We celebrate nine seasons this year; have a look at our ninth:
We celebrate nine seasons this year; have a look at our ninth:
Spidermonkey Cycling invites all teams to compete for donor rings and bragging rights – and an exclusive party at SRAM – by raising the most money as a team by December 6’s state championships to build the park at Big Marsh.
Growing up I must have enjoyed riding my bike a lot because I still remember the bikes I had. My favorite bike of them all was a Huffy (nothing fancy, just a kid’s bike) with a neon green and purple paint job.
I still can remember barreling down the hill on my street with the wind whistling past my ears, then slamming on reverse pedal brake (if that’s the correct term) to peel-out as I arrived at my driveway just to see how far I could go. Not too far, maybe 2-feet…
Needless to say the excitement of biking wore off in middle school and completely vanished in high school. Soccer was a big part of that. I have played soccer since I was 6 and really haven’t stopped. I got the opportunity to play soccer at a small college in Kentucky, which was one of the best experiences of my life. This was partially due to the lifelong friends I met on the team. College soccer only lasted a year and, long story short, I moved to Louisville, KY to continue my studies at the University of Louisville.
Here I met the single reason I came to Chicago, my most amazing girlfriend Alina. We met during her senior year, my junior year, in the civil engineering program. It’s weird, right? Two engi-nerds. She pushed me to become more competitive outside of team sports. We started running together, because that’s what she did for fun, and well, it kept me in shape for soccer. Running short races led to running longer races (half-marathons), then to triathlons, which became a passion of mine for a short while.Getting into triathlons required me to get a new bike, my first road bike to be exact. It was a KHS Flite 300, the same bike I still do my road biking on today. I remember the first day I got on the new bike, I was so shocked at how squirrelly the damn thing was. To my surprise, it didn’t take too long to tame the wild steed. This became my mode of transportation to and from school on good weather days.
A year later Alina graduated and moved to Chicago. The following year, 2011, I followed once I finished my degree (seems how it works for most guys). I already knew the long distance thing sucked!Moving to Chicago with no friends, I initially spent a lot of time at work or doing my own thing (i.e., lifting weights or swimming). Alina introduced me to some of her running friends including Brian Feyereisen who became a good friend and cycling buddy.
In the summer of 2012, Brian and I started checking out Chicago cycling teams. The first team we rode with was super intense and not really my cup of tea. A couple weeks later Brian suggested that we check out the Spidermonkey’s because Megan Kuzydum (now Megan Feyereisen) had so many great things to say about them.
Needless to say that’s how it all started…….I started riding with the Spidermonkey’s and after about three weeks or so, decided to take the plunge and become an official member. I felt that this team was the perfect match for my personality (fun, accepting, social, and driven) and I knew after joining the team things would only get better.
Anxious to start the 2013 season, I was hoping to bike 2,000 miles and try out cyclocross. I started chiseling the mileage off at our first ride of the year in March and tried to stay consistent. I went to Spidermonkey Training Camp in Galina, IL where I met a lot of new people on our team, and was able to find myself as a cyclist. In Kentucky the rolling hills never ended and I thought Galina hills would be just like good ol’ Kentucky hills. Boy was I wrong. The hills were RIDICULOUS. I remember two full days of having to pull every last once of energy to attempt to keep up with the team and summit each hill. As I look back on it, it was one of the best things I could have done to become a stronger rider.
In keeping up with my goals, I found a cyclocross bike through craigslist while visiting friends in Lafayette, IN. It didn’t take long to join the cyclocross practices and sign up for my first race partnered with Lindsey for the co-ed and Nate for the men’s race relay. With the first race I was hooked. I signed up for the race at Dan Ryan Woods and placed 12th in the 4/5’s race.Next was the two-day race in Indian Hills and a weekend in the suburbs with the team. Saturday’s race went great as we tackled mud, wind, and rain and I came in 19th place. Sadly, a huge storm rolled through Sunday morning and all races were cancelled so I signed up for the Racin’ Basin in Melas, IL to make up for it. I finished the season at Montrose in the snowy cold. Or so I thought.
A friend talked me into one final, non-CCC race at Douglass Park, the After-Glow. This race was a true cyclocross event and we finished completely caked in mud. The mud made the course very slippery and challenging, but I managed to grab a few fire ball shots (hand-ups) along the way to keep my spirits up. To say the least, it’s been a great season and a great couple of years with the Monkeys and I can’t wait to get riding again!
Spidermonkey Cycling presents – Cracking the Code: Tim Johnson’s Cyclocross Secrets
Saturday, August 24
Chicago (exact location coming soon)
Learn intermediate and advanced skills from 3-time cyclocross national champion and last year’s top American at the World Championships Tim Johnson. With curriculum designed by USAC coach and former pro Pete Webber there will be two tracks: a 3-hour version for those newer to racing (i.e. Cat. 4 at least one year) and an all-day more advanced clinic working on things such as high-speed cornering and bike handling.
Both tracks will include sweet schwag bags and giveaways as well as drinks. All-day clinic also includes lunch. And this being a Spidermonkey event there is a strong possibility of cracking open a 312 with TJ at the end of the day. Each track is capped at 30 participants so sign-up sooner rather than later.
(Rumor has it that the two are considering racing a certain Relay Cross the next day.)
by Mark Zalewski
Kenosha Food Folks & Spokes
The Kenosha venue is one of my favorite criterium courses I have done over the years. It was part of a now defunct series and fortunately the Prairie State series picked it up and it continues on.
It is a rectangle with wide turns beginning with a sweeping turn one, followed quickly by a 90 degree turn two. A mini chicane half-way down the back stretch keeps it a little interesting before 90 degree turns three and four, and a 150 meter sprint to the finish.
Having recently raced the Tour of America’s Dairyland series somewhat successfully in the Master’s 3/4 category, I decided that would be a good category for this series. Rolling around on the course before the race I met-up with fellow Chicagoan Eric Goodwin (Burnham Racing) who was also playing hooky from work on a Friday.
The race itself went surprisingly smooth, due in part to being a majority of Cat 3s. In past races the sweeping first turn lulls some riders into a false sense of security for turn two, which is tighter and has a deep dip in the apex. I once ended up in the front yard of some nice lady because someone else didn’t remember this fact.
The first third of the race was pretty fast with solo attacks going but not succeeding. After going for a prime I found myself in a group of five off the front with a small gap. I tried to motivate them to keep it rolling but some were not interested and the group quickly caught up. Guess I better work on my sales skills.
One team had a numbers advantage and one of their riders sat on the front of the group, patroling any move and seemingly trying to set-up his guys. I was on his wheel for two laps and asked him if any of his teammates were going to actually try anything — to which he just shook his head in frustration. What a waste.
Getting into the final laps there were a few more attacks. I even tried one with four to go, mostly out of frustration that we were riding slow slowly behind that one team. It lasted a whole quarter lap.
Into the final lap I had a feeling someone was going to go down, and I thought it would be turn three as everyone would be so focused on getting through turn two safely they would try to move up through three. I thought about going on the outside to do this but decided to sacrifice placings to stay inside. It was a good choice as sure enough the riders to my outside lost it into the curb.
From there it was around turn four and to the finish for a decent 18th with all skin intact. Mr. Goodwin took a nice podium spot.
Tour de Crystal Lake
I’ll spare you my diatribe on races, especially criteriums, that use the name “Tour duh…”
Being a Sunday race the schedule started earlier, meaning I could not make the Master’s 3/4 race. So what to do? Oh, I know, I’ll race the Master’s 1/2/3 race — couldn’t be that much different, right? RIGHT?
It was a nice looking course, though the turns seemed awfully narrow. PJ and some others who raced earlier in the day said it was messy. Fortunately, my newly chosen category meant there wouldn’t be any Cat 4s. Unfortunately it also meant there would be more than a few Cat 1s. As it turned out it was equal parts Cat 1s, 2s and 3s.
In one word, faster.
Oh, and longer as it was 70 minutes instead of 50.
The good part about going faster is that we were mostly single file through the turns and at higher speed, which meant it was much safer. The bad part is that you have to pedal much, much harder to keep up.
The first 20 minutes were great — staying near the front and not having to brake much at all. The second 20 minutes were okay — floating around in the middle and generally picking good lines and riders to follow. Some times moving up to find a better spot but trying not to waste energy.
The third 20 minutes were a little rougher. Started moving to the back, resulting in braking more into turns and then having to jump out of them. The pack started playing around so the speeds fluctuated much more, from near standstill to full gas.
Teachable moment time:
On one lap late in the race, when I was getting cross-eyed, I changed hand positions from my usual on the brake hoods to the drops, heading into the downhill turn. I don’t know why I did it — don’t really remember doing it. BUT it resulted in a slight but important change in my center of gravity. As such leaning into the turn was more extreme than previous laps. As the speeds were high we were all pedaling through the turns and this caused me to clip my pedal in the apex. ROOKIE move! Luckily I was near the back and only freaked out a few riders as my rear wheel kicked up into the air and went sideways. (Must have been the safety clinic the day before that saved me.)
After this I knew that it was just a matter of time before I would be gassed. I told the tailgunner* behind me that I would be deploying the parachute sometime soon, and he thanked me for the warning. (Turns out he was totally punching tickets** — he got third.)
With 10 laps to go, about 60 minutes in, an acceleration on the uphill did me in. But I was happy to have lasted that long at those speeds. And I’ll be ready to roll for the cat 3/4 races the rest of the series.
* tailgunner – noun
A rider who rides in last position for most of a race. Most often someone very capable of riding on the front but chooses to coast (sandbag) on the back until the very end.
* punching tickets – verb
The tailgunner’s action, figuratively taking everyone’s ticket for completing the lap. Refrences his ability to ride the back by choice and not by lack of form.
by Ann Marie Martens
Lincoln Park Crit
It was the night before my first crit and my nerves were on fire. Sleep was restless and my cat was no help as she decided to work on her sprints at 1am, by the way her cornering was top notch. The following day Lindsey Fahey picked me up from work and we headed to Montrose Harbor for the Lincoln Park Crit, the one with the dreaded/intimidating hairpin turn. All I could think was “$#!T, I can do this turn fine on my own but in a pack yikes!” and “why did I pick this race to be my first?”
Lincoln Ladies: Start of the Women’s 4 Race at Lincoln Park
Needless to say I got dropped from the front group early on in the race, though I knew Kelly Clarke and Lauren Wissman were representing us well in main pack. Soon after being dropped I found another teammate Katie Kolon and we started working together and picked up a couple more ladies including our other teammate Michelle Moore.
Around and around we went and eventually our group was given a prime lap. Thinking to myself “riding with this group is great but come on we are not going to catch the main pack so I might as well see what my sprint is like and try for the prime.” Well it needs improvement, as I was around three feet shy from getting the prime and I was also on my hoods.
Worn out from that attempt I worried that I might have spent my energy but soon discovered there was more left so I hopped on a wheel and kept peddling away. As we were nearing the start/finish line for what I thought would be the start of our last lap the main group was coming up sprinting for the finish line swallowing us whole. Not realizing that being swallowed up meant that the group I was riding with was also done; I just kept riding the extra lap as though I was still in the race.
Haha, newbie mistake and believe me I am full of those but how else are you gonna learn. After we stopped pedaling and found our other teammates, the best cheering squad, I was asked what do you think of crit racing? My immediate response was “I LOVE IT!!! And I can’t wait for the next one.”
Ann Marie sprinting with Annette Stahelin for a prime
FYI, we had 8 ladies representing us at Lincoln Park in the Women’s Cat 4, including two of our newest members Emily Beswick and Kirsten Swanson. As Katie Isermann would say, and I agree, “I’m soo EXCITED!”
COBB PARK CRIT
A couple of weeks later, Katie Kolon and I headed down to Kankakee, IL with Peter Monko for the Cobb Park Crit. When we arrived we found a few other teammates and chatted with them while trying to collect our nerves. We found out that Lucas Seibel took 2nd in the Men’s Cat 5. Way to go Lucas!
So I’m at the starting line of my second race thinking to my self that I need to try and stay with the main pack. Soon the whistle was blown and DAMN! the girl directly in front of me couldn’t get clipped in and cut me off so I found myself towards the back of the pack, not where I wanted to be.
As I was trying to get closer to the main group, the girl in front of me was being really squirrelly and not keeping a decent pace. Each time I tried to get around her to get away she would whip back around and cut me off again. This yoyo effect is what eventually got me cut off from the main pack and I was not happy about it.
Soon I found Katie again and we started working together. We eventually formed a group of about five members including Niki Nation from the Proctor Cycling Team, a XXX lady, and one from PSIMET. We definitely did not work all that well with one another, as there was a lack of communication. Katie, Niki, and I did the majority of the pulling.
Towards the end of the race Niki decided to speak up and give some much needed pointers to our group as a whole. With about 2-3 laps left our group was caught by the main pack so we all jumped onto the backend of them. Now with many more riders amongst us I knew I needed to keep track of where my original group members were, especially when it came down to the last lap. Knowing that three of the ladies were behind me, I could see Niki ahead of me so I made it my goal to get on her wheel, which I eventually did.
As we were taking our very last turn I could hear her changing her gears and decided to mimic what she was doing. Once we were on more of a straightaway I swung out from behind her and started my sprint, this time in my drops. She had me by a hair but it was definitely fun going for it. I ended up placing 16/22 for my second race. This course was an absolute blast and I look forward to racing it again.
Race intensity captured by Ed White
With two races down with so much more to learn, I figure the only way I can get any better at this racing thing is just to do more. This is gonna be fun!
Post-race story swapping with Lauren Wissman
by Stewart Chapman
Campton Hills is the Halloween cross race. The rules for costumes are that they have to have sleeves (insert quizzical look here). Practically you should still be able to ride. There were great costumes everywhere. Peter Monko was a hazmat worker, Kelly was a piñata (including bike), Kim was a member of the cast of Double Dare, and Krisiti was a most excellent Hermione. There was also Thor (with special bonus second Minenor (SP) hammer, a whoopee cushion (complete with gas puff out the helmet), Nyan cat, Santa, and a crash test dummy (who I didn’t see fall but should have).
For the first time all year it wasn’t raining (hurricaning, tundering) during the races. Beautiful weather for a cross race. The park is way out of the city, most of the way to Dekalb, in a park that’s next to a cornfield in the middle of nowhere (sorry Campton). The race shares space with baseball and soccer games. I thought the groups played well together, even if the warmup for the bikes was all around the soccer pitch. Last year, I recall getting some stink eye looks from a baseball mom or two with all the extra bike traffic.
The course was mainly flat with some longer power sections. The highlights of the course was a short trip through the woods on a hillock that rose up, dipped, then came down to the forest floor. That’s where a 10 year old took Kelly out last year and her entire leg was one big bruise. I hesitated too much at that part because I didn’t want that to be me. There were also two sections of off camber 180s. The first was in the back of the course and the second was the heckle section of the course. We had a bet going for the 4 races of how many racers would get through before the first one fell. Our numbers were 8, 15, 24 and the 8 won. I think that was Mark. There was also a series of railroad ties that you had to get up. The only one that caused any issues was the second one (I almost endoed at it, but I was going so slow that I just fell over. Hurray for Slow). There was one section that was downhill, then a sharp left over a bumpy four foot section then a wide left into gravel with a railroad tie in the middle. You could bunny hop over the railroad tie. And by you, I mean you and not me. I managed to not be set up correctly for it each lap).
Handups were beer, Katie’s Twizzlers, candy bacon (strawberry flavor) and Kelly did reverse handups in the 4B race – that was great. There were some spectacular wipeouts over the course of the day. But they were slow crashes and won’t have left any damage. Except one guy in a green skinsuit ran the whole way with his bike on his shoulder with the tire hanging off. He did at least two laps! That’s what’s great about cyclocross.
Here’s a gallery of photos from the race:
All photos not noted to be by Bill Draper or Snowy Mountain Photography (Nathan Schneeberger) have been provided by Eric Goodwin of Burnham Racing.
© 2017 Spidermonkey Cycling