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Campton Cross Race Report

Stewart’s infamous angry face!

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).

Monko as a character from Breaking Bad, handing up ‘meth’ candy.

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.

Kelly as a piñata.

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).

Kristi as Hermione. Photo by Bill Draper.

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.

Spidermonkey of the Week – Michelle Moore

Racine!

by Michelle Moore

I grew up playing soccer from the age of 5 through high school. Naturally, that makes me a runner…right? If I needed more proof, it would be that my college days allowed me to play soccer for fun; then I moved to Chicago in 2000…found a soccer team and got involved again. Around the same time, I decided to take up running 5k and 10ks. In 2001, I made the leap from 10ks to my first marathon…see I AM a runner! Training for the Chicago Marathon was a much more daunting experience than I had anticipated. And, after my experience in 2001 (then twice in 2007 and 2009), I decided that marathons are for crazy people (sorry Vanessa).

I watched a friend compete in the Chicago Triathlon in 2002, and told myself “now this is something I can get behind.” So, in 2003 I decided it was time to try a new sport. I never really “learned” how to swim. I mean, if you call your mom dropping you in the pool and saying “swim to me” while you can clearly see her backing up because your eyes are wide open under water – then I guess I “learned.” But, I’m not a swimmer. Biking was also not my strong suit. See, I even called it “biking” at one point. My first bike (a Trek 7100 hybrid) was what I used for the triathlon for three straight years – yep, even put aero bars on that bad boy because I thought it would “help” me go faster. Not sure if it was the machine or the engine at fault there…likely both. I told myself that all I had to do was get through the first two legs of the race, and then I’d be running. Something I was comfortable with! Hmm, not so much. Wow, running after swimming and biking sure was a LOT harder than I thought. What keeps me going 99% of the time is the DetermiNation program through the American Cancer Society. While I work on the program as my real job, I’ve been running and fundraising to fight cancer since 2005. It makes all the training and racing that much more worth it.

It wasn’t until 2010 that I attempted my first group ride. Having Mark in my life, who is very much immersed into the cycling world, I figured it was inevitable that someday I’d give it a whirl. And, all my triathlete friends kept telling me how much group riding would help me. So I went on my first group ride in September 2010, and to say I was scared was an understatement. I stayed at the back as I was told to do, and I was totally alone back there. A little while after the ride started a guy rode up next to me, who was kind enough to talk to me most of the way up to Highland Park – which was nice because it took my mind off the fear I had of being within inches of someone’s rear wheel. I later learned that this guy’s name was “Castro.” At some point along the way the pace increased and somehow I found myself in the middle of the pack, next to the curb. I hated it and loved it at the same time. I was terrified of being next to the curb because I all I could think about was hitting a pothole and crashing. Nevertheless, I made it to the coffee shop, and back home…and thought my legs were going to fall off. But, I was hooked! Enough to try a few more before the season ended.

Gaper’s Block Half Acre Crits!


The next summer Vanessa and Dean came to a party I hosted, and Vanessa and I spent a lot of time talking about the girl’s rides. I finally joined the ladies in the middle of August. I got dropped like third period French the first few times, but the one time I stayed with the group to Tower Road, I knew I was hooked. Unfortunately, I joined the rides too late in the year, because I only made it to four or five before they were over. I also spent more time understanding the larger group rides, and trying to stay with the group the entire way to Highland Park. I very quickly learned that if I start at the back of the group, I’ll end up alone on that sprint up to Tower Road.

It wasn’t until the chili cook off in November 2011 when Vanessa and Dean asked me if I wanted to join the team. I had joined so many group rides that I already felt like part of it, so I figured why not make it official.
2012 was a year of firsts for me. I decided to try racing crits. My first was Gapers Block, and I was terrified. A few ladies from the team (Kristi Hanson, Kelly Clarke, Katie Iserman, Sarah Rice – and I know I’m forgetting a few – sorry!) as well as Mark Z and Drew took us all on a ride down to the site of where Gapers is held. We spent some time riding the course, practicing corners, sprints, etc. The knowledge and experience on this team is remarkable. I knew I had a lot to learn, but being with this group that day made me realize how lucky I was to have found a team that is willing to take an entire Sunday to “train” me for my very first race. I’ve watched crits thinking those people are crazy, but then when I actually raced at the end of March, I was blown away. Literally. Blown off the back of the pack and finished alone on day one. But, as I was taught, I got back on my bike for day two. Much better. Bike racing is quite fun, and easier, when you can stay with the pack. I finished somewhere in the middle, and came back for my third and final day. Again, I finished mid pack. Not too shabby for a first timer.

Lawrence, KS!


It was enough to make me sign up for the Lincoln Park Crit the next month, where things didn’t go well. I crashed, took out another girl, but was able to get back on my bike and finish. I was pissed, hurt and scared to ride close to anyone again. So I stayed off my bike for the next month. But then I had heard about the Tour of Lawrence, and having gone to school there, I wanted to join that trip. So, I trained, and caravanned to my alma mater where we all had an excellent time, albeit the insanely hot temps…and Hayes getting wasted alone in the hotel “pool.”

This year has been completely amazing for me as a cyclist. I still run and take part in triathlons; I even coach running and triathlon programs through Chicago Endurance Sports. Triathlon will always be a part of me, and in turn, so will running. I have had the opportunity to meet two of the greatest icons in the triathlon world at some of the races I’ve competed in (Chrissy Wellington and Craig Alexander).

Chrissy Wellington!

Craig Alexander!


Being a Spidermonkey has given me the confidence and motivation to get on my bike 3-4 days a week and push myself harder. I found myself on so many group rides (and many more girls rides, heck even a few Wednesday night rides) this year that some of my training partners were upset I wasn’t attending Tuesday morning spin class. Being on the road with the girls for two hours is WAY better than a 60 min spin class. I was able to knock out my fastest 5k time ever, and I owe that to my group training with this team. I even had the best triathlon to-date (well the bike portion anyway) – again, due to being a Spidermonkey.

Yes, Spidermonkeys Rock!


Every time I put on my Spidermonkey kit, I feel a sense of pride. I see the way other groups acknowledge us when were out on the road, and how well respected every member of the team is. I even wore my kit to spin class one day and all my tri friends were like “oh is that your cycling team?” I smiled and said, “yes, yes it is.”

Ps. To this day, I still fear those little curbs a bit so it’s best if you just let me ride on the outside of the pack. :-)

Guest Spidermonkey of the Week – VQ’s Dave Noda

Dave Noda!

by Dave Noda

Some questions I get asked often include:

  • How did you get into cycling?
  • How did you and Robbie meet?
  • How is it training with the Spider Monkeys?
  • Really? You’re 5’6”? Come on, are you sure you’re not exaggerating a little, Dave?

So yes, I really am 5’6”…but I am drinking milk and hopefully one day…

I started cycling and endurance training on a bet. Well, not so much a bet, but as the result of one of those times when all my closest buddies were sitting around and came up with an idea: “Hey, has anyone watched that TV show, EcoChallenge?” The more talking we did, the more I thought “Yeah, I can do that. Heck, I could do really good…” And then we talked for the rest of the night about how we were all “in” and we were going to train and work out, really get ready for it.

And then came the day of the registration boom. My friends were nowhere to be found. They would have been quick to reply to an “I’m buying the beers” text, but at that moment I could not locate a single one to save my life.

So my brother and I decided instead to do something similar. We decided to try that thing called a “triathlon.” I signed up for the ruthless, unforgiving terrain of the “Fleet Feet Super Sprint Triathlon” and boy, let me tell you, I was pumped!

For those that have no idea of the distances involved, let me educate you:

  • 0.25 mile swim
  • 6.2 mile bike ride
  • 1.5 mile run

Naturally, I took off from work that Monday knowing I was going to be cooked after this big race!

Yep. I took that Monday off. It’s funny to think about where you come from. I came from a stick and ball background: some baseball, lots of basketball (laugh…it’s ok…you’re reading…I’m not in front of you), and football (keep laughing). The endurance thing was new to me. I had no idea what I was in for, but wanted to do it. When it came to training, my brother and I just knew we could train ourselves. We had both been in the Marine Corps and felt that if we could handle the Marines, we could definitely handle a triathlon. Some of our training consisted of riding our bikes with medicine balls in backpacks for a maximum of 5 miles, but most were 3-mile rides. And don’t get me started on swimming at the Y. Through it all, we just knew “no one–NO ONE–is training harder than we are!”

I’ll save you all a Google search. My time was 58:29.

After the race–and the well deserved Monday off–I knew I loved it. The best part of it was that I truly sucked and still felt that feeling of “wow, I can get better at this.” So after that stellar performance at the triathlon, my brother and I decided to try another one, but this time, why not try that Ironman thing?

Dave Noda!

How I got connected with Vision Quest Coaching

Around 2004 I started looking into actual coaching services. My brother had just joined VQ and he was drinking the kool-aid for sure. He wanted me to try it out, so finally one day, I did. I joined one of the slower rides on a Saturday. (Back then Robbie was still on the USPS Team and a group ride was really just how long you could stay on his wheel.) When my brother told me the ride was 40 miles, I said, “OK, I’m in. Should I book the hotel for the stay-over or will you?” The chuckle you’re having now is exactly what my brother had then.

When I first joined and met Robbie, our relationship was funny. I’m not too hyper-competitive and it seemed like he always saw me on group rides not going too hard or just at the wrong times. He thought I was a slacker.

The moment I remember though was on that first 40-mile bike ride. We were going home and I was cracked, more than you can imagine. But we still had another 7- to 8- mile ride ahead of us. Robbie yelled out, “OK guys, let’s go nice and easy home and not go hard.” People were talking and chit-chatting and there I was in this group of about 50, barely hanging on. (One lady wearing sandals with clips and a frog on her helmet dropped me!) I got frustrated and started pedaling harder, which lasted all of 5 seconds. Then Robbie dropped back to me and said “Hey, how you doing?” I could have lied, but my face and tongue couldn’t. So I told him I was hurting. “Don’t worry, we’ll get you home.” He ended up pushing me 7 miles, all the way home, with his hand on my back. Let me tell you how much of an ego-killer that was! But it also told me how cool VQ was. It brought the brotherhood I’d had in the Marine Corps into cycling.

We are all into cycling for one reason or another. For some it’s stress relief, some it’s lifestyle, and some to stay in shape. At first, I did it so that pushing situation would NEVER happen again. Moreover, it motivated me to get better and know that I could make it happen as long as I put in the time. I could move from the back of the pack to the front of the pack (still trying to get there though).

At that time, I was in finance, doing residential loans for the family business since 1995. I have always loved business and looking at Vision Quest back then, I saw so many opportunities! One example was the weekly e-mail. Robbie would send a quick e-mail from Lake Bluff to the local people up there. I would then rewrite it a bit to customize for the Chicago group. (At that time, we were a solid 10-strong in Chicago meeting at the Running Away on Damen.) As we grew, I suggested a weekly e-mail sent out to let everyone know what we were doing on a week-to-week basis. It went from a one-line e-mail to now including videos, pictures, and links to sign up for rides. Another example was membership. Back then, athletes either joined for the full boat membership (annually, all at once) or nothing. We talked about needing a hybrid, something that allowed people to “taste” what Vision Quest had to offer. We scheduled it at times that VQ wasn’t busy, on a specific day each week for 8 weeks. Originally it was to be the same 8-week program each time, but people loved it, so we made it a staple class. It has grown each and every year since.

My passion on the whole is not cycling. My passion is getting people to see something in themselves that they might not even be able to see yet–just like Robbie did with me. Endurance is such a great sport. The older you get and the more time you put in, the better you get. It’s a sport wherein you really can’t size people up as with other sports. And best of all, you have to leave your EGO at the door and be open-minded, for sure.

Dave and Phil Liggett

How is it training with the Spidermonkeys?

Well, I don’t want this to be too long. All I can say is that it’s great. It’s a lot of fun to have a group of people that are such great representatives of the sport, while having fun and being smartasses at the same time. Spidermonkeys has grown each year, now even doing camps in Vegas and holding holiday parties. I can’t say enough about how much fun it is to do the Thursday class and know that everyone is there to train, but also have fun.

Kudos to Dean, Vanessa, and all the Spidermonkeys for being such ambassadors of the sport! I can’t wait til Thursday! We will have a lot to talk about after this blog!

Just admiring the scenery …

and last, but not least …

 

Hilton Indian Lakes Resort CX Race Report

Brock takes the human sized hand up! Photo courtesy of Bill Draper

Hilton Indian Lakes Resort Chicago Cross Cup Day 1 – 4A’s and 4B’s by JPC

Hey All, CX racing is fun.  Real fun.  I mean max effort, drooling, snot dripping, tunnel vision inducing, heart pumping fun.  Really.  With that much fun, you would think that I would race more.  Well, after racing 5-6 races back in 2009, then 2 in 2010 and only 1 last year, I decided that I have to get at least 1 race in this year before all my summer fitness fled from my body.

It worked out that I had a free Saturday the same weekend as the double header at the Hilton Indian Lakes Resort.  I’ve never raced at this course, but have heard great things about it and with another race the next day it always seemed that everyone had a ton of fun staying overnight.  I decided to ride that Saturday morning on the regular Spidermonkey group ride, but turned around at Tower.  It was hard to see everyone keep on going, but I didn’t want to shoot my load first thing in the morning since I signed up for the power hour (4A’s and B’s) and would need every bit of whatever to make it through to the end without getting lapped 7 times by Fred Wu.

Of course I was running late and traffic on 290 was slow as usual, but also maybe because of the thunderstorm that just rolled through (there goes that nice dry course).  Luckily, the storm delayed things a bit at the races and I had plenty of time to kit up and roll around to warm up.  Lining up for the 4A’s, I got called up in the 3rd or 4th row (thanks crossresults.com!), I was a little nervous, but then it was go!  Clipped in fine, accelerated on the outside on the first right hand turn and then dived to the inside on the next left hand turn.  Next thing I know I’m maybe top ten and didn’t feel like I was about to explode so I sat tight, stayed upright, tried to pick the least muddy lines up the climbs and stayed loose through the sand sections.  I got a little nervous at the first barrier since I haven’t dismounted or remounted since the previous year, despite this and a little stutter step, it was ok.  The 4’s were only doing 3 laps so I tried to maintain some semblance of measured output, but when I looked down at my heart rate monitor it was pegged at 195 or so.  Oh well.  The tunnel vision wasn’t starting yet, so I kept on going.  I lost a bunch of spots through the next laps, traded spots with the same 3-4 guys until it was done.  Finished 19th.  Fun.

Straight from the finish line I saw that they were lining up the 4B’s so I got in line .. all I wanted was a drink of water, but I got another call up to 4th row or something and then it was go!  (Thought streaming through my head: SH*T, WHAT THE F*CK WAS I THINKING??)  Well, I didn’t have as good of a start and was maybe top 20.  I ended up behind Geoff Pomerantz and kept yelling at him, “I”m coming after you ..!!”  All in good fun of course.  We worked together pretty good (or at least I thought we did) and picked up some more spots.  Overall though, I was shot.  Heart rate was still super high and I think I was seeing two Geoff’s in front of me at times, or maybe it was the Robot’s rider with the huge beard.  As the Robot’s guy passed me, I think I yelled something encouraging, but it probably came out as, “ughha, ugg, ugghh.”  Finished 12th.  Somewhere in there I yelled, “go Lucas!” but quickly realized it wasn’t him because he was too busy trying to get on the podium and way far ahead of me.

So the course was muddy and totally fun, full of off camber turns, muddy climbs, sand berms, etc, I think it suited my dusty mountain biking skills.  Some things I found helpful: 1. when climbing on slick terrain, it’s ok to get out of the saddle, but shift your weight to the nose of your saddle to keep your CG centered between the front and rear wheels (front doesn’t lift and rear maintains traction) 2. when making hard turns in the mud, adjust your speed before the turn, go wide and hit the apex of the corner while shifting your body weight to the outside pedal while pushing down on the bars on the inside (same advice that Trent just sent out in this link) 3. and lastly pre-shifting, time your shifts so you’re in the gear for that climb or sand, just before you’re actually on that climb or in the sand, shifting while on that climb or in that sand while mashing your pedals usually doesn’t work well.

That’s it.  It was a ton of fun and thanks to everyone for the heckling.  Glad I got to have some drinks in the Cave, but sad I missed the human hand up on Sunday (see top picture).

JPC

Spidermonkey of the Week – Ann Marie Martens

Having a good time with some Goose Island Harvest Ale

Hi,

So, I would say that I am an artist with a side of cyclist. This path that I have chosen has given me somewhat of a migratory life and at the moment I find myself here in Chicago riding with a bunch of Spidermonkeys.

2012 North Shore Century – I’m in white in the middle with the whole Spidermonkey gang

Anyways, bikes have always been apart of my life, but in the beginning it was more on a casual level, the occasional commute here to there or a stroll along the local bike path. I really didn’t think twice about cycling. Mainly because back in high school I saw myself more as a skateboarder, snowboarder, into the punk/indie rock scene, and oddly enough a golfer. Yes I know that is quite the mix and I was definitely an anomaly on the golf course, but having the competitive side that I do, I was actually pretty good. And back then, the only encounter I had with cyclists was the BMX riders that would show up occasionally at the newly hot skateboarding spot. So the idea of serious riding didn’t enter my life until a good decade later.

So then I went off to college and really put my focus on art and pretty much dropped the majority of my side endeavors, as it seemed like I spent more time in the studio than at home. To be honest I still put the studio first. After I graduated, I spent my time traveling, attended a 2-month artist residency, moved to Tennessee for a year, and had some serious life stumbles before I decided to return back to school and refocus the path I was taking. This was also the time where cycling entered my life a little more as I started riding/commuting almost daily. Soon after, I received my first masters degree and was awarded a full ride and stipend to an MFA program at Michigan State University.

“Our Binding Path”, 2012, Installation, Ceramic Needles, Thread, and Batting

In the summer before I started my MFA, 2008, I met this avid road cyclist/racer and my interest in cycling soared. At the time I was riding a Trek Hybrid style bike, a heavy beast, and this guy decided to take me out to the Black Hills to ride 30 miles on Needles Highway. If I remember correctly that was going to be my longest ride and first in that kind of terrain. We started near the top of Needles so what goes down must come up, right? Well, I was definitely not prepared, hadn’t eaten enough, ran out of water and ended up barely being able to walk the last mile or so up to where we parked near the top. It was one of my best rides even though I was physically and emotionally exhausted. This experience definitely set the hook. A couple of weeks after this trip I left for Michigan and was dating this guy. While residing in the Mitten, I began riding more on my own aiming for one 20-30 mile ride a week as well as commuting everyday to the studio/school. I know it’s not much but it was what I could give to cycling while in grad school. The time spent in the saddle was great for thinking. It gave me the opportunity to leave the studio and contemplate the direction of my work. At this time, I also became self-competitive about cycling by trying to bring my average speed up with each ride. Then in 2009, my guy upgraded his bike and I acquired the carbon road bike he was previously riding. And with a couple of necessary changes it fits like a dream and I love it.

Needless to say by the time I graduated in 2011 I was on my own again, but with a really great bike and off to Kansas for a year as an Artist in Residence at Kansas State University. I was excited for the new terrain and adventures of the Flint Hills and hoping to give a little more time to cycling. While there I tried riding with a local group but they were not quite my niche, I was too slow for the fast rides and thought the other ‘no drop’ rides as too slow for me. So I was back to riding on my own again with the occasional ride with a good friend.

North Shore Century 2012, I’m the one in white with the socks

Then spring 2012 came along with a job offer in my field/medium here in Chicago and by June I was living in a new city. Being use to the open country roads and riding without stopping Chicago cycling became quite the adjustment. And honestly I was frustrated. This led me to look into the various cycling groups around here and that’s how I found the Spidermonkeys. Since I have joined them, I have met some really great people and accomplished my first century. This time I remembered to eat and fill up my water bottle and I didn’t have to walk the last mile or so. So where my adventures will lead to next? I’m not sure. Though I am curious about cyclocross and possibly looking into racing, but it all depends on the studio.

Ann Marie Martens
www.ammartens.com

Spidermonkey of the Week – PJ Cavoto Jr

PJ .. and SuperGirl

Hey gang! I have gotten to know so many of you over the course of the last year and it’s been tremendous.

Here’s my journey:

I joined the team right around the Elk Grove Criterium last year. My friend and one of triathlon training partners, Paul Halupka, talked me into trying my 1st road race event. I had already gone on several training rides with the Spidermonkeys and was just starting to get exposed to local road racing. Hearing others talk about the upcoming races and realizing I can keep up with some of these guys started to build my confidence and I decided to give it a try. Perhaps jumping the gun, but being very inspired from the group rides, I declared Spidermonkey Cycling as my team at my first race. Later that week an email was forwarded to me sent out by Dean asking who the hell is Peter Cavoto?? I quickly responded to Dean letting him know it was me, PJ. He obviously informed me that I can’t randomly put that down unless I am an official member of the club and I may get myself and the team in trouble. I am pretty sure the next group ride I put a check in Dean’s hand.

PJ and Paul – Photo by Jen Groen

Besides following my passion of art, I have always relished in individual competitive sports. I grew up a swimmer and dabbling in running for conditioning in between winter and summer seasons. However, I always seemed to come back to the bike with great interest and enthusiasm. This may have started as a small boy when I was notorious for taking things apart and putting them back together, convincing only myself that I improved it somehow. Trust me; there were many times that my dad had to complete the reassembly (including my sister’s bikes) several times. My graduating gift after high school was a brand new Giant (3×8) road racing machine. My parents were certain that I would parley into the world of triathlons with my background in all three disciplines. I choose the road of being an official party-er and within a year sold the machine for cash. A few years later, mountain biking was starting to become all the rage and my love for engaging with nature got me into trail riding. It was rough going with having to cut our own trail systems out in forest preserves of the northwest suburbs, where we would often get chased out by rangers. And in those days, suspension forks were just starting to make an appearance (yeah, I’m that old). The rigid mountain bikes I rode took a beating every time out and I found myself having to make repairs daily. I finally started investing into new machines and my love for mtb’ing took off.

Just some Spidermonkeys at Galena post Crit, PJ gets 3rd! – Photo by Jen Groen

In ‘98, I moved to the city to complete my BA at DePaul and discovered that the easiest transit in the city was by bike. My love for mtb’ing dwindled due to the difficulty of traveling to get to a trail system and I felt a little out of place riding around on the grass on the lakefront (no cyclocross scene yet). I started taking old mtb frames and re-purposing them into commuters. Up to that point, I considered road riding boring in comparison to mtb’ing. As I grew to love the challenge of riding everywhere in the city, 365 days a year, my passion grew. Not to mention the challenge and rush of fighting for a piece of the road with automobiles. Over the last 14 years, I’ve had more car-bike contact in this city than I care to share.

In the early 2000’s, I was introduced to triathlons with the Chicago Tri being my 1st. I was hooked. I competed in more than a dozen tri’s through 5 years. I did well at them … and was most proud of my overall win at Lake Delavan in 2007. Injuries caught up to me and I had to take a year off. I came back to the sport, but my enthusiasm was only sparked by a small contingent of training buddies. If you have every competed in tri’s prior to belonging to a team, you know that it can be a little on the lonely side. You don’t really engage much with other racers and tend to race and train on your own since your competition is the clock. So as you all have figured out, having the support and companionship of the Spidermonkeys makes a world of difference regarding the fun factor.

Carpentersville CX! – Photo by Bill Draper

I have also been fairly involved in Chicago’s social cycling community for over 5 years. This began with a ride group called Midnight Marauders. I have co-chaired on the council for the last 3 years now. If you have never heard of us, we consider that a good thing. We try remaining somewhat of an anonymous underground group ride that explores the city, getting started after midnight and riding till dawn. The group helped the Chainlink get off the ground since we had over 100 members at that time. We now have grown to 367 members and are still the largest monthly ride group listed on The Chainlink. Our monthly ride participation can range anywhere from 10 to 200 riders any given month. We do push the boundaries of Chicago law (being in the parks after close), but we ride respectfully and just want to enjoy the city under the stars. Our club motto is we are a “drinking club with a biking problem”. A similar group I roll with often, FBC – Full Moon Fiasco – also posted on the Chainlink. Both are a lot of fun and usually involve a little liver abuse, but you can engage at your own tolerance (we do have many participants that don’t drink). Come join, if you’re so inclined.

In close, I love bikes. I build them, ride them hard, and often break them. I consider them my band of horses and treat them as such. So it has been tremendous to ‘gallop’ with such an enthusiastic, supportive group of riders. I can’t say enough good stuff about how amazing this last year has been and how awesome it is to be part of the Spidermonkeys! Thank you all for such a warm welcome into the group. Let’s go ride!

Peter J Cavoto Jr

Spidermonkey of the Week – PJ Cavoto Jr

PJ .. and SuperGirl

Hey gang!  I have gotten to know so many of you over the course of the last year and it’s been tremendous.

Here’s my journey:
I joined the team right around the Elk Grove Criterium last year.  My friend and one of triathlon training partners, Paul Halupka, talked me into trying my 1st road race event.  I had already gone on several training rides with the Spidermonkeys and was just starting to get exposed to local road racing.  Hearing others talk about the upcoming races and realizing I can keep up with some of these guys started to build my confidence and I decided to give it a try.  Perhaps jumping the gun, but being very inspired from the group rides, I declared Spidermonkey Cycling as my team at my first race. Later that week an email was forwarded to me sent out by Dean asking who the hell is Peter Cavoto??  I quickly responded to Dean letting him know it was me, PJ.  He obviously informed me that I can’t randomly put that down unless I am an official member of the club and I may get myself and the team in trouble.  I am pretty sure the next group ride I put a check in Dean’s hand.  

PJ and Paul – Photo by Jen Groen

Besides following my passion of art, I have always relished in individual competitive sports.  I grew up a swimmer and dabbling in running for conditioning in between winter and summer seasons.  However, I always seemed to come back to the bike with great interest and enthusiasm.  This may have started as a small boy when I was notorious for taking things apart and putting them back together, convincing only myself that I improved it somehow.  Trust me; there were many times that my dad had to complete the reassembly (including my sister’s bikes) several times.  My graduating gift after high school was a brand new Giant (3×8) road racing machine.  My parents were certain that I would parley into the world of triathlons with my background in all three disciplines.  I choose the road of being an official party-er and within a year sold the machine for cash.  A few years later, mountain biking was starting to become all the rage and my love for engaging with nature got me into trail riding.  It was rough going with having to cut our own trail systems out in forest preserves of the northwest suburbs, where we would often get chased out by rangers.  And in those days, suspension forks were just starting to make an appearance (yeah, I’m that old).  The rigid mountain bikes I rode took a beating every time out and I found myself having to make repairs daily.  I finally started investing into new machines and my love for mtb’ing took off.

Just some Spidermonkeys at Galena post Crit, PJ gets 3rd! – Photo by Jen Groen

In ‘98, I moved to the city to complete my BA at DePaul and discovered that the easiest transit in the city was by bike.  My love for mtb’ing dwindled due to the difficulty of traveling to get to a trail system and I felt a little out of place riding around on the grass on the lakefront (no cyclocross scene yet).  I started taking old mtb frames and re-purposing them into commuters.  Up to that point, I considered road riding boring in comparison to mtb’ing.  As I grew to love the challenge of riding everywhere in the city, 365 days a year, my passion grew.  Not to mention the challenge and rush of fighting for a piece of the road with automobiles.  Over the last 14 years, I’ve had more car-bike contact in this city than I care to share.

In the early 2000’s, I was introduced to triathlons with the Chicago Tri being my 1st.  I was hooked.  I competed in more than a dozen tri’s through 5 years.  I did well at them … and was most proud of my overall win at Lake Delavan in 2007.  Injuries caught up to me and I had to take a year off.  I came back to the sport, but my enthusiasm was only sparked by a small contingent of training buddies.  If you have every competed in tri’s prior to belonging to a team, you know that it can be a little on the lonely side.  You don’t really engage much with other racers and tend to race and train on your own since your competition is the clock.  So as you all have figured out, having the support and companionship of the Spidermonkeys makes a world of difference regarding the fun factor.

Carpentersville CX! – Photo by Bill Draper

I have also been fairly involved in Chicago’s social cycling community for over 5 years.  This began with a ride group called Midnight Marauders.  I have co-chaired on the council for the last 3 years now.  If you have never heard of us, we consider that a good thing.  We try remaining somewhat of an anonymous underground group ride that explores the city, getting started after midnight and riding till dawn.  The group helped www.thechainlink.org get off the ground since we had over 100 members at that time.  We now have grown to 367 members and are still the largest monthly ride group listed on The Chainlink.  Our monthly ride participation can range anywhere from 10 to 200 riders any given month.  We do push the boundaries of Chicago law (being in the parks after close), but we ride respectfully and just want to enjoy the city under the stars.  Our club motto is we are a “drinking club with a biking problem”.  A similar group I roll with often, FBC – Full Moon Fiasco – also posted on the Chainlink.  Both are a lot of fun and usually involve a little liver abuse, but you can engage at your own tolerance (we do have many participants that don’t drink).  Come join, if you’re so inclined.

In close, I love bikes.  I build them, ride them hard, and often break them.  I consider them my band of horses and treat them as such.  So it has been tremendous to ‘gallop’ with such an enthusiastic, supportive group of riders.  I can’t say enough good stuff about how amazing this last year has been and how awesome it is to be part of the Spidermonkeys!  Thank you all for such a warm welcome into the group.  Let’s go ride!

Peter J Cavoto Jr

Campton Cross

By Mark Zalewski

 

I decided to focus on cyclo-cross more than ever. At this point I have already done more races than last season, and if I do all the ones I have in mind, I’ll have done more races this season than in my last three combined.

I’m also trying to be better AT the racing as well. When I decided to first dip my toes into the CX pond back in 2008 I was still a category 3 on the road (from faster days gone by) and I didn’t realize USAC puts you into the same category for ‘cross unless you ask. (Plus I know what I’m doing, right? Pshht, cat. 4’s be damned!) So I began racing CX as a cat. 3 and was quickly destroyed.

Of course I could have downgraded but that is SOOOO not something a real ‘racer’ would ever do. And I’ve never placed DFL, so I figure I will just train more one of these years. That idea has been hampered by injury the previous two years, but finally this year I came in with a little (ahem) fitness.

Jackson Park was a decent start to the season, though I remember thinking after the race that I wasn’t 100% tired, meaning I left some out on the course by playing it conservative. Both a nice thought to be able to have and a little frustrating. CX is all about a sustained and intense effort. The next couple of races I tried to push myself more but still not quite pushing the bike handling envelope in an effort to stay upright. Dan Ryan Woods (where I cracked my ribs last season) was my best race of the first half of my season, with both sustained efforts and no falls despite letting my bike go more than usual.

Then came the mud-double of Psycho Cross and Carpenter Park. It was like racing in brownie batter at Carpenter and I did not handle it well. My bike even worse as I had to replace my bottom bracket after.

I was bummed; my bike was broken. I had another less-than-stellar race out of town a week later.

I even though about skipping the next CCC race, Campton Hills, because the course last year was little too twisty-turny, even for CX. But I needed to get back on the bike.

With a new bottom bracket installed and my shifting finally sorted, I decided to put everything out there.

Sidenote:

I am someone’s nemesis, apparently. This happened about a month before when I randomly met the wife of another racer. She commented that her husband raced ‘cross, and after some back-and-forth realized that he was a cat. 3 and that I knew him. Then at DRW she heckled that he was beating me, though he actually was not, which is likely why he decided to make me his nemesis.

I had extra motivation to do well because the sister-in-law of my (de-facto) nemesis said that to the winner goes a beer. Well now, that is all I needed to hear! Though he started a row in front of me I had my sights locked because now it was for real.

Campton Cross

I’ve also learned that the best place to start in the cat. 3 race (besides the front row) is on the sides, as there has been a crash in almost every start this year. Once again it was whistle, pedal pedal pedal, BAM! I was again fortunate to be on the other side and able to quickly get around.

One specific aspect I have worked on this year is starting — to go harder for longer and not just ‘settle in’ where it looks comfortable. That is how you start a crit or a road race, but in CX that means you have to then pass them later. Better to just do it at the start. Unlike some other courses this year the start had pretty wide sweeping turns and I was surprised others were not taking advantage of the real estate to move up.

A quick check and I saw my nemesis four wheels in front of me. At the top end of the course there was a long power section — not normally my strength. (I’m not strong at the technical aspects either; it just speaks to my lack of endurance.) But I decided to burn some matches and put him in my rear view. Passing is more about what happens after the pass than before it, because if you let-up, the passee will often use the humiliation of being passed as motivation to reclaim that spot — especially if it is a NEMESIS! So I made sure to ride as hard as I could for the next 30 seconds, even if I gassed myself. Fortunately, this was enough to put a gap between us AND get me right onto the rear wheel of teammate Trent! (Sadly I was gassed enough from the effort that Trent pulled away.)

Now it was all about staying upright. But the course was actually laid-out well this year with a lot of flow and beautiful weather, so I decided to push my bike handling to the edge. This resulted in picking up more spots and almost making it back to Trent, but still gave me my best result of the year.

Try not to look TOO serious Kelly.

As for the other monkeys it was another solid endeavor.

  • Despite having some bad luck Hayes is again the strongman by doubling up.
  • Monko somehow survived Halloween festivities the night before and raced in a haz-mat suit. (Note: those do not breathe like lycra.)
  • Kelly Clarke kicked butt in costume for the women’s 4 and then busted out the candy as a piñata in the 4b. Gets the best SM costume award.
  • Great to see Stewart rocking CX
  • PJ just needs to upgrade, but I’m glad he hasn’t because he would likely start in the front row of the cat 3 race.
  • Kyle and Aaron are netting a lot of points to maintain our team’s position
  • Trent… next time!!!

ABD Sunrise Park

Trent Williams and Katie Tomarelli cheering!
Photo by Kyle Kershasky

by Kelly Clarke
This past winter, in Kristen Meshberg’s Pedaling With A Purpose class, we went around the class and said our goals for this season aloud. After all, if you’re committing to these trainer classes twice a week through the frigid months, what is your purpose in doing so? My goals were:
– Do a track race
– Do a mountain bike race
– Get a top ten in a W4 CCC race

I didn’t want to sound greedy, but I was honestly hoping for more than one top ten finish in the CCC series. But who knew if that would even be feasible. Last season I was trying to get top 50% of the field, and it never happened.  But this year I was taking training more seriously, meaning I was thinking about it at all. And I was also focusing less on ‘skills’ and more on just having good fitness to maintain speed and focus in races.

Mountain biking at Kettle with Anna Loosli

Well, with the track and mountain bike season over, I can say I failed at both those goals. (But I’ll do them next year!) The consolations being that I did do a Monday night track clinic to get my feet wet at the Northbrook Velodrome (it was a GREAT experience), and I did conquer the three ravines at Palos on one of the Women’s Dirt Days, and I took my first trip to Kettle Moraine. The goal to get top ten in a CCC race came easy. In the first cup race, Jackson Park, I got 6th place! I decided to make it a goal to get a top ten in every CCC race this season.  This plan backfired at Dan Ryan, but no bother – top ten for each race was still a good focus to have.

Some time at the beginning of the season, Sarah Rice had said, “Why would you ever enter a race if you weren’t going to try and win it?” And this idea has been simmering with me since. I never enter a race expecting to win. I have my carrots that I want to beat and that’s been good enough to me, but how could I ever expect to win? These other women are just faster, better, more experienced…

Slowly I have been trying to change my thinking, and looking to my fellow female racers to watch the fire they have when racing which allows them to be successful. Kristen and Sarah have it down pat, but then even Stephanie, Kristi and Michelle in crits and road races, and my nemesis, Annette Stahelin, in cross. They have this drive that I sometimes lack to give extra effort at points in a race where everyone is hurting regardless, and they pick up extra spots or get positive results doing so. There’s a point in a race where I almost subconsciously decide to sit back and put forth that exact amount of effort, no more, because I want to finish the race or maybe I think that really is all I have to give. I’ve been trying to push those boundaries.

And it’s 100% mental.

So, back to my nemesis, Annette. She races for Half Acre, but more importantly, we were best friends growing up. We got into cross at the same time, and I don’t like it when she beats me in races. But she trained like hell this year and she has been consistently beating me. At Carpentersville, she was just a little bit ahead of me in the final lap. I decided to dig in and give everything I had to catch her. So what if I get gassed before the finish line and don’t succeed? I just needed to go harder than I thought I could and hang on for as long as I could, and see where I ended up. It worked. I was able to pass her and get that one last spot at the end of the race. I was elated. Not even so much that I beat my friend (whom I love dearly), but I definitely gave more than I thought I had to give at the end of this race, and succeeded. Now that I saw what that felt like, I made it my goal that in the next race, I would need to make these pushes earlier and more often. Stand up and sprint when you think you’re too tired. See a carrot? Don’t wait to recover before catching them, just go. It’s only a thirty minute race; there is no time to recover.

Photo by Aaron Byrnes

I took that with me into the race at Sunrise Park. Push harder than you think you can, early and often. Around the first corner of the race I was in seventh place. I started picking people off until it was Ashley Korol and Tricia Renée Fleischer off the front (way off the front) then a train of me, Jen Groen, Nicole Falk, Annette and a few other girls. Three quarters through the first lap, Jen fell and dropped her chain, making it hard for the girls behind me to stick with me. I tried to get as much space in front of them as I could. I know from being on the other side of things, the larger the gap, the more daunting it is to bridge. And as we’ve established, this game is all mental. I could see Ashley and Tricia in front of me. Deep down, I didn’t think I had a chance in hell to catch them, but I told myself to focus on catching them, not on anything behind me. The race spread out and it was Ashley and Tricia, a gap, me, a gap, and then a group of women for most of the race. Towards the end, I could see Nicole Falk bridging the gap behind me. And the rest were not far behind. I knew they were better at the off-camber corners, but I could gain distance back in the strait-aways. I focused really hard on staying upright. When you’re going as hard as you can, it becomes easy to fall and make mistakes. I was able to hold on to third place through the end of the last lap. It was awesome. I was just telling Kristi before the race how all I wanted was a top 5. I had a few sixth place finishes, but couldn’t break into the top five. And now, I earned a spot on the podium. First time ever.

Photo by Colleen Clarke

So my strategy was successful, but I still have a lot to learn. I was lucky to not fall in this race, but you fall a lot in cross, and I think that makes it really difficult to come back and keep going really hard. I saw Grace fall at WCA’s Grafton race last year and come back to get fourth. It takes a lot of fight when you lose all those spots to get them back. Also, I didn’t have to pass anyone once I got really tired, and I think that takes a lot of mental strength. It’s really easy to follow someone’s wheel when you’re really tired in a race, but you should be trying to pass them. Make them work to pass you.

I tried to make that 30 minute race completely serious and focused, but the rest of the day – cheering on my teammates and racing in the ridiculous 4B race was a blast. I love having Stewart race with me in the 4s, and seeing Kim and Kristi in the 1/2/3 race. Hayes was there all day and brought beer and the tent. PJ is always super competitive and supportive. Aaron always races his heart out. Lucas Seibel killed it in the Single Speed and the 4s. Kyle raced twice and had a hand-up incident for which he is awesome. Trent did great in the 3s race. Monko was probably hungover, but you’d never know it with his doubling up in the 3s and 1/2/3s. We have a really awesome cross contingent this year, and the ABD Sunrise Park race was no exception!

Hopkins Park

PJ on the flyover

Photo by Eric Goodwin

by PJ Cavoto
The Spidermonkey CX invasion continues at Hopkins Park painted in the beautiful Fall colors.  Similar course to previous years included a flyover and a single track section.  Little bumping with over used tree berms and exposed roots took a toll on our bikes, and the dry, dusty conditions made for a fast course.  Terrific efforts from all the team with some great finishes.  The one/two punch continues to come from Kristi and Kelly in Cat 4 women’s race.  Masters went well for many, and a there was a good showing in the Cat 3 and Cat 4 men’s races.  It is awesome that SM’s are in 3rd place as team….it will take strong efforts from all to keep us up there! 

I went out with two goals, to continue pointing in Masters 30+, and to secure a top five finish in Cat 4A’s, staying near the top in overall points. 

Mission accomplished! 

Took 21st in Masters, working with Mr. CX-Hayes who finished 20th.

PJ and Aaron approaching the barriers

Photo by Kristi Hanson

The Cat 4A race was exciting from the get go…I got off the line fast and was able to place myself in 3rd by the first turn.  Aaron and Pete had to avoid some early pile-ups and were on my wheel in no time.   We held top 5 spots for the next several laps, working together and switching it up as each of us got tired trying to hammer away from the competition.  A few guys worked there way in there and as usual, nothing goes exactly the way you want it in cross.  Aaron got tangled with a racer and cost him some spots.  Pete had a mechanical on the last lap coming over the flyover and forfeited a few places that included me.  And I just dug in as hard as I could to hang on for 5th place finish, moving me up to 4th overall for the season.
Fast in fall colors
Photo by Chad Gregory
Special effort award goes out to Kyle (4B) who took a hot dog hand up and paid for it with a hard crash.  Kudos to him for getting back on his damaged bike and finishing the race!

Great job Monkey’s!! 

Official Spidermonkey Participant List:
Aaron Byrnes
Kelly Clarke
David Cushman
Kristi Hansen
Kyle Kershasky
Ken Mitchell
Pete Monko
Hayes Sanborn
Geoff Scott
Trent Williams
Mark Zalewski

Here’s a full shot of the flyover, for those less CX inclined
Photo by Chad Gregory
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