Tag: Bike Racing

Monica Finalizes Her Bucketlist

Checklist before moving to Ireland:

Buy plane ticket:

Pack apartment:

Podium in a crit: ☑ (and then some)

Two Monkey's on a Podium

Two Monkey’s on a Podium

What I didn’t know when I took up cycling was how much teamwork goes into every race. You work together, you work for one another, you “throw down thank you’s” as Julie Kuliecza from Hagens Berman would say. So often this goes unrecognized, especially at the amateur level, but not anymore. I have been so incredibly fortunate to race with Michelle Moore, and Waukesha, WI was a prime example of this.

Upon arriving in Waukesha, the temperature was already heating up (95 degrees to be exact). We rolled up to the start line, looked at the small field, and Michelle turned to me and said  “we got this.” Now, after having raced every single weekend for the last 10 weeks, my legs were definitely not at their prime, and the heat wasn’t helping. The whistle blew, we both clipped in quickly, and took off.


It was a short course with tight turns, which bode well for both of us, as we learned how to take corners at full speed from the one and only Sarah Rice. We began working together right off the start, taking turns pulling, communicating what was going on. When we sat up in lap 3 to look back and see who was on our wheels, we saw…nothing. We already had a gap. It was on!

We never let off the gas, and spectators on the sides continued to yell our time gap from the pack, which grew larger each lap. As we crossed the start/ finish line with about 10 laps to go, the announcer yelled “Prime! Prime! Spidermonkey Vs Spidermonkey!” We both giggled, put our heads down, and picked up the pace.  I told Michelle to go for it, and her reply was “well don’t just let me have it.” I laughed and replied “I don’t care about the $20, I just want to be on a podium before I move.”

Teamwork makes the Dream work

Teamwork makes the Dream work

Soon enough, we had lapped the field, and we heard from the side “74 second gap!” As we passed lapped riders, we would encourage them to grab our wheels to pull them along. The majority of them were young, so we tried to look at this as a teachable moment.

As we saw two laps to go; Michelle turns to me and says “We are going 1-2. I will pull, you sprint off me!” I replied, “I don’t need to win, I just want to stand on a podium.” Michelle said, “eff that, we are getting you on the top step today!” We turned the final corner, I sprinted from behind her wheel, and for the first time, felt the joy of crossing the finish line first.

We stood on the podium, grins on our faces, knowing there were TWO Spidermonkey’s on ONE podium. When the official brought over the cow spotted race leader jersey, (or Walter spotted, for those who know the Spidermonkey’s obsession with our friend Walter the Cow from Galena), I had a look of shock, disbelief, and pure excitement. When I first started racing, I never thought I would be able to hang in the pack, let alone podium in a race. Michelle was right, there is nothing better than the high of standing on a top step for the first time. In fact, I’m still floating on the cloud.


Michelle was there last year the day I started racing (and kindly offered me her inhaler to calm my nerves). She has been there to witness the good races and the bad races, and became one of my race mentors. We have worked together as teammates, throwing down thank you’s, sacrificing our legs to pull and sprint for one another. She, and the rest of my Spidermonkey teammates, have been prime examples of how teammates should, and can, work together, and learn from one another, be it your first race together, or your last race together.

To all my Spidermonkey teammates: Thank you for not only teaching me how to ride and race a bike, but for helping me fall in love with it all. No matter where I am in the world, I will ALWAYS be a Spidermonkey at heart.

Pre first race together EVER!

Post first podium together!



Dixon Race Report (Matt Riezman)

Check out Matt Riezman’s race report from his first racing experience….


Great work by Jason and Matt on their first race starts this weekend!

3/4 National Championship

Today was the USA Cycling National Championship criterium race in Downers Grove, IL. The course was a textbook technical crit with 8 corners, a climb, and a beautiful Chicago Suburb setting. All the major players showed up for the 3/4 race slotted for 45 min + 1. Rider registration didn’t hit the maximum, but 153 racers creates a sweeping spectacle that stretched from turn-to-turn.

With a technical course and fieldsize like today’s, a good starting position is imperative; I slotted myself near the course entrance with 20 min left in the previous race. They called us to the line and I managed to be in the front on the left-side. Theeeeeeeeen the official dictates a mandatory pre-lap before we start. Some riders bitched and attempted to refute the officials request–I didn’t want to sacrifice my good position, so I followed suit–and watched a herd of riders start to take their lap. After a not-so-pleasant exchange with the official, we were forced to take our lap and boom, i was in the back row of the start…..brutal.

With my recent upgrade to the 4s, I was apprehensive about testing the waters of the Cat 3s. But a fellow JJPeppers fan and recent Glencoe Grad Prix Masters 1/2/3 winner Jason K (Burnham Racing) was nice enough to give me some words of encouragement at the beginning of the race near the Port-a-John: “I’m gonna work your ass today”

The pace started fast and the war of attrition began on lap 1, riders were constantly being dropped. I did everything I could to move up on the climbs, take a few spots on the descent, grab a wheel during the front stretch, and it just wasn’t enough. I was dangling off the back of the pack or chasing to catch a wheel after every burst that came from the front.

When the announcer proclaimed ‘8 to go,’ you could feel the group turn on the jets. As I crested the climb with 7 to go, I couldn’t match the intensity of the group, POP, and proceeded to get the ‘we’ll see ya’ sign from the official and watched the final laps from the sideline of turn 8. When all things were said and done, I had survived the war of attrition better than half of the field…when i got dropped it looked like only 60-70 riders were with the group.

The cheering section rocked, as always. Andy, Trent, Jake, Keith, Keith’s wifey, Katie, what appeared to be some older father figure looking dude with Katie (i don’t know, i was dying out there), Chip, and Ken’s wifey: THANKS!!!!

Dan Pollard, John Lyon, and Ken Mitchell all gave valiant efforts. Jordan Ross managed to stay with and finish with the group, hell yea.

Until next time, I love bike racing…
-Bryan Witry

Calling it a Career (in the 5’s that is)

After a great season as a Cat 5 racing i have finally upgraded to a Cat 4. For those who are unfamiliar with the upgrade process the only requirement to upgrade from a Cat 5 to a Cat 4 is 10 race starts (USA Cycling events). Now to the point of this post, after a racing the Cat 5 level since March (remember when we all raced at the Burnham race, and we froze are you know whats off), i feel that i have learned a couple things that may help new racers. So here is my top ten pieces of advice for new Cat 5 Racers:

10) Expect to suck, this sport is hard and very few people dominate their first race (ie Todd’s performance in his first race at Sunday’s Chicago Crit is not normal). After a tough race its always good to take a look at the following link it puts things in perspective. http://www.chicagobikeracing.com/index.php/site/post/tip_18_expect_to_suck/

9) Take the time to read Chicagobikeracing.com, it has a ton of useful information. I highly recommend reading all of the 33 tips posted on the site:

8) Plan a racing weekend trip, great way to bond with your teammates, i have done two of these trips and they were incredible experience. (even though i had to share a king bed with dan both time, fyi dan steals all the covers)

7) Hang out after the race, this gives you a chance to meet the people you race against and get to know the people in the chicago bike racing community. If you want to meet someone Dean probably knows them!

6) Ask Questions, the spidermonkey racing team is pretty good at helping each other out. Nate and Bryan Merrill are always full of good racing advice. If there is something you want to know about racing dont hesitate to ask.

5) Take a weekend off once a month. This is my best piece of advice, the season is long and you could race every weekend from may thourgh september. I think it is important to remember that bike racing isnt my job, i already have one of those. So once a month I take a weekend and I dont race. This allows me to attend team rides and live the “party life style” at least one weekend a month. (you know its my weekend off when i show up to the team ride with a bag of cookies and a can of coke)

4) Come on the Wednesday ride, there are a lot of guys who race that come on Wednesday, its a great way to test yourself and learn paceline techniques. Not to mention the JJ Peppers stop allows time to meet other racers in the area, including Chicago Crit legend Andy Daley.

3) Support your teammates! This is soooo important, if you support them, they will support you. Cheer them on at races, attend team social events and hang out when you can. The team is what makes racing fun!

2) Start early in the season. As the season progresses guys get into better shape and the racing gets harder.

1) Have fun! This is a hobby, and the most important part is having fun. This doesnt mean i dont compete as hard as i can, but i remind myself its fun. Do crazy events (ie: street sprints, the lelend road race, snake alley) try different events, try everything, you wont be sorry!

I hope this helps and provides a little bit of good advice, if anyone has any questions about racing please dont hesitate to ask me.

Shake and bake’


Other good tips:

Grow a Mustache, it adds speed (ask Dan)
Remeber your shoes on race day (ask shea or witry)
Buy two pair of Bibs! (ask any racer on the team)
Be humble (we all know what i am talking about)
Thank your team when they support you (there is no I in team)
Dont become a race snob (just becuase you race doesnt mean you are any better than those who dont race, no one likes race snobs!)
Train together (i just like riding with people)
Toward the end of your cat 5 career try some 4/5 races (it helps see what the next level is like, i did 4 of these in the last couple months)

Other racers: Please publish any addition tips in the comment section or make your own list of tips.

Chicago Criterium Cat 5-Race Report

Todd Kaiser, Andrew Zens, JPCastro, Tristan Whitehead, Samuel Winn, Josh and I (Bryan Witry) clipped in at 8:10 for the Cat 5 race and weren’t heading out for a Sunday stroll on a beautiful Chicago morning. The team looked remarkably focused as we sat in the sweet new 312 tent and pinned our numbers on our jerseys. The plan was to control the race and set up a train for the final sprint, I was the Monkey to reap the benefits of an all out Shake and Bake.

Todd set the tone at the top with monstrous pulls and traded duties with a few riders; he would remain near the front the entire race. I was shepherded around the top 8 of the pack the entire race by Andy. Truly selfless performances by the both. The race was crash free, everybody loves a safe race. But everybody also loves the entire team in the front of the race! I saw every Monkey in the front 10 in the first few laps. Actions like those really set the tone of the group. Sam, Castro, Tristan, and Josh all had smiles on their faces when they were zipping around Michigan Ave listening to the back-side announcer constantly mention Spidermonkeys (I couldn’t see Andy and Todd because they were in front of me the whole race, probably smiling though).

No primes…. total crap…. at least throw us a friggin’ water bottle, right?!

As we slammed down the front stretch with one lap to go, everything seemed to fall into place. Castro came scorching by and everybody followed suit. It was as if Merril was starting the fast section of the Wednesday night ride and everybody fell into a perfect line. JPC pulled hard and immediately 5 Monkeys were in the top of a strung out field. He peeled off and said something like (I’m spent/tired/dying?) and I laughed to myself because I couldn’t get over how awesome it was that someone had just sacrificed himself for the team. Todd slammed the corner and Andy took over around the chicane leading Todd and myself with 2 corners to go. A few guys jumped hard around the second to last corner and I jumped their wheel up the last lil kicker. The mini-group hit the downhill hard and we all maintained position the last 200 meters finishing all within connecting bike lengths. I finished fifth, without my team I would have finished last. The Spidermonkeys displayed some serious tactics, a testimony to the hard work thats been put in on the route to HP.

Anybody who doesn’t enjoy a good cheering section can kiss my ass; Spidermonkeys have the best cheering section ever! We all heard cheers every lap, and saw so many people after the race. Everybody who came this weekend, THANK YOU! I was unable to hear Dean on stage during the race, but I imagine he made the sponsors proud. I was proud to be a Spidermonkey today. Not just because the entire field united themselves and sacrificed themselves for one teammate, but because everybody carried themselves with class. On that note, everybody who raced is entitled to a few classy highlifes this Wed night ride from Bryan!!!

Shake and Bake
Bryan Witry

-teamwork kicks ass

Posted by Andrew Zens for Bryan Witry

Racing on a Monday is much better than work! (Richton Race Report)

Superweek continued in Richton Park on Monday and I couldn’t think of a better way to start the week than racing my bike. Mike Shea and I headed south to Richton Park.
The course was a .6 mile four corner crit with some curvy roads on the front and back stretches. We arrived and saw Geoff from Get a Grip would be racing with us today. I pretty much consider Geoff a teammate, I mean he comes with us to Rocks after the soldier field crits to eat burgers and drink bombers (312 for me). So the three of us did a pre ride of the course to look at the turns and identify any problems areas on the course, we didn’t really find any. However, we did notice that turn two might cause some issues if the guys on the inside didn’t hold their lines. We all continued our warm up and I spent a number of my warm up laps talking to a rider who came in from Marquette, Michigan (that’s in the UP). I could tell he was a strong rider and making nice with him prior to the start could benefit me later.
As we stood at the start line I looked around and noticed a couple racers who I may want to stay away from; the guy with the toe clips and stuffed pockets (it looked like he was hiding a small animal in his back jersey pocket) the guy with the numbers pinned the wrong way, and the guy who was gonna race with his saddle bag and his hand air pump attached to his bike. We stood at the start line for a quite a while, and one of the bicycle heaven guys said “this race is 25 minutes right?” I replied “no its 25 miles (or about 32 laps)” the look on his face was priceless! Ken from XXX chimed in “I made that same mistake at Blue Island” (sidenote: only one xxx guy (ken) in the race, never seen that before)
The race started and for the second race in a row I actually clipped in without any problems. The race rushed into the first two corners, the guys I had identified as possible “stechy riders” lived up to their billing, the toe clip guy took the second corner about as bad as humanly possible! One of the bicycle haven guys yelled “you gotta hold your line, or you are gonna kill all of us” and he couldn’t have been more dead on, this guy was gonna hurt one of us unless we dropped him off the back quick! I made sure to get as far away from that guy as possible for the next couple of laps, and thankfully we dropped him about five laps in.
The pace at the beginning of the race was brutal, two guys from Springfield (I think they were on Team Hammer) took a strangle hold over the race, they set the pace, just the two of them. It was the most impressive display of dominating a race I have seen at the cat 4 level! Finally someone went to the front to slow the pace frantic pace. The early pace spit riders off the back only the stronger riders survived.
Several attacks went off the front, none of these riders were able to hold their attacks for more than a lap or lap and a half. The best attack occurred somewhere around 15 laps to go, it got off the front and a guy from bicycle haven asked me to go chase it down with him, I declined I just didn’t have it in me.
With seven laps to go I realized I had no idea how many laps were left, I rode up to mike shea and asked him, he told me “7” the others riders in the group tried to trick me and said “15” or “12” and one said “2”. Lesson learned, always keep an eye on the lap board, or find a teammate, because everyone other than your teammates are there to beat you!
With five laps to go the pace got pretty serious, everyone knew that position would be king, and a field sprint looked like a real possibility. I did my best to find a spot in the front of the pack and hold it over the next few laps, but as we entered the final lap I was stuck mid pack, and out of the last two turns I struggled to gain better position. As I came out of the last turn I knew it wasn’t going to happen for me, and I sprinted to the finish (passing a few guys) to finish a respectable 22nd. Mike Shea got another top 10 coming in 7th and Geoff (who gave mike a lead out) finished 19th. The two guys from Springfield went 1-2 in the race, hats off to those two.
It was a good race and I learned a couple important lessons:
1) Always know the lap count
2) Position is key
3) Work on holding my position in the last couple turns
4) Learn how to sprint

Shake and bake’

Chicago Crit on the 2009 NRC

Glad to see it was properly pushed onto the calendar. I think it deserves to be there.

God bless Mayor Daley. God bless bike racing.

Link to VeloNews.com

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