Author: kelly (page 2 of 4)

First Year Racing Take Aways

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by Lindsey Fahey

2013 was the first year I decided to race my bike, heck it was the first year I really RODE my bike week in and week out and “trained”. I learned a LOT………………..I learned about myself and my limits, both mentally and physically. I developed a huge amount of respect and appreciation for all of my teammates and the extremely strong women I competed against. I learned a ton about my bike, how to handle it better, how to ride it faster and how to take care of it. Best of all I made some great friends, met awesome people all along the way and had a LOT of FUN (duh that’s the point).

It was the best of times………….it was sometimes the worst of times. I cried, I came in DFL, I DNF-ed, I DNS-ed, I stood on the podium (and won A STATE CHAMP MEDAL!!!) I cried about that too. I got my ass kicked, but I also kicked some ass. I got horribly frustrated but had some amazing successes. Sometimes I hurt badly, but I consistently got stronger. I fell off my bike, I got filthy dirty, I got really banged up, I sometimes smelled bad, I terrified myself……but I also smiled like an idiot……and I waved……..I pushed myself harder and dug deeper at times than I ever thought I could………..and it sure was FUN!

Podium Montrose

For all of you folks out there thinking about racing, I am no expert by ANY MEANS, but I survived my first season and this is what I learned:

1. You will never be ready to race your bike…………you always could have trained harder or more, or not got sick last week, or slept more last night, or not eaten chipotle for lunch (num num num), or maybe you don’t have the right gloves or clothes or your bike is a hunk of junk. You have to, as Nike says, Just do it. If I waited until I was “ready” and all the stars aligned and I felt perfect I wouldn’t be writing this now, I would have never pulled up to the line.

2. NEVER underestimate anyone. That girl with the down tube shifters and the REALLLLY heavy bike? She just might be able to destroy you and be one of the fiercest competitors and best athletes you have ever met. (Lauren Wissman! I am looking at you!)

3. If you want to train, train with people faster than you, they will push you. Have a plan and a goal.

4. That said, burnout is for real. And it is awful, rest is your friend. Sleep is your friend. Riding slow is your friend. If you don’t feel like racing or even riding, don’t. Just stop. You don’t get fast overnight. You won’t get slow by missing one workout…….or a week of riding.

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5. There will always be someone better, stronger, faster than you………but you will be better, stronger and faster than someone too. Focus on yourself and don’t compare yourself or your progress to others. Focus on your small successes and incremental (or huge) improvements and keep moving forward. Don’t dwell on your mistakes or failures. Maybe have a good cry or a small (ok large) temper tantrum in a bush, but then move on. Don’t throw your helmet…or your gloves…..or your bike.

6. Pick something to work on every single race. It can be tiny or it can be large, just focus on something. Learn something from every single race. This could also be applied to every single ride as well.

7. Have a pre race routine, no matter how stupid it seems. It helps you get focused and tune out all the stuff around you…..(its hot, its cold, everyone is negative around me, or excited around me, I forgot a bra, I need to use a pit wheel, that guy is hot, where is my mom? why do I have to pee……..AGAIN?) You can let distractions happen and roll off you and continue to focus on your race. You can be nervous on the line but you did your routine, so you are READY. May not be for everyone but it helps me to do the same thing at the same times before the race, especially in cross since you race at the same time each week.

8. People do weird shit when competing and the pressure is on, both before, during and after the race. Let your teammate’s have their space to do their thing. Some people get really nervous or crabby or silly or hyper. Not your concern, you are in your routine remember? Focus on you. People do and say stuff in the heat of competition that they normally wouldn’t. If you say or do something mean or crappy go apologize to the person after the race. Usually you will get a good laugh out of it.

9. Always bring your own water and lots of it. Port o potty water is not for human consumption.

10. Bike racing is expensive and takes a lot of stuff, stay organized and double check you have your stuff the day before, check your bike the day before, in fact make it part of your routine…….see #7 above

11. Racing is definitely physical, but also very, very mental (at least for me). I’d go as far to say 80% mental. You need to figure out how to get your head in the game, if it’s not, you have no chance and are just riding, not racing. Winning is even more mental. You have to WANT to win and believe you can win and know you can win. Or you never will. Some people just go in knowing this and accept nothing less (Sarah Rice), I am still learning about this.

12. Focus on what is happening in front of you, ignore everything behind you. Harder than it sounds.

After Downers

13. Beer and bike racing go hand in hand…….because racing is fun and people who race tend to be fun……and fun often involves beer (which is fun). You will get to know how to intertwine the 2….….some people can do both and just race hungover (Peter Monko). For us mere mortals you sometimes have to make the fun vs. doing well trade off decision or at least know your limit OR just accept you are going to suck the next day and keep the party going. We don’t get paid to do this after all.

14. But if you DO want to do your best and are targeting a specific race be nice to yourself……you are asking a lot out of your old bones. Lay off the sauce, eat well, sleep more, train hard and stick to your plan………you probably already know this drill if you are not still in college or Monko, in which case drink your face off and race your ass off!

15. It will be hard (it’s a race remember) and it will push you to your limits and beyond, you might even barf! Or cry! Or fall over! Or run into a garbage can! Or win! No matter what happens out there you will be stronger and let’s face it, the pro photog shots of you racing are pretty sweet!

16. Above all, if you raced 3 times or 30 times this year, finished last or won every race, IF YOU ARE NOT HAVING FUN YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG!

Epic last night at peppers

Great season Spidermonkeys! I am so proud to call each and every one of you my teammates. See you out there next year!

Montrose Cyclocross State Championship Photos

What an exciting weekend of racing! Our very own, Paul Decker was out at Montrose taking pictures and got some excellent shots. Paul is also our team’s best fundraiser. He had a great idea – if you see a picture that you like, make a donation of any size to our Bike MS page, and we’ll send you a high resolution version of that photo!

Just in time for the holidays, too.


DONATIONS CAN BE MADE HERE

SATURDAY

Cat 2/3/4 Non Championship

Women’s Cat 4

SUNDAY

Masters 40+

Masters 30+

Women’s Cat 1/2/3

Juniors

CAT 1/2/3

Cat 4

Cat 4/5

Volunteers

DONATIONS CAN BE MADE HERE

THANKS!

montrose

NORGE Ski Jump 2013

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by Peter Monko

The leftover turkey was still moist, the parking lots at the malls were all full, and all the Black Friday deals were already sold out but I did not care one bit. No, I had an appointment with Dr. Pain that afternoon. Unfortunately his office was all the way out in Fox River Grove at the bottom of a ski jump. I loaded up the car and made the hour long trek with Lindsey Fahey and her delicious pumpkin bread to Norge CX put on by Rob Curtis and his PSIMET crew.

This was the 3rd year of the race and my first time out there so I had no idea what to expect other than some hill climbing. We got there just in time to see Lucas Seibel speeding away to victory in the Single Speed race. After getting my number and pre-riding a bit, I saw that this was going to be a difficult race. The course had a variety of surfaces and in pure Rob Curtis fashion, this course had no flow to it at all. The east side of course was in a field that was bumpy, muddy, with deep gravel/sand in certain corners and even turkey sized boulders lying around. The west side of the course included a gravelly climb, some tricky off camber turns and 2 uphill forced dismounts.

Fresh off his win in the SS race, Lucas lined up in the pole position in the Cat 3 race and I lined up behind him in the 2nd row. It turned out to be the right wheel to follow as Lucas got the hole shot while the rest of the field got held up in the first tight turn. We crossed the road and made our way to the backside of the course where my troubles began. Due to the muddy run up after the barrier, I had trouble clipping in and lost a few spots. People started crashing left and right in the technical off camber turns that were starting to get a bit greasy. I avoided most of them but on the 2nd lap I had my own misfortune. Going into the second barrier I had trouble unclipping and crashed right over 2nd set of barriers. I crashed so hard that my rear wheel would not roll anymore. I lost about a minute and at least 10 spots as I realigned the wheel. I chased hard which led to some more bobbles and a dropped chain on the east side of the course. After a while I stopped counting how many times I crashed and lost track of the leaders. I ended up in a banged up and bruised 14th place while Lucas won his second race in a row. Way to represent Lucas!

I raced one more time that afternoon with Trent Williams and Hayes Sanborn in the Cat 1/2/3 race. The course was really tore up and slick by this point so I took it a bit slower in the technical sections. Turns out I took it a bit slower for the entire race but was only lapped once by the winner, Pro CX racer Brian Matter of the Trek Collective Team. If you’ve never seen a ski jump or raced Norge, I highly recommend making the trek out to Fox River Grove next Thanksgiving weekend.

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Photo by digitalcane

A Snapshot of Woodstock

by Kyle Kershasky

As I sit here writing this report with a bruised thumb and a some cross cough after racing in Woodstock at PSI-clocross for Life this weekend, I sometimes think of reasons why I like to race cross. The usual cliché answers come to mind. Gives me something to train for. Work on my bike technique. Cross train. Opportunity to invest in different kinds of tires, rims and body heat cream that randomly turns itself on when least expected. All legitimate cocktail conversations.

This past weekend I remembered the real reason why I like the cross season. You always, always learn something new. This time it was the hiz to the hoes, wait for it…..wait for it….. SNAPCHAT!!

And boom goes the dynamite.

Okay, so it’s not the ONLY or specific reason why I like cross. Meaning if you took away Snapchat there would be something else that would metaphorically take its place. Like white tigers being thrown across a sand pit or circus themed costumes and handups. For today though, Snapchat was the fun factor of choice.

Snapchat goes with cross like:

Twisted goes with Sister

Like Mack goes with Daddy

Like Taffy goes with Cinnamon

Roughsketch

A very rough idea of a Snapchat photo

And for the purists, yes cross is fun on its own. No question. Woodstock’s course had a ton of fun obstacles. Like a big sand pit where you can post pictures with the Kid Rock lyrics “GET IT THE PIT AND TRY AND LOVE SOMEONE.”

There was also a toilet bowl section. Screaming down hills through the woods on rough terrain. A hill that takes you within feet of going directly into a pond. A barrier with a hill immediately after it where I used my Tim Johnson cyclocross camp tips and ran like Moses while shouldering my bike. Add it all up and it’s a long and challenging course.

For those of you who are still wondering what Snapchat is, let me sum it up in one sentence. One mature sentence. One G rated sentence. One day you will just have to see for yourself. But you have to trust me the sugar is just plain funny, okay? Trust me for 10 seconds. Or 1 second, depending on the Snapchat masterpiece.

To recap my race, the day was about putting an exclamation point on my week. When you’re having fun you really don’t care about daily troubles and stresses. I also didn’t really care if I would start out 70 and finish 42 like the previous week. Or if I hypothetically crash on the last lap and even though I would hop right back on with my chain off and have 10 people pass me. Okay so that sucked. However, if I didn’t have two Twizzlers in my mouth while giving some phenomenal Snapchat photo opps, then maybe, big maybe, then maybe I would have finished a few places higher up. However, I like to remind myself not everything can be perfect. Everything can be fun.

Of course being fast is always fun as Lindsey and Sophia proved by getting on the podium for the Cat 4s at Woodstock. But having their own paparazzi getting a Snapchat photo opp? How fun is THAT?!

Woodstockpaparazzi

Snapchat paparazzi


My favorite fun factor race is very soon on the weekend of December 7th at Montrose. As you know Spidermonkeys are sponsoring the race. Will you be there to volunteer? Will you be there to cheer? Will you be there dressed up in costume and cheering paraphernalia and make some Montrose Madness? I guarantee you’ll have a freaky fun time whether you are racing or spectating. Exclamation point, Snapchat!

After last weekend I decided to actually download the app Snapcaht. My username is KyleMobileKyle. And if you want to join but can’t think of a username I heard CoolCatYourName is kool. For a sneak peak of fun, check out this video I made at Montrose a few years ago.

Have some fun!

Cyclocross in Oregon

by Kristi Hanson
At the end of September, I made a big move cross country to the wonderful city of Portland. Overall it has been a good transition, but I have to admit the one thing that has surprised me the most is with a little sport we call CYCLOCROSS.

Believe it or not prior to moving to Portland, I actually thought I was some what good at cyclocross. I was not the fastest girl out there for sure but after working hard over the summer, focusing on building strength/power (Thank You Newt Cole and the Morning Bird Crew), and mountain biking to gain the technical skills, I thought I had a chance of having a really good season. That is until I did my first race in the CROSS CRUSADE series.

Holy moly they do things different out here!! I have never gotten my ass handed to me so hard. The only way I have been able to describe the difference is that they take every one thing in each of the Chicago races that is hard and put them all into one.

To give you an example, I have put together a collection of pictures and words from this weekend’s race to try and give you an idea of what it is like to race here.

The start is pretty much the same except only the top ten in each category get called up. Then the rest are staged randomly by the last digit of your number. We reuse our numbers here so it really is the luck of the draw. One week you can be up front and the next you can be at the back of the pack. Unless you are the fast few that get called up.

Also the other difference is unlike the Chicago Cross Cup series a race can have more then 100 people in it. This weekend we had over 150 women on the course all at the same time from 6 different categories. They are started about 30 seconds apart and are scored separately. How the officials do it I have no idea! They are amazing!!

After the start, the first challenge of the course were some short and punching up and down hills. That looked something like this:


Photo by Jon Fogarty

The next challenge was the coffin barriers.


Photo From Cross Crusade Crew


Photo by Chris Baker

At this point, it is all pretty similar to stuff you would see in a Chicago Cross Cup course however, things are about to get interesting.

Next challenge is hill run up 1 of 3. The steepest and hardest of them all.


Photo From Halloween Cross Crusade Crew

This is followed by some flat switch backs and then some single track before you hit hill run up 2 of 3.


Photo From Halloween Cross Crusade Crew

Which then lead us to the scary downhill. It was ridable but really no good line. You had to just trust it and hoped for the best.


Photo From Halloween Cross Crusade Crew

This was immediately followed by hill run up 3 of 3 and depending on how talented you were it was either a short run up at the top or a longer run up from the bottom. Only person I saw ride the top was Trebon.


Photo by Jon Fogarty


Photo by Jon Fogarty

And then it was on to the Fly Over which you road up and over.


Photo from Halloween Cross Crusade Crew

But there were those that truly flew over the fly over! Impressive!!!


Photo by Halloween Cross Crusade crew

Lastly the course finished up with the stair run up and it was on to the finish.


Photo from Cross Crusade Crew

And then you did it all over again 4 more times. It just so happened that during our race it was raining so it was a little muddier than these pictures show but that is pretty par for the course in Oregon where it rains a lot.

After my first race of the year, I learned very quickly I was in no shape for what these ladies can do. It was a very humbling experience but I am sticking with it. I have continued to work hard and adjusted my work outs to fit the style of racing I am doing. Hello hill running and hard hill intervals.

Each race I do a little better and that is all I can really ask for. It also helps that racing has allowed me to meet an awesome group of very supportive ladies (West Coast Women Cycling), which I now call teammates along with my favorite Spidermonkeys.

Although the style of racing has changed, one thing I can say is the Oregon cycling community is the same as Chicago!! They are very supportive and welcoming!

Salle’s Cycle Group Ride

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Salle’s Cycle Group Ride, Atibaia, Brazil – October 12, 2013
by Paul Decker

Over the past several years work has frequently taken me to Atibaia, Brazil, a small city located in the mountains north of Sao Paulo. Typically I am in and out quickly, but my current trip required me to stay for 10 days.

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Facing a weekend away from home I packed my running gear assuming that would be the extent of my fitness activities. Walking home from work one evening, I visited Salle’s Bikes, the local shop in Atibaia. Between one employee’s partial English and my very, very poor Portuguese, he was able to explain there was a group ride on Saturday at 3:00PM and there was one Americano who participated. Given the narrow, rough roads and aggressive driving, most cycling in Brazil is done on mountain bikes with road biking done primarily on the interstate highways.

salle3I was able to borrow a Giant 29er, cycling clothes, gloves and a water bottle from a friend. On the way to the ride a guy in a red kit blew past me, dodging in and out traffic on a narrow road. I knew he had to be going to the same group ride and I thought I was going to be in trouble. When I got to Salles, five guys were waiting, all of whom were obviously experienced, strong mountain bikers. More doubts. They were very friendly and although we could hardly communicate they were more than welcoming. Jason, the Americano from Oklahoma arrived, as did another friend and transplant from Iowa, so communications became easier. Jason assured me that it was an inclusive, no drop ride and not to worry.

When the group was complete we headed for the mountains, leaving town on roads similar to Ridge late on a Saturday morning. Pare, Portuguese for stop, really means yield (sometimes), so intersections require a little more concentration than at home. The traffic circles add even more adventure.

We ended up on 30km dirt road loop popular among local cyclists. The climbs were intense and I was pleased to stay with them. The views were also spectacular.

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After a short rest at the summit, we enjoyed a long, fast descent, clearly a skill one does not get to practice in Chicago. At such speeds the second half of the ride went quickly and we were soon relaxing at a fruit market enjoying a novel designer recovery drink – coconut water.

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It was a terrific afternoon, meeting new friends and enjoying a Brazilian version of our group rides. Next time I am in Atibaia I look forward to again joining this warm, welcoming group of cyclists. To my new friends from the Salles Bikes; thanks for being such awesome hosts. When you visit Chicago, please join us for a Spidermonkey ride.

Hopkins Park 2013

by Katie Kolon

I wanted to race Hopkins Park because it was a course I had not yet done and there was a flyover, which sounded exciting. I drove out with my friend Sara and after getting situated and registered, we took a practice lap. The course was very different from Jackson Park the previous weekend with a lot more stretches to speed up and pass people rather than spinning yourself into delirium via switchbacks. Still, there were plenty of interesting technical parts to suit my fancy.

After cheering on some Spidermonkeys and warming up, I rolled up to the start line where I wound up right next to Liz Farina Markel. We were chatting for a while about how we didn’t understand how some people who had never raced were staged up front and that it was potentially dangerous to have newbies ahead of experienced racers. I still don’t understand how the staging system works, but as irony would have it, shortly after the whistle, I wound up in a pile up, sandwiched between Liz’s bike and my own. I felt bad because I was keeping Liz from going, but I couldn’t get up because my foot was still clipped in and my leg was pinned between bikes, with my body weight holding it down so I asked her to help me get up. She did and raced off and I followed, thinking I need to stay with her because she beat me last week.

flyover

Keeping Liz in my sights, I pushed hard to pass a lot of people and relied on my confidence in corners to pinch of several more people and keep inching ahead. There was a stretch of straight asphalt where I sprinted and this was followed by a steep, but short hill. At the top of the hill there were some off-camber turns and a barrier going up hill, followed by a switchback at the top of the hill. Once I made it to the top of the hill, I had passed a significant amount of people and was feeling like my crash at the beginning wouldn’t matter too much. Plus, a lot of people were really slow getting back on their bike after the second barrier. I jumped on quickly and tore back down the hill. At the bottom of the hill there was a muddy portion and a lip between the mud and asphalt that some people had suggested trying to hop so as not to get a flat. I tried to bunny hop this section, but I was not clipped in and therefore did not have much stability and dropped my chain. Shaking from adrenaline, I took way too long to get my chain back on and was passed by nearly everyone that I had just spent my energy passing. (Note: only a couple days later did I realize that I also put my chain into the largest front chain ring, not doing myself any more favors.)

Once again I set out to chase Liz, but also relaxed a bit because I decided I would just do what I could at this point. The course had a lot of wide sweeping turns that you could take at a fast pace, which I did. You first passed under the fly-over, near the monkey cheering section before snaking back around to go over the fly-over. The fly-over was fun and I kept Kelly Clarke’s advice in mind each time to just make sure my front wheel was straight before going down the ramp. After the fly over there was a tree splitting the course near the apex of a wide right turn and it seemed most people took the right side because there was more space, but I decided that the beginning advice of the announcer to “take the left side, but I’m not telling where” meant to take this left side here. It was fine but I don’t know if it was a better choice.

Towards the end of the lap there was a wooded trail that was narrow and very muddy, so usually people slowed down a lot here, but again I took the left side (maybe he meant it here but this seemed obvious?) because it was less sticky and was able to get through this section a lot faster than some. Later on, when passing a junior I advised him to do the same.

At some point in my first or second lap I passed Liz, but I could almost always see her behind me when I went around turns and I used this as motivation to not slow down. I also kept in mind the advice of Kristen Meshberg, or was it Sara Rice, to race the race you’re in. This helped me focus on those around me that I could pick off or stay ahead of and not feel defeated by the fact that I would not be able to catch the people further up who I may have otherwise been racing against. Luckily, at the end of my second lap I saw the two laps to go sign. I was not happy that there were two laps, but this also allowed me to mentally prepare for the last lap. I never used to pay attention to these lap signs, but then again, I always used to get pulled.

I kept sprinting on the asphalt, taking corners fast, and trying to keep going. Towards the end of my last lap, when going over the double barriers on the flat, I saw a toddler that couldn’t have been older than four point at me and tell his dad, “She’s struggling!” His dad hushed him and told him that wasn’t nice. On the other hand, it was probably the best heckle I ever got. Too bad I didn’t have the breath to shout at the kid, “You think you’re so tough, why don’t you try it?! These barriers are half your height!” It reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from Bottle Rocket where Anthony comes back to Dignan after talking to a young girl:

Anthony: She thinks I’m a failure.
Dignan: What? She said you were a failure? What has she ever accomplished with her life that’s so great, man? Nothing.

In the end, I came in 29/43, which is still better than any of my prior seasons. I don’t know what it is but somehow I’m doing much better than my past two years’ attempts. I am not getting pulled, I’m not as gassed, and I’m getting points! I might even be starting to like cyclocross. What is happening?

ladies

Levi Leipheimer Gran Fondo 2013

by Tony Green

Introduction
Last year, I rode the Levi Leipheimer Gran Fondo for the first time. It’s a spectacular 103 mile ride in Sonoma with over 7000 riders and 9000 feet of climbing. It’s not the hardest ride I’ve ever done (that peculiar honor goes to the Deathride in South Lake Tahoe) but it’s a great one. 2012 was my first season road riding again after a long layoff and I didn’t exactly distinguish myself, really suffering greatly in the mountains.

Mountains you say? Oh Yes. They look like this:

mtn
VIEW THE COURSE

Here’s how I did in 2012: http://www.strava.com/activities/23688925

By the way, that year my heart rate monitor was malfunctioning – so my HR wasn’t really 245. It just felt like it.

I decided to try it again in 2013. Hopefully with a better result.

Travel Logistics
First question when traveling to a ride like is usually “Do I ship my bike or rent one out there?” In 2012, I went out for only 3 days, so I rented an S-Works Tarmac, specially provided for the event by Specialized. Nicest bike I’ve ever ridden. Nicer, frankly, than I deserve. This year, my wife Lisa and I had a friend’s wedding on Orcas Island near Seattle the weekend before the Gran Fondo, so we decided to make a vacation of it. We’d fly to Seattle, take the ferry to Orcas island, go to the wedding, drive back to Seattle and then down the coast to Northern California, stay in Sonoma for 4 days for the ride, then head down to San Francisco before flying home. I wanted to make sure I could ride as often as I wanted, whenever I wanted, so renting from multiple places seemed impractical. So I decided to ship my bike. I rented a bike case from Element Multi-Sport and got everything boxed up pretty well: Bike, tools, floor pump, tubes, pretty much everything I’d need. Clothing was another packing challenge. The weather in Seattle was 50 degrees and raining. The forecast for California was 78 degrees and Sunny. My solution? I took every piece of bike clothing I had.

travel

There’s no such thing as traveling light with a bike.

Importantly, I had assured Lisa that this trip was a vacation first and a bike race second. Otherwise, it might have been a slightly harder sell. I also provided a “no cranky” guarantee, so if I couldn’t ride enough, or was feeling tired, or sick of lugging the bike box around – I couldn’t get cranky. Because we’re on vacation. Right?

Orcas Island – Thursday thru Sunday

flannel

‘Tour de Flannel’ – I never did check to see if there actually is a race called the Tour de Flannel on Orcas Island.


We made it to Orcas Island on Thursday night, so got the bike back together and rode Friday. I quickly learned that there isn’t a flat patch of road anywhere on Orcas Island (Note: I’m sure that’s not really true, but I sure as hell didn’t find it…) The riding there is great – very undulating with a particularly great 5.5 mile 2000’ climb up to Mt. Constitution. The weather was pretty rough. Raining, foggy and cold. It was bad enough climbing in that, but the subsequent descents (especially from Mt. Constitution) were pretty tricky – technical twisties with leaves and pine needles on the road, standing water and rainwater runoff plus fog being blown in from the ocean reducing visibility.
fog

This is the top of Mt. Constitution. With the fog, it was all I could see.


I was on the brakes the whole descent. I saw only two other riders, heading down as I was climbing up. The first passed me with a glance and said “Hey man” the same way you might if you saw someone at a funeral you recognized and wanted to commiserate with. The second guy looked up, smiled, and said “Ah good – another idiot.” All in all, made for a pretty miserable, soaking, freezing ride.

I did it again the next day.

Strava Links:

Friday: http://www.strava.com/activities/86339550
Saturday: http://www.strava.com/activities/86339543

brake

Technical term for that bottom right pad: Not good


Seattle – Monday
Legs sore from climbing and the rest of me hungover from the wedding, we got back to Seattle and I went out for a recovery ride on some of the city’s bike trails. Someone had clued me in on the Burke-Gilman trail as being a particularly good one. It is. In fact, the whole city is great for riding. Bike lanes everywhere, lots of riders and drivers are respectful. It was, of course, raining but at least it was flat. I was really enjoying myself until I noticed that not only had the center bolt on the left side of my crankset worked its way out about ½”, but also that my front right brake pad was completely worn down. I think that riding the brakes hard on the descents on Orcas Island had finally worn them down. I stopped by a local bike shop, where the mechanic offered up a clear-headed, insightful diagnosis: “Yeah…that‘s not good.” I bought new pads and decided I’d install them and fix the crank bolt once we got to Sonoma. It was a good reminder that on a trip like this, you need to be ready to handle maintenance and mechanicals. There’s no reason they should stop you from riding.
Strava Link: http://www.strava.com/activities/86339539

Sonoma – Thursday
Finally – California! Now, I know there are parts of this state that ARE overrated. But Sonoma’s probably not one of them. It was warm and Sunny. The people are nice – possibly permanently high? Plus, I’d fixed the crank bolt, installed new brake pads, degreased, cleaned and re-lubed the bike. I’d even laundered my kit and put on some fresh bar tape. I was feeling good. We met up with my friend/rider Kevin and his wife Ruth at Francis Ford Coppola’s winery and resort in Healdsburg. Kevin, who lives and rides in Marin, had mapped out a route for us, so we got a nice 45 miles in before heading back to shower, drink free wine at a private party we crashed and have dinner at the winery. Nice.
Strava Link: http://www.strava.com/activities/86879812

Ride Day – Saturday

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Start Line: See how assured and relaxed I look? Me neither.


We lined up at 730am for an 8:00am start. However, with 7500 riders, what that means is that I rolled across the start line about 830am. Standing around beforehand, you start to question your clothing choices. The forecast was that the temperature would be mid-80s and sunny by 11am. But at 730am it was 50 degrees and I had my regular Spider monkey kit with a base layer and arm warmers. It didn’t feel like enough at the time. In 3 hours’ time, it’d be plenty.

Mentally, I had chunked the ride up as follows:
1. Start to Cazadero
2. Kings Ridge climb – first part
3. Kings Ridge climb – second part
4. Descent to Portugese Beach
5. Coleman Road Climb
6. Occidental Road descent to finish

Start to Cazadero
The first 30 miles from the start to the town of Cazadero are pretty straightforward. My goal in this first section was to make my way up the group to get out of all the congestion and also to make sure I didn’t miss the cut-off time at Cazadero. The first 20 miles, the roads are closed, so we had 2 full lanes and I was able to speed along pretty well. However, the sheer number of riders on some narrower parts meant that we were moving like cattle in some places. At one tight, narrow left hander, we even had to walk our bikes. Motorists were sitting at junctions, held there by the Highway Patrol letting the riders through. I noticed that not only did most riders make a point of thanking the volunteers and cops; they also thanked the drivers for their patience – a nice touch. There’s a nice warm-up climb at the 10 mile mark that’s about 4 miles long. It’s the appetizer before the entrée. This is where the traffic really starts to thin out. Plus, all the pack chatter stops. You know when you fly out to Vegas and the flight is loud with everyone yelling and boasting? That’s what the first 10 miles are like. You know the flight back from Vegas that’s deadly quiet with everyone thinking about how much money they lost? That’s what the first climb is like. It just suddenly gets quiet.

Once you’re at top of that first climb you can tear up the next 10 miles down into Cazadero. It feels good – a nice reminder that, yes, you can actually ride a bike well and fast. And that’s good. Because the real work of the day is coming up next.

Kings Ridge – Part 1
If that warm-up climb is the appetizer, the 11 mile climb up King’s Ridge is the entrée. You have to remind yourself that’s what you’re really there for. Everyone gets quiet again. Once in a while, you’ll hear someone mutter “And we paid money for this, right?” And someone in the group will try to laugh or maybe just grunt in response. The sound you hear most often is people trying to shift into a lower gear, but realizing they don’t have one; they’re already in their lowest gear. I was guilty of this too. I knew I was in my lowest gear, but every once in a while, I’d flick the shift level just to check. A long climb like this is a meditative exercise – you’re just counting pedal strokes, synchronizing your breathing with your pedal cadence, trying (trying!) to keep you upper body relaxed and trying to make the smallest adjustments that just might make it a little easier. I wish I could tell you more about this part of the climb, but I really don’t remember that much. I remember leaving the Cazadero rest stop and taking the cut-off road for the start of the climb where a cop shouted “Good Luck!” at me. Then, 90 minutes later, somehow, I was at the top. And still less than halfway done.

climb

That’s right – Not the one you’re about to throw up on now, the more difficult one ahead


Kings Ridge – Part 2
I didn’t hang around any of the rest stops too long, even the one at the top of the first King’s Ridge climb, figuring that I was better off getting going than waiting around thinking about the road ahead. So that’s what I did. After the ‘entrée’ of the first part of Kings Ridge, the second part is like dessert. Only not as fun. It’s like being completely stuffed after the entrée, yet you say ‘Sure, I’ll have dessert!” – Even though you know you it’s bad for you. I don’t remember much about this one either, except that it seems to go on forever. You play these little games where you look at the miles on your GPS and think “This next turn, that must be the summit” but it never is. Or you look at the tree-line ahead of you and can see blue sky through the trees instead of more mountains and you think “Ok, so THAT must be the summit” – but it’s not. The road curls round on another switchback and there’s more 10% grade to climb.

Here’s another fun thing. Along all the climbs they post these signs: “Difficult Climb Ahead.” I’m sure these are meant to be helpful and informative but they are actually incredibly demoralizing: “Oh, so the difficult one is not the one I’m on now, but the one ahead. Got it thanks!” Or, “Sure, you say ‘Difficult Climb Ahead’ but what I hear is ‘I’m fat.’” Yeah.

descent

Why is this man smiling? Because he’s going downhill.


Descent to Portuguese Beach
At this point, many of you are probably getting sleepy. Others may be asking: “Tony, all this talk about climbing hills, aren’t there any descents?” Yes. Yes there are. And the descent from the top of Kings Ridge down to Portuguese beach is a beauty. Smooth switch backs at 10% over 5 miles or so down to the Pacific. It’s a blast. The best rollercoaster ride you’ll ever take. That said, I tend to be pretty careful in descents these days. I don’t let the bike run as much as I used to and I tend to cover and ride the brakes a lot more. Maybe it’s just getting older and having a growing sense of my own mortality. But – I give plenty of distance between myself and the descender in front of me. I’m very careful about passing on providing plenty of room. I tend to descend in my drops, not just because it’s faster but because I have a better mechanical advantage braking from that position if I have to (useful SpiderMonkey safety clinic tip!). I also feel I can better countersteer to hold a corner line better.

Oh, and by the way, screaming past me, super close, at 50mph, yelling “On your left!” as if that makes everything ok and cutting in my line?

So not Pro.

Coleman Valley Road.
This is the last climb of the day and even the race packet refers to it as ‘The infamous Coleman Valley Road.’ Reason being, you’re cruising down Highway 1, rolling nice and fast, turn left onto Coleman Valley Road and boom! The road goes up, straight up, right away. Continuing the meal analogy – we’ve had the appetizer, entrée, dessert – Colman Valley Road is the bottle of Grappa someone decides to order. It tastes terrible now and you’ll feel terrible the next day. It’s completely unnecessary and it’s only purpose is to punish you. You turn off Highway One, shift from your highest to lowest gear instantly and start the grind upwards. Diana Nyad, the long distance swimmer who just swam from Cuba to Key West said that she would sing The Beatles’ ‘Paperback Writer’ to herself to keep her breathing and stroke synchronized. I found that the Swell Season’s ‘Falling Slowly’ worked well for me. I quickly renamed it ‘Climbing Slowly.’ I don’t even like the song.

The last 18 miles are fast and flat and I hooked up with some other riders to work together to the finish.

I’d been texting Lisa with my estimated finish times (“4pm sharp”, “Uh, maybe 4:45”, “More like 5-ish”) and was delighted to see her when I crossed the finish line. It’s really nice to have someone cheering for you.

summary

Summary
Overall I was about 30 minutes faster than last year. I was a bit disappointed. I thought a good season riding with SpiderMonkey, 3000 miles training and preparation would give me a better time. Comparing this ride with last year’s, I was a little faster overall and definitely stopped fewer times. I certainly felt better than last year. My flat speed was improved, but climbing speed was about the same. On these long climbs, my HR was sitting at 150 and my Lactate Threshold is currently slightly below that.

Strava Link: http://www.strava.com/activities/87171468

My takeaway is this: Climbing is a completely different animal from what we normally do in the Midwest. It’s almost a different sport. Normal flat training will have minimal impact in a ride like this where the focus is on sustained, tough climbs.

My goals are to increase Power, raise LT and drop weight. Same as everyone else, I guess. I’m planning on doing it again next year. Lisa and I have planned to have our vacation in Sonoma the week after the ride, so we can eat and drink at will. My friend Kevin, who rode it with me in 2012, is doing it in 2014 too. Thing is, he wants to really go for it. Kill it.

Looks like I’ll need to get out on those Sunday and Wednesday night SpiderMonkey rides in 2014.

Trek Collective CX Cup

by Lindsey Fahey

Last year I knew I was attracted to cyclocross since I love fall in general, like the cold and love to be dirty. Cross sounded like a sport that was right up my alley, but I needed a bike which I finally purchased this spring.

After really enjoying my first two cross experiences at Jackson Park Relay Cross and then Patriot Cross in Rantoul, IL, Nate Miller suggested I sign up and carpool with him to the Trek Collective Cup in Waterloo Wisconsin. I knew I wanted to race once between Patriot and Hopkins Park to make up for missing Jackson Park (first CCC race). I was at work when he mentioned it so quickly looked at my calendar, saw I was free, checked out the website, thought the logo looked pretty cool, and registered myself.

CxC_CUP_LOGO_final-HORZ

I told the reigning Cross Boss Kelly Clarke about what I had done and she said that’s cool, but that’s a serious race……….she probably would not have done it her first year. Crap, I thought, what have I gotten myself into??? I figured I would just do the best I could and would have my usual goal in crit racing: beat 10 people, and if that doesn’t happen try (TRY) to avoid coming in DFL). I watched the official course pre ride video and thought I it was probably way scarier in person. I was right.

After making sure I had all the stuff I’d need for the day 10 times (sports bra, on body so could not forget this time, although did forget an actual bra for after race) and leaving bright and early in Nate’s fully loaded Subaru (mostly with Trent’s stuff including a bucket, scrub brushes of various sizes, 2 bags and many wheels) we arrived in Waterloo, WI. I quickly realized this was a VERY fancy race complete with huge start area and announcer booth. We went into the fancy Trek factory and got our numbers and picked up our fancy party favors for doing the race (nice glass, nice beer coozy, nice poster, a cowbell, some lube). They even had set up a bunch of sweet Trek cross bikes for racers to ooogle over as they got their numbers. This was already way different from the other races I had done. I raced first so suited up to pre ride………..and came to a screeching halt as soon as I saw the first massive downhill with a 90 degree turn straight into a muddy run up. YIKES STRIPES, I thought maybe this is what KC was talking about! Trent rode down and survived so I let go of my brakes (and quickly re clenched them) and was off, turned out to not be too bad. Very hard, but I made it through 2 pre ride laps in one piece.

I was not totally sure how to warm up for cross so ventured off down a country road, climbed a hill and sprinted around a parking lot a bit and then sprinted up and down a road near the course some as well. Feeling as good as I was going to, I headed to the staging area and got called into the start grid. I was really nervous at this point, and wondering if KC was right, maybe this WAS too big of a race for my second real cross race in life. Too late, self, I thought, it’s the same thing, you have started many bike races, this one may have fancy stuff, but you still just pedal along and try to stay on the bike like always, pretty simple. I took some deep breaths, ate a gel, said a few Hail Marys since I couldn’t think of anything else to repeat to myself, and sat there in the start grid. I was glad that Rosette Reynolds from Roscoe Village Bikes was in the field; at least I knew a familiar face.

After an eternity we were off and I gunned it as hard as could, getting a good spot mostly clear of traffic heading onto the grassy part of the course. I wasn’t sure how to take the curbs that came first with 2x4s stacked against them in a good way so just sort of rammed over them……………..nothing broke and I stayed on bike so I figured that was as good a way as any. We came to the first swirly twirly thing where you went down a steep part and had to get enough speed to wind up a quick swirly hill over a culvert. The girls around me lost control and ran into each other on the downhill, I avoided the pile up but couldn’t get up the hill right. Lots of swearing ensued, but Rosette and I scooted out of the mess and got going again. I passed a lot of people right away and then came to the drop off. Bombs awayyyyyyyyyyy! I thought and skidded my way down, hopped off (trying to avoid deep mud) and sucked it up, powering up the hill. I jumped back on my bike and clipped in ok and kept powering along into the turny sections of the course. Later in the race my cleats filled with mud after the run up so I kind of rolled around on my bike after the run up part, banging my feet on my pedals to get the mud out. I was so thankful we had practiced cornering over and over the Thursday before because I could confidently and quickly take the corners with minimal braking and kept gaining ground, passing a few more people and Rosette at one point. Dang I thought, Rosette is a beast, I won’t be DFL at least!

I kept going and hit the barriers fine every time, being tall helps a lot to get over them I have found. A while later Rosette got me again along the start area, which I was fine with. The field stretched a bit and I was alone, but knew there was a girl not too far behind. Keep the hammer down I thought to myself. It helped to see Trent, Nate and Brad cheering along the course. As the laps went on I learned (sometimes the hard way) where to shift and exactly where I needed to be gear wise or course wise to take the next tricky part the best way and where the parts were that I could go particularly fast on, so made sure to power through them as fast as I could. There was a particularly tricky off camber area into a small swirly descent that led to a short but very steep hill. If taken right you could ride it but if taken wrong you tipped over. Throughout the laps I handled this with varying degrees of success, nailing it once, scooting up a bit once, running it once and tipping over once.

Last lap things got a little fuzzy and I remember thinking that there was a dead chipmunk on the course, and at least no one had run him over again so he was still in one piece. (SELF! Who cares??? Concentrate!!!) As I came around the last winding turns I kept thinking (or saying out loud maybe), you are almost done, just stay upright, nothing new here, watch the gravel, please oh please just stay upright. I finished and heard the announcer say “Lindsey Fahey with Spidermonkey Cycling coming across the line……and she’s…….smiling?? maybe she wants to do another lap?” I was like oh crap 1) you are smiling like an idiot (should look more badass in cross) and 2) do I have another lap???? I may die. Not sure what to do, I saw Rosette stopped up ahead and decided if she stopped I’m stopping.

I pulled up by her and was like oh lord, how did we do?? (pant pant, cough cough). I looked back and saw some girls trickling across the line. She was like oh like 6th maybe? I was like WHAT??? You are nuts no way. She was like yeah we did good, great race! Not believing her we went and rode around to cool out and got our stuff to change. I got out of my sweaty clothes and checked the results. Sure enough I had come in 7th place out of 23 ladies. I was so happy I had finally done something somewhat decent in bike racing after my lack luster first road season. I immediately reported in to Capitan Clarke on how I did and that I loved cross and wanted to race it every day.

After my race more fun ensued as I cheered on the male Monkeys and enjoyed a band, some New Belgium beer and a pulled pork sandwich. I went home happy and excited for the rest of the cross season. Congrats to Trent Williams, Mark Z, Nate Miller and Brad Erickson who also got out there and did some damage in Waterloo! It is a do-not-miss race for the Monkey CX-ers next year!

gang

ABR Team Time Trial

tt

by Lauren Wissman

So, thanks to my sponsor Sarah Rice Inc. and my awesomely reckless + badass teammates, I’ve had the opportunity to scare myself shitless multiple times this season (without knowing it at the time). The ABR TTT was no exception.

I don’t want to say I’m grateful for Sarah’s hand injury, because that sounds (and is) mean, but having the opportunity to ride with Daphne Karagianis, Stacy Appelwick, and KMesh was a huge deal to me; easily the highlight of my season. Sarah had talked to me about subbing in for her when I picked up Wallace last week; which I thought was loco (Sarah Rice does not have subs). Then she started name dropping the rest of the team…you’d be nervous too. Anyway, I saw Kristen at the track the Thursday before and she asked if I wanted in. So that’s that, on for a 40-70km TTT on Sunday.

Daphne texted me Saturday, “I’ll get you at 5:30a so we can make Kristen’s by 6:15! Get some rest and eat some pasta tonight!” Naturally, if you read my ToAD race report, you know that I way over-prepare ;) My itinerary: German fest Friday night, 6:30a Sat. departure for Patriot CX, Women’s 4s race w/ mud pit, sand v-ball court, swirly-whirlies (ask Lindsey), barriers, hop-a-logs, you name it, a legitimate hand-up session which may have been more tiring than the actual race, a Taco-Bell Mexican pizza for dinner (yes, I chose this night out of the past 7 years to eat taco-bell), got back around 8ish, got to Sarah’s around 9 to pick up Billy the TT ride, got him ready to go, went for a test-ride (always test ride a bike that feels unusual to you at night on a street with multiple and frequent bus routes), went home, killed 2 hours for no reason, went to bed ~1am. Pasta and sleep…2 for 2;)

Sunday: all went as planned getting to Kankakee. I met Stacy and Chris, our fourth team member (national champion on the track) and coach for the day, who were extremely helpful and friendly. We talked about how to pull and for how long, echeloning, starting out easy to save for the cross-eyed sprint at the end, rotating pulls through corners, what order to tackle the hill, what order to start in, etc. I didn’t know what kind of time-trialist I was and neither did they. The uncertainty was what made me nervous.

We suited up and went for a warm-up. List of things I borrowed for the day:
1. Full TT bike (Ridley Cheetah w/ Psimet tubulars)
2. Aero helmet
3. Garner jersey (Kristen + Stacy’s track team)
4. Sarah’s Sidi shoes
5. Sarah’s road Pedals
6. Sarah’s confidence

Really, the only things I was wearing that were mine were my socks (extra cushy since the shoes were a little big), sports bra, shorts with a built in pocket, and contacts. If Sarah and I had been the same prescription, I would have borrowed her Oakley’s too.

I was glad for our warm-up because I got some of the pre-ache out my legs. We basically were going the speed we were planning to go during the race, which I was happy to learn upon returning to the start. It also gave me some much-needed practice on aero bars, which I still felt fidgety on. I was as prepared as I could be, so when we all rolled up to the start, the ‘just flippin’ do it’ mentality kicked in and the relaxation followed. The race tactics and advice I’d received came easily with a clear head. All I had to focus on was making solid pulls and enjoying the ride. I don’t remember much of the race except getting to go fast…and the little off-roading adventure I had on the first and only corner I pulled in. Fact: you don’t have the best turn radius on aero bars, which I realized while tearing through the gravel shoulder of the road into some nice homeowner’s front lawn. I played it off like it was on purpose and swung back onto the road to finish my pull. Glad to have some cross under my belt:)

Bottom line: most fun ride to date.

We took a spin after and then came back to hear the results. We were just over an hour (1:01:58) for around 26 miles I think. Kristen wanted under 60 min so we’ll just have to try again next year; if Sarah is busy on her fat bike I might have a spot;) I’m confident we could shave off a few minutes.

If riding with fast ladies in Lycra and sperm helmets doesn’t make you feel empowered then I don’t know what would. I’m honored to have gotten the chance to ride with such strong, awesome, encouraging women. Thanks Kristen and Sarah for lighting the TT fire.

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