Jan 28-29

January 29, 2006

Early Bird Road Race, CA
2nd Place, Sabine Dukes, Women 3


January 27, 2006

What is Velo Bella??

We are a fun, supportive women’s bike team. We have a wide variety of people on our team – from elite level racers to beginner racers to triathletes to recreational/social riders–everyone’s welcome! We are known for our fabulous kits (cycling gear), flair at races, and ability to have fun.

  1. Q: What is the fee to join?

    A: The fee to join Velo Bella is $50 per year, payable in January of each year.

  2. Q: What is required to join?

    A: To join:

    1) Pay fee of $50,

    2) Purchase a jersey each year (or other approved clothing item, i.e., shorts, skinsuit, tri jersey, etc. if you have a current jersey),

    3) Sign and send in a waiver,

    4) Join our e-mail lists,

    5) Name “Velo Bella” as your team on your USA Cycling license (if applicable).

    6) Race at least one race, and 7) Have fun.

  3. Q: Are there minimum race commitments?

    A: All we ask is that you try at least one race. And any race on a bicycle counts. Beyond that, race whatever you feel comfortable doing and as your personal schedule allows.

    Q: I am a recreational rider and don’t race, can I still join Velo Bella?

    A: While we can’t offer our national sponsor discounts unless you race, we do welcome anyone to join our national Velobella and local email lists and to join us on any rides or other events we might announce to the local list. Who knows – we may turn you into a racer yet!

  4. Q: Are there mandatory meetings or rides?

    A: No. What IS mandatory about Velo Bella is HAVING FUN ON YOUR BIKE! If you decide to join Velo Bella, the only mandatory activities are volunteering for one Bella-sponsored race a year and leading one ride at any level. FUN stuff!

  5. Q: Are there regular team rides?

    A: We ride regularly from both locations of our sponsor shop, Now Bikes & Fitness. We also use our email lists to announce spontaneous rides to each other around the Twin Cities area. (Note: These rides are not sponsored by Velo Bella.)

Speaking of Rock Lobster

January 24, 2006

Barbarella’s CX machine is currently being featured in Cyclingnews

Check out the write up to get the skinny on how Barb runs it.


January 20, 2006

As of yet un-built custom Rock Lobster up for auction!

The Velo Bella – Kona’s own, Christine “Peanut” Vardaros, has been selected to join Barbarella and their US National Cyclocross teammates at the romp across the pond in Zeddam,Netherlands on January 29, 2006.

Who knew an email from Europe could have Velo Bellas across the world dancing the “Tiki?”An opportunity to train on the roads she will be racing this spring during the Spring Classics and World Cups isn’t bad either! Peanut is the latest American rider living the dream and heading to race professionally in Europe! While currently racing for the Velo Bellas through the end of Cyclocross season, she’ll be Bustin’ the Bella Beat in Belgium for Lotto-Belisol later this spring!

After a solid 2005 season, but less than fulfilling US Nationals campaign in Providence, RI, Christine returned home to sell all but her last possessions for a ticket to Europe where she could groove with the world’s grooviest and showcase the talent her Velo Bella friends and fans have seen all year. Groove she has, with a podium appearance at the Surhuisterveen UCI in Friesland, Netherlands January 4 and a fourth place showing New Years Day at the G.P. Hotel Threeland UCI in Pétange, Luxembourg.

All that dancing can make a girl tired, but when the US National Team sends a calling card what else can she do but say, “YES!”. A few celebratory vegan waffles, and organic Belgian beers, later with host and friend, Jan Goeman, and Christine remembered she has to pay to play for US at the World Championships! “Uh, check made of recycled paper please…?”

Not to fear, another “Tiki” around the bike later, and a fantasmic California Bella stepped forward donating a custom as of yet un-built custom RockLobster with all proceeds going to support Christine’s World Championship campaign!

Anyone in the world can participate; road, cross, mountain, geared or singlespeed, whatever you want built to your specifications by Paul Sadoff, one ofthe great American custom bike builders; and you’ll be doing a good deed by helping a young talent compete in the biggest race of her life.

More details can be found at our benefit eBay auction.

Fresno Velo Bellas ROCK at `Lou Night CX Race

January 17, 2006

Sideline Report
By Lori Cherry

I decided not to race Saturday night after putting in too many road miles for my cyclocross legs to handle….so I cheered instead. We awoke to steady rain Saturday morning in Fresno, CA. But as the day went on, the winds blew in and it seemed like near perfect conditions for the cyclocross course; which by the way was re-set and all NEW this week.

Probably about the time our fearless girls were packing their stuff to head to Woodward Park, around 4pm, the big downpour began dousing the course with a fresh wash to make the puddles and mud really fun. Luckily the rain had ceased for the first race at 6:30p.m., this was the Women and the Beginner Men. There were five women and an equal number of men. The men were given a one-minute lead off. And there were the women: poised, and dangerous.

Our two VB girls were Liz McAfee and Pam Geisel. Liz sported pink fluff from her helmet and pink tassels from her …bar ends. In the last race, Liz was waiting for a good time to get going when everyone left her at the start line and she vowed NOT to let that happen again. But Saturday night she took the lead muscling her way around the first sharp turn and shooting out in front….it was BEAUTIFUL! Pam was hot on her heels though. As the ride progressed Pam DOMINATED swinging in first on almost every lap with a mountainbiker, close behind. With two laps to go, the MTBer pulled out in the lead. This course was definitely more friendly to mountain bikes than cross bikes with some obstacles easily jumped with a full suspension mtn bike where cross bikers had to jump off and on.

When it was overPam finished a clean close second to the MTBer and Liz was rockin in 3rd place. As their race finished, another downpour of rain showered the men inthe next race…so the girls got the best of that course!

Within the pack report
By Liz McAfee

I finally got my lighting system sorted out and I was feeling pretty kicky and secure about being able to see the landscape better [gotta say a 15W head lamp is best!]. Pam’s helpful night-riding tip has really helped a ton: look ahead and not down; and another tip: `to feel like I’m snowboarding in sections.’ The snowboarding analogy really connected with me.

I made a trip down to Steven’s Bikes to see if one of the boys could put on my new faboo Crank Brothers pedals. Nothing like changing something up right before an event [always a big no-no]. The boys were all chatting about the upcoming race and most seemed `amused’ that Iwould be out there racing. They did think it was cool though. I inquired about orange bar tape but Manager John was fresh out. He suggested lovely light pink. Well hey, pink and orange look quite nice together … right? We also added some nice silver tires that would help me to corner better.

I left for a few hours and came back to my gorgeous orange Julius [Lemond Poprad] all decked out. The guys were loving the color scheme! John said, “Hey Liz, if you will put pink tassels on the bar ends … I will give them to you.”Done! The boys just shook their head. John assured me that it was `cool.’ I added a fuchsia pink tail to my helmet thanks to Denise’s [Ramirez]Christmas gift wrapping [it was attached to my gift bag]. I was in myBella-splendor.

It was awesome having Lori and hubs Willy there to cheer. Soon-to-be-Bella Lisa T was also out there with Pam and me to race. I was excited that there was actually five women racing … and we are all over 40! Masters rule! I was so intent on the start line and listening to the Race Director counting down … I was not going to be left behind this time. I had noticed that a great many guys pulled their foot out of their clip to corner at the start of the last race … I knew I needed to give that a try. Must admit, I was surprised that I did get the lead-out … too bad I couldn’t get my foot clipped back in … and I was dropped again! ButI did get a lot further this time. I was beaming!

By the second lap I knew I had the skills to let it go a bit more on the downhill. The hard-pan was pretty dry so it was pretty safe to let it unwind, even in the dark. It was cool to have the lightening off in the distance … made the race even more memorable!

I was able to hang on the wheel of Lisa T and another gal. I lucked out a bit when Lisa bobbled near a turn and went down — I took advantage and over took her … weaved around her and bounced over the log. Strange feeling … I need to work on my competitiveness! I almost felt guilty taking advantage here. I just kept pedaling harder and harder and talking to myself about staying strong and staying aware.

This course proved to be much more fun for me … we could ride up the main hill and there were some nice downhills! There was a tricky part where the course took us through a large section of water … and then up a steep little bump. All the girls stayed inside the line like honest little competitors … and the guys went outside to get a better angle on the bump! Girls really do rock!

There was a sharp, steep descent to an abrupt stop at a log … the course then turned a sharp turn around and up a hill and then to another barrier. It was a decision whether to mount the bike again and then dismount … or just run the whole thing. After practicing just before the race, I decided to run this section. I felt it was much faster for me …I overtook one of the two MTBers on a straight section just before the first log dismount … I kept telling myself to pedal faster to get more of a gap. It worked! It also helped that a friend Gus came streaking around me and told me how awesome I was doing … not to mention all the cheers from Willy and Lori each lap!

I was so excited to have done so much better … this is my third night race and my fourth race overall. I am absolutely addicted to this! We have two more races: one more night and then a final day race at the end of the month. A couple guys who were warming up on the course had asked me whether the tassels made me faster [I was racing when they asked] … I mean, wasn’t I just a blur to them at this point? Of course they made me faster!

After the race I got a ton of compliments on my Bella-flair and I was a hit with the gaggle of little kids assembled to watch the race. I was called up to be interviewed … and asked to show off my bike. Unfortunately they thought I had won the race and I had to quickly correct them that I was actually third [that ended the interview rather abruptly]. I was quite pleased that the Bella jersey and Julius got on tape though! Afterwards I was treated to a lovely Sushi dinner with Lori and Willy… this just absolutely topped off the perfect Saturday evening!

Editor’s note:
Okay, it just makes my heart all crinkly to report that Julius is the Lemond Poprad that Liz McAfee won as part of the
Cat C Women’s Challenge we held at the Nov 19th Surf City Cyclocross Race. Liz’s pal Denise reports that Liz loves Julius and is just hooked on cross.

Jan 1

January 15, 2006

Mt San Bruno Hillclimb, CA
5th Place, Sabine Dukes, Women 1/2/3
6th Place, Elizabeth Benishin, Women 1/2/3
7th Place, Soni Andreini Poulsen, Women 4

Barbarella Shags Podium in Belgium

January 13, 2006

Fresh off the plane, Barb rode to a supa-fine 3rd place finish at the (pronounce this out loud with me folks) Scheldecross UCI cyclocross race, in Antwerpen, Belgium.

First hand story of the action in Barb’s diary
Photos of the fun
Cyclingnews Results

Kiersten is Texas State CX Champion

January 9, 2006

Congratulations go to Kiersten Inserni for winning the Texas State Cyclocross Championships in the Girls 10-14!! Kiersten’s dad says:

I hope you guys all notice that in addition to the pink hairband that Laura sent her I got her some color-coordinated gloves and pimped-out (or flaired in Velo Bella-speak) her bike with some pink handlebar tape 😉
More later…

We’ll post the more as soon as we get it.

2 Bellas at Worlds!!

January 9, 2006

We’ve just learned that Christine Vardaros has been invited to particpate on the US Worlds CX team!!

Christine is already in Europe racing the World Cup and other European cyclocross races. Check our Christine’s report of the action here.

So, once again, our little team is honored to have two of its racers on the select 5 person US Team. Congratulations and best of luck to both Christine and Barb and stay tuned here for the latest flamingo reports from them.

From Belgium to Netherlands

January 9, 2006

By Christine Vardaros

I am writing to you from Belgium to tell you that i was just offered a spot on the US National Team to race Cyclo-Cross World Championships on 29 January in Zeddam, Netherlands!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yipee – I’m going to Worlds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THANK you all for your continued support and for all your emails you have sent to me!! It is such an honor to represent ALL OF YOU at the World Championships. I feel like it is a TEAM effort and accomplishment that i will be there at that start line flying the Velo Bella colors!! I will give it my absolute BEST to make you all proud!!

I have to apologize for not writing sooner. My internet access has been rather limited since i arrived December 23. Since i have access for the moment, i will try and make my travel stories brief to get it all in!!!!!

Every year that i have traveled to Belgium, i immediately get a nasty flu. this time i outsmarted Belgium by getting the flu before i came. By the time i got on the plane to come here, i was a total wreck – my head, sinuses, and ears were stuffy and all i wanted to do was cough myself inside out and sleep! Not a good way to start the euro cross season! But I was here for a job so i did what all cyclists do best – ignore my flu and carry on.

I am staying in a little town called everberg, located about 16K east of brussels and 10k from Leuven, my favorite town here. I am staying with Jan Goeman, a super great guy who also comes with a bike shop ten meters away!!

My first race was 26 December – Hofstade World Cup. Since i had very few uci points, i started almost last row. It turns out it didn’t make a lick of difference. the gun sounded and immediately jumped into top 15 turning the first corner, but soon afterwards I fell back to second to last place and stayed there for the first lap.

Turns out my rear wheel axle came loose and prevented the chain from staying on a sprocket -freak incident. After getting a new rocklobster, i crawled back up to 20th place. At the finish line, my pit crew of Jan, and his friends Ronny and Jenny were waiting to carry me back to the car.

It was amazing to hear all the support i had as a Velo Bella – although i think most of them assumed i was from italy or spain because they yelled, “venga, venga”. haha.

By my second race two days later, azencross in Loenhout, Belgium, most of the spectators figured out i was from USA. I heard a lot more – “amerika” comments and even a few “peanuts”. It is still odd for me to attend a “local” cyclo-cross race with 12,000 spectators who are lined up three-deep around the whole course!
Again, i had a fun start in the last row! (hey, the only place i can go is up!) After a few rounds of ditch jumps, bmx chatters and jumps, and a collection of the infamous belgian fly-overs, i ended up in 18th place. Afterwards, while the men were racing, I watched the spectators get plastered on beer and shots of a belgian-specific clear hard alcohol. hmmmm….something to investigate after Worlds!!

My third race was three days later in Hooglede-Gits World Cup, Belgium. What a cold, wet muddy day it was! All the americans likened it to Nationals in Providence, RI. Since I now had a few more uci points, i earned a spot in the third row (which i had to fight for since the other gals were physically pushing their way to the front row even before the gun went off.) After we turned the first corner into the mud pit, there was so much carnage i couldnt help but laugh – and laugh i did for the next fourty minutes. I ended up in 17th this time.

Luckily, they had showers available. As i walked to the showers, i was so cold that i couldnt imagine that i would be motivated to remove my semi-insulated soaked clothes to take a shower. But when i walked into the locker room, i was quite relieved to find it was a sauna! Since there were only two showers, all the girls doubled up to get clean. My shower partner was marianne vos – not like i was staring, but i did notice that i was not only twice her age BUT twice her width!!! After showering, i realized how unprepared i was for post shower activities such as drying off and getting back to the car (i will blame it on the flu – hahaha). was Luckily, Helen wymans of GB lent me a towel and marianne lent me sandals. Her feet were soooo small that i had to tippy-toe all the way back to the car.

Before leaving the venue, I picked up my paycheck – 22 euros (about $26) – i was thankful to have that money for gas since we had to drive directly to luxembourg for tomorrow’s race three hours away.

We arrived at the hotel at 9:30pm and had dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. The whole italian team was present in their matching tracksuits – very pro! But what was NOT very pro was their drinking habit! I couldn’t help but think, “that’s right, drink up so I can beat you tomorrow! hehehehehe” OK, so maybe it was only red wine and they only had about one drink per rider, but a gal is allowed to dream….

The next morning, it was still bitterly cold and raining outside – and inside. Turns out our heaters werent working. Unfortunately i didnt check my clothes that should have been drying all night until just before we left the hotel for the race. EVERYTHING was drenched, even my helmet -AND my skinsuit zipper was broken to boot!

The race was the first non-pancake-flat course since i arrived! The start was straight up for about one minute, then continued to climb in the woods. it was also the first course with some technical riding – a real mountain bike race in and out of the trees, complete with wet roots and rocks! The juniors were on the course the same time so it was hard to know if the person behind or in front of you is a man or woman since all these gals are in great shape, complete with boy bodies! On the last lap, I found i was in fourth place! Yipee! Every race i’ve improved on my placing. Now i must make podium at the next race…in three days!

Three days later and we are back in the car headed for Friesland, netherlands located way, way north in the boonies! We left at 6am, planning for a 9am arrival. The race was at 11:30am – plenty of time to pee along the way. What i didnt account for was getting lost about eight times. We also had to sit on the side of the road for fourty five minutes so Jan could take a nap because he was so sick that he hadnt slept the night before.

By the time we got to the race site, it was just after 11am. I got my race number, rode the bike to the start and off we went. In the first lap, I experienced so much pain to stay in contact with the top ten racers. I felt like I was violently awakened from a peaceful sleep! Once i warmed up, i started to pick them off until i got within striking distance of first and second place. unfortunately, I ran out of time and had to settle for third place. Part of me is disappointed that i didnt win but the other part is ABSOLUTELY THRILLED to be on my first ever European podium!!! Flowers and all!!! This one podium placing definitely takes the bite out of the $1,250 i spent on the flight to get here.

I am also thrilled that in the five events i have raced in a time span of ten days, i have moved up in my placings every time. Again, yipee!!!

Now that i have a few days before my next race is here (lievin, France World Cup 15 January), i am taking these days to fully recover from the flu (note – benefit of the flu is that i have a gorgeous set of abs from all the coughing) and rebuild my fitness for the two remaining world cups and World Championships. I am also
sticking around for at least one more race after world championships before heading back to california.

I hope to have better access to internet so i can keep you all updated on my life here on a more regular basis. By the way, i am learning flemish. i can understand more than i can speak, though. Since i havent mastered their very difficult
pronunciation of words, I am still talking in english since most understand it anyway. (it gets old repeating everything three times! haha)

THank you all again for being a part of my dream come true!!! I am just so happy to be here and I just cant wait to again represent Velo Bella at the remaining world cups and WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS!!!!!!

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