Tag: Tri

Spidermonkey of the Week – Drew Randall

Growing up I must have enjoyed riding my bike a lot because I still remember the bikes I had. My favorite bike of them all was a Huffy (nothing fancy, just a kid’s bike) with a neon green and purple paint job.

I still can remember barreling down the hill on my street with the wind whistling past my ears, then slamming on reverse pedal brake (if that’s the correct term) to peel-out as I arrived at my driveway just to see how far I could go. Not too far, maybe 2-feet…

Needless to say the excitement of biking wore off in middle school and completely vanished in high school. Soccer was a big part of that. I have played soccer since I was 6 and really haven’t stopped. I got the opportunity to play soccer at a small college in Kentucky, which was one of the best experiences of my life. This was partially due to the lifelong friends I met on the team. College soccer only lasted a year and, long story short, I moved to Louisville, KY to continue my studies at the University of Louisville.

Here I met the single reason I came to Chicago, my most amazing girlfriend Alina. We met during her senior year, my junior year, in the civil engineering program. It’s weird, right? Two engi-nerds. She pushed me to become more competitive outside of team sports. We started running together, because that’s what she did for fun, and well, it kept me in shape for soccer. Running short races led to running longer races (half-marathons), then to triathlons, which became a passion of mine for a short while.

My first 5-mile race with Alina and friends.

My first 5-mile race with Alina and friends.

My first Olympic distance triathlon.

My first Olympic distance triathlon.

Getting into triathlons required me to get a new bike, my first road bike to be exact. It was a KHS Flite 300, the same bike I still do my road biking on today. I remember the first day I got on the new bike, I was so shocked at how squirrelly the damn thing was. To my surprise, it didn’t take too long to tame the wild steed. This became my mode of transportation to and from school on good weather days.

A year later Alina graduated and moved to Chicago. The following year, 2011, I followed once I finished my degree (seems how it works for most guys). I already knew the long distance thing sucked!

Alina and me (Company Dinner)

Alina and me (Company Dinner)

Moving to Chicago with no friends, I initially spent a lot of time at work or doing my own thing (i.e., lifting weights or swimming). Alina introduced me to some of her running friends including Brian Feyereisen who became a good friend and cycling buddy.

In the summer of 2012, Brian and I started checking out Chicago cycling teams. The first team we rode with was super intense and not really my cup of tea. A couple weeks later Brian suggested that we check out the Spidermonkey’s because Megan Kuzydum (now Megan Feyereisen) had so many great things to say about them.

Needless to say that’s how it all started…….

Brian and me at the Spidermonkey End of the Year Bash 2012

Brian and me at the Spidermonkey End of the Year Bash 2012

I started riding with the Spidermonkey’s and after about three weeks or so, decided to take the plunge and become an official member. I felt that this team was the perfect match for my personality (fun, accepting, social, and driven) and I knew after joining the team things would only get better.

Anxious to start the 2013 season, I was hoping to bike 2,000 miles and try out cyclocross. I started chiseling the mileage off at our first ride of the year in March and tried to stay consistent. I went to Spidermonkey Training Camp in Galina, IL where I met a lot of new people on our team, and was able to find myself as a cyclist. In Kentucky the rolling hills never ended and I thought Galina hills would be just like good ol’ Kentucky hills. Boy was I wrong. The hills were RIDICULOUS. I remember two full days of having to pull every last once of energy to attempt to keep up with the team and summit each hill. As I look back on it, it was one of the best things I could have done to become a stronger rider.

In keeping up with my goals, I found a cyclocross bike through craigslist while visiting friends in Lafayette, IN. It didn’t take long to join the cyclocross practices and sign up for my first race partnered with Lindsey for the co-ed and Nate for the men’s race relay. With the first race I was hooked. I signed up for the race at Dan Ryan Woods and placed 12th in the 4/5’s race.

Team Sloppy Joes at Relay Cross

Dan Ryan Woods CX

Dan Ryan Woods CX

Next was the two-day race in Indian Hills and a weekend in the suburbs with the team. Saturday’s race went great as we tackled mud, wind, and rain and I came in 19th place. Sadly, a huge storm rolled through Sunday morning and all races were cancelled so I signed up for the Racin’ Basin in Melas, IL to make up for it. I finished the season at Montrose in the snowy cold. Or so I thought.

A friend talked me into one final, non-CCC race at Douglass Park, the After-Glow. This race was a true cyclocross event and we finished completely caked in mud. The mud made the course very slippery and challenging, but I managed to grab a few fire ball shots (hand-ups) along the way to keep my spirits up. To say the least, it’s been a great season and a great couple of years with the Monkeys and I can’t wait to get riding again!

Afterglow at Douglas Park

Spidermonkey of the Week – PJ Cavoto Jr

PJ .. and SuperGirl

Hey gang! I have gotten to know so many of you over the course of the last year and it’s been tremendous.

Here’s my journey:

I joined the team right around the Elk Grove Criterium last year. My friend and one of triathlon training partners, Paul Halupka, talked me into trying my 1st road race event. I had already gone on several training rides with the Spidermonkeys and was just starting to get exposed to local road racing. Hearing others talk about the upcoming races and realizing I can keep up with some of these guys started to build my confidence and I decided to give it a try. Perhaps jumping the gun, but being very inspired from the group rides, I declared Spidermonkey Cycling as my team at my first race. Later that week an email was forwarded to me sent out by Dean asking who the hell is Peter Cavoto?? I quickly responded to Dean letting him know it was me, PJ. He obviously informed me that I can’t randomly put that down unless I am an official member of the club and I may get myself and the team in trouble. I am pretty sure the next group ride I put a check in Dean’s hand.

PJ and Paul – Photo by Jen Groen

Besides following my passion of art, I have always relished in individual competitive sports. I grew up a swimmer and dabbling in running for conditioning in between winter and summer seasons. However, I always seemed to come back to the bike with great interest and enthusiasm. This may have started as a small boy when I was notorious for taking things apart and putting them back together, convincing only myself that I improved it somehow. Trust me; there were many times that my dad had to complete the reassembly (including my sister’s bikes) several times. My graduating gift after high school was a brand new Giant (3×8) road racing machine. My parents were certain that I would parley into the world of triathlons with my background in all three disciplines. I choose the road of being an official party-er and within a year sold the machine for cash. A few years later, mountain biking was starting to become all the rage and my love for engaging with nature got me into trail riding. It was rough going with having to cut our own trail systems out in forest preserves of the northwest suburbs, where we would often get chased out by rangers. And in those days, suspension forks were just starting to make an appearance (yeah, I’m that old). The rigid mountain bikes I rode took a beating every time out and I found myself having to make repairs daily. I finally started investing into new machines and my love for mtb’ing took off.

Just some Spidermonkeys at Galena post Crit, PJ gets 3rd! – Photo by Jen Groen

In ‘98, I moved to the city to complete my BA at DePaul and discovered that the easiest transit in the city was by bike. My love for mtb’ing dwindled due to the difficulty of traveling to get to a trail system and I felt a little out of place riding around on the grass on the lakefront (no cyclocross scene yet). I started taking old mtb frames and re-purposing them into commuters. Up to that point, I considered road riding boring in comparison to mtb’ing. As I grew to love the challenge of riding everywhere in the city, 365 days a year, my passion grew. Not to mention the challenge and rush of fighting for a piece of the road with automobiles. Over the last 14 years, I’ve had more car-bike contact in this city than I care to share.

In the early 2000’s, I was introduced to triathlons with the Chicago Tri being my 1st. I was hooked. I competed in more than a dozen tri’s through 5 years. I did well at them … and was most proud of my overall win at Lake Delavan in 2007. Injuries caught up to me and I had to take a year off. I came back to the sport, but my enthusiasm was only sparked by a small contingent of training buddies. If you have every competed in tri’s prior to belonging to a team, you know that it can be a little on the lonely side. You don’t really engage much with other racers and tend to race and train on your own since your competition is the clock. So as you all have figured out, having the support and companionship of the Spidermonkeys makes a world of difference regarding the fun factor.

Carpentersville CX! – Photo by Bill Draper

I have also been fairly involved in Chicago’s social cycling community for over 5 years. This began with a ride group called Midnight Marauders. I have co-chaired on the council for the last 3 years now. If you have never heard of us, we consider that a good thing. We try remaining somewhat of an anonymous underground group ride that explores the city, getting started after midnight and riding till dawn. The group helped the Chainlink get off the ground since we had over 100 members at that time. We now have grown to 367 members and are still the largest monthly ride group listed on The Chainlink. Our monthly ride participation can range anywhere from 10 to 200 riders any given month. We do push the boundaries of Chicago law (being in the parks after close), but we ride respectfully and just want to enjoy the city under the stars. Our club motto is we are a “drinking club with a biking problem”. A similar group I roll with often, FBC – Full Moon Fiasco – also posted on the Chainlink. Both are a lot of fun and usually involve a little liver abuse, but you can engage at your own tolerance (we do have many participants that don’t drink). Come join, if you’re so inclined.

In close, I love bikes. I build them, ride them hard, and often break them. I consider them my band of horses and treat them as such. So it has been tremendous to ‘gallop’ with such an enthusiastic, supportive group of riders. I can’t say enough good stuff about how amazing this last year has been and how awesome it is to be part of the Spidermonkeys! Thank you all for such a warm welcome into the group. Let’s go ride!

Peter J Cavoto Jr

The Chicago Triathlon

by Trent Williams
This race report is the culmination of more than 4 years of planning, dedication, trying, passion, getting it wrong, frustration, more trying, getting it wrong again, setback, and trying to finally get it right.  A month after I completed my second year of triathlon and racing with a finish time 25 minutes faster than my first triathlon ever, I set a high goal for myself, that goal, was finishing the Chicago Triathlon under 2 hours, 30 minutes.  Just ANY triathlon wouldn’t do.  It had to be the Chicago Tri, because I knew there were even more challenges than just having a good race.  The heat and the other racers are out of your control.  It had to be the ‘same’ as my first year where I finished, barely, with a time of 3 hours 12 minutes.  I was miserable the whole way through.  From not having a wetsuit in 63 degree water, to having a pounding headache on the bike and puking not once, not twice, but three times on the run.  Although it was a miserable, the entire race through,  I knew I had accomplished something significant, and not only that, I was hooked.  I loved it – I don’t know why, especially becuase I had a terrible time, but the challenge and reward from completing something so difficult was second to none.  So, after my second attempt at the Chicago Triathlon, I was dreaming and going over the race in my head, I thought a sub 2:30 was attainable, but I didn’t realize it would take 4 more years to attain.  You see, it was my goal for the following year, but you know what? I didn’t do it.  I got close, 2:34:54.  The year after, even worse.  And last year, I didn’t race because I was injured and couldn’t run.

Which bring me to Aug 26, 2012.  
I woke up at 3:45 to get to transition area as it opened.  And since the start was 3 miles from my house, I rode my triathlon bike, with all my gear, down Milwaukee Ave.  And as I saw plenty of people who were still enjoying their Saturday evening I was headed to Monroe Harbor to set up my transition area.  I had a mission.  I won’t bore you with all the training details, that I could go into excruciating detail about, but suffice it to say, that I was a man on a mission.  I get there before transition area opened and had to wait in line for 10 minutes.  As they opened the area, it was like shoppers waiting in line  to finally get into the store.  People, it seemed, were running around everywhere.  I found my wave rack and put my bike in position.  
After everything was set up, I was leaving transition when I ran into my friend Eric (Landahl) and we chatted about the paths we would take to get to our bike after the swim.  We walked back to his bike to double check that no other triathlete squeezed and created a space in between him and his neighbors’ bikes.  And then did the same for mine also checking that I was in the correct gear to start riding in.  And that’s when I noticed something wasn’t right.  I said “oh my god, I can’t believe I just did that”.  Eric thought I was talking about my gear selection, and he said “looks fine to me.”  “No, look, my shoes are on the wrong pedal.  Glad I double checked.  That would have made for a painful bike.  After I switched my shoes, and everything was right in the world we walked out of transition. to wait.  I had over two hours to kill, so I did what I always do, sit on the steps just East of Buckingham Fountain to relax until my race, watching the sun rise.  There’s nothing quite like watching the sunrise, not thinking about anything important.  “This is the only thing that matters in my world for the next 4 hours.”

Two hours came and went like a breeze.  I was ready to race.  The wetsuit was on and I was in line for my wave – ready to finally race.  I was in the last wave of the 30-34 year olds.  I had never been this ready before.  Especially for the swim.  So I got in front for the start and I was off.  In years past, I would start in back and try to survive the swim, but not this year.  In years past I wouldn’t have been ready for the kicking and slapping that goes in a triathlon start, but not this year.  In years past I would notice all the nasty stuff at the bottom of the lake in Monroe Harbor, but, this year, I was racing and didn’t notice.  I was swimming and racing towards the swim out.  I, at least, felt like, was out in front and by the time I got the the 1/3 turn around only a few people passed me.  The turn back North, was a blur.  Stroke, stroke, breathe. Stroke, stroke, breathe.  Passing people in waves before me, and not noticing anybody passing me.  I get out of the water, dizzy, missed my first foot placement on the stairs and had the volunteers get me up out of the water.  Once on dry land, I heard some people cheering telling me that I had a sub 30 min swim – sub goal one, complete.  Next take off wetsuit before I run to transition where I had space and wouldn’t have to exert more energy than necessary.  I get to transition carrying my wetsuit.  Throw it on the ground, put on my sunglasses, then helmet, grab my bike and I’m off the bike out.
Running past the mount line, I leap on my bike and I’m pedaling on my shoes.  slip one foot in while I climbing the on ramp onto Lake Shore.  The next foot slides in just as I get onto LSD.  Big chain ring, head tucked, and hammering.  14 minutes some seconds later, I’m making the turn around back South.  Another 15 minutes go by and I’m heading back North for my second loop.  I don’t know, but I really wish I had one of those clicker things, the ones that people use at concerts or at bars use to help them count people, so I could count the number of people I passed.  I would love to know how many time’s i said “right side.”  15 minutes later I heading South for the final stretch.  The wind was strong and it was a strange cross wind coming from the South West blowing up massive amounts of dust from the softball Fields at Lincoln Park.  I would find out later, that after 1 hour and 48 seconds of starting my 40k bike, I’m entering into transition for the run.
Rack bike, helmet off, running shoes on.  I head out on the run. at a 8:15 pace.  I wanted to build the run, start slower than my race pace and get faster as I get further along.  After my first mile I felt good, but my legs were tired but started to increase the pace anyway.  I got up to an 8:00 pace.  I was locked in for the next mile.  Hold this pace, 1 mile.  Mile 2 complete.  Mile 3 – “hold this pace and then start picking it up after you get through halfway through the run.  3rd mile done.  “Ok. now is the time. go faster, just a little”  My legs didn’t have it.  8:00 felt fine,  anything faster didn’t feel sustainable, I couldn’t hang on longer at that faster pace.  I was going as fast as my legs would carry me.   “Hold on to this pace.  stay the course.  Dig in. and hold it.” As I fought through the pain, I was keeping a steady pace.  I couldn’t go any faster, I was red-lining.  I was at my limit – not wanting to implode.  I finally checked my watch at mile 5 1/2, not having any idea of my time at this point.  My Garmin read 2:12 minutes.  Yes, I’m doing it.  Do exactly the same thing.  The last thing you want is to start walking.  Give yourself a chance to succeed.  Keep this pace.  Don’t speed up for fear of need to slow way down.  AND DON’T SLOW DOWN!”  I stayed the same pace.  I had a feeling I did well, but I didn’t know.  I crossed the finish line with my arm raised in the air – feeling like I had just won the race.
My cousin and his girlfriend were at the finish line, having the athlete tracker app, they showed me what they were watching for the past 2 hours…. It read:
Trent Williams: 2:24:04  
30-34 age group: 10th place
Oh my god, I did it! Finally! I did it!  I couldn’t speak, maybe because of the lack of oxygen, maybe because I didn’t know what to way.  I was elated and delirious.  All I could do was smile because I just won the race – MY RACE.  My triathlons had always been a race against myself – and regardless the other athletes lining up at the same time, my triathlon races will always be a race of one.  A race where I can train and push myself to the max – where I don’t need or want to compare myself to anyone else.  I’m always competing against myself.  I am so grateful for hard work, dedication, goal setting and the simple gifts of being able to swim, BIKE, and run.  So like I said before,  this was 4 more than 4 years in the making and couldn’t have been happier with what I did.  I’ve learned sooo much in the process, but the biggest few things I’ve learned is that regardless of, what may seem like, monumental setbacks stick to whatever you’re doing.  If you want it bad enough, willing to put in the work, willing not to give up, you will succeed.

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