Saturday, June 6, 2009

Tulsa III

Ready to go! (photo by Ronee van Deemter)

Saturday evening we were treated to a lovely BBQ dinner at Tim and Melissa's house. There home is gorgeous and it was great to sit on the patio and enjoy the evening and the food was delicious!

Waking up Sunday we were hopeful to battle back after a rough start. With 5 out of 7 of us having hit the pavement our host house is more like an infirmary. Last year Sunday morning we were treated to a huge storm in the morning. This time the skies were clear and the sun was shining. I particularly like the course with the short power climb in it.

As was typical, we took the Riverwalk bike path to the race and this time had no dog or drunken cyclist encounters. The temperature was over 100 when we started the race. Today I actually had a new friend coming to watch. It really is a small world. A friend in France has a friend in Tulsa and she put us in contact with each other. And never having met her right before the race, I hear someone call out my name and it was Ronee, she had found me!

It is already strung out (photo Ronee van Deemter)

As is typical the race started fast. Melissa on her SRAM pit bike dropped her chain on the first lap and went to the pits but was a lap down. As the race progressed we kept dropping riders thinning out the pack. With about 18 laps to go I got stuck at the back of a crash on the climb and had to stop my bike. Due to complete race brain I tried to chase back on not even thinking that I should have gone to the pits having been involved in the crash. Dumb move on my part, as I never made it back to the front group and just dangled off the back. So my race was done. We only had Melissa, Leigh and Melodie left in the race and they held their own and finished with the front group.

Suffering! (photo Ronee van Deemter)

I actually got to chat with Ronee and her girlfriend Carrie which was nice since we had been Facebooking and texting before. It was great during the race to have someone cheering for you. Ronee took the photos in this blog which are awesome for her first time as a sports photographer!

After the race it was back home to pack up the bikes to fly home that evening. Never a dull moment when racing. Our flight from Denver to LA was delayed and X and I did not get home until about 3am. We had quite the adventure at LAX with the Flyaway bus to Van Nuys driving past us. Thanks to a great Prime Time driver who stopped and drove us to the Flyaway or we would have had to wait another hour. Luck and miracles do happen every day.

With Ronee the famous photographer!

The past 4 days have been filled with work and laundry as I am currently on my way to Philadelphia for the Liberty Classic race. As always, Ashton and Tren at Sundance have saved the day for me as Tuesday evening while putting my bike together I broke my seat clamp bolt. The fun never ends with bike stuff but they totally helped me out so I was able to do my sprints Wednesday on my rockin' Storck bike. Sundance Cycles is also one of those miracle things.

Check back for the update from Philly. Life is full of adventures!

The kittens, X, Liz and myself! We survived.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tulsa - Part II

Well, the girls made it home from the hospital at 2am. Melissa received 9 stitches in her arm and Virginia has a broken collar bone and 2 broken ribs. Not good.

VK Club member Brittany in the 3/4 race

Saturday we got up and those of us not “broken” went on a morning spin where I was chased by this crazy dog who bee lined for me though I was the furthest rider from him. That was a fun way to get the heart rate up quickly. Then on the Riverwalk bike path we were almost taken out by a guy on a bike holding a mysterious brown bag which I think would explain why he was weaving. Eventually we made it down to the race course to see the end of the Women’s 3 /4 race and cheer on Brittany a Vanderkitten club member. It was then back to the house to rest up for our afternoon race. The weather was not too hot but on the ride back you could feel the mercury rising!

Melodie, Leigh and X on the Riverwalk trail - beautiful day!

At 2:30pm we left for our race. Melissa, the brave soul that she is got set up on a SRAM neutral bike and we were back to a force of 6. We were determined to have a good race today and I wanted to be aggressive. My legs were feeling pretty good and the other VKs were keeping good position in the front of the pack. I did a mini attack up the hill and felt pretty good. Just after that lap going through the start/finish straight there was a huge pile up of girls probably 30 on the floor. I was able to unclip and jump off my bike but then someone hit me from behind and I ended up on my behind. No injuries for me but a lot of the other VKs went down including X right next to me. Liz is the only one who has been pavement free. The referee neutralized our race which I thought at first was due to the crash but actually it was so they could bring an ambulance on course to assist a spectator who had heat stroke and was apparently having seizures. We had to wait about 15 minutes.

We were eventually restarted to race for 40 minutes. My legs felt like crap which I’m sure was a mutual thought throughout the peloton. I could never seem to get my rhythm back but fought hard to get my body to turn around. The race was crazy and the pack was moving in strange ways. I have to admit this has been the strangest racing I have ever done as far as pack movement and bike handling. With 5 laps to go I was sitting in a great position on Laura Van Gilder’s wheel but then everything shifted and I was back in 25th place again. With 2 laps to go Melissa made a huge move to the front and I got on the train about 4th wheel and fought to get into the pack. I was not very successful and the pack slowed causing a massive surge and I was swallowed up. I could not get out and just suffered finishing a poor 48th. Liz held good position for a top 30 place.

I am very frustrated and I think all of the crashes have gotten to us mentally. I have never seen so many crashes on nice big open roads.

Today is another day and we are hoping to have some good come out of it. I am off to go to the race now. Ciao!

X soaking her wounds after the crash

Friday, May 29, 2009

Tough Going in Tulsa

The Arkansas River!

At least this trip did not start off like Speedweek with an 8 hour flight. And, our bikes made it as well. We are staying with Brent again this year in his amazing house and living in the lap of luxury. It is also really cool because the entire team can stay in one house. Thursday night Brent treated us to the most amazing diner at “The Local Table” where of course I had a steak, very rare. Would have loved to have had a bourbon with it but no way with 3 days of racing ahead.

Liz always looking for the "cross" experience.

X explaining how to move my seat, funny!

Friday we all slept in a little, built our bikes and then Brent took us on a great ride on the Riverwalk Trail to Turkey Mt. and back home. The weather was beautiful in Tulsa warm but not too hot with a slight breeze. It was great to be back with all of my “teamies” and hang out. Back home to shower up and head to Whole Foods for another round of shopping. Racing is all about riding, eating and sleeping, nothing else. Thank goodness though for Whole Paycheck as I like to all it so I could get my goat yogurt.

The brawn of VK!

Love this photo, Liz on the crackberry while Mel and Brent fix her flat. LOL!

At 5:30pm we headed downtown for the first race. It is a figure 8 course with nice wide streets. Downtown Tulsa is coming along as they are renovating it and the pavement was so much nicer than last year. VK was riding a good race and being very attentive to attacks. I was feeling good (finally!) and did my rotation on the front making sure nothing got away that we were not in. During the race there were several crashes which I could not understand with such wide roads. Teammates were going down right and left but luckily were getting back in the race. Awful to see. With 12 laps to go there was a big crash on the last turn and the next time around I noticed there was a VK rider on the ground and not moving. Ugh! She was there several laps and I kept trying to figure out who it was. It is the hardest thing to keep racing when you see one of your own on the ground and not getting up. It turns out Melissa went down and the rider on the ground was Virginia. We tried to make something of the end but I have to admit my nerves of steel had softened to liquid form. The girls in the race were all over the place and it was one of the sketchiest races I have done. Out of our team of 7 only 3 of us stayed up. Not a good ratio. It turns out Melissa will need stitches and it looks like Virginia has a broken collarbone though we are unsure as the hospital is busy tonight (go figure) and the girls are not home yet and as I write this it is 11:14pm Tulsa time. Leigh and Melodie are banged up and have road rash but doing okay.

Liz sporting her Sammy Hagar hair - just awesome!

Thank goodness for X’s cooking earlier in the day as we came home to warm pasta and a salad. We sent Dave off to the hospital with clothes for the girls and food.

Tomorrow is another day and I am hoping a much safer race. I am bummed at my lack of mental fortitude as I finally feel like my old self on the bike. When will my head and body meet up this year? I am off to bed hoping that we will hear good news about Virginia. This definitely deserves a big “Cheese and Rice!” And yes Robin, we did get fisted this evening!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ventura County Stage Race and Barry Wolfe Crit

The standard!

Boy how time flies. Last weekend I did the inaugural Ventura County Stage race which was a 3 stage 2 day race. Since my season has been a little up and down my coach wanted me to do it to continue to work on my race legs.

Saturday the 16th started off early with a drive to downtown Ventura for a time trial start time of 10:13am. I brought Murphy my time trial bike and my disc wheels. The course was a 1.7 mile out and back with a steep little power climb in the beginning. I debated using Murphy but opted for him in the end. I went gang busters off the start and felt like I was going great and felt powerful. I started my watch when my 30 second girl went and finished with a time of 3:16. I did however accidentally cut the course short on the turn around as it was not clearly marked and therefore ended dead last on the GC. Bummer as I felt I would have had an excellent time.

I then spent my day resting in my car and found a great little bakery that made sandwiches to eat at. Thank god for my iPhone and a good book which helped the time pass until the 5:30pm criterium in the evening.

Before the race I went and got a Starbucks coffee and ran into Neil Brown from Road Magazine and Phillip Chang who I used to dance with back in the La Danserie days. Crazy how small the world is. I did a great warm up for the crit and off we went. The course was a 4 corner with a climb after turn 1 and a screaming downhill after turn 3. As usual La Grange with there 8 squad (or which seems like 8 riders) team kept launching attacks. I tried to be smart about what I went after hoping that some of the other teams would chase if they were not in it. This was not the case and a La Grange and a NOW rider went up the road. I waited and finally decided to launch an attack to bridge. Since the GC was out of reach for me a stage win would be fantastic. The NOW rider fell off the pace and I nearly caught the La Grange rider who was 8 seconds off of me but for some reason I could not quite close the gap. I found out later that La Grange after a bit went on the front of the pack to reel me in. Crazy to be so marked. Near the end of the race the attacks were furious and just being one rider it was really hard to mark everything. The field came down to a sprint for 5th place and Beatriz nicely rested came around me to take it and I got 6th. More importantly though I felt like I was finally coming out of this crazy start to the season I was going through and my legs were feeling like the old me. Good news!

The next day was a 40 mile road race in Ojai with an afternoon start time. It was hot in Ojai and my frozen bottles were melting even in the cooler before the race. Scott Searway and his daughter Emily surprisingly showed up to watch which was great. We had to do the circuit 7 times which meant climbing the 1 mile climb 7 times. I felt good during the race which was the typical slow pace until the climb and then slow pace again, until lap 5 when my body just over heated and said stop. My water was warm and neutral feed was few and far between as well as having warm water. Cheryl Roth from Helen’s and Alexis Ryan from Major Motion and myself rode the last two laps together. Mostly Cheryl and I wanted to do the descent again which was totally fun. I even survived a bad feed from the neutral feeder who held the bottle incorrectly and I almost went down. I was really happy when the race was over. I finished 16th overall starting from dead last after my wrong turn so not too bad but not great. It is very hard to do road races in the heat without the help of a feeder with cold fluids. On the way home I stopped off for the traditional In n Out Burger. Yum! Didn’t really deserve it with the way I rode but it still tasted delicious.

Memorial Day Weekend – Barry Wolfe Criterium

Another weekend, another race. Luckily for a very intuitive wise friend and the brilliant knowledge of Ashton at Sundance Cycles my bike is finally feeling correct after a long hard time of getting it to fit. Jenn X and myself rode from our homes and met in Warner Center for the race. X brought me a 100mm stem to switch out on my bike (I love my friends!) which I did before the race but ended up having headset issues right before we started. I couldn’t seem to get it to lock down but the stem was on tight. I had a slight jiggle in my headset but decided to try and race anyway and if it was too bad to pull out.

The race started and I took the first turn hesitantly and then from there on out figured all was good and I was back to whipping it through the turns. X of course thinks I am crazy! I think I was super frustrated from the headset ordeal and rode the beginning of the race like a maniac going after all the attacks and being super aggressive. My bike was feeling good and I was feeling like my old self so why not ride super hard, right?

I then heard the magic word of a free haircut prime to the winner of the next lap and I was motivated knowing this was coming from my hair stylist, David Alva – the best in the business. I had to sprint for the prime and got it. I continued to ride hard and X was being very aggressive as well. Not bad for being only 2 girls against the many numbered local teams. X finally got in a break of 5 girls with all the teams represented. It was weird though because they never got more than a 35 second lead on the main field. Girls from the main field kept trying to jump to the break and I was covering the moves. A group of 3 or 4 got off the front of our group a little and I pulled them back to only get attacked again. Eventually though there was a melt down in the break and with just over 5 laps to go we were back together. Cheryl Roth from Helen’s attacked once the break was caught and X did a great job of reeling her in. Funny how the teams with more riders were not so concerned but X and I wanted to practice everything we could for our upcoming weekend in Tulsa so riding hard was on our agenda. With a couple of laps to go X was back on the front doing a great lead out and keeping me out of the bubble. Between turn 3 and 4 Pam Schuster (Helen’s) jumped and I was on her. We went into turn 4 hard and I immediately jumped off her wheel and went for the sprint and won! Excellent! X finished 9th which was awesome after all the work she did for me. In addition, while she was in the break she won a haircut pime as well. We could not be happier! My headset held up (fixed it correctly when I got home) and finally my bike is like home again. I can’t wait for Tulsa. Stay tuned.

VK in the house!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Southeast Crit Series Thursday April 30th - Monday May 4th

A park in Spartanburg

Thursday April 30th

We made it to the Hawley Company in Lexington, SC. Their place is great and it is like a candy shop for cyclist. The company is expanding which is always great to see. We got to meet the entire crew. It was wonderful to actually meet in person the people who are supporting and believing in us and it is fantastic to be associated with such great people and such a wonderful company. Andy, our main man for our bike support wanted me to challenge Colin to an arm wrestle which if anyone knows me I am always up for. I guess Andy and Colin have a little banter going on and I was more than happy to help Andy out. I have to admit Colin got a little red when I met him and immediately mentioned that I heard he was quite the arm wrestler. Colin did not want to arm wrestle at first but Andy was insistent and so the table was set up. I gave Colin a run for his money but he eventually won. I think my arm could have been raised higher as he is bigger than me but it was all in good fun. To check out how it went down you can go to the Hawley blog link and see a play by play.

Steve Hawley took us to lunch at this great bistro with Derrick and we got to chit chat and get to know each other a little better. Steve and Derrick are awesome and we had a great time at lunch. We went back to Hawley and hung out with everyone a little more and then hit the road for Spartanburg.

On our morning ride in Spartanburg

Jenn X, Melissa and myself stayed with Angela again in Spartanburg which was great. She is so nice and I love her house. The other girls stayed up the street from us and we all went out to dinner where we officially determined that I have T-Rex arms and Jenn X has an extreme wingspan and obviously has some of my arm length, lol. Friday AM we got up and did a little ride on the hunt for coffee. Angela had mentioned that all of the coffee shops downtown had closed and so we ended up going to the Little River Coffee Company. We took a nice little ride through a park and then it was back home to rest. It seems like the trip is just filled with riding, resting and eating. We went back out again for coffee before the race at 6:30pm.

Spartanburg’s course is a 4 corner fast circuit with turn 4 really narrowing and the start/finish straight being tight. VK rode a good race with Jenn X, Virginia, Haley and myself covering the moves in the first 20+ laps. The other teams were super aggressive and we had to be very attentive. Jenn X got a prime by rolling off the front on the first lap. Near the middle of the race the pace stayed high and the other VKs Leigh, Liz and Laura kicked into gear. The race heated up with 5 laps to go and with 3 laps to go there was a small group off the front. I knew we had to get Melissa up there so Laura and I hustled to pull them back. After that I was toast, job done and Mel sprinted to 6th place. Still not feeling quite like my normal self on the bike which is very frustrating but glad that I could help out the team in anyway.

It was back to Mellow Mushroom for dinner and a drink together as on Saturday our team would be splitting up to cover both the NRC race in Alabama and the other race in Dillworth where are sponsors would be.

Virginia and Andy

Jeff at Mellow Mushroom

Saturday May 2nd

In the AM we were packed and hit the rode by 9am. Luckily for us Dillworth was only 1 ½ hours away from Spartanburg, SC in North Carolina. The course was a fast loop around a park with a tight turn in to the uphill start/finish. Our goal was to get Liz in a break with Rebecca Larson who was riding for Jittery Joes knowing that she was a strong rider. Virginia, Haley and myself worked hard in the beginning to make this happen and it did. The girls stayed away for most of the race holding an 8 to 12 second gap. I radioed to Liz to keep the gas on as the chase and attacks from the pack were aggressive. Things were looking good when all of a sudden I saw Liz coming back to the pack and I knew something must be wrong with her as she is such a fighter. VK then tried to bridge up to Rebecca but could not get successfully away so then we tried to pull her back by working together. With 5 laps to go we knew Rebecca was gone and it would be a field sprint for 2nd. Virginia and Haley did a great job of keeping me at the front and then the pack started to come around on the long haul to the finish. I got a little jumbled in the mix and think I was in too big of a gear and got 3rd in the field sprint for 4th overall. I was very frustrated not feeling quite like my normal self in the sprint. My legs were also super tired from the weeks racing that we had been doing so far. It was great though to have Steve Hawley and his wife Jan at the race and hang out with them a little more. Also Steve’s son came by from college to check out the racing and cheer us on. We are very appreciated of their support.

Liz was okay but suffered a severe asthma attack and had to go to the medic. Having asthma myself I totally felt for her and understood the fact that she could not get any air. There must be something with North Carolina (no offense) as last time I raced there I got heat exhaustion or perhaps it has to do with the barometric pressure. As we were driving the 4 hours back to Georgia this crazy intense storm hit us and I could barely see the road in front of me. Cars were even pulling over under the over passes just to seek shelter because the rain/hail was so intense. All I can say is that I have never experienced rain like that back in So Cal.

Four plus hours later we made it back to Georgia and finally got showered and got some more food. We went to the Grange where Jeff knows the owner Steve (an Irishman!) where I had a great meat pie. The Alabama girls got in around 11:30pm having a pretty successful day with some primes and Melissa got 8th place.

We were back together again and ready to hit the last day of racing in Sandy Springs, GA on Sunday!

Sunday May 3rd

Melissa and I stayed and Jeff and Leigh’s place and we were treated to an awesome breakfast made by Jeff, an omelet with fresh veggies and amazing pancakes. I needed the big breakfast as the weeks worth of racing was catching up to me and I think my food intake had been down during the week due to the stress that racing puts on your body. Fueled up, we hit the road for the ½ hour drive to Sandy Springs. This course is a tight circuit with a downhill chicane and a tight downhill turn into the up hill finishing straight. Knowing it would be hard X and I did a longer warm up than usual through these great neighborhoods. Both of us forgot to bring our camera so we don’t have any photos L. Positioning was everything and we were all at the line early. My rear brake was attacking up and Jeff was able to fix it for me right before we started. I tried to do all I could in the beginning to keep the race under control unsure how I would feel near the end. Every time up the hill we were flying out of the saddle averaging 26 – 27 mph. There were some breaks up the road but the usually only contained one rider so we were able to spread the load of bringing them back with other teams. With 10 laps to go X and I went to the front to set tempo for a couple of laps and then it was gas on. Leigh helped Mel as much as she could to drop her off near the front and she got 9th. We were done. Also, this is the course last year that I crashed really bad on and had that horrible concussion. I was happy to see the countdown under 7 laps to go as that is the lap I crashed on last year.

Sad :( no more beer.

After the race we collected are winnings as we actually had riders in the overall for the week as well as the individual races and headed to Meehan’s the Irish pub on course to watch the men’s race and get a well deserved drink.

What I love about this photo is the Motor Tabs bottle behind my drink -- hydration and a crown and coke, lol!

It was home to shower and then back out to the Grange for a post race party. The Colavita girls hung out with us as well as some of the guys and our ever handy support team of Andy and Brittany from Storck. Dave from Storck also joined us which was great. I have to admit we all got pretty toasted but had a great time. Luckily Leigh and Jeff just live down the street so we got a nice walk in afterwards.

So now I am on the plane home and have just over 2 more hours left (it is 10:29am Cali time).

Thanks for staying tuned and I hope you enjoyed the journey. Back home to tune the body up a little more and meet with my coach, continue to work on my house and back to work. I race again in Tulsa at the end of the month.

At the Grange Sunday evening, we made it!

To some up the weeks worth of racing I will quote the ever hilarious Laura, “cheese and rice”.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Monday - Thursday Southeast

The VK girls on the morning Beaufort ride, looking awesome!

Monday 4/27/09

From the backyard of the Thompson's house. I could stay here forever!

We finally made it to Beaufort, SC after our jail incident. I love Beaufort, it is completely southern. We were staying with Gary and Pat Thompson who have a beautiful house on the waterfront. We were treated to a wonderful salmon dinner. Melissa and I took the guest quarters above the garage which we named the “man cave” as there was all this workout equipment and a huge screen TV. I slept like a log. I think I am finally catching up on sleep.

Another view from the backyard. Stunning!

The next day we went on a morning ride to a school where Vanderkitten, Colavita, Richmond Cycling and some other teams spoke with K-5th graders regarding cycling, helmet safety, etc. Jenn X tore it up and had the kids going. She is great at these types of things and stole the show. The kids seemed to have a good time and were excited about the race that evening.

Jenn X showing off how are shifting and gears work.

6pm race start in Beaufort. This course is crazy and short with many turns. The first corner is super tight and narrows extremely. I felt great in the beginning of the race but then the slow sluggish legs came upon me and I could not seem to recover or get on top of my gears. I eventually fell off the pace and was extremely upset. What is happening with me, I am fit and ready to race and yet. In the morning, Erica Allar from Colavita mentioned to me that she was trying to fix my rear brake way back at Athens at the start because it was rubbing. I had checked it prior to the Beaufort race but when I pulled out my rear brake was plastered against my rim. Ugh! I think with all of the bumps on the road and my crazy riding it must have come off center. My guess was that in every race it must have been doing this. I opened the cable and hoped that in the next race this would be the answer. I was very upset with my performance up until now as it was not typical of me. The VK team did an awesome job and Melissa got 5th. Things are starting to come together.

The good thing was at the race I bumped into Nancy and Steve Kessel who hosted us last year. It was great to see them. The Beaufort community is so nice and I chatted with several of the spectators and thanked them for hosting the race. Gary and his wife Pat cooked us up some wonderful steak and potatoes. It seems everyone who lives in Beaufort is a wonderful cook.

We love Andy, Brittany and the Storck van!

Wednesday 4/29/09

View while having our morning coffee in Beaufort.

We went on another quick spin in the morning to open the legs and the traditional coffee stop. Coffee is a must if you cycle. We then packed up to head for Walterboro or as X kept calling it, Waterloo. No host housing for this stop so it was the motel stay.

Virginia on my bike. Hilarious! She is so tall that my bike looks like a clown bike.

The other teams had heard about Jenn X’s jail break and we won’t name names here to protect the innocent but somehow handcuffs got attached to her bike. It was hilarious. She rode the race with them attached to her seat. Every time I saw here I cracked up.

Since I did not know what was going on with my body my job was to cover all the early moves. I was on it. I felt good during the race and could recover. It must have been my brake all along. I was ecstatic and it felt good to be back in the race. It was crazy fast as usual and the course has a narrowing into the finishing straight which seems to be a theme during Speedweek. There were some crashes and Tina Pic went down right in front of me. I was able to skid to a stop and just go around her head. I couldn’t believe I made the move without hitting her. Since I kept feeling like my normal self during the race I continued to monitor moves to the end. Melissa ended up 13th. We just needed a little more leg power at the end to help keep her near the front. VK was riding well though and I feel like we are really getting it together. I was toasted, but mentally happy that I had finally solved my problem and was back to my old tricks. I can’t wait to race Friday evening.

Dinner at Ruby Tuesdays was fun as we finally got to relax a little bit with Thursday being a rest day. A lot of the other teams were there and it was great to hang with them.

Making the VK logo, pimpin'

Thursday 4/30/09

I am currently in the van as we are on our way to Hawley in Lexington, SC who is one of our sponsors. We are going to have lunch with them and it will be great to meet all of the people at the company.

We did a morning ride before leaving to get coffee and keep the legs moving.

Stay tuned as there are 3 more races left in Speedweek.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Update - Athens Twilight, Roswell and travelling

Laura on the attack

Saturday 4-25-09 Southeast

On Saturday morning we did the Hub Bicycle ride with the guys from Storck. We did this great loop through some great countryside (did not bring my camera!) and I meet some really cool people. After that it was back to Travelodge where we had one room to hang out it for the remainder of the afternoon until Athens Twilight at 7:45pm. It was great to hang out with the entire team even though the room was less than desirable and also to have Dave and Mark with us. At 6pm we suited up and were out the door to ride to the race. We had our primo spot again on turn two and the Storck guys hooked me up with a tune up on my bike as my cables were stretching (typical of a new bike). We also meet Steve Hawley and his wife Jan (more sponsors) which was fantastic.

Down to business. As is usual of Athens you line up to start the crit about 30 minutes before it actually starts as placement is everything. Even though I was ready early I ended up starting in the second to last row but the good news is that I got a call up for getting third there last year and for being 2nd overall in the USA Crit series last year. Thank god for that! It was game on right from the start and the pace was wicked fast. For the entire 40 laps we did an average of 26 mph. Last years race was not nearly as fast. Tibco was very active on the front attacking but nothing was getting more than 11 seconds ahead of the main field. And, as usual at Athens there were plenty of crashes to keep the drunken crowds entertained. Luckily all but one was behind me. The one that was right to my left happened as I found out later because a spectator jumped over the barrier and a rider hit him. All I saw was a rider up in the air. Crazy stuff. VK did a great job of keeping things under control and was very attentive to the race. It was great to feel all of my teamies around. With 5 laps to go Melissa and I were sitting in pretty good position for the field sprint. With just about 2 laps to go there was a crash directly behind me and Melissa went down. The pace was furious and I was doing all I could to fight for my position. Girls were leaning on my in the turns and it was all bumping and shoving. With ½ a lap to go my legs gave out and I gapped off the front group. Ugh – frustrating. I ended up 16th. The other VK girls finished well and we had a couple more in the money. Melissa ended up being generally okay with just the typical road rash and soreness that occurs after hitting the pavement.

We had a rough drive home after a meal at Applebee’s. Poor Laura started to feel sick and we spent our drive home pulling over for her. Our hearts went out to her. And then, after pulling over on the highway we thought Ludo the pug got out of the car but luckily we found him climbing out from under a seat in the mini van. What an evening. We finally made it back to Decatur and to bed by 2am.

The Lizzer killing it

Wheels finishing Athens

Sunday 4/26/09 - Roswell

Our hot looking support vehicle - Rockin'

Usually we would have gotten up and gone on a morning spin but we all opted to sleep in and hopefully recuperate from the past two days. Our Storck van met us at Roswell which was awesome. We got there in plenty of time to do a really good warm up on the road and get the cobwebs out. The sun was out and the temperature up. The race was hard again from the start and Tibco was launching attacks. VK rode a really good race and covered a lot but in the end a break went up the road and we were not in it. We chased as best we could but never got it back. It was a rough day for us and for me especially. For some reason my lower back started to spasm again and there was not a lot of power coming from my legs. Frustrating! Hopefully after Mondays rest/travel day I will feel better and with a couple of more adjustments on my awesome Storck bike.

After the race we ate BBQ at Swallow in the Hallow in Roswell. Pretty good BBQ but I miss Fox Bros in Decatur. It was great though to hand with the VK girls and Liz’s parents.

Pre race madness

Monday 4/27/09

Our hot Zero Gravity VK brakes.

Travel day – always on the move. We were able to sleep in a bit Andy and the Strock van meet us at 10am for a ride. We did a great 1 ½ hour loop through the suburbs of Atlanta and then had lunch at the Java Monkey. Legs felt much better today and I raised my seat which seemed to help my back. I think I am ready to rock it tomorrow night in Beaufort, SC.


Stay posted. I will try and keep the blog up to date between traveling, racing and running the studio. However, while writing this blog we are just now getting pulled over for speeding, ouch. It has been a wild trip. We are now driving to jail to bail Jenn X out. Apparently being out of state she can't be written a ticket but needs to go to jail so we can pay the ticket and then will be let to go. Will update the blog with more photos in a bit..

On the ride around Decatur with Steve (Liz's dad) and Andy from Storck

Hopkins on his cruiser on our way to the Java Monkey

Okay we survived the Macon County prison after I had to take the van and get some cash from an ATM at a Shell station to get X out. Apparently they only take cash. Crazy stuff. While leaving the jail we were serenaded by the prisoners tapping on the windows.

Getting X outta jail - jail house rock baby

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Georgia 2009

Leigh at the Java Monkey --classic looking

The trip got off to an interesting start with me bagging all of my food Wed. evening for the termite fumigation on Fri. After working Thurs morning, Jenny X and I headed off to the flyaway to LAX. Our flight had a crazy ending as the air tower in Atlanta was struck by lightening which caused a fire. We circled for quite a bit of time then had to land in Huntsville, AL to refuel and did not land in Atlanta until 1am. So our 3 hour 45minute flight turned into 8 hours. We did luck out and get food at the Majestic Diner where there was a diverse mix of interesting people at 2am and I got my southern grits!

A wake up call from Jeff at 10:30am felt like 5am. The four of us, Virginia, Melissa, X and I managed to get up and get in our kits to meet Liz and Leigh for a quick spin. We went to Avondale Lake and ended up at one of my favorite places the java Monkey for a cup of joe. Back to the hotel for a shower and then hit the road to Athens.

Our new Spinergy carbon wheels and Kenda tires. Hot looking!

We went to a Vanderkitten party this evening at Hub Bikes, the bike shop who built our race bikes (thanks guys, awesome job!) and meet some locals and signed autographs. It is odd to feel like a rock star but great to talk to fellow cycling enthusiasts. Tomorrow we will do the shop ride at 9am and then in the evening is the Athens Twilight race. I love this race because of the crowd and I am also nervous as I want to do well.

The kids Vanderkitten artwork.

Signing off now but check back for race updates as the week progresses.

Typical Jenn X

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tour of California 2009 - Santa Rosa

The season has started!Though I thought I would be more prepared here it is and I am excited. Like last year, our first NRC race of the season was the Women’s Criterium at the Tour of California in Santa Rosa, CA. Lucky for me, my good friend and partner in crime, Jenn X is guest riding with Vanderkitten for this race so we drove up to Berkeley together on Friday morning. We left at 7am and made the customary stop at Starbucks in Valencia and off we went. The grapevine was open and the mountains looked beautiful with the snow on them. The iPod was hooked up and we were rockin’. We arrived in Berkeley at 1pm and promptly got dressed and went on a ride with some of the other VKs, Liz and Leigh. It was great to see them as I had not seen them since Vegas in September. We attempted to get an easy ride in to loosen the legs but the rain came and we jetted back to our hotel. We were treated in the evening to a team dinner at Dave and Jennie’s house which was magnificent. Thanks again for a great evening!

The next day we all drove to San Jose to do a local criterium to get the legs open for the BIG race the next day. Even though it was a local race, most all of the big teams were there doing the same as us. It was a course with quite a few turns and the wind was picking up. VK did a great job of making sure we were in nearly every move off the front and we were working well together. It was great to be back in the mix. Our “guest” rider Jenn X got a prime during the race. I got myself in 3 moves off the front but nothing stuck. Even though the sun was out we did experience a bit of ran which caused a crash; only a prelude to what we would endure on Sunday. I was feeling pretty good for my first race back with the “big” girls. With 2 laps to go I made a bad choice and took the wheel of some girls cookin’ up the inside to a turn which I had taken the inside of nearly every time during the race and found it to be the fast. However, this time was different and we got pinched and I had to ebrake. I spent the last lap fighting for position. Ugh! I bungled the sprint! The important thing was that I rode at the front and was able to position myself into moves.

The VK gang went out to dinner that night at the Pyramid Brewery where I enjoyed a yummy Kobe beef burger. It was great to be hanging with the gang again. After dinner it was back to the hotel to rest up and gear up for what was going to be a very rainy day if the weather channel was correct.

Typical Jenn X

Guess what? We awoke to gray skies and rain. We packed up the van and headed north for Santa Rosa. After a quick stroll through the vendors it was down to business. We had wonderful help from Emma and other Vanderkitten’s and it was great to be surrounded by so many well wishers. I got a good warm up in and somehow found myself rushing at the end trying to figure out where the time went. It turns out they were starting the race 10 minutes early, strange. And, of course as our race start came so did the rain in a torrential down pour. Because the race started early and we were unaware of this, we all started the race at the back of the pack. Not the best place to be when you have heavy hitters like Ina Teutenberg and National Champion Brooke Miller in the peloton.

Myself and Jenn X "racin" TOC 2009 photo courtesy Larry Rosa

The pace was pretty fast from the start though we were careful through the turns due to the rain. To add to the “fun” there were tons of bot dots on the course which you had to navigate even while turning. It took a little bit of time to get to the front of the race since I started way in the back. The only good news about starting at the back was that when Versus showed the seconds of coverage there was my butt. Hot! Within 12minutes there was a break from the pack. I was sitting on the opposite side of the peloton pretty boxed in when it happened. Twelve riders went free and I did a quick check, all the heads of state were still in the peloton: Ina, Gina, Tina, Brooke and LVG. There was a lot more time in the race and I thought for sure they would be brought back. Jenn X decided not to wait around for that and launched herself off the front I was on her wheel and made the decision to sit up and let her go. In hindsight, it would have been nice to have 2 VKs in the

break to help each other. After killing herself she eventually bridged to the break, now they were 13. I stayed up at the front to monitor and block as best I could should anyone decide to take the leap. There were mini attacks and LVG was anxious to try and break free. I was on them all figuring if anyone was going to bridge they were taking me with them. The race organization started to give pack primes and after I realized that the break was going to stay away I decided to go for one. Lucky or unlucky for me the one I went for also appeared to be on Ina’s check list and I got second behind her. Bummer, but not bad considering she is such an animal. Next on the list was to prepare for the finish. Even though we were not sprinting for the win I knew it would be an all out sprint for the finish considering who I was with. The rain continued to come down heavy and it seemed to be getting colder.

How do I get so dirty? photo courtesy Dave Verrecchia

I really took to heart Jeff “Hoppy” Hopkins words of advice and was able to stay on Tina’s wheel through the last couple of laps and only started to lose it when Ina who was in front of her lit it up entering turn 4 and exploded away from all of us. I was pretty gassed at this point having done so much work to stay at the front and suffered during the sprint. It was so cold outside and I could not feel my fingers having no clue what lever I was hitting to select my gear. Jenn X did a great job in the break and finished 11th. I held

my own in the sprint and got 10th in the field for a 23rd finish overall. At least now I have more confidence in being able to hang with the top sprinters to the line.

Are we having fun yet? photo courtesy Kurt Harvey

Jenn and I went to the Russian River Brewery after the race to try and finish my gift card that I won last year in a prime. We did not do much damage because we were driving home. After a coffee at Peet’s (my favorite) it was back to the van for the long drive home. The iPod was roaring and the caffeine flowin’.

At least we didn't super size!