Tag: Hills

Snake Alley Race Report

Sarah on the snake
Photo by Cathy Frampton

by Sarah Rice

I think that getting better at bike racing really means mapping out a new set of passages in your pain cave. So 4 weeks after two facial bone fractures, I lined up for my first regional P1/2/3 race ever. My first hilly crit ever. Snake Alley. I warmed up with Kristen and except for the heat, felt quite good. K was targeting this race, her warm-up was perfect, she seemed to be in the zone. She told me about her previous experience, finishing 16th, one spot out of the money.  So she had a score to settle.

We went to line up and I realized I had my number on the wrong side. So instead of making my callup and getting my spot, I had Eric and Jason re-pin me. I mis-clipped the start worse than I ever have, and had to sprint to catch the pack. Took the sharp inside line on the first corner to catch on, at a hot pace. Hit the snake mid-pack.

The climbing wasn’t as bad as I had envisioned, but the heat made the snake feel like a pizza oven. Lots of people were cheering, Eric, Jason, the Psimet crew, Cathy Frampton, and Sue Wellinghoff. So great to see them out there despite the heat and human misery they had to witness. At the top of the snake, I felt like a punch-drunk fighter heading into the technical descent. Normally I am pretty good on those, but I wasn’t. My lines on the turns weren’t as crisp as I like them, and I was a little timid. And too slow. That put me desperately trying to catch on during the part of the course at the bottom the hill, where it actually resembled a real crit. I saw Kristen ahead- she was able to bomb the descent, and caught some good wheels. I chased. Demoralized, trying to chase through the start-finish line, seeing the number “2” on the lap counter, heading up to the snake again. This wasn’t going well. Survive, survive another lap, I told myself. The leaders were already way out of sight.

It got worse. I survived one more lap, then two. Kristen was way up the road. Then I saw her on the side of the course, just before the snake on lap 4. I looked to see if she had crashed. She said she was fine, keep going! The voice inside my head screamed MOMMY! But it was time to put the big girl panties on and go up the snake again.

Somehow, inexplicably, I found a rhythm. Up the snake. Down. Keep it clean, stay loose, solid through the bottom section, just ride it. I was all alone, but kept pushing. 6 laps down. Made it halfway. 8 laps. 10 laps, and I hadn’t been lapped yet. I was passing a few riders who had mechanicals or who just popped. It felt good to ride past an IScorp rider who was walking the snake. On lap 11 it finally happened, I got lapped by Jeannie Kuhajek and Kaitlin Antonneau, the first and second place riders. Third place Emma Bast lapped me on the first downhill section. I couldn’t catch on to work with them- still too timid on the descent. I could have stopped, because they were done and I had a lap left. But I felt good, and after so long not feeling good, I wanted to take my last lap. I wanted to do my 12th snake. So I did, during the men’s warm-up lap. I crossed the start-finish line laughing at myself. I thought I came in last. I was off the back, all alone for a long time. But Snake Alley has incredible attrition. Turns out, I was 16th- one spot out of the money.  So I’ve got a score to settle.

Fox River Grove Criterium Race Report

Photo by Jason Steeno

by  Hayes Sanborn

Day #2 of the Fox River Omnium

After racing twice on Saturday, I tried to rest up as much as possible on Saturday night, but a bachelor party with all you can eat meat dinner isn’t recommended before racing a hilly crit x 2.

I still remember Norge as my worst cross race of the year. It had everything I don’t do well, wrapped up in one course. When I saw a crit was being held at the same location I had to redeem myself. I’m a slim guy, that would totally crush the big guys on the mountain of a hill we had to climb over and over, is what I thought when I signed up. I climb well on gradual grades, anything I can tap out a rhythm, I’m golden. This hill was not one of those grades. I struggled up each lap trying to turn the cranks over while losing contact with my group. Every lap was a repeat of the lap before, get dropped on the climb, and reattaching on the downhill and head wind section leading back to the start. I refused to look at the laps to go counter as I knew that would only make it hurt more. Luckily, I wasn’t the only guy that suffered up the hill, I would finish mid pack in the 5’s race in almost the identical spot as the day before in Elgin. This race was hard, very hard. I ended the race with an Intensity factor of 1.07 in the first race and a 1.02 in the second. I’m getting stronger but still not strong enough (are you ever?). The Omnium is a great event featuring two very different courses and I highly recommend making the drive out to the burbs for this race next year. I think the highlight of the day was the many shout outs I got from the hecklers on the hill when they saw me racing twice, almost back to back.

Official Participant List:
Drew Kushnick
Stephanie Kushnick
Hayes Sanborn

Hillsboro-Roubiax Race Report

Photo by Elizabeth Rangel

by PJ Cavoto

Hillsboro-Roubiax; Though far, worth the trip.  Being the only Spidermonkey in the Cat 5 race I decided to work with our old teammate Paul Halupka (Team Tati).  The conditions were rough with thunder storms all night and morning long.  The fields were not full and even rumors that entire teams turned around and went home (Iowa team left hotel for home).  It rained during much of the race and combined with the puddles on the road more spray was going up then down.  Potholes that were marked with paint were hard to spot being overfilled with water which caused quite a few flats for folks.

My race went well, I stayed near the front and maintained positioning in the top ten.  Around mile 13, a downhill with a sweeping left presented me an opportunity to attack the Vision Quest Team who had been trying to control the race.  It worked so well that my distance off the front was huge and in hindsight I should have tried to of made it stick.  But my limited knowledge told me I have 15 miles left in the race and a huge climb into town with more then a mile finish on cobbles.  After two miles of hammering I decided to sit up and let the pack come back to me.  It took another two miles for them to reach me at my super conservative pace.  Again the rain might had favored my break, but I knew Paul was in the pack and wouldn’t have let me get away. 

The course was narrow and had many rolling hills and turns that made for exciting racing.  Coming into town we got caught by the Cat 123 racers and confusion was created as to what we were allowed to do.  Our pace car tried to tell us we couldn’t follow that pack, but several guys tried to latch on and everyone just had to go for it.  The other race was only on lap one and later pulled over to allow our race to finish.  Note to future racers, the hill coming into town is a big grade with a screaming downhill that transitions you right onto the cobbles at almost 35mph.  You have to complete two turns on the cobbles before transitioning off and sprinting on asphalt for the line.  You will need to reserve some energy for these finishing stretches.  With my break and working too much on the front of the pack, I didn’t leave enough in the tank to finish hard.  Just as well, Paul and two other guys tangled and crashed right in front of the finish line resulting in three other guys racing by for podium positions.  I ended up placing very well, 14th.  I would certainly like to go back and do it again as a Cat 4 (two 28.75 mile laps)!

© 2021 Spidermonkey Cycling