Gear Patrol Magazine

Over the past season, Gear Patrol Magazine followed Velo Classic p/b Stan's NoTubes to observe the personalities and interworkings of women's elite cycling. Writer Matt Ankeny provides unique insights and perspectives on our niche sport, how we make it all work, and the future of women's cycling in America. Interviews with other VIPs including Nicola Cranmer, general manager of TeamTwenty16

Check out these perspectives as well as interviews with myself, BrittLee, Jaime, and Jen. 

READ ARTICLE: veloclassicstans.com/news

Green Mountain Stage Race

September 2-5, Cynthia and I raced the Green Mountain Stage Race in the beautiful and temperate Vermont. After training and racing in 85degrees+ with high humidity (basically the rainforest in Cincinnati Ohio) for the past few months, Vermont felt like a heavenly sanctuary of crisp mountain air. I could go outside and feel my skin without wiping off a thick layer of sweat first. 

Stage 1: 5.7 mile Warren State Individual Time Trial

This stage is mostly Merckx style and did not allow Time Trial equipment (other than a TT helmet and a disc wheel). Seeing as I've ridden a TT bike all of 3 times (which didn't even fit me) this is a welcomed restriction.

Time Trials, not my most favorite event in cycling nor my most skilled. Let's go onto the next stage, shall we?

Stage 2: 57.5 mile Bridges Resort Circuit Race

On the start line, contemplating wearing a vest. And no, not a vest so I can stuff ice socks down the back. I Love Vermont in September!

Going into this stage, we have our GC leader (single woman triathlete with no teammates), one rider for Amy D. Foundation and 3 TIBCO girls all in spots 3-5 with less than 1 minute back. 

The course is rolling with 1 QOM hill and 3 chances for sprint points on the finish line. Attacks attempted and brought back, and nothing stays away. We're 5k to the finish and the pack is still together. #CXFever (aka Maghalie Rochette from Luna Pro Team) throws out a little punchy attack up a short climb and strings out the pack, I put in a counter attack now less than 5k from the finish but TIBCO strings me back to the pack. Engines are revving, gears clicking, just 1k from the finish and it's a long totally flat straight drag race into the finish. I'm sitting on Cynthia's wheel and she comes in 4th with the pack also having gained 3rd spot for sprint points mid-race.

Stage 3: 64.7mile Champion System Mad River Road Race

MOUNTAINS TODAY. An early start, bright blue skies, crisp air filled with sunshine, and a downhill neutral start. This is the day I find out if my training in the mountains of Idaho pay off. 

The course includes 1 sprint spot 20miles in, and 4 QOMs. 4 (including the finish)!! Strategy for the day? Get in a breakaway, make it up the climbs, and slay the dirt/gravel section. 

Having a lovely day on my bike I chit chat with Lauren Hall from TIBCO along the fist 10miles or so. She complements me on my new life mantra 'NAMASLAY' scribed on my top tube and we discuss peeing strategies during bike races. We both agree that pulling the chamois to the side and popping a squat to be the most efficient and comfortable method. Some ladies prefer less modest methods with less risk of peeing on oneself, but we both agree this is not our preference.  While Lauren is not chit chatting, she spends her time waving ferociously to anyone on a tractor along the course having enough body awareness and bike handling skills to not knock any of her competitors on the ground. 

Rolling into the sprint spot, I weave Cynthia through the pack and plant her on Gretchen Stumphofer's wheel (riding for Amy D. Foundation). With TIBCO charging at the front and me leading out Cynthia without rolling all of my marbles (knowing the first QOM hill is just up ahead), Cynthia busts out a 3rd place in the sprint!

Now for the first QOM. steady, steady, steady, steady hard, steady hard, steady harder, steady harder, really hard, find wheels, find more wheels, get to the top. Descend descend descend, rotate, rotate, rotate, weave, weave, weave. I make it to the top with Gretchen, Miriam Brouwer from The Cyclery Opus, and Katherine Oullettee (Kath) from Rally Cycling. We descend for the next 20km trading pulls. As we approach the bottom of the descent a group of 10+ girls attach themselves to our group. I rail a sharp corner on the bottom of the climb and catapult myself up to the lead group from the pack with a respectable 5-10 seconds separation, only to find the leaders are sitting up :/. The group is now back together. Another 10km go by and we stop for a collective wiz. 

We approach the 2nd QOM, the pack obliterates in a single line of riders to the top and I am with the leaders. Just past the crest is a sharp left and the beginning of THE DIRT/GRAVEL! A short 100m section of packed dirt followed by pavement followed by a 1-2km section of packed dirt/gravel. Alizee Brien from TIBCO attacks on the gravel and I follow. We drop more than half of our group and now create a separation with ~10 riders working together down the descent to maintain our separation. 

Several riders from various teams are represented. Attacks are thrown out and brought back. Eyes all on each other, attempting to relax and also ready to pounce. The 3rd QOM approaches and this one is steep and then long and then steep. The climbers roll away with grace while myself and a few other riders hold on to each other to make it the rest of the way. Gretchen, Kath and I make it up to the QOM together and descend down to the base of App Gap, the final climb. Relax, spin, smooth, shoulders, core, head, breath, relax, push. I notice Kath has some kind of monster cassette which allows her to spin at like 100rpm on a 10% grade while I chug away at a stiff 65-70rpm at the same speed. Envious I am. Legs burn, grade steapens, legs dark grey not quite black feeling, grade steapens, breath heavy. In light of the pain and focus on the top, I allow myself a few brief acknowledgements of how shady, dry, and temperate this climb is. Thank you, Vermont. 

An Amy D. Rider is just 100m ahead while I am at the 200m mark. I need to catch her. I begin paperboying (weaving back and forth to gain momentum and cadence) and pass her with 50m left, roll to the top in 7th. A volunteer stands at the top pushing all of the crippled riders over the very top to prevent a traffic jam of shriveled up cramping stage racers. 

A good day with solid tactics, ripping descents, and hard climbs.

Day 4: ~45 minute Burlington Criterium

LAST RACE OF THE SEASON. This was my 56th race this season. 

The course is flowy with a short steep power climb into the finish and 6 corners. A call-up for 7th in GC gains me a front row spot on the start line. Feeling confident and ready to rumble. 

Miriam from The Cyclery Opus takes the hole shot and rides off the front for a few laps. A few other little attacks are made but nothing decisive, nothing worth fretting about. It seems the teams are all happy with their GC positions and waiting for the final sprint. No one made any decisive moves other than powering up the climb to keep the pace up. Once the riders on the front roll up to the top of the climb, they sit up into the first corner. This is the spot. 

photo: The Bicycle Tailor

photo: The Bicycle Tailor

10 laps to go and a few riders start picking up the pace at the front but not actually making separation. 8 laps to go and I am in the top 5 wheels. The front riders sit up near the top of the climb and I attack hard into the first corner. LET'S DO THIS! Not knowing if anyone is with me or chasing, I hold the pace for the next lap. I cross the finish line and the announcer informs me that I now have a 20second gap in just 1 lap. "Sizeable" he says.

photo by: The Bicycle Taylor

photo by: The Bicycle Taylor

"I can do this, I can do this, I can do this." I find a fine line between pushing as hard as I can and riding off the course and smashing into a haybale or metal barricade. Riding smooth and flowing through corners gains me more speed and time than powering through everything and using my breaks. The crowd is ecstatic and cheering for me all across the finish line and through corner 2. The announcer too encourages spectators to join him in helping me maintain the gap for the glory of rolling into the finish solo off the front. This is incredibly motivating and fun. My legs burning, head hazy, and heart full. 

4 laps to go and my gap is decreasing. The crowd is as loud as ever. 3 laps to go and the pack approaches, the crowd dulled. 2 laps to go and they catch me. I look back to find the GC leader? The GC leader has not been present for the entire crit, dangling off the back. Now I find her pulling the entire field up to me and later find out that she was one of the main instigators and helpers to bring me back. I was 7th in GC and no where near her in time, so I was quite perplexed why she worked so hard to catch me. 

I drift back into the pack and sit in the top 5-10 positions for the final 2 laps, heartbroken but still motivated for the finish. Legs burning but my mind is on the same flow of the course drifting from corner to corner. I give it everything I have up the final climb and roll in 11th for the day and 7th in GC. 

Pedal in squares off the course, stagger off my bike and plop my quivering muscles on a bench heaving. For a few moments there are no racers to to pat me on the back, no friends to take my bike for me, just me and my flat-lined brain and whirlpool of emotions. I later enjoy claps and cheers for making a valiant effort from spectators enjoying their lunch at restaurants along the course. Touched. 

As my last race of this season, I feel this is an appropriate showcase for my progression to this point and also from this point. The courage and whits to make decisive moves are within me but I still have a mountain of work to improve. I am properly motivated for what is to come with this privilege of a pursuit, bike racing. 

Intelligentsia Cup powered by SRAM

Highlight reel

1.      Teamwork makes the dreamwork

For the first 5 days of racing, our Pro12 squad consisted of the dynamic duo: myself and Clio Dinan.

At the beginning, Clio and I agreed to be proactive in the races by making moves and taking risks. We wanted to make the races fast, hard, and exciting for spectators. We busted out several attacks, countered other attacks and primes, covered attacks, strung out the field, and generally made it a hard race on the first day. These are all examples of positive racing. Negative racing is when racers race conservatively trying to do the least amount of work. During the race, negative racers do not use their energy to attack as well as try to stop other attacks from happening or staying away. This is a type of racing which we strive to prevent. Despite our squad consisting of a mere 2 riders, we both wanted to be aggressive and positive. On day 1 our efforts landed me in 4th place!

photo: Ethan A. Glading

photo: Ethan A. Glading

photo: Ethan A. Glading

photo: Ethan A. Glading

 

Day 3: Willow Springs road race consisted of 12 laps of a 3.8 mile course. The course included 2 short climbs and an incredibly long straightaway to the finish. Thank you's are in order for Chicago Women’s Elite Cycling. They provided us with feeds for our squad. I hope the ice water I dumped down Daphne Karagianis’ back and helmet made up for me taking 2 bottles during this hot and steamy race.

Breaks were attempted, breaks were brought back, breaks were attempted, breaks were brought back. Racers pushed the pace up the climb, no one dropped off. Figuring out how to win this race other than a good position for the sprint finish was tricky. With 4 laps to go I attacked and stayed away with 1 other rider for less than 1 mile. We were caught and I sat on the front. Just after we were caught Clio busted out an attack and no one followed her. And then no one chased her. And then no one tried to get her back. And then she TT’d for the remaining ~4 laps and won the race!! Courage, proactive racing, determination, and teamwork were the ingredients necessary to take this victory.

photo: Ethan A. Glading

photo: Ethan A. Glading

photo: Ethan A. Glading

photo: Ethan A. Glading

Daily Schedule:

-Wake up and feel like $1,000,000 every day after sleeping for 9-11 hours
-light breakfast
-ride with Clio for 45 minutes at an easy pace
-do activities that require very little movement: take naps, read books, foam roll, stretch, paint nails, listen to books on tape, organize finances, make food, eat lunch
-get ready for race
-pay at least $5 in tolls anytime we went anywhere in Chicago
-warmup
-race
-cooldown
-drive back or eat dinner at race
-do activities that require very little movement: watch the tour de france, watch all the other movies your partner/boyfriend refuses to watch with you, foam roll, stretch
-sleep some more

 

2.      Holding onto 4th place overall for the entire week

4th place in the overalls spoke to my consistency in the races throughout the week. I realize this is just off of the podium but I am proud of myself for taking home this result and racing consistently in the top 10, and top 20 at the least, all week long. Also thanks to Clio for being a kickass teammate.

photo: Ethan A. Glading; modifications: Kristen Arnold

photo: Ethan A. Glading; modifications: Kristen Arnold

photo: Clark Maxwell

photo: Clark Maxwell

With 2 crit series under the leg bands of my skinsuit (because there are no pockets in my skinsuits), USA Crits Speedweek + Tour of America’s Dairyland, I applied all of my acquired skills to these races. As my first season racing at the National level (races outside of local Ohio races), I believe this result is a testament to the work and reflection I have put in this season.

ALSO: I had a callup every day for the entire week (except day 1) which helped in the starts and made me feel special.

photo: Clark Maxwell

photo: Clark Maxwell

 

3.      Fricking Tolls

Chicago, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, why are there so many tolls?!

 

4.      Experiencing Chicago

I have spent a good amount of time in Chicago previous to this trip: Pitchfork music festival in 2010, a wedding and cyclocross winter vaca in 2013, other cyclocross races, fun time visits.

On Monday, Rest Day #1, Clio and I attended the Coffee Shop ride at Intelligentsia Coffee in Logan’s Square. Unfortunately riding on the organized coffee shop ride meant sprinting out of every stop light with a pack of 20 juniors, so we opted to ride around the city at a more agreeable easy spin pace. Annie, one of the owners of BFF bikes, became our tour guide and spent the next 2 hours leading us through the scenic bike paths of Chicago. Thanks, Annie!

Other activities in Chicago during our of days consisted of coffee shopping, beaching, going to see Finding Dory and crying at least 5 times in the movie theatre, going out to eat, and having fun driving in Chicago rush hour in giant thunderstorms with our phones screaming at us about flood warnings.

 

5.      Chicago Crits, Technical and not as flat as you’d think

Despite the fact that Chicago is known for being flat and windy, 5 out of the 8 courses had climbs. My personal favorite course was on day 2, Tour of Glen Ellyn, which consisted of 2 short steep power climbs and depending on how you ride it, 12-15 turns!! This course flowed like the best single-track sick bermed PNW/New Zealand/British Columbia no brakes trail you’ve ever shredded. As this week progressed I found my comfort shredzone in these technical turny power punchy climby courses. 

photo: Luke, tenspeedhero

photo: Luke, tenspeedhero

Tour of America's Dairyland

Highlight Reel

photo: Dan Steinle

photo: Dan Steinle

1. Practice makes Improvement: If you want to get good at something, you need practice. What better way to get extra competent at crit racing, than racing 10 days in a row with a couple Pro Road Tour races?!

Everyday our squad sat down on a curb, in the grass, or in the car and discussed what we felt we did well and what we will do differently the next day. As my friend Mattie used to say, ‘if you don’t debrief it basically never happened’.

To Julia: sorry I didn't reply right away, it was going great.

To Julia: sorry I didn't reply right away, it was going great.

2. Harriet/H-money: Harriet Owen (H-money is her American name) guest rode or Velo Classic p/b Stan’s No Tubes during TOAD. She was determined, decisive, laid-back and supportive. We couldn’t have asked for a better combo for a guest rider.

Harriet Owen, photo: Dan Steinle

Harriet Owen, photo: Dan Steinle

With over 10 years of experience racing (since she was 11 years old) she knew her way around a crit course in a tight pack. As a paid professional bike racer in the United Kingdom for Matrix Pro Cycling, she treated this week just like any week on the job. She kept us honest to our prep and recovery every day, legs up, naps, stretching, foam rolling, eating,  drinking, more napping, all the fun stage race things that good athletes do.

Sidenote: She was a big fan of the large television in our host house that swiveled. Swiveling. 

3. 24-hour flu. I exclaimed to my body ‘Whyyyyyyyyyy’!! The night before day 8 when I was up all night with moderate to severe nausea. The nausea subsided in the morning to which it took me 25 minutes to naw on a bagel. And then by 10am I started to have body aches to which again I exclaimed to my body ‘Whyyyyyyyyyy’. I slept until 3pm got ready for the race and ended up racing at 6pm that night. I hung on for dear life with the surges and made up 3-5 spots every corner before another surge in the pack.

keeling over after a few vomits in the mouth

keeling over after a few vomits in the mouth

Lucky me this was a fairly technical course I could get away with cornering well. By the next day I felt much better and scarfed down 6 large pancakes.

4. Working as a team. Harriet as our sprinter me as her sweeper. It was incredibly fun to be a useful and influential teammate for her to sprint for several top 5 places throughout the week. I brought her up to the front in the last 5-10 laps and swept her wheel sprinting for the finish. Yay teamwork!

5. My fate is not always in my own hands. Crits are about making your own luck, but there is also a fine line between making all the right decisions and sh*t happening. On day 9 the Downer Classic (also a Pro Road Tour day) I got stuck behind a crash with 2 laps to go. There were 2 choices: ride over another rider (which I did) or take several riders out in an attempt to swerve around the crash. I bent my derailleur hanger and had to pull out of the race.

On Wauwatosa Day 10 (Also a Pro Road Tour day) I was right on Harriet’s wheel both in an optimal position for the finish with 2 laps to go. We were set up well to win the field sprint when there was a bad crash with riders unable to move off of the course. The promoters neutralized the race and started everyone on the start line again with 5 laps to go (instead of 2) giving the breakaway a 10 second head start. Who knows how the race would have turned out, but our chances were high if not for the crash.

6. Enjoying Milwaukee. Milwaukee opened its arms with a warm welcome, and I mean warm like 95 degrees warm for most of the week. The city was interwoven with rivers, bridges, and parks all across the lake-side. We had a bit of time to try the local food and coffee, take a sprinted dip in Lake Michigan, and meet dozens of friendly Milwaukeean spectators. What a great city.

7. Tad, the TOAD Team Instructor. Tad Hamilton (former team director for Exergy Pro Cycling among other pro and elite teams, and my current mentor) provided daily team talks before each race. Each day we all crammed into a car with the air conditioning blasting as he went through the race plan/goals with us discussing the course, competition, and strategies. Having him there as an external support system and guide was incredibly helpful to having a successful week. Thanks, Tad!

Jen Activating

Jen Activating

Touristing

Touristing

Recovery day on point

Recovery day on point

Touristing

Touristing

The Squad, Photo: Dan Steinle

The Squad, Photo: Dan Steinle

Grand Prix Cycliste de Gatineau

Course: 65 miles, 2 loops of hills, 5 loops of short technical circuit

Leading up to this race our team was in a bit of predicament. Our team manager, BrittLee Bowman, was hospitalized (and is fine now) after the Winston Salem Cycling Classic Criterium and we were now down a vehicle and a team manager. The team turned on superlogistics mode and came up with roughly 25 scenarios of how we were going to get 3 riders and 5 bikes plus picking up another rider along the way with 2 bikes to Canada. We also had to figure out how to get our team manager and all of the gear she came with safely back to New York. I became the interim team manager for Gatineau as BrittLee told me ‘I was in charge now’.

Big thanks goes out many people who helped with this difficult process. Ian Broadhead who was going to ship 3 bikes back to New York for us, Jerome from DNA Visit Dallas for taking our TT bikes up to Canada (when we couldn’t fit them), Clio’s parents for hosting us and letting us use their mini-van along the drive to Canada, Steph from TIBCO for allowing us to use their cleaning supplies to clean our bikes in Canada, Wheeler’s Cycling for providing feeds for us during the road race, and Happy Tooth Pro Women’s Cycling for providing us with sick podium shoes.

After a long drive and many logistics, we arrived in Gatineau, Quebec. The city was enveloped in a breathtaking spring glean. Beautiful blue water canals drew through the city and were lined with bike trails for us to enjoy on our day off from racing. It felt a bit like racing in Europe with everything written and everyone speaking in French. Not to mention the treacherous roads filled with uneven pavement and winding streets going every which way.

In light of all of these new experiences and challenges it turned out to be a great race.

On the start line: I noticed several riders had ear pieces. riders with ear pieces?!?! Much admiration, much jealousy.

Blastoff. Our guest rider, Becca Fahringer, turned out to be an all-mighty powerhouse and sat on the front for almost the entire race. The course included 2 long loops with significant climbing, followed by 5 small loops of more urban twisty technical flat riding. After the climb on long lap 2 a break and a chase group formed. Clio and I worked with Colavita Bianchi to bring back the chase group for 5+ miles, woof. After we were all back together, teams threw out attack after attack. I worked to bring back several of the breaks as many teams were blocking. I was super psyched to be making moves and chasing down attacks in this 1.1 UCI race. Clio and I provided each other with bottles, protected one another, and communicated about tactics.

I was pooped with 1 lap to go when Becca came up in front of me. We weaved around the course together and I was ready for her to give me some sort of a lead out. Ready to launch off in the final 500m, and she doesn’t go anywhere. “BECCA, THIS IS THE FINISH” I exclaimed. “OH!” she said. While I had barely anything left in my legs and rolled in at my current position coming in 31/80, she managed to make up over 10 spots in the final 300M with a huge effort she had left coming in 19/80. Becca the Beast! She told me after the race had I not told her it was the finish she would never have known. So many watts. 

photo: Raymond Masse

photo: Raymond Masse

photo: Raymond Masse

photo: Raymond Masse

photo: Raymond Masse

photo: Raymond Masse

Professional Road Race National Championships

Course: 9 mile loop with lots of turns and 1 very steep 1 minute climb, 87 miles, 6,500ft elevation gain, hot and humid

Velo Classic p/b Stan’s NoTubes had a squad of 5 riders for pronats: myself, BrittLee Bowman, Cassie Maxemenko, Tate Devlin, and Clio Dinan. We all pre-rode the course the day before and discovered the exorbitant amount of potholes, cracks, and road furniture all over the course. Thank the gods for 25mm IRC Formula tires and the ability to run low pressure with my Alpha 340 ZTR Stan’s NoTubes wheels. Although the road race was 87 miles, I think the promoters secretly wanted it to be a very long criterium with the amount of turns, short and steep climbs/descents, and technicality on a short loop. Luckily, I love criteriums and I had been riding ‘millions’ of base miles.

Blastoff. Attack after attack after attack. There were groups off the front, and then they were brought back. Then there were more riders off the front, and then they were brought back. This was quite an exciting race for both racers and spectators. Riders were shed off the back every lap, mostly from the steep WOmanly rd climb.

photo: Andy Bokanev, taken from Instagram via ellacyclingtips

photo: Andy Bokanev, taken from Instagram via ellacyclingtips

Knowing it was going to be long and hot race, I drank what I like to call pre-race margaritas all day long the day before (lemonade+salt). Most riders appeared to be dipped in a salt bath and then dried off with a hair dryer by the looks of their kits covered in waves of white salty sweat. I distinctly remember Coryn Rivera in her white and blue UnitedHealthCare kit appeared to have foamy waves painted all over her.  You could tell by the looks on their faces that riders were cramping left and right. I know several riders had to stop and brace themselves on barricades to not completely fall off their bikes from seized muscles (check out the livestream for proof.  Nina Laughlin from Visit Dallas DNA Pro Cycling hit the wall during her breakaway and had to stop on the side of the road). It became a race of attrition with ~50 riders finishing out of 90 starters. I was psyched to have made it to that final selection and finish 43/90.

photo: Ivan Acevedo

photo: Ivan Acevedo

Anecdote: ~1 lap to go I was riding along in the pack watching moves when all of a sudden I felt a hand on the inside of my thigh near the tip of my saddle. Perplexed I looked at the hand and saw that it was attached to Allie Dragoo. I believe it was intended to be a pat on the butt, but I slid back more quickly than she anticipated and her hand made its way to a more intimate position. Who knows, maybe it was a warning for me to join her in her immediately subsequent attack off the front. 

Speed Week: Athens Twighlight

USA CRITS Speed Week Day 6: Athen’s Twighlight

Course: 4 corners, uphill finish, 45 laps

My left hand swelled up quite a bit overnight to the point where 3 of my knuckles were smoothed over. Think marshmallow (my swollen hand) stained by blackberries (creeping bruises down my palm and fingers). During laps 1 and 2, my whole body felt the 2am arrival time at the hotel and improper recovery the day before. ALWAYS RECOVER APPROPRIATELY! I gritted my teeth as my hand throbbed with every bump and eventually my entire wrist was shaking in pain. I held on to the back of the pack and managed to finish the race on lead lap. Finishing on lead lap meant enduring the pain not only in my hand but in my legs and body. Racing Redlands, where I felt like this every day because of the physical exertion it took just to finish, was great prep for racing with an injury in a strong field. This was a painful and gritting race for me but I was super pumped that I finished and made it to the end. 

Speed Week: Days 2-5

Team: CRCA: Velo Classic p/b Stan’s NoTubes

Top Takeaways:

  • I loved racing and travelling with my team (First time)
  • Crit racing is a blast and I am pumped to have been active in a week of high-level racing including a Pro Road Tour race
  • Injuries and enduring pain are a part of the sport. Gritting my teeth and pushing through it was totally worth it.

Day 2: Bellmont

Course: 6 corners with a steep punchy uphill finish, whipping downhill, and a chicane

I failed to clip in at the start and began my pedaling in the very back. Uuuuuuugggggg. Now I had to make up 40 spots to claim a front position. Weave, weave, weave, watts, watts, watts. Weaving through the pack on the corners and chicane, tucking on the descent, punching the climb, I made it up to the front in 2-3 laps before the pack got blown up and riders were popped off the back. A break went while I was in the back and it stayed away the entire race. After I made it up to the front, I 'chilled' for the majority of the race until the finish. Coming in on the last lap in 10th wheel or so I powered up the uphill finish and came in 19th.

Day 3: Test Track

Course: flat, windy, with smooth wide turns

Our whole team finished this day! While I went with several attempted breaks, none stuck. I even shouted back to the other riders in these breaks, "why aren't people making this work, why??!!". Fearless Femme and Happy Tooth Women’s Pro were chasing down attacks and bringing them back. BrittLee and I were near each other for most of the race in the top half saving ourselves until the last few laps. We found each other 2 laps to go and BrittLee prepared to take me through the back and lead me out to the finish. We were close, bumping elbows, dodging wobbles, weaving through the pack and getting psyched up for the final sprint. Making lots of strange sound effects in my head during this time "whoawhoawhoa, vvvvvvvvvv, ooommmmgggggg, bbbbbbbbb, eeeeeeeekkkkk" I followed her through the very tight aggressive pack. She jumped and made it to 9th place and myself 16th. Less than 2 bike lengths was the difference between 5th and 20th place.

 

Day 4: Walterboro

Course: flat, 4 corners, narrow finish

So many call-ups this week! A photographer was taking shots of Tina Pic right next to me, so I decided to get in there and put my arm around her to get in the shots too. Luckily Tina Pic is incredibly friendly and nice, otherwise I'm not sure how this would have went. 

Starting on the front row I blasted off when the whistle blew.  Fearless Femme sprinted forward and I followed her wheel and pulled ahead to form a break of 3 riders (Fearless Femme, Visit Dallas DNA, and myself). 'I AM COMMITTED, THIS SH*T IS REAL RIGHT NOW'. 2 laps later I saw 39 laps to go and I could have sworn it was false. 'How can this be?! 39 laps?! whyyyyy'.We pushed hard, rode smoothly and consistently, and committed to the effort. We stayed away for the first third of the race with a 10-15 second gap. 

Eventually Happy Tooth Pro drilled it at the front of the pack and brought us back. A second break launched and 4 riders got away. 1 lap later, my teammate BrittLee bridged up to this group with 1 other woman and they formed a break of 6, which stuck for the rest of the race. Yesssss! Knowing that not many other efforts would stick, I went for team points and tucked myself into the pack. With 2 laps to go I made my way to the front and was 7th wheel or so into the last 2 corners. A crash erupted right in front of me and I was unable to sprint for top 10. This was my first race where a crash directly affected my placement. Although disappointing there was nothing I could have done. Our teamwork paid off and BrittLee successfully scored a 3rd place!

Day 5: Spartanburg

Course: 4 corners, shallow climb up to finish

Lap 1, I clipped a barrier that was sticking out from the others on the inside of the third turn and went down. My bars turned 90 degrees from my front wheel, my chain dropped, and my body in shock. I had enough wits to walk halfway around the course to the pits carrying my bike over my shoulder. I arrived at the pits and Jose from SRAM Neutral fixed my bike and gave me a new wheel. The medic didn’t think my finger was broken. It was painful, especially to move. The race was neutralized and I jumped back in after the pack had circled 4 laps.

My adrenaline was higher than ever and I could not grip the bars with my left hand. I lifted my left hand up off the bars before approaching any bumps and clinged to my teammate’s wheel for security and familiarity. If I looked like an angry monster displaying its teeth during the race, that was because I had hit a bump and I was striving not to scream and tear my fingers off. I decided to go for the gambler’s prime and attack at the last 2 corners, because 'what the hay'. I did not feel I would be very confident with my inured hand in a pack sprint. Although I didn’t win the prime, I acquired team points and a top 20 placement for the day.

Special thanks to SRAM Neutral for wrapping new bar tape and truing my wheel that night.

Speed Week: Charlotte Criterium

USA CRITS Speed Week Day 1: Pro Road Tour Charlotte Criterium

Course: in the shape of a telephone with 8 corners and a short punchy climb

2nd call-up allowed me the position and confidence to start the race off with a bang. Not knowing what to do with myself up there, I shook Iris Sleppendel's hand and introduced myself, after I had just been introduced... The announcer talked about how nice the handshake was and told me there was no need to be nervous, over the microphone :/ . Sitting next to current and past national champions and seasoned legends, my heart raced and I was ready to take off.

The whistle blew and I quickly joined a break of 6 riders which stuck for 3 laps.
'How did I get here?! I'm in a break!!' -me
The pack swallowed us up and I held my position in the top 15 spots for the majority of the race. Every corner I felt like I learned and gained confidence and poise gliding around corners and moving up through the group to my preferred position.

Several riders in the front from the heavy-hitting teams were vocal with me throughout the race with “heys". As I moved up through the pack rather quickly, one rider asked me “what are you doing?” I just shook my head not knowing what to say. 'Ummmmm, racing my bike?'. Perhaps she wanted to know if I was going for an attack, based on the way I moved up so quickly to the top 5 positions. It became clear to me that talking to other riders was a tactic of UHC, sometimes helpful, mostly confusing.

I thought 'Should I be here? Am I doing something wrong, or am I doing something right?' Judging by the way the UHC riders were being vocal, I believe I was disrupting their tactics and doing lots of things right. This is the first time in a PRT race where I really felt like I belonged and was actively chasing down moves, going for primes and team points, and staying at the front.

The pack stayed together until the end with a strung-out sprint to the finish line. I came in 14th, collected points for the team, and a few lap points. It was a good day.

Redlands Bicycle Classic 2016

Times I have completed Redlands (including this one): 1

Team: JAKROO (women’s composite team)

Top Takeaways:

  • I loved my composite team (riders and support)
  • 120 rider fields are exhilarating and fun
  • Racing Redlands is tough and an excellent beginning of season motivator

"I am racing Redlands in a month!" -me
"Oh that's a great one, and is really tough." -Tad Hamilton, former team director of Exergy
"Last year ~100 women were cut by day 3". -Clarice, JAKROO teammate
":/ :/ :/" -me

I was very fortunate to have combined my trip to San Diego for presenting my research at Experimental Biology 2016 with racing Redlands Bicycle Classic.

Work+Racing=happy advisor and happy athlete

I arrived in the fruitful (literally) landscape of Redlands Monday evening. My host family greeted me with a golf cart ride to pick oranges for the team for the rest of the week. We drove on dirt roads under the breathtaking rainbow sherbet sunsets behind palm trees and acres of fruit orchards. “Wow, this is where I’m going to race for the next 5 days?”

 

Day 1: 40 mile circuit race, 14 laps, steep 1-2 minute climb with downhill and twisty neighborhood section, 93 f’in degrees F

Going into this day, I drank 10+ bottles of water and preload Sodium Bicarbonate mix the day before. During the race I made it to 11 laps (1hr10min) and drank almost 3 bottles before I was done…. Training in 30-50degrees F is not the most optimal training for California weather.

The race began with a “neutral” roll out, AKA everyone fighting for position and climbing up the steep 1-2 minute climb before stopping at the top for your legs to get a nice lactate wake up call before starting the race.

I stayed in the top 20 positions for the first 3 laps of the race, feeling like $1,000,000. After those 3 laps I felt like the sun had just robbed me of $999,999 and that my body was going to melt onto the pavement and dribble down the steep finishing climb. I then fought for position in the back followed by getting dropped on the climb and chasing back onto the group for several laps. For laps 8-11, one other rider and I rode the course while making sure to make time cut. It was a brutally hot day of hill repeats and lactating legs.

 

Day 2: 60 mile road race, 3 laps + additional 6 mile climb at end, descend descend descend + climb climb climb + climb climb climb to finish, pleasant 60 degrees with overcast

My goals for this day were to sit in until the final climb in which I would make the time cut as well as ride near my teammates as much as I could. Historically this stage is one of the hardest and time cuts can be ruthless. I comfortably weaved through the middle of the pack while gaining great pack-riding experience before the final climb in which I paced myself up to the top with several other riders. My composite teammate Hanna Muegge obtained a QOM this day, because she is a badass and super strong and had help from my other composite team rider, Sara Enders.

I felt more comfortable in a large pack than I ever had before and pushed myself up the final climb until the point of cramping. I shed 1 single tear in relief while collapsing onto a towel our DS (director sportif) laid out for us. Good day.

Day 3: 10 mile individual time trial, out and back with a steady climb on the way out and descent on the way back

Looking at the elevation profile I did not think a TT bike would be much benefit as it looked steep. Looking at the elevation profile a bit more closely, the elevation was super gradual and I totally would have benefited from a TT bike. Oh well.

Piggy backing on 2 hard days, I underestimated how much intensity I needed for my warm up (I needed a lot more). I struggled to hit my wattage goals on the way out only to find I felt like $1,000,000 on the 2nd half. Good learning experience, not my best performance.

Day 4: 60 minute criteriums, flat course with 9 turns including several hairpins and chicanes

My goals for this race were to go for some primes, sprints and stay in the top 20 and maybe even get in a break. I started in 3rd row and pretty much stayed there. This course was super technical and strung out. I spent my time following riders' wheels I knew were safe and good crit racers, only to find that they were all sitting in and saving their legs for the last day. I strived to move up in the pack in the first 1/2 but quickly decided it was best for me to gain experience riding good wheels and saving my legs for the last day. To fight another day, that day being the next day. I rode near several of my teammates as well to protect them from the wind on the long straight finish line stretch.

Day 5: 68 mile circuit race, twisty climb and descent

My goals for today were to finish the race on the final lap to the finish line. We started 1 hour late due to a number of questionable explanations from the announcers including fender benders, cars on course, weather, and a pack of mules…

After the neutral roll out the course starts with a sharp hairpin turn into a narrow twisting uphill neighborhood for several miles. After the top of the climb comes another twisty downhill neighborhood section until you go up again. This was a very fun and challenging course. It was strung out and separated from the very beginning as if a ball of yarn had instantly unraveled into a single strand. After what felt like 30 seconds I stayed in a large group of 15 or so riders including several of my teammates. It was quite unorganized as several riders wanted a paceline while others wanted to thin the herd and to have nothing to do with a paceline. I stayed with this group for the first 1-6 laps. Tina Pik from Happy Tooth Pro Cycling and I got dropped from the group on lap 7/9 and chased back on halfway down the decent. I then got dropped on the next lap 7/9 and ended up getting pulled with 1 lap to go. Although I did not accomplish my goal of staying with the group I made the time cut and moved up in the GC 15 places this day! I also got to hang out with Joy from Amy D. and her friends on the Sunset loop and watch the rest of the racers zoom down the hill while drinking several cups of fresh-squeezed Redlands orange juice. Not the worst experience I've ever had after getting pulled.

Racing Redlands with JAKROO women’s composite team was a motivating beginning to my season of kick-ass racing with Velo Classic p/b Stan’s NoTubes. I want to train harder, rest harder, eat better, gain more insight, and ultimately be the best bike racer and teammate I can.