It’s back!! The 6th Annual Kit-up n’ Chat ride for all area women racers and enthusiasts on October 12 at 9:00 am! Hosted by Project 5 Racing and Chicago Winter Bike Swap. Start of the ride is from Twin Lakes Park (150 W. 59th St) on 59th Street just west of Cass Ave in Westmont. We will head out to the roads of the western suburbs for an enjoyable 30 miles (or so) at conversational pace. We will return to the park for some further chatting and snacks. Kit-up! Grab that friend who always wanted to race and come join this friendly gathering! Get the flyer: here
Project 5 Racing and Chicago Winter Bike Swap will host their 5th Annual Kit-up n’ Chat ride for all area women’s racers and enthusiasts on October 20 At 9:00 am! Start of the ride is from Twin Lakes Park (150 W. 59th St) on 59th Street just west of Cass Ave in Westmont. We will head out to the roads of the western suburbs for an enjoyable 30 miles (or so) at conversational pace. We will return to the park for some further chatting and snacks. Kit-up! Grab that friend who always wanted to race and come join this friendly gathering!
Get the flyer: Here
XXX put on a fantastic week-end of interesting racing out in the hills of Galena. Put this omnium into your race calendar for next year. It will challenge you – and isn’t that one of the reasons we race?
Friday, Circuit Race: 6 laps of a 7mi course. Those of us on the line knew each other – the incognito Les Petites Victoires (LPV), Psi-Met army w/Seargent Jeanne, and most of the rest of us solo riders representing our teams – Spidermonkey, XXX, Tati, ABD, etc. It was going to be a fun week-end! We had a 2.5 mi neutral rollout from Depot Park in Galena. Another nice feature of this Omnium is that all but the time trial (TT) start from basically the same location in downtown Galena. Parking is easy. Bathrooms available.
After the neutral rollout, an LPV goes off the front. The pace of the pack picks up slightly. Then the pack flows to the right at the loop intersection. What?!?!? Right? During myy recon of the circuit course, I went left. My head starts trying to flip the course around in my mind. Before I get very far, we are starting a climb. Soon there is a sign with a truck practically flipping on it’s back – and what does it say? 15%? Oh – that’s the dangerous downhill of my recon, only now we are climbing it.
I stay with the leaders cresting the hill. The rest of the course is basically downhill – at least compared to that climb. Lap 2, there are 6 of us going into “the hill”. Lap 3, I lose contact with the other 5 on the hill. Lap 4, on the hill, my leg cramps hard forcing me off the bike to walk up. Those that are still on their bike pass by me – no smiles but grunts shared. The heat and hills have taken their toll. Lap 5, same as the 4th… but I get lucky in that Jeanne Kuhajek, Psi-Met, passes me within a mile or so of the finish. She shares some encouraging words and goes on to win. Her gift to me was that I didn’t have to go out on the course for the 6th lap.
Saturday a.m., Time Trial: 6 mi out-and-back hilly -did I say hilly? course. Imagine a ribbon of carpet – a runner – you grab it and give it a snap… see that series of waves? Double the height of the peaks and valleys and now you get an idea of the course. Only Jessica (ABD) used a TT bike, part of her preparation for U23 National Championship in a couple weeks. I was second starter, following Cady Chintis (LPV) – she was my rabbit. As I started, I saw Cady crest a hill ahead of me, then disappear into the valley. I pushed to crest the same hill – she looked even smaller in the distance as she crested another hill. And so on. No one passed me. Cady started to stay the same size so I knew I was matching her speed. Then it was over. Jessie blew away the field. I finished 6th – not so bad.
Saturday p.m., Road Race: Hot, hot, hot!!! Stayed in shade. Doused self with water. Sandra Samman (XXX) agreed to do feed for me and a couple others – thank you! 3 laps of 20 mi course. We set out. Jessie, Jeanne, and Mia (LPV) commanded the front on the hills. I hung in with the lead pack as a few racers fell off the back. Thru the feed zone, so many “volunteers” offered water to all of us – it felt like it didn’t matter what colors we wore, whether or not we were on the course, we were all in this together, to survive successfully and improve – like teamwork. I grabbed a water bottle – cold! Ahhh! Put it in my back pocket and as I made the first right turn, PLOP! It fell out of my pocket – oh, such sadness enveloped me. Luckily I still had some water with me – but not cold.
About 2/3′s into lap 2, my leg cramped to a rock – no ability to turn the pedals – and I was forced off the bike, losing contact with the lead pack. Liz So (LPV) was near me and suffered the same fate. When we were back on our bikes, I mentioned to her that I was considering calling it a day. Her response = “not even for training?” Then I cramped again, having to walk, as Liz rode away. But her words stuck with me. Approaching the start of the final lap and feed zone, I decided to finish this out. I grabbed a bottle from Sandra. Then Rob Curtis handed me a frozen Psi-Met water bottle – was this a trick? I shoved it down the back of my shirt – ahhh!!! After a few miles, I got a dribble of water out of the bottle and then shoved it down the front of my shirt – ahhh!!! A few more miles – just a dribble. Say what? So I put it in the cage. In the distance, I could see Liz. My new motivation was to catch up with her and that her for her encouragement – I felt better for sticking with this race than quitting.
A few miles out from the finish I caught up with her. I thanked her. Then I cramped again on the same hill as the previous lap. Bye, Liz. But I finished – that is priceless. (oh – and that frozen water bottle thawed almost immediately once in the cage and I enjoyed some bone chilling water in the final miles. Thanks, Rob.)
Sunday, Crit: Another hot day. Flat course. We go in circles. A couple of attacks. Some surges when primes are called. Then, in the final laps, I hear an LPV ask of her teammate, “where’s Mia?” I don’t hear the answer and question it myself – I haven’t seen her most of the race. Within the next lap, Mia “attacks” – oh, there she is, she must have been conserving her energy at the back waiting for this moment. Jeanne goes off the front chasing Mia down. I wait for someone else to chase Jeanne. No one does. Final lap, Jessie moves up the inside before the final turn. I am on her wheel for most of the way, but get jammed up at the turn. I don’t have much of a sprint so I lose many spots in the finish – 9th. It is only after the race is over that I learn that Mia lapped the field. I missed that move.
So – fantastic, tiring, hot, week-end of racing. See you there next year?
My first NCC racing experience. Yes, I am totally intimidated. Names I only read about, faces I only see in magazines are rolling around the Lake Bluff neighborhood. My belly is flopping. Once the course is opened for the women, I quickly take my perch at the staging area to improve my start position.
The call-ups start – names like Laura Van Gilder, Erica Allar, and so many others. I am wedged into the group, all anxious to roll up to the start after call-ups. We roll – and I get elbowed as a “more pro” looking girl wedges into the space next to me. So this is how it will be?
I prepare for the whistle – but rather than the whistle, we are asked to remove our helmets for the National Anthem. Oh, those few extra minutes extend the anxiety. Almost immediately after “…and the Brave.” the whistle goes. And the field goes!!! Cyclo-cross style start – I wasn’t ready for that.
Course is tight with a left turn into a chicane with a few more left/rights before the only straight-away into the start/finish. Short loop. I stay with the pack for a few laps, surging into the straight-away. Dang this is fast – or feels that way.
Then the pack fades. I chase for a few laps, join a few other riders as we chase, and a few laps later we are pulled. The experience is not over yet as I watch the remaining women race with speed and ferociousness. Devon Haskell (NOW) who congratulated my after my first win a few years ago when she raced in Chicago is in a break-away. She goes on to win. Others from our area, Kristen Meshberg (SpiderMonkeys) and Jannette Rho (LPV), finish with the pack. Awesome.
Three cool venues, three very different courses… Snake Alley – scaling the street once hailed as the crookedest street in America (yes, beating out that one in San Francisco!), Melon City – a wide, smooth course around a beautiful park with its signature speed bump at the bottom of the loop, and Quad Cities – the flat, fast, 8-corner crit.
Snake Alley is one of my favorite races – personal challenge. Plan I had was to be in small chain ring, but hard gear at start line. Stay near front, hammer up the hill, drop into the big chain ring, and recover a bit on the downhill. Repeat. I started on the front – w/Leah (Psi-Met) relaxing the atmosphere as is her way. 3rd or 4th place coming out of the Snake on the 1st lap. Over the next couple laps, lost a few spots to others on the Snake. On 4th lap I regain a spot or two. 5th no change in position. Then 6th and final lap…
Two girls go by me as we enter the Snake – I get out of my saddle and hammer it up and passed them before the top. I give it a bit more after shifting back to the big chain ring and pass a couple girls – as one swings off course, say what? She rejoins us later coming out of a side road. As we go into the final turn, I am in front and decide I have to start my sprint immediately and I go — but then I see a wheel on my left, then one on my right, and I tell my self to spin faster but nothng happens in the legs to bring that to reality. Darm – could have used those two spots to better last year’s finish. End up 10th.
Melon City – I hate this race. Not a good place to be mentally before the race starts. My warmup was flat. I was on the front row for the start. At the whistle I realize I am in my small chain ring – so not in the race today. And that was it… off the back. I went around in circles, flying over the speed bump and not sure if I wanted to grimace or giggle like a little kid, until finally the “fun” was over. Ugghh. I so much more enjoyed my stroll along the river trail after the race than the race itself.
Quad Cities – talk about the opposite of Melon! I was rested and ready to rock! I found a nice spot to warmup on the trainer – a bit protected from both the heat and the rain while still able to watch the racing underway. I took a few practice laps and felt confident in the corners – swoop left, swoop right – ahhh. At the front of the start line, in the big ring, and go! I stayed near, but not on the front. I felt in control of my place in the race. Adding to that fun, my husband, Bill, had enlisted a number of “Cathy O” supporters outside of Steve’s Tavern at turn 6. Their chants were encouraging. About 8 of us had a gap when the pace started to slow about mid-race (7th of 14 laps), which is when I decided to attack. I got a solid gap on the field before entering the “paint zone” – turn 7 and 8 – so I felt I could take further advantage to extend my get-away. I stayed out for a couple laps before Jeanne K (Psi-Met) bridged up. I wasn’t able to push the pace much further and soon the rest of the front 8 was back together. At 1.5 to go, I attacked again and held them off until less than 0.5 lap, but was able to keep enough up to finish 6th. Fun day trying to be aggressive!
And that wrapped up another Iowa series – until next year!
Rolling up to the line for the Elgin race, the familiar butterflies were jumping around in my belly. Having spent last summer away from Chicago, and my few earlier races this year either not much to speak of (Leland, Hillsboro even less) or out of town (Joe Martin), this week-end really felt like the first races of the year for me. I was excited!
While I caught up with my familiar competitors – and oh, so strong and intimidating ones – I also noticed some of the faces that were new to me. The full contingent of Psi-Met racers was on the line, including Jeanne Kuhajek having recently arrived from New Zealand, and sprint demons, Leah Sanda and Katie Isermann. Great to see Stacy and Francine…. ok – enough of Romper Room (for those that remember that! Don’t have to explain it to the youngsters – just let it go.)
So the race starts off, easy enough for lap 1 with Psi-met, with almost half the field, taking control. But there is feisty blood in the women’s ranks, and Verdigris’ Erin Wolyzn shows it as we pass the start/finish line for lap 2 – she tears off the front. Psi-met responds and reels her in. But one attack is just a start for Erin – there she goes again! As she is reeled in, Jessica Prinner counter-attacks… a little. Just testing.
This pattern keeps up for a couple of laps until Jessica really does go – and Jeanne of Psi-met goes with her. I see it happening – on the slight rise on the backside of the course. Hhhhmmm…. what should I do?
What do I do? I watch them drift away. There were attempts to bridge – I even gave it a go for a bit. The Verdigris combo of Erin and June work together well trying to do something – but the ship has sailed. One/two positions are established.
At two to go, the energy in the field shifts – you can feel Psi-met lining themselves up for whatever it is they want to get done. I look around to see what’s what as we approach the little rise on the backside of the course. Psi-Met’s Kelli Richter tears off the left and gets a gap on the group. I think to myself, “is this Psi-met’s plan – to draw us out and use up our energy before that final sprint?” Stop thinking! Go go go…Now!!!
I get a gap on the field and am gaining on Kelli. I pass her at the start/finish as the bell rings for the final lap – can I hold out? It’s all me now – definitely don’t have to waste my energy on “thinking”! And I do hold out with a 3rd place finish.
On Sunday I arrive at Fox River Grove early enough to catch the latter half of the Women’s 4 race. I hear the announcer comment that Nan Doyal has been leading the race for the last few laps – Nan, the Nan I know? Vroommmm…. she flies by the start/finish. Comments from by-standers echo the announcer – they are in awe at how each lap she is consistently hammering it. Do you feel how the blood gets flowing as you see/hear this happening? So Nan wins! And – get this, she didn’t know she was in the lead! She was chasing, chasing, chasing to catch up – because she had dropped her chain the first lap and thought the whole race that there was a racer up the road! Well – it was her “phantom racer” that drove her so hard! Congrats, Nan – I might borrow your phantom racer for my race, too.
So me and my phantom racer friend head to the start line for Fox River Grove. The field is a bit smaller than yesterday – guess the hill scared them off?
Looking at the start line, a spectator needs to pay some attention to distinguish between the many red and black jerseys – Project 5, Psi-Met, and XXX well-represented. The Verdigris green is a refreshing change. And then there’s the ABD jersey of Jessica, calmly nestled in amongst the other colors not drawing too much attention.
Before the start, the refs ask – and we agree – to a one lap shorter race due to an impending lightening storm. So figuring only 6 or 7 times up the hill – ok. The whistle blows…
and Verdigris’ Erin Wolyzn is off! Whew – I’m tired, and stunned, just watching her out of the gates effort! As we crest the hill the first time, I am almost at the back of the pack. I recover on the way down. Next time up the hill, I gain a few spots – but I see the Jessica/Jeanne duo is starting to separate from the field.
The next time up, same thing, I gain a spot or two – all trending fairly good. With two to go, the horn blows to indicate omnium points to the first three to crest the hill. With Jessica and Jeanne having grabbed the first two spots, I put a push in and grab the final spot. The final time up the hill, everybody seems more aggressive – go figure! Two groups of three are ahead of me turning into the descent. I hammer away, passing 3 racers, but I do not catch that first group and roll across the finish behind them in 6th.
Fox River Grove was a race this year! I came expecting the field to split into a bunch of individual racers in their own time-trial like hell doing loops of the hill and recovering on the downhill – but no!!! Great fun!
Congratulations to Jeanne and Psi-met for winning the omnium!
Totally looking forward to racing against these ladies more often this year!
American Bike Racing (ABR) puts on some nice events – it’s like a picnic with friends. Well, at least when the weather cooperates. Sunday wasn’t quite picnic weather – not even close. Pascale and I arrived at the race site, shivering as we shuttled to/from the registration building. We hopped on the trainers positioning ourselves so that the wind would batter us just a little bit less. Then we got to spinning to warm up. I rolled to the line first and sat for a good few minutes – feeling the cold filter in just a bit.
5-4-3-2-1 – and I was off. TT’s are a different kind of racing from the crits and road races I enjoy. I looked to my left and right kind of searching for that competitor to make a move – but there wasn’t anyone there. Just my breathing and my bike – oh, and the wind. For the next 30 min or so I fought all of them. Not sure which one won the battle, but I’m still standing and coming back for another round!
The parking lot is the place to be after these TT’s – by bike, foot, or car, most everyone rolls by so you get a chance to catch up. Pascale rolled in after her race – grinning ear-to-ear (she’s coming back!). Mitch joined us. Albertos, Verdigris, ABD – and so on… Unfortunately the socializing was cut short as the warnings that 75mph winds, 1/4″ hail, and lightning was 20 min away. Maybe we’ll get that picnic in at the next TT?
(Pictured here: Beth Christiansen, Elise Kikis, Sandra Samman, Leah Sanda, Francine Haas, Cathy Frampton, Sue Semaszczuk and Kelli Richter)
A gentle breeze… that might be the best description of the impact I had on the 35th Joe Martin Stage Race (JM) this year. 7 other women racers from the Chicago area took the 10hr+ drive to Fayetteville, Arkansas, more than doubling our presence from last year. Fayetteville at this time of year is a nice diversion from the cold, windy, and rainy – oh, and flat – conditions of home.
JD, Tim Sullivan and “Monster” Mike Byrnes hooked up on April 29th to take part in the annual Easter Ride. Good weather, smooth roads and a group of 5 other strong riders made for a perfect day on the bike. The ride was capped off with a post ride meal of egg salad sandwiches and protein drinks, mmmmmmm Is it to soon to start planning for the 2013 ride???