The Thrill of Victory (at least a small one)

October 31, 2006

Brookside Cyclocross Cup, Indianapolis, IN
by Lindsay

Sunday I finally got my first win on a bike. Okay, so the field was comprised of me and a lady I raced against all MTB season and never beat. It was a little bit of a homecoming for me as this was pretty much the same field as my very first MTB race about 6 months ago when she put five minutes on me.

Sunday was different, though. The start was a little confusing because I thought the B women and juniors were starting together one minute after the C men. So when the juniors took off, so did I. It turned out that I wasn’t supposed to go, but the whole thing was so awkward they just let us go ahead and race. I had slowed by down in the confusion and the other lady got ahead of me, but that was okay, because she would always go out hard at the beginning of MTB races and then I would make up time on her later on. I figured just sit on her wheel for a little while and see what happened, but just seconds after hitting the grass I already felt we were going a little slow. We were just coming into a technical section so I couldn’t comfortably pass, but I got around her at the first barrier. That last about 30 seconds until a washed out on a sharp turn slightly thereafter. Me and my bike were fine, just a little dirty, so I jumped back up and got back on her wheel. My husband was nearby and I got a little worried because she yelled something at him and I thought, “Oh my gosh, she can still talk,” when there was no way I could have at the time. Then we hit a steep downhill, stair run-up and then a section of pavement where she started hammering and I lost contact because a junior rider and his dad got between us and I had a hard time getting through. I caught up and passed her at the next barrier, which was followed by a long downhill, and a paved uphill that began the second lap. When I came through the lap and started my steady climb, I expected her to hammer by again, but it never happened. I just kept riding steady and never looked back for the next 3/4 of a lap until I came to the top of a hill and saw she was just starting down the one before (about 60-90 seconds back). At that point I was pretty confident in my lead and proceeded to hold my pace for another two laps to take home my first win.

So I only beat one person, at least it was someone I’d never beaten before and got some cool swag for it (Hind windbreaker, Fox hat, and some other assorted goodies). The best part is the huge boost in confidence the motivation to get my butt on the trainer after work so that I can maintain my “undefeated” streak.

Hopping along…

October 31, 2006

By Dee Dee “Grasshopper” Winfield

, NJ

I finally had my new Kona ready to ride, Easton tubular wheels included. After a week of gluing and drying we only hoped that they would hold, not rolling off the rim.

We are lined up at the start, waiting, waiting, all the while the nerves are “kicking.” The gun goes off, SRAM shifter in my right hand pulled tight to the handlebar and rapidly moving up through the gears, one at a time, feeling very comfortable in my sprint position. I hit the woods first with Mel right on my wheel and Anna close behind. The course was fast with the turns sandy and a little slick but the tires held steady.

We were much protected from the 40 mph gusts of wind that were predicted b/c we were in the woods, thankfully! Around the turns, over the barriers, down the hill, up over the asphalt and to the volleyball pit. Crossing this area was a toss up; many people rode through but I decided to get as far as I could, carry momentum, and then dismount and run through the rest of the sand.

It was sometime around this area that I hear the announcer say that Mel had caught Mandy and was holding a gap, and that Anna was within striking distance of Mandy. I was psyched! The bellas were riding awesome! I rode much of the course in my big ring easily transitioning from one to the other. The bike felt fantastic from top to bottom. I think with a little more dancing we’ll form a great partnership.

Great job out there ladies and thanks to all those who were out supporting and cheering, it certainly makes racing more thrilling!


Tumbling Creek MTB Race Report

October 31, 2006

By Stephanie Rosiak

Yesterday was the 10th Annual Tumbling Creek MTB race put on by SORBA. I can count on both hands how many times I’ve gone mountain biking so I signed up for the Beginner Division Age 30-39. My first mountain bike race ever and hopefully not the last!

The race was out at Gainesville College. From what I had heard, the course was fast, flat, and fun! Up until my actual race, I had not seen or ridden the course due to a Cross Country Meet that used the course last weekend, and the rain on Friday kept us off of it on Saturday.

Leading up to my race start I was of course a bundle of nerves. I’m still so new at this moutain biking thing, I just wanted to get my two laps over with, with hopefully no crashes. In my age group, it was just me and another girl. She has been mountain biking for years but has never raced before, so she went into the Beginner division. She was really nice so I didn’t mind her kicking my ass.

At the start we stayed together, with her in front. About a quarter of the way in, I hit a root at a bad angle on a climb and had to get out of my pedals so I wouldn’t fall over. I couldn’t get started again, so I jumped off and finished running up the hill. By the time I got up there, my competition was gone! Dammit!

There were a couple of tricky tight turns, some bridges, a couple of fairly big dips which I chose to get off of my bike and run up so I wouldn’t make an ass out of myself flipping over on. 😉 But for the most part, everyone was right, the course wasn’t too technical, it was fast and it was FUN!

On my second lap, after I finally caught my breath, I was starting to feel better and was a little more confident now that I had ridden it and not wrecked. I actually caught one of the beginner men who started off a couple of minutes ahead of us, and lapped 4 First Timers that had started a couple of minutes behind us. I was stoked!

Although I’ve placed in a couple of Sprint Tri’s in the past, they never had a podium that you stood up on. This was my first time on an actual podium. I got 2nd place out of 2. Although it was only two of us up there, it still felt awesome! I had a blast!


Lieselot Decroix wraps up her 2006 Road season

October 30, 2006

Lieselot Decroix just sent a message to let us know she just now finished off her season on the road over in Belgium.

On Sept 24 she took 2nd place in the Jemeppe, Belgie dames elite race in her Bella colors.

With both sadness and excitement Lieselot has signed with Lotto-Belisol which is a UCI trade team near her home and not far from where she is attending college. Lotto-Belisol is also where Christine Vardaros headed last year.
Like Christine, Lieselot will always remain a Velo Bella at heart but race professionally for another team.

We were so happy to have Lieselot on the team this last year and giving her that first pro opportunity. I think we figured she could learn a lot from racing with our team, and it turned out we learned a lot from racing with her!

We wish her the best of luck in her career as a pro rider in Europe and know she has incredible talent and heart and is one of the sweetest gals we know. Which is what we know makes the best champions of all.

Shine on little Bella!

Another Day at the Beach

October 30, 2006

By Melanie “Wrong Way” Swartz

Photo by: FJ Hughes/

Velo Bella-Kona once again in the spotlight and center stage, this time in Bridgeton NJ for the latest round of the Mid-Atlantic Cyclocross (MAC) Series circuit. The two Mid-Atlantic gals (Dee Dee and Melanie) had a pleasant surprise as the New Englander, Anna, made the trip down to the beach to play in the sand with her teammates. After all the dust had settled, Velo Bella-Kona claimed top 3 of 4 spots and with Dee Dee’s win, she is now leading the MAC series.

At the start, the three Bellas were the center of attention; lined up in the middle on the front row with the beautiful blue Konas and matching kits.

The course, which traversed a variety of sandy conditions and twisty turns, required precision shifting, which SRAM Force delivered, to set up for and accelerate out of the turns and perfectly balanced maneuvering, which was achieved with the ideal combination of the Kona Queen Anne and Easton-Griffo tubie blend, to navigate the loose-sand corners.

Dee Dee had an outstanding start and took the whole shot with Mel in tow. We toured the first lap together and then I couldn’t match her acceleration when she decided it was time to go. With a Cheerwine rider now on my wheel, I let the rider come around so that I wouldn’t be doing any work to get her any closer to Dee. Anna was close behind and catching up to us and it looked like it could be a Bella three-up for the podium…Once the coast was clear, I came around Cheerwine in a corner and went on my own from there.
Thanks to the announcer, who kept calling out “Velo Bella-Kona” this and that…it was easy to keep tabs of where the other riders were on the course and who-was-who and to know that Dee was safe and clear.

Have a great week everybody!


Biscuit Invades Fairfax!

October 30, 2006

By Erin “Biscuit” Kassoy

The Bay Area hosted a new cross race up in Marin County last Saturday at an elementary school in the town of Fairfax. Marin is frequently shrouded in fog but Saturday is was totally clear and cold when I got there at 9am. Of course, cold is relative – it was in the 40s.

I found Ann Fitzsimmons parked in front of me when I arrived, which brought a huge smile to my face – she’s back! We both had our new Kona Queen Anns ready to roll. Also there for the women were many of the local players minus Sarah, who was doing the Bella clinic.

I rode a lap of the course with one of the masters men who had just finished his race. It seemed long with a lot of transitions – it went around the ball fields (we even skidded across home plate backwards from first base) and then wound its way up and down the dusty hills around the school, including a lap around the school’s solar panel array. The only strange thing was a finish line on a sidewalk right after a 90 degree turn – there would be no sprint finishes.

The race itself started slow for me but I eventually worked my way up to a group of three that was in third place. Unfortunately, my slow start meant that 1st and 2nd (Rachel and Shelly) had gotten away already. I hopped on the group of three and then attacked through some switchbacks right before all the technical dirt sections. I immediately got a gap and held it for what seemed like forever.

The course kept turning back on itself so I could see where people where behind me and I was still gaining time so was able to actually smile the last lap for a third place podium finish. My SRAM shifting worked flawlessly the whole race and I’m really liking my 165 cranks. After the race, Ann told me that she was happy to be racing again. She’ll continue to ramp up her efforts in local races and will be back on the national scene for the Seattle/Portland weekend.

Sunday’s surf city was a non-event for me in the racing sense. Perhaps I left everything on the course on Sat., or I spent too much time preparing my costume instead of my racing mentality Sunday morning. Whatever the reason, I pulled the plug after a lap of the Halloween course and spent the rest of the race cheering on all the Bellas. I’ll let Sarah tell her story of ghouls stealing her chain in the forest of headless horsemen.


Crazy Momma and SRAM Dominate the Inland Northwest Series

October 30, 2006

By Shannon “Crazy Momma” Holden

So I got my new Kona Queen Ann built up Thursday, received my tubular tires in the mail Friday, spent Friday night with sticky fingers stretching the tubulars onto my wheels and had her race ready Saturday morning. Saturday’s race was here in Spokane on part of a course we use for early mountain bike races, so it is my kind of course: technical.

I had never used the SRAM components before heading out to do my warm up and had no problem shifting into harder gears. Unfortunately, I didn’t think about downshifting beforehand. I came up on a climb and couldn’t down shift. I had no idea how these worked and decided maybe it was some new thing to make you fast and which was why Dee Dee, Sarah, and the rest of the girls are so darn fast in all their races. Well after I hit a bump hard and accidentally pushed the shifter too far to the left, I figured it all out. The new SRAM stuff is SO smooth and easy to use. Within just a few minutes I had it all down… Now that I had figured the shifting part out, I headed to the start line.

I took off from the start and lead the girls going into the second lap happy to see fellow Velo Bella Erika pulling second. After the 3rd lap I was by myself and couldn’t see any girls. My bike was riding smooth, but the bumps got to my shifters and caused them to slip down the handlebar. I lost my shifting, I thought about switching out bikes at the pit, but I was having way too much fun on my new Kona and all the cool Bellas single speed so I found a gear that worked and went to town.

It was a great race; I won and Erika took second. So a one-two for VBK Saturday in the Inland Northwest! Went home Saturday got my handy mechanic, my husband, to fix the shifter and my bike was race ready Sunday morning.

Sunday’s race was in Idaho and it was cold! I think 35 degrees with rain and wind. The crazy thing is we had the largest turn out of women yet; I think 9 women. I guess us women of the north like it cold. He He He. So I was a little nervous about this race because it was a roadie course. Luckily for me they broke up 2 of the fast straights with barriers. They also left the short steep run up and the famous run along the beach so I kept my head and just got on with it.

I set out fast off the start hoping Erika would grab my wheel and draft for a little, but I lost her on the first run up due to a stumble she had. So I had a good lead the first lap with Jenny a little behind. Pushing hard through the first few laps, I managed to drop her. My Kona was handling perfectly and my body felt strong for the most part, so I started racing some of the men and had a really good race. I managed to pull out a 2 minute lead on this roadie course, not quite a good as yesterdays 4 minutes, but I was stoked.

So a great weekend of racing for me. My new Queen Ann is awesome and the SRAM shifting is SUPER easy to learn and as smooth as ice cream. Wow, that sounds good, I think I am going to go dish up a bowl. Thanks to all the sponsors for the awesome stuff and for all who listen.


Oct 14 & 15

October 24, 2006

Spirit Mountain CX and Alan Factory Cup CX.

Spirit Mountain, Duluth, MN
Looking at the results, it looks like not too many people showed up at this one. In fact, only one woman raced cat B.. and they were paying out 3 deep. My sources were bummed they didn’t choose to suffer an extra 15 minutes for the moooonAY. A source also told me, it was a wicked fun course, but the cold air turned your lungs in to crystal brittle bits. ouch!

But… VB’s own Barb Harick took 1st in Cat C women’s. rawk on.

Alan Factory Cup CX.
Big turn out for this course, right smack in the middle of Minneapolis– lotsa racers, lotsa spectators, lotsa people wandering through. Put on by Team Alan, who have also been producing wednesday night CX clinics on Boon Island. This allowed them to create a fun as HELL course– twisty, kinda hilly, through the woods, up on the cracked pavement… good times.

In fact, I had a great enough time, to not remember falling, until others have mentioned.. ‘hey dude, NICE fall.’, or know how I got the scrapes on my left shin or the chain ring bite on my right ankle. Awesome. Everything else hurts too much to notice to small things.

The C race was fun. They did a seperate women’s start, 30 seconds after men. There was a small pile up near the beginning at the sharp turn on the downhill. Sorry to the Gopherwheel lady for the snot, but… follow a racer(?) who sounds like a cat trying to hack up a hairball at your own risk. Found the one root sticking out on the dirty climb and got it caught in my wheel… DOH!.. but anyways.. enough not-action-y blogging. All you gotta know… is FUN course on a gorgeous sunny fall day. Thanks to teammate Kristy for coming out and cheering. And hell.. thanks to all the cheerers for being hilarious, snarky, and motivating.

Here’s Karla! with a recount of the B action.

lotsa racing going on.. Oct. 7th and 8th

October 24, 2006

Oct 7th.. at Rum River:

Women’s B race:
15 214 B3 Kingsley Karla Velo Bella
21 223 B3 Herman Margot Velo Bella

Karla blogged about it a bit.

Oct 8th: Lake Rebecca.

It was a gorgeous lake side course with lotsa dirt sections, rutty single track, one wicked leaf-filled hill climb -after- a barrier and some misty rain. FUN FUN FUN course for me.

Women’s C race:
20 15 C2 Harick Barb Velo Bella
32 25 C2 Lo Manda Velo Bella

Women’s B race:
35 118 B3 Kingsley Karla Velo Bella

As always Karla has a action-filled blog about it. Me, I was happy to not be dead last (DFL) or DNF (did not finish). It has been getting easier each time. Who knows if it’s the course or if it actually is getting easier for everyone.

The word from Granouge and Whisskawhatchamacallit

October 23, 2006

by Sarah Kerlin

Here’s the word. If you trust Loca to get the details right…..

Saturday was a very fun and demanding course, hilly, steep run ups, off camber turns, and a little squishy mud like stuff – definitely a grade 2 on the index.

Katie Compton took off from the very first turn and stomped on everyone. Poor Lyne and Georgia never had a chance to fight for the win. I had a decent start, but about 5 minutes into the race, my body tried to shut me down. All systems revolted against the effort and it took a lot of focus to keep pushing. It was my first time travelling to the east coast just the day before a race, and the delayed flight, late dinner, etc all caught up to me.

I kept my head in the race, riding around with Melissa Thomas and then Tara Ross until they both faded. I felt better by the final lap and finished in 6th. Dee Dee had a great ride, outsprinting a very elbowy Mo Bruno for 4th. With junior phenom Stephanie and Anna both having good rides, we put four Bellas in the top 20, though Melanie had some mechanicals and did not finish.

Sunday was a much different course, mostly flat and grass, with some more fun off camber stuff and a long sandy stretch. The ground was soft and again a 2 on the mud scale. I was really happy that I had my new Easton aluminum tubular wheels, and I brought my tires down below 30 psi and ripped around all the crazy ins and outs and tough turns.

In the first few laps Georgia, Lyne, and Katie gotaway, while I trailed just behind in a group of Mo Bruno and Mackenzie Dickie. I probably spent too much time playing cat behind them, and in retrospect I ought to have tried to stick with Georgia after she got popped off the steam engine up front.

I did eventually ride away from those east coasters, and soloed the second half of the very windy course for 4th place. Dee Dee got stuck behind an early crash, but worked her way up to 6th. Melanie had a better day today, and I think again we all managed top 20.

It was great having so much support – I would not have even considered making a last minute cross country trip without the help of everyone. Sheryl picked me up at the airport, with special goodie bags of flair and snack food for each Bella! I wore the cool pink hair ties all weekend, and I’m going to chow on my cheez-its on the plane tomorrow. Dave had plenty of space for Anna and I to sleep, and we really apprieciated the comforts of home – especially drip coffee.Mmmm… coffee.

Our top notch support crew of Morgan and Hillary Styler came out both days. I don’t know what I would have done without their help – seeing how I had to go to bed at 11:30 on Friday night after fighting with my tangled chain and derailleur for 40 minutes. I just couldn’t get the chain out of the loops and x’s after the flight, but of course Morgan got it sorted out on Saturday before I even got my flair on.

It was a weekend well spent, I picked up 15 UCI points, a rare commodity for us California racers. And I had a great time dressing the east coast crew in flair. I had to teach them a little about posing for team photos though – they can be sooo proper sometimes. Can’t wait to see the photos!

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