Author: admin (page 3 of 50)

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

Jackson Park

by Peter Monko

After nine long months of riding trainers and road bikes, the opening day of the Chicago Cross Cup (CCC) was finally here.  On a beautiful warm sunny Saturday in September 12 Spidermonkeys lined up ready to kick butt and take handups.  It was a full day of non-stop action starting with Geoff Scott racing in the 40+ at 8:45am to Kelly, and Mike Meyers muscling their way through the 4B race late in the afternoon.  All the other usual suspects were to race; Kim Brokohf, Kristi Hanson, Ken Mitchell, Stewart Chapman, Mark Z, Hayes, PJ, Aaron Brynes, Trent, Kyle and Katie Kolon.  Tons of other Spidermonkeys made the trip down to the southside throughout the day to take photos, heckle, give out s’mores handups and drink beer of course.

I raced the Masters 30+ in the AM with Hayes and PJ lined up nearby in about 4th or 5th row back.  The race was fast and lasted about 7 laps.  I dropped my chain twice and had a couple of minor mishaps and ended up in 25th.   I came into the race with minimal expectations and was very happy to score some points and get a better starting position the next time I race.  Now I had 4 hours until my target race, the Cat 4A race.

The time flew by talking to friends, watching racers crash, and of course heckling.  When it came to line up for the 4As race, I had a pretty good spot on the left hand side in the second row.  This placed me out of the way of the huge divots, potholes and manhole that cause mass chaos in the earlier races.  I got a pretty good start and ended up taking the first turn in about 5th or 6th wheel.  Right off the bat, Brian Witry from Rhythm Racing took off holding a 5 second gap on the rest of us chasers.  During the technical twisty section I would pass one or two riders and soon there were just 3 of us at the front. Having raced in the morning and taken a few practice laps since then I knew what lines to take and where I could rest and save some energy.    Witry was slowly getting away, but I just hung on to the wheel in front of me until I could pass him near the barrier section.  Finally it was just Witry and I with about a lap and a half to go.  The back half of the course was Spidermonkey Alley chock full of screaming teammates that got me pumped up every time I went through.  I finally passed Witry just before the uphill barrier and now just had to hang on without puking for less than a lap.  I rode hard, but tried to keep it in control in order to avoid a crash or dropped chain.  With the finish line ahead, I finally could breath a sigh of relief and celebrate my first bike race win ever! 

Pete handing up pickles and High Life during the 4B race in his leaders jersey!

Thanks to all the Spidermonkeys who showed up and cheered for all of us to go faster, it made a huge difference.

The Gateway Cup

by Sarah Rice
The Gateway Cup races are a set of 4 fast crits, attended by regional and national racers in St. Louis. They’re some of KMesh’s favorite races ever. While we drove down, she told me that Joe Berenyi won gold and set a new world record on the track. That gave us great positive energy.

Day 1: Lafayette Park

This was a nighttime crit in the remnants of Hurricane Isaac. Deep rivers of rainfall were running in the corners of the course toward the sewers. We could barely see. I was racing my brand new Psimet carbon tubulars and this time as a new cat 2, I lined up with household name pro riders from at least 12 different states. I wasn’t intimidated (yo, my teammate is a household name too!) and all the gals were super-nice. I was proud to see a Spidermonkey team presence in a real pro race- YEAH! I lined up right next to Laura Van Gilder. I tried to stay calm and focused, but I was shaking so hard at the start line, I could barely stay up.

At the whistle my first thought was “Get Van Gilder’s wheel NOW.” And I did! In a smallish field of strong riders, everyone attacks the start and we all did, in a furious mob. I tried to maintain decent position toward the front and was a bit surprised to find that I could do that. Mesh threw in a little attack and others did too here and there, but everything was getting reabsorbed. Then she threw in a big one. I went hard to get towards the front few spots, and heard a voice “Don’t chase down your own teammate!” – from Laura Van Gilder. I was trying to get in a good position and went too hard, too early. I should have waited about 10 seconds and let Mesh get more distance before going toward the front, because others saw me positioning and immediately shut Mesh down. I rode the group up to Mesh, embarrassed at my mistake. Then I did the right thing and countered hard, but no one countered my counter and the field was on my butt. Boo.

I was barely hanging on for the last several laps. On the final lap (THANK…GOD…) I had lost a lot of spots and was looking for a way up and not finding it. Then there was a crash right in front of me on the inside of corner 3. I instinctively went hard inside, heading straight for the corner. There was maybe a 4-inch gap between the crash and the curb, and I threaded the needle, pitched the bike back out of the corner toward the course, and took off in a full sprint toward the front group of riders. My chest felt like it was going to explode. I only caught one rider in that group and finished 17th. Mesh flatted with 3 to go. Tough luck.

After the race Laura Van Gilder talked to me about strategy between two teammates and timing for getting in position when your teammate attacks, etc. I was thrilled to get an indepth, on the fly lesson on strategy from her, and told myself I’d get better at this. To give you an idea of how poor the conditions were out there- Mesh won a prime on that first little attack, and she had no idea till we went to get my 17th place payout. Surprise $$ was a great way to end the day

Day 2: Francis Park

It was drying up as Kristen and I warmed up, but while we were on the start line listening to the instructions, the torrential rain hit again, very suddenly. The start was a little uphill and as we took off I could actually see rain water flowing in a little river down the hill, right underneath my tire. Yikes. There was a real opportunity there if someone had had the guts to do a hard start-line attack, but no one did.

This was a difficult race for Mesh, as she lost a tooth in a crash there last year. She said nothing about it- champions don’t whine- and she rode with more and more confidence and ease as the race progressed. I felt fantastic. The new wheels stuck the corners and I was 100% confident despite the rain. They called a $100 prime and I wasn’t quite in position for it, but Lindsay Durst from IScorp was. Another strong rider or two went with her to fight it out. A break with them could stick, so I attacked right after the prime. Lindsay caught my wheel and took a pull. I rested for a corner, then went on the front again, hard. Took a peek back and… I was all alone, with the field right there behind me. Damn, what happened? Oh well. I tucked back in and rested for a few laps. KMesh took a long pull off the front and I wanted others to give her a break, so I attacked a little just to make them work, and once other people were on the front I backed off. Tucked back in. I still felt good, and the laps were going by quickly.

Carrie Cash went off the front solo with around 8 to go, and the field was letting her dangle. I realized we’d catch her on the leg before the uphill with about 2 to go. When the pack absorbs a strong rider like that off the front, things can slow up. So when we caught her and the pace slowed, I took a good, fast line into the uphill section and blasted it, all out attack with 1.5 to go. No one chased. I had a gap and maintained it through the start-finish line. The announcer said my name! I rounded turn 1 on the final lap and peered back to see a wall of mellow mushrooms and vanderkittens bearing down on me. Stood up to try to hold them off, but I was getting tunnel vision. This move wasn’t going to work. I got swallowed up and found a wheel, very tired. At the end of the race I saw Kristen go by, and I briefly caught her wheel and rode it up past a couple other riders for 20th. Last. Spot. In. The. Money. KMesh was 18th. Not the best result for us, but in a way it was—KMesh exorcised a demon by racing confidently on that course again, and I had clearly found my nerve. My attacks weren’t smart, but they were smart. Kelly Clarke told me one Gapers Block race that she needed to feel what it was like being on the front, and what it was like being off the front. I did that at St. Francis. I probably could have done better if I had sat in, but I wouldn’t trade anything for the experience.

Day 3: Giro della Montagna

This was the signature crit of the series. It was in a little Italian neighborhood with tons of fans watching and cheering. There were narrow streets and a little grinder of a hill. It was dry at the start, and there was a little sprinkle of rain as we raced, but nothing like the previous two days. Because of the narrow roads, positioning yourself within the pack was key. This is something I definitely want to work on next year. I drifted backwards, then attacked up, then drifted back, and it used a lot of energy. I couldn’t find a rhythm, and the little critic inside my head was buzzing. “Seriously, are you a cat4 still?/Look I WAS cat4 a year ago, cut me some slack/GEEZ the cornering in cat4 wasn’t this bad/if you don’t like it get up front/I don’t think I can/You were yesterday! GET UP THERE!” Etc. There was dialogue with my tummy too. With double-digit laps left I was starting to heave and throw up. This was ugly.

Mesh attacked the field hard and got a gap! But just after she blazed across the start-finish line, they rang the bell for a $200 prime. She went even harder, with Jannette Rho on her wheel. Then EVEN HARDER, and Kristen LaSasso bridged to her (YES! She could take the prime AND the race!). I sat in, heeding Laura Van Gilder’s advice. LaSasso took a pull! This was awesome! But then the field unleashed a furious counter, Diana Ferrera pipped Mesh at the line for the prime, and I saw Mesh going backwards as I crossed the start-finish line mid-pack. She was done.

A couple laps later, Vanessa Drigo and Laura Van Gilder took off together and gapped the field hard. Everyone was pretty resigned to let them go. Boo. I wanted to attack and get people fired up to go get them, but I was nauseous. I found wheels, moved up, up, up, little by little, and was around 6th or 7th wheel from about 6 to go till about 2 to go. I seriously wanted to drop out and couldn’t because my position was too good. On the final lap I ran over a water bottle in the street, and lost spots on the hill. But I did sprint, and got 3 riders at the very end to finish 17th again.

Day 4: Benton Park

This would be our last crit of the season. KMesh said nonchalantly, “I’m gonna win today”. The weather was drying up, but there were still occasional annoying spots of rain. The course was a twisty figure-8 with a few windy straightaways, the kind of course where Mesh and I tended to do well. Jason Meshberg advised us to sit in. Laura Van Gilder, Kristen LaSasso, and the other fasties were here for the money and weren’t going to let anything get away. The advice was to sit in, then fight for position the last few laps, then win it.

We rolled around. I was still getting pinched, bumped, and squeezed backward and then fighting forward. For the first time I saw someone hook someone else’s bars in a crit, right in front of me. Fortunately it was Carrie Cash, who managed to un-hook herself with only the slightest waver. I wanna be able to do that!

They called a $200 prime. KMesh got in position behind me and I blasted it. So thrilling to hear all those pros yell frantically “Left! Left!” as we streaked by. They shut us down 2 turns later. KMesh pulled in front to give me a break. I wasn’t gonna let her pull if I could help it, so I got back in front. Everyone was being lazy, and we were ½ lap from a $200 prime! I briefly went for it again, but this time KMesh was wise and didn’t go. The fasties were all there. They sprinted past me, and a couple of them went up the road for the prime.

A little later KMesh attacked and got up the road again. Kristen LaSasso was with her! Yes!!! LaSasso took a pull for KMesh, and it was looking like the two of them were going to get away. I sat in right next to Laura Van Gilder. I told her, “I listened to you.” She smiled and nodded. KMesh was back in front. Then two things happened simultaneously- LaSasso attacked and gapped KMesh, and Van Gilder took off hard to bridge up to LaSasso. KMesh was returning to the pack. The best thing would be to make a “negative” move- bring it back together, tuck KMesh in the pack to rest and shut down LaSasso and Van Gilder before they got together. When you have to make a “negative” move, everyone is your teammate, which makes it a bit easier to execute. I chased about halfway, then Carrie Cash took over. Diana Carrerra and Vanessa Drigo finished it off. I think that sacrificing myself and chasing very hard was the right thing to do to avoid a repeat of the previous day. I was also looking to earn some respect. I was awed by that beautiful coordinated move, and psyched that I led the charge to shut it down.

After that chase I was gassed. There was no way I could sit in and recover for a decent sprint. I was inadvertently letting gaps open up, nearly falling off the back, then working my way up slowly through the pack, riding tired. Mesh looked great though, and was weaving up in the top 6 wheels consistently. The only reason why I found anything at the end was to watch her sprint for a podium finish (3rd!!!). 4 people got me at the line and I finished 22nd, 2 spots out of the money. My worst result of the series, OUR best result ever. I was really proud of Kristen for saying she was gonna win and then just doing it.

++++++++  NOTES  ++++++++
Later on, Sarah noted, One awesome thing about Gateway was that Matt James photographed and featured the women as much as the men:


Kristen on the podium
by Sarah Rice
Saturday’s Crit Race
Cherry-Roubaix, Michigan’s state road race championship series, is in Traverse City, 6 hours from Chicago. Kristen and I decided to go for it and everything fell into place for us to race together for the first time since May. I knew I’d be rusty. I hadn’t raced at all since late June. I took some rest time in early July, then split my workouts between swimming, TT biking, running, road biking, track, and yoga/weightlifting. Aside from the lack of focus, my hips were nagging me with aches.
When you don’t race, you don’t fight for wheels and you don’t take screaming hard corners (it’s kinda frowned upon during group rides, and a bad idea when cars are around). This left me way out of practice. I was actually sipping my water bottle when the whistle blew, it was THAT bad. Crappy start. Lost 5 wheels on the first turn, 5 more on the second turn. Kristen was out front, it was time to counter but I was way back. I panicked on the turn off the brick section and lost more spots. No one would let me in. Disaster. Throwing up in my mouth. Trying to regain position from the very back of the pack- fighting for a couple spots. Oh no- a move up front. Gotta get up there!!! Another move! The pack split a few wheels in front of me on lap 3. Gun it, get up there!!! But two more moves, and they rode away.
I looked up, looked back. About half of us were left back here. I rested in a bit, gunned it again, trying to draw up anyone strong that hadn’t thrown in the towel to try to catch the front group. No one took the bait. We had a 60-mile road race the next day, and it was on everyone’s mind. This was frustrating, 3 laps and I was shelled out, stuck towing weak, negative riders around the course. They called a merch prime for our field. I took it, no contest. A t-shirt and socks. 25 minutes left, so what else could I do? Practice. Scream through the corners. Sit up. Pick a wheel, DEMAND that wheel. Get that wheel. Sit on it for a minute, then attack the crap out of it. Ride safe, ride steady, but ride like a total jerk. Race my bike.
I was hoping to keep the pace hot enough that we wouldn’t get lapped, since the only thing I could do to screw up worse would be to interfere with Mesh’s sprint. The officials should have pulled us a lap early but they didn’t, and we got caught on the final sprint, in the final turn. It was chaos. A rider from the front pack sprinted around on the right, others, including Mesh, on the left. I froze in the middle, looked over my shoulder, got to the far right when it was safe, and grannied it in. People from both the front pack and my pack passed me in a mob. I didn’t care, my race ended ages ago. I was terrified of crashing out in this mess. So I crossed the finish line at a crawl, doing the slit-throat hand signal to let the officials know I wasn’t with the front group. Worst. Crit. Ever.
Kristen got 3rd and a prime, which was awesome in that field. The results were contested for a long time and I have no idea why or how I ended up in the money. Then in the P/1/2 mens race one of two guys in a break got hit by the pace car?! Ugh, maybe our race wasn’t so terrible.
I spent half the night crucifying myself for being such a sissy those first 3 laps. The thoughts went: “I should be writing an R01 grant/my bike handling isn’t good enough/I’m too old to race/maybe I’d be a better scientist if that’s all I did/but wait I tried that and went crazy/maybe I am just crazy and that’s my problem and this is my “drug”/it’s better than real drugs/not when I race like shit/but I don’t always race like shit/but maybe now that I am a cat 2 I do race like shit, it’s a curse/Have I given up without even realizing it?” It was bad. Real bad.
[[[Added note: I was jacked up on hormones and bugs– it was PMS + the beginning of a case of strep throat. Those thoughts are kind of funny to me now.]]]
Sunday’s Road Race
We woke up the next day and drove to the road race start. 4 porta-potties were not enough. People passed around tissue, paper towels, etc. making the best of a difficult situation. One thing I like about bike racers is that they are good at that.
The race started at a solid pace. Mesh and I sat in for the first 10 miles or so, on hilly rolling terrain. There was a crash on the first lap, an Einstein rider. Her teammates shut things down up front till she rejoined, and no one attacked. I thought about it, but they were not the team to piss off 10 miles into a 60-mile race.
A couple hills later, the Einstein riders grouped at the front. Oh-oh. I was chilling mid-pack, Kristen was back further. I started to move up, but not soon enough. They did a beautiful attack-counter-counter-counter move, perfectly orchestrated and just pounded it up a steep hill. I was gapped, but not too bad, most of the pack behind. Kristen wasn’t feeling it, and had told me just to go. I blasted it, TTing downhill, then into the wind to catch them. They were just out of reach… and remained just out of reach for a frustrating 6 miles or so before I decided I needed help. Three riders were in sight behind me. I sat up, hoping they’d be motivated to catch the break.
Not so. They were Liz So and Jannette Rho from LPV, and Alisha from Michigan. Cady Chintis (also LPV) was in the break. Liz and Jannette were half-blocking, half trying to catch on when I joined them. I wanted to keep the pace animated so that we could catch on, but I was really dead. I should have sat up sooner on that solo effort, then maybe I could have done something. But I sat on Liz’s wheel gasping for breath, hoping that they wouldn’t leave me behind. One coordinated attack from the two LPV gals would easily have finished me off. Fortunately, Liz and Jannette were great. They let me skip 2 pulls and encouraged me to stay on, saying they could use me. They were right. After they towed me up the hills, there were wicked headwinds. I can barrel through those, and took my pulls to earn my keep, secretly in my head begging them not to drop me. We hit the hills again, and Alisha dropped her chain. She wasn’t working, so we left her. I was sure to take my pulls. We found a rhythm, working together, no one else in sight. Jannette was taking fewer pulls than me and Liz, but that was to be expected. Eventually, I was sure that Liz would lead her out against me. Eventually the coordinated attack would come. I wanted to stave it off as long as possible by being useful.
About 10 miles into the last lap, Jannette took off. It was the attack I’d been dreading, but she was headed solo into a very windy section. I found some energy out of nowhere, motivated by the opportunity this presented. I’d get rid of Liz and make Jannette work. First, I let Jannette go and slid behind Liz’s wheel, till we were about 100 meters back from Jannette. Liz knew better than to go hard against her own teammate. I went back about 10 feet from Liz and played dead. Liz looked back, then looked forward, keeping a steady (but tired!) pace. Then I shot the 10-foot gap, accelerated into and around Liz’s draft, and went hard so that she couldn’t jump on my wheel. I closed about 70 meters of the gap to Jannette. Liz was going backwards. We were still headed into the wind, where Jannette and Liz were working much harder than I was. I eased up and let Jannette take the pain alone for several minutes before fully closing the gap. Liz was almost out of sight. I caught Jannette on an uphill after the wind, stayed on her wheel till the downhill, then blasted it down, up, and down the next hill in front just to make sure Liz was gone.
Jannette and I rode and worked together after that like the attack had never happened. We encouraged each other, as both of us were cramping up and wanted the race to end. A muscle I didn’t know I had in my pelvic floor cramped badly with about 4 miles to go. I broke down crying with the pain. Jannette was in rough shape too. We worked it up the final hill and then I tried the same trick I did with Liz, about 400 yards from the finish. Slide back 10 feet, shoot the gap. I gapped Jannette hard, then looked for the finish. Where was it?! Pain like I had never had before. Turns out I was about 800 yards out, not 400. I stood up, trying to sprint, then crashed back onto the saddle, screaming and crying. My pelvis felt like it was going to split in half. I had to use my hands to hold my line because my hips were useless. Jannette was right there at the finish. I thought she got me at the line, but the results said she didn’t. Neither of us could see straight to tell, but we were both pretty happy with how we did, all things considered. We got 7th and 8th.
I really loved having a weekend when I could finally race with Kristen, and ended up riding strong with old teammates and friends from LPV. I also love to see teams like Einstein that are 5 and 7 deep in the P/1/2 womens field and can throw down tactics like they did. Racing-wise, it was an ugly weekend but it left me confident.

Palos Meltdown

Catch that guy, Adam!

8/5/12 Palos Meltdown Race Report
by Adam Kaplan
Wow. What a perfect day to ride mountain bikes.  The rain the night before made the trails nice and tacky, and reduced the dust a lot. It was sunny and low 80 deg. temps with a light breeze.
Geoff Scott and I drove out to Palos with my wife and two daughters. The family made for great cheerleaders for the both of us. There were plenty of booths to check out and vendors for smoothies and hot dogs that made for a good lunch.
Registering was painless and Geoff and I got our numbers very quickly. No numbers for the jersey, as they used a RFID chip on the bike number plate for timing. Nice.

Geoff at the start of the race
Geoff and Kristy raced the Sport class and did 2 laps. Kristy had a real look of determination on her face as I cheered her on in the first lap. Geoff just grinned and said “This is fun!” as he passed by. All the races started with a mild uphill and a lap around the grassy field, but that didn’t really help spread out the field. Geoff said he had to hike a bike around downed riders a few times before things opened up. He did his two laps and finished in the top third overall. He mentioned feeling like a real mountain biker now that he was becoming more confident holding his line and flowing through the technical spots. Great job Geoff!

Go, Kristi!

I raced the Cat. 2 Comp class that raced 3 laps. I lined up right in the middle of the pack of 109 riders. After the Elite men and women went, we all started together. It was a bit of a struggle to find my own pace with so many other racers around and found I had to go slower than I wanted to in some sections due to simple congestion. After the first long lap, things opened up a bit and I found a good rhythm. Coming into the second lap, my oldest daughter gave me a bottle hand up that I promptly dropped, but Geoff was there to the rescue and got me the needed bottle on my next pass. The girls were a great cheering section!
At this point, I was trading off places with guys who were weaker on the single track, and stronger on the fire roads. I could tell these guys had some legs from road racing.

Second lap of the race, I found myself going faster through the single track and picking up quite a few places. It was important to ride strong on the multi-track in order to keep your place.  As I came by a second time, Geoff tricked me into thinking I had yet another lap to go and this coming lap wasn’t the final one! I was getting fatigued and fell for it.  I saw Kelly as I was fueling up on a gel and was encouraged by her cheering. I did let a few riders get past me as I tried to conserve a bit of energy for my “last” lap. As I got the line I started to go towards the lap route and Geoff yelled “you’re done!” and I toddled over the finish dazed and confused.
I finished 23rd out of 109 overall, and 13thout of 55 for my 30-39 age group. No mechanicals and great trail riding and conditions. Loved it!

Tour of Lawrence Criterium

Photo by LanterneRougeici
by  Michelle Moore
When I got talked into doing my first Crit race back in March 2012 (Gapers Block), I thought I’d be “one and done.”  While my amazing Spider Monkey teammates taught me about crits, and even rode the course with me, I wasn’t really a fan. It was cold, I popped off the back quickly and worked much harder than necessary since I was ALONE for 28.5 of the 30 min race. Not one to give up easily, I went out the next night and tried again. For the record, crits are a LOT more fun when you stay with the pack, not to mention a HELL of a lot easier!
When I learned about Le Tour de Lawrence, I was all in. Not necessarily because I was eager to “race” three different events, in three different days, in three digit temps. No, it’s because Lawrence is my alma mater. I have fond memories of the campus and my “glory days” there, and I knew the community would fully support this event. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!
So, after an evening of street sprints so colorfully painted by Mark, I took on my first circuit race (see Mikey and Hayes’ report – if they ever write them :).  It wasn’t great, but it was my first so I’ll always remember it – especially getting to ride on the campus I walked for four years (Dean was fortunate enough to get an extra year). J  I will not miss the hill by the Library though, she was a real bitch!
Sunday’s Criterium race is something I was actually looking forward to throughout the weekend. It was an event that I knew something about, and felt that I actually stood a chance at not being DFL (reference #1).   As I lined up at the start line with 28 other women, including my fellow crit racer, Kelly Clarke, we were showered with cheers and screams from our teammates:  Mark, Dean, Vanessa, Mikey, Rebecca, Scott , Roxanne and Hayes.  Such supportive Monkeys!
I’ve always had a fear during racing, and if I’m being honest – even during group rides – of being able to clip into my pedals in an appropriate amount of time, without causing a crash or looking like a complete fool. To my surprise, and after Mark making me practice over and over and over again, I got my foot on my pedal, kept pedaling and without looking down, smoothly clipped in. Nailed it!
I’d had a chance to ride the course a few times before the race started, so I felt comfortable the first lap knowing where the turns and hills were located. If there is one thing that most Americans have a misconception of, it’s that Kansas is flat. It is, in fact, NOT flat – at least not in Lawrence, KS.  It was a great course, forming a sort of Figure 8 around all the “hot spots” of the downtown area.
The first lap of the race I was just trying to figure out my positioning in the pack, how the pack would respond to the turns, how they would jump out of the turns, etc.  The difficult thing about crits is that it feels like you are constantly turning, and have very few straights to move up in the group. Oh, and that you’re heart rate is near 199 for 30-40 straight minutes. This race featured eight different turns, one right after the next.  After the eighth turn, the road straightened out, and sloped slightly downhill to the finish. This is where I turned my body inside out to jump on a wheel and/or move up in the group. It felt amazing!
Often I found myself along the gates on the far right side, which initially freaked me out because I was slightly terrified of crashing. However, once I figured out how to stay calm and carry on, I just stayed focused on the wheel in front of me. 
As I came around the eighth turn each lap, and sprinted down the straight away, I was rewarded with roars from my teammates.  It gave me the fuel I needed to keep pushing on. I wanted them to be proud of me, and it was really fun still be part of the peloton.
As they announced we had five laps to go, I think I threw up a little in my mouth.  Not only did it feel like we’d already been racing for an hour, it was ridiculously hot out – at 10AM!!  I’ve never had to drink during a race, and I wasn’t sure how to do it going so fast and turning so much. So, I kept an eye on the group and when they drank, I drank. With the temps being so hot, I tried to drink every lap where I could. I got real tired of trying to lick the back of my throat since it felt like I had a cotton ball in my mouth the entire race. Anyway, I told myself that I could hang on for 10 more minutes.
Photo by LanterneRougeici
So, the laps melted away, and all of a sudden we had two to go. I knew the next time we came across the start line, these women would be moving into position for a strong attack and sprint to the finish.  I was already happy with my performance since I was still with the group, but it sure would be nice to “place” in the race too.  So, as we started the final lap, I gave it everything I had. I felt myself gapping the group a bit, and I heard the words of Mark Zalewski in my ear “you do everything you have to in order to grab a wheel. Even if you have to puke.”  So, I dug in and gave every last bit of myself I had left. 
I wasn’t in a great position with a half lap to go. Coming into the final turn, a girl in the group took herself out on the fence (the very thing I was worried about earlier). I was far enough back that I was able to maneuver around her, jump out of the final turn and sprint my ass off.  I had no idea where I was in the pack, but I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face
My teammates celebrated with me, and I was once again hooked on racing. I love my bike, even if I ride 650s Oh, and I got 12th. So, not quite a top 10 finish, but it was my best race to-date.  When’s the next one?

WORS #7 Sunburst Showdown Race Report

Post Race ..

Race Report – WORS #7 Sunburst Showdown
by  Adam Kaplan
I chose this race to be my first in over 10 years. It took place in the Kettle Moraine area of Southeast WI and promised to be a fun course. I was convinced to enter the Cat. 2 Comp category against my better judgment by Sean Bjork, a XXX racer and friend of the shop. Geoff Scott, a fellow Spidermonkey, joined us as well. Geoff entered the Sport category.
Geoff and I arrived plenty early to get parking and a preview lap of the course. The course starts off after the prologue with a steep, twisty, forested single track climb up the ski hill. As it has been really hot and dry, the soil was very dusty. The course then winds its way up and down the ski hill with fast, bermed turns that were a lot of fun. The second half of the course wound its way back and forth a field with pine trees and was on mowed grass. This was filled with a lot of hair pin turns and was similar to a cyclocross course according to Geoff. I found the climb out of this area to be more fatiguing than the more technical climb that started us off. It was really hot. It was over 90 deg. for sure. This did play a role in everyone’s performance.
After lining up behind the Pro/Elite men and Women, the call ups began. Staging was very well organized and the two elite categories started 2 min. ahead of the rest of us. The Comp field was to complete four laps; the Pros had to do five.
When the bell went off for us, it was a mile of pure dust and jockeying for position. It wasn’t until after the first climb that I could breathe easy and try to settle in. First lap went great. Second lap I pushed a bit harder and was very thankful that Geoff organized hand ups of full water bottles. Third lap, I realized that I taxed myself a bit and started to get bad cramping in both hamstrings. I could have used some electrolytes to drink, but only had water. I rode within myself here, holding a solid mid pack position. I even started to pick off more riders on the beginning of the last lap. Feeling confident that I had enough left in the tank, I really let it rip down the main downhill half way through the course. I passed three other riders and was ready to pound out the last half of the lap when I realized I had a puncture! The Stan’s sealant was not enough to close the hole. Of course I didn’t bring a CO2/tube.  I got off the bike and found a guy loading up some gear on the side of the course and borrowed a floor pump and was able to get about 15psi in the tire and rode it that soft for about a half mile. Then the bead finally pulled off the rim and I was reduced to walking/running. I was ultimately able to borrow a rear wheel from some racers camping out by the side of the course. There was amazing support from other racers here.
I was very glad to not DNF in my first race in years. Looking at the results, had I not flatted I would have come in mid pack. As it was, I wasn’t DFL either. Overall, I had a great time, worked hard, and rode my brains out.

The Northbrook Velodrome

Katie and Sarah say Fritos are the best recovery food.
Photo from

by Sarah Rice

Last week I rode up to Northbrook to give the track a try. I decided to write a race report to encourage others to try it as well.

I found a great route up there, no crazy white-knuckle traffic at all! Sheridan north. Left on Central Ave., just past the Bahai temple. Left onto Wilmette just before the Metra tracks. Take Wilmette to Glenview Rd (not Old Glenview). Soft left onto Glenview, cross the Edens. Right onto the north branch trail. When it forks in a couple miles, turn left (north). Left on Winnetka Rd. Right on Sunset Ridge Rd. Left on Voltz Rd. Get on the sidewalk after you cross Waukegan Rd., Turn right. It will lead to the parking lot. It takes about 1:15 in a headwind.

I got to the track at 6:10, right before race registration closed. They said it wasn’t too late to borrow a bike and asked for $35. The officials discussed at some length whether I would be allowed to race, and decided that I could, unless I was a hazard.

FYI, women can show-and-go on Thursdays if they know how to ride track. Men have to attend a clinic to learn the basics before racing. It’s $35 the first time, $20 thereafter, to race all evening as many races as you want. The loaner bikes are whatever’s available, but I got one that fit OK and it was free.

I removed the clips from my road shoes so that I could ride the borrowed bike’s rat traps. The last fixed gear bike I had ridden was named “Pinwheels”. It had a banana seat, tassles, and training wheels. I looked at the track, then at the rat trap pedals of my borrowed bike, then at the track. My newly-minted-cat2 ego was taking a beating. I had no idea how to get on this thing. Much less ride it. Much less race it.

One of the officials asked me if I needed some help. “How do I start?” I asked, and looked again at the pedals, then the track. He laughed and told me to hold onto the side, and he helped me get my feet in the rat traps. One foot, other foot, and off I went! Now I had a different problem. How could I stop? I had no choice but to pedal around in perfect smooth circles. Katie Isermann came up and told me my tires were flat. They were, but I couldn’t stop.

After about 5 minutes, I figured out that if you really really try to pedal inefficiently on a track bike you can slow it down and stop. Kristen Meshberg helped me take the pedals off the borrowed bike and put my own pedals on. She blew up the tires. I screwed my cleats back on, finishing 5 seconds before we were supposed to line up for the womens 4’s 5 lap scratch race. This time I got in to my pedals (Look Blades, a no-no on the track!) all by myself. Off we went! Given that I had not ridden fixed in 32 years, I didn’t mind a slow-paced race. But when the time came to drop the hammer I had no power. My seat had slipped down about 6 inches. So after that first race we raised the seat and tightened it.

The second race was really cool, it was a Keirin. The rules are a bit complicated, but essentially it’s a track race that is paced for the first several laps by a moped. Katie Isermann and Sandra Samman raced it out up front like Alien vs. Predator, because an awesome guy from Iron Cycles [[[someone comment with his name?]]] gave a $100 pot to the winner! I got 4th, spinning out into the wind. I needed to learn how to use the track and stop fighting the (forced) smoothness of the fixed gear bike.

I had some fritos and watched other races for a bit. Kristen was a joy to watch on the track- she’s faster than I could have imagined, even after having my front row seat to her road races this year! She won the 1/2/3 Keirin race. Then Kristen, Katie, and I decided to line up for the 40+ mens race, a 10-lap scratch race. Just like road, I like racing with the boys. Sketchy moves and better drafts. I was finding my nerve, moving faster, drafting closer, and learning how to use the bank a little bit. I even found Mesh’s wheel (!!!)- that is THE wheel you want (!!!)- and then it started raining and we had to quit. I rode home with Katie Isermann and we eagerly ate fritos and discussed all things bike racing.

Four days after that first night on the track, I converted Bozo to fixie. Today I took my morning ride on him up to Metropolis, pedaling in perfect smooth circles.

Tour Of Lawrence: Street Sprints

Spidermonkey Sprinters
by Mark Zalewski
I’m sure that you, like me, have explained to your non-cycling friends what a criterium is and the difference between that and the Tour de France — as well hold back your laughter when they ask you if you “think you’ll ever ride the Tour de France someday?” (Seriously, I get that question A LOT.)
But even cycling friends gave me looks when I said that the Tour of Lawrence started with street sprints. “What is that?”
You don’t see these too much at races anymore but they used to be a staple back-in-the-day at races like Quad Cities over Memorial Day. 
To give you a visual, think of the critically acclaimed film featuring a feel-good performance by Vin Diesel The Fast and the Furious. It’s a drag race, plain and simple. (Not that kind of a drag race… though this one also features shaved legs.)
200 meters. Three or four riders per heat. An official blows the whistle and you turn yourself inside-out to go as fast as you can. First one or two over the line advance to the next round; the others go and cry in their free locally brewed craft beer. Rinse, wash and repeat.
Oh, but here’s the ‘FUN’ part. It’s not like other races where it’s broken into groups like “Master’s/Women/Category 3/55+…” Oh no my friend, it’s only separated by men and women — otherwise it is OPEN. That’s right kids, you see the rider next to you wearing that Jelly Belly Pro Cycling kit? No, he’s not a ‘fred’ pretending to be a pro; that is Brad Huff, former U.S. National Criterium Champion. So grab your man onions and see how you measure up. 
Seriously though, the amount of times Trent has brought up being manhandled by Steve Tilford in 2010 and is sooooo excited to tell everyone about it illustrates just how much fun it is to race against the best. You won’t have this opportunity anywhere else except on Strava.
The Spidermonkeys featured Kelly Clarke and Michelle Moore in the women’s bracket; Brandon Diffenderfer and Hayes Sanborn flew the flag on the men’s side. Oh and someone talked me into doing it at the very last minute, WTF?
The key to a street sprint is the start. You cannot necessarily win it here but you certainly can lose it. It’s also a ‘standing start’ meaning that there is a someone standing behind you to hold your bike, allowing you to clip in — just like a time trial in Le Tour. But unlike a time trial you do not get a surly fat French guy giving you a countdown. 
You wait… and wait. And try not to tip over while standing on your pedals waiting for the jackass in lane 2 who cannot clip into the second pedal.
Requisite Teachable Moment:
Standing is a better option than staying seated as you will have more power. Hands in the drops is also better as you’ll be pulling damn hard and this allows you to stay over your front wheel more, keeping it on the ground. 
Gear selection is key as too large a gear and you’ll take longer to get up to speed — too small and you’ll have to shift more frequently which disrupts cadence and increases potential for mis-shifts.
Big ring in front, for sure. Brandon gave the small ring a try and had a great start because of it but said he ran out of gears approaching the line.
‘Back in the day’ friends of mine would alter their rear cassettes. Instead of having a smooth progression down the cluster (i.e. 23-21-19-17-15-13-12-11) they would put the 21 next to the 15 and 11 so they would only have to shift three times. Though this was before the integrated shifting we have now where it’s all up front, but you see the point — 200 meters is a short distance to do much of anything put pedal your tookas off.
The ladies went first. Both Kelly and Michelle were new to standing starts but learned quickly. (Look at Michelle’s textbook start in the Tour of Lawrence video!) The first round both took a close fourth in their heats. In the second round both again took fourth but not by much. Time for beer.
The gents were up next. We were three-up in our heats and like the ladies the first round was gratis with the results used to seed the second round. Brandon could not wait to go and was in one of the first heats. I looked at my row and saw this: A 20 year-old elite amateur from the Horizon Organic team with a crazy power-to-weight ratio AND Eric Bennett, a professional on the Wonderful Pistachios UCI pro team and former BMX national champion (where getting the ‘hole shot’ is rather vital.) Awesome.
Ok, I did not have the best start and got third in that round but was ONLY a half-wheel from Bennett at the line, so I’m taking that as a win. 
Next round I am behind Brandon in the ‘bronze medal’ lane and chatting with Brad Huff, last year’s winner. At that point Brandon does the math and sees that Mr. Huff is in his heat and somewhat jokingly asks if anyone wants to swap spots. (Smart move!) And someone actually does. (Not a smart move.)
In the end we each rode admirably, had fun and broke a sweat doing so, showing that we gave it our all. Or maybe it was the 101F on the bank thermometer?

2012 Bike MS Tour de Farms – Videos and Such

This year’s edition of the Bike MS Tour de Farms was comprised of smooth roads, sunny skies, low wind and smooth-as-butter-paceline of 50 plus Spidermonkeys!  We had a great time riding fast, goofing off, drinking some Goose Island 312 and raising over $30K for the National MS Society!

Don’t believe it?  Check out some of the vids and pics:

Day 1 – 50 plus Spidermonkeys!

Going down the line …

Rolling along …

The right way to drink Goose Island 312!

Paulson Family Farm and 50 plus Spidermonkeys

Day 2!



Let’s go!

2 days of pure awesomeness … Spidermonkeys love the Bike MS Tour de Farms! Thanks go out to all the other teams, all the great volunteers, all the National MS Society organizers (that’s you Elle!), Damien of Lakeshore Bike for helping us out, etc, etc, and the list goes on!  It was great!

Oh and thanks to Jack Cahillane, Dean Okun, Aaron Byrnes for the pics and vids!  There’s too many to post .. sorry!

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