 66 team, and, of course, US (hehe)! :)

CAWES riders: Chicken, Goat, Badger, Jencheng, Mitch, Ieps, and Grizzy (grrrrr)

Weather: It started out a bit chilly, with temps hovering around 40 and the clouds refusing to let the sun shine. As we started out on the course, it got worse as the rain began to fall. It made for a rather wet and COLD race. Brrrrr....

Course: The course is GREAT! I can totally understand why so many women like to do this race. Constantly rolling, the hills are mostly big-ring power climbs (at least for me they were!), and the downhill sections are FAST and curvy (I LOVED it). There are definitely a few places to jump and attack and lots of nice sitting in to be done.

Pre-Race: I think I will just let a few videos speak for themselves...



The Race: We wanted to do a lot in this race, as a team. We wanted to race aggressively and attack when we could. But, we also wanted to race smart and try to come to the finish with either a rider or two in the break, or a few riders in the field in order to lead Mitch out for the sprint.

We did a lot of attacking - Sonja went off the front more than once, as did Jen, Alaina and I. Mitch came to the front and launched at least one strong attack, but her primary goal was to be there and ready for the sprint. None of the attacks were successful as most people just didn't really have the snap in the legs yet to pull clear of the field...most of the attacks just put the hurt on a bit and made the field react. All in all, it was successful.

Coming into the finish, Alaina and I tried to keep the pace high and avoid attacks...sitting on the front to make sure that Mitch was ready to kick some tail. About 500 meters from the finish, there was a crash. Alaina and Mitch were in front of it and made it to the finish line with the pack. I was just to the left of it and was pushed off the road onto the grass. I managed to stay upright and get back onto the road, but lost 20 seconds on the field. Sonja and Chicken were also behind it, but we all managed to get through relatively unscathed.

At the line, Mitch crossed in 3rd place with Alaina in 7th. With the rest of us trickling in post-crash, we managed to have 5 riders in the top 10! Woo hoo!

All in all, it was a great day for CAWES!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

CeraSport

For those who have known me for a while, you know that I usually have only one thing in my water bottles on my bike - Lime Green Rain Gatorade. Mainly, I've used this for a while because it reminds me of my childhood; it tastes EXACTLY like the green Flavor Ice!

Much to my dismay, a few weeks ago, I showed up in Baltimore and realized that I had forgotten my trusty Gatorade. Oh, nooo! No worries, Wendy to the rescue! Wendy immediately tossed some CeraSport my way. I admit that I was a little hesitant. But, in good faith with my new sponsor, I filled my bottle with some CeraSport EX-1 Power Pomegranate Acai Blueberry and hit the road.

To put it simply, I was super impressed. In addition to tasting great, CeraSport actually WORKS. I was out on a rather warm day and could feel myself starting to bonk. I quickly gulped down some of my bottle and found that, within a few minutes, my body began to react and respond to the electrolytes! I started feeling a little better and with the addition of a little food, my legs and body had snapped right back into the ride.

So, all I can say is...I'm a believer! CeraSport is great and I can't wait to put it to the real test this weekend at our first 2010 race!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Training Day!

This past weekend, the CAWES gals found themselves enjoying the amazingly GORGEOUS weather that struck the Mid-Atlantic states! While a trio of ladies (Jencheng, Chicken and Goat) headed up north to preview Battenkill, the Philly contingent headed south to meet up with the rest of the squad and Mike for Team Training!

Without a cloud in the sky, we hit the road in Howard County. On tap for the day? BUMPING drills!!! YAY! We rode over to a nearby school yard and spent some time getting close and comfy with one another! We worked on bumping while riding, riding up and in between two moving riders, bunny hopping bottles, picking up water bottles, and trying to win "Slow Races." Considering the number of Type-A personalities on this team, it is no wonder that we REALLY SUCKED at the Slow Races! We had to redo the race three times before Mike finally gave up on us! :)

Though there was occasional skepticism about Mike's drills (note the look on Robin's face at right -->), we nonetheless spent most of the day laughing and having a great time.

We also spent a bit of time on the ground. Especially when Alaina took Mike down during the "Battle Royale" drill when we had to force one another out of a fixed perimeter. While I didn't manage to capture Mike's meeting with the dirt, I did get these shots of Mitch and Robin!
Perhaps my favorite drill of the day was the bottle pick-up drill. We had to ride past the bottle, lying flat on the ground, lean down, and scoop it up. It took a few tries, but in the end, I think we all managed to get the hang of it. At least, some of the time...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Conte's Bicycles - Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Throughout my 5 years in the D.C. Metropolitan area, I've looked for bike shops that I can rely on, trust, and be happy with prices, service, and knowledge. Conte's Bicycles is our sponsor this year, and when that partnership was announced, I was more than ecstatic because I know many of the mechanics and employees there already. I followed "The Greg" and Alex from Bicycle Pro Shop to Conte's. I'm convinced that Rob followed me around (through several bike shops). Stacy, Jason, Mike and Scott are just some of the most knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful salespeople in the bike business. I love that when I pick up the phone and call with an "emergency bike build," Greg responds immediately – no if, and, or buts. Then, when I call from Phoenix, AZ to discuss what work needs to be done in detail, I receive the most honest answers, and I don't feel pressured to buy the expensive stuff just because it brings in more money to the bike shop. Everything is always done on time. When the job is finished, I get a courtesy phone call, and I get on my way to pick up my baby from the bike shop. Yes, I called my bike "my baby." Truthfully, I spend more time on it than I do in my car, and most cyclists would understand the attachment I have to my bike. Therefore, most cyclists would also understand why a bike shop that cares is so important to me.
People address me by name when I walk in, and the service work is always impeccable. I picked up my rebuilt bike a couple of days ago, and I opted to go straight to the bike shop than to go home! As I rode my bike home, I marveled in how smooth everything was. My bike fit was exactly the way it was before. I looked at the cables, the housing, and even the adjusters and noticed that everything was done with notice to detail and with care. Even the lettering on the housing was symmetric! As an epidemiologist, I definitely pay very close attention to detail. As a matter of fact, when Stacy lent me a helmet to get home safely, Rob overheard me claiming that I wasn't picky (about the helmet they let so kindly let me borrow). He interjected with a snort, "YOU, not picky?!"
Well, there you have it. For someone with such high standards, it is rare for me to review a shop with high acclaim. When strangers ask me where to go to get a bike, I immediately direct them to Conte’s. I’ve only been to the one in Arlington, but I know that Jody (the owner) sets the bar high for all of her shops. Next time you think about where you want to leave your $5000 bike – consider trusting it with Conte’s. Now I'm going to head over there and drink some beer with these guys. They truly are your neighborhood bike shop, and yes, they'll know your name.