Photo by our own Mark Zalewski
See another awesome photo here

by Sarah Rice

Where to begin?

At the start line. The women 3/4 s race was cancelled and we were delayed a long time due to a horrendous crash. The news from my friend Debra Sunderland who went down was not good. I said prayers for her while the local high school band played the star spangled banner against a cacophony of pro women letting air out of their tires. The sky grew darker and darker.

On the course. The rain was so heavy we could not see. I could hear raucous cheering from my Spidermonkey teammates and local racers, and it really fired me up to keep moving up and race well. I memorized the locations of the manhole covers, the best lines, and the places where the water was deep. When I rode through the “lake” at the bottom of the course, I’d downshift 3 gears and stand up out of it to regain lost momentum. With 8 to go, I saw Starla Teddergreen from Vanderkitten taking a hot outside line, thinking, hey that looks like a good move! The crunch as her helmet hit the curb made me vomit on my thigh, and I inadvertently let a gap open up. A gal yelled at me to close it. I did.

Neutralized. I knew it would happen after Starla’s crash. I was about 10 wheels back, in decent position. I blew my nose and spat on my glasses to defog them- an old swimmer trick-while we waited. We’d have only a 3 lap race after the restart, so my start would be critical. Clipped in-BAM- YES! But then Christina Gokey-Smith mis-clipped and ran into me, forcing me to clip out and lose my awesome start. I cussed, then said let’s chase back on together. We did. I laughed at myself a little for cussing out one of the best female bike racers in history.

Shoulda gambled. I spent the first 2 laps after the restart gunning it to gain position. They called a $200 second last lap “gambler prime”, and I had a good shot. I decided to tuck in ~4th wheel instead of burning all my matches to take it. I went through corner 1 in great position, then ran out of gas. Lost ~15 spots to finish 20th.

WHY. Why do I do this? Why do I risk losing everything I have, and everything I am, for this? I stared at the ceiling in the middle of the night after Glencoe asking why, as did every woman who raced it this year (except one…). I held my husband Eric and my cat Annie on either side. Eric felt warm and he smelled good. He was snoring a little. I stroked Annie’s fur. She purred. I do this because days like Saturday make me grateful for all that I have and all that I am.

Thank you. To Eric, to Annie, to my wonderful Spidermonkey teammates (especially Kristen Meshberg, who was in the same race, and who has taught me how to be brave and optimistic time and again), to the- no- to MY Chicago bike racing community, to my lab members, colleagues, family, and friends. I love my insane, intense life and I am grateful that you are part of it.

My Glencoe Grand Prix trading card. This is my “naughty face”—When I was a kid I’d make that face before I cut loose and misbehaved without fear of repercussion (see below).


Word is that all ladies who had crashes during Saturday’s races are healing well. Debra is making good progress toward recovery. Please keep her in your thoughts as I am.