Minnesota State Championships

June 30, 2006

By Lieselot Decroix

On Saturday June 24th, I raced the Minnesota State Championship Road Race in Zumbro Falls.

The women’s 1/2/3 had to race together, 4 laps of 14 miles with rolling hills, 1 bigger hill of about a mile, wind and hot weather. However the course was beautiful, there wasn’t a big turnout; only 13 women!

The Bella’s were well represented with 6 of us in the race. We started with a rolling start at the bottom of the hill. Because the group was so small, no one really wanted to race in the beginning, what resulted in a slow first 2 laps. On the third time we hit the hill, I accelerated a little bit to see who would be my biggest opponents, but on top of the hill, I saw that we lost all the other bella’s, except Margot was still with me. We talked and decided to wait a little bit and 2 other bellas came back.

The last time we hit the hill and then we had one more lap to go, a girl named Ann who finished Nature Valley last week and who is pretty strong (she had always beaten me in the sprint when we got away together in other races), picked up the pace on the hill and when we came on top, we saw that it was only her, me and another Ann (who’s a pro-MTB) left and we had dropped all the other ones.

We cruised the last lap and the time gap with the other girls only grew and grew up to 3 minutes. In the last mile, I took Ann’s wheel and just stayed on her wheel. The last 300m before the finish, which were strongly uphill, I sprinted out of her wheel and won surprisingly easily.

I received the Minnesota State Championship RR golden medal, so I am the Minnesotan state champion now, even though I am still Belgian haha! The next bella’s were Margot Herman who took 4th and Sheryl Golin who took 7th.

Tilley Finds Banner Elk "Cramped"

June 29, 2006

by Jennifer

Norba#2 Banner Elk, NC

Alright, so its been a little while since I raced this, but I have been super busy with racing so I haven’t had a chance to write. I was really looking forward to the Banner Elk race in NC since I had heard the riding there was awesome.

After preriding the course, I was pretty excited about the race. There was a good hard climb to start, and then some singletrack, and then more climbing. The decent was a bit tricky since parts of it were slick from rain and there were lots of roots and rocks. I decided to keep with my schwalbe tire selection of Racing Ralphs, which ended up for me being perfect. Luckily the day of the race there were clear skies and some wind which dried things out a bit.

I had an ok start, but not great. I held by position for the first part of the climb, but then started passing girls on the second part. I got into a great rhythm and felt really good the entire first lap. I had settled into ~27th, and began the 2nd lap great. I did have to run a few parts of the downhill since parts of it were quicker (and safer) to run. This came back to haunt me on the start of the 3rd lap.

Starting the climb on the last lap, I began to cramp so bad that I couldn’t pedal. I had to coast for a bit and softpedal to get my hamstrings and calves to release. I climbed the first part of the climb in a “half cramp” and then it went away. On the last downhill, it came back. I had to stand on the side of the trail for a bit since there was nothing I could do.

I made it down, loosing over 8 minutes. I dropped 10 places. Oh well. Its all part of racing. I had a great time up until the last lap. The issues were definitely me, not the bike. I had a “mechanical free” race thanks to my SRAM stuff. Oh, and it was my first time running Crank Brothers Egg beaters, but I had absolutely no problems with the switch. I was worried about that for nothing.

Overall I had a great weekend, and raced better than I ever have- thanks to the great support from my teammates and Alex, our awesome mechanic Morgan and his wife for cheering, and especially for Chelly Richards who put the team up in her house the entire time- Thanks! I will get those girls at the next Norba!

Lieselot Decroix 2006 Minnesota State Champ!

June 29, 2006

While searching the web it was brought to my attention that our newest Velo Bella-Kona Elite team member Lieselot Decroix won the Minnesota State Road Race Championships.

Lieselot along with a handful of other Bellas represented and did great. Congrats Lieselot on your first big win in the USA! Congrats to the other Bellas Margot, Sheryl, and Laurel who rode great too! And to Paula and Sarah in the Cat 4 race.

Brief Results:
1 704 Lieselot Decroix Velo Bella State Champ
2 707 Ann Hansgate U of M
3 710 Anne Grabowski FCCC
4 709 Margot Herman Velo Bella

Full results can be found here.

The Beartooth Challenge – Montana

June 28, 2006

by Renee Coppock

While Jackie and Tina were out trying to avoid sleeping on the bike at 24 Hours of Rapelje, fellow Bella Kathy Aragon and I were giving the Beartooth Challenge a whirl. The Beartooth Challenge is a two day event, comprised of running the Beartooth Pass the first day and then biking it the second. An athlete can do either day’s event or sign up for both–both is the Challenge. The first day’s event features an 8.2 mile run, starting at 7,000 feet and ending at 9,000 feet, and a 21 mile cycling time trial on the second day, climbing from about 5,600 feet to 9,000. This was going to be my first running event in 5 years. Strictly speaking, I’m not supposed to be running much since being struck by a car, but the Challenge was too tempting. Kathy, on the other hand, is a 6 time Olympic Trials qualifier in the 10,000 meters and the marathon and is relatively new to cycling. She is fabulous to run with, but can really put the hurt on you. I opted to limit my damages in the run and not “race”, but run moderately hard. When the 340 runners toed the line, the weather was spectacular with no wind, quite unusual for the Pass. With the tree pollen count high, it took me at least a mile to get into a good pace and get my lungs cleared out. I was running in third place for much of the race, thinking “What’s up with that?” Lately, my training has consisted of running 3 miles right after cycling races. At about the 6 mile mark I could still see Kathy, when a young gal passed me. She asked me to help her catch Kathy, but I wasn’t even going there…. I declined and told her I needed to run moderately so I could bike the next day. She looked at me like I was plum crazy! (There may be some truth to that.) Kathy kept her at bay, but the last two miles seemed like a death march to me, as I was not mentally prepared to run that distance. Perhaps a person should actually do some 8 mile runs before attempting 8 miles straight up a mountain, but a gal only has so much time in a day. I finished and felt pretty good about my time since I hadn’t injured myself. Kathy took second place with a time of 1:09:47. I was fourth with a time of 1:11:05. Not a bad run, considering.

No rest for the weary after the race, however, as both Kathy and I had family duties awaiting us (clean house, yard work, run kids around…..) That evening, I remembered that I had not cleaned my bike after riding with Jackie in a deluge earlier in the week. [Note to self: remember that Jackie rides through anything.] I cleaned the bike and debated for a long time whether or not to use the aero bars. There would be a ride through the canyon for 12 miles, which is usually windy, before the climbing began. I opted for the aero bars, since we rarely use them in Montana, with only two time trials in our state all year. Hey, you might as well look fast, right?

I arrived in Red Lodge to sunny, warm weather, with a breeze blowing in the canyon. Yes, the aero bars were a good idea. The race director decided to start riders in the order of registration. I didn’t want to be the first one to take off, so I tried to find as much “stuff” to do in my car as I could prior to finalizing my registration. I was to start 13th out of 41 riders. Kathy was going to start around 25th.

I tried to warm up to get the crud out of my lungs (asthma related to allergies). I could tell during the warm up that this was going to be hard. I had my bike in granny gear up the first hill during the warm up, which was really not much of a hill. I stood at the gate coughing and the guy behind me thought I had pneumonia or something! Poor guy. When I told him it was normal, you could tell he didn’t believe me…. He probably thinks I smoke! Anyway, I had a good start and rode hard through the canyon, passing 6 people before the climb. My legs felt a lot better once I really got moving. Adrenaline is a fabulous thing! I could use my aero bars for 10 miles or so, so it was good to have them. I climbed well, without really breathing too hard. Every once in a while I’d have to wake up and remind myself I was in a race. It was tough to do since I couldn’t see anyone along the switchbacks. With about 4 miles to go I could see the first person to start, so I rode hard to pass her. She could hear me breathing by that time and didn’t even turn around before she gave me some encouragement. With about 2 miles left I could see a guy far ahead, so I focused on him. I didn’t catch him, but it helped to see him out there. I finished in 1:26:11. My goal was under 1:30. Kathy finished in 1:28:08. We both agreed that the best thing we could have done was to run the course the day before. It made the ride seem incredibly easy. Now, we had to wait to see how other Cat 3s, a Cat 2 and a Luna Chick were doing. One Cat 3 professed to be a real climber, so I was a little worried. She finished strong, but wasn’t telling her time…. We had to wait until the awards ceremony for even a hint at the results. Much to our relief, I was first and Kathy was second. The third placed gal was a good 10 minutes behind. What a great feeling to have that done! The first place male flew up the mountain in 1:14:58, with the next rider at 1:17:19.

As for the Challenge times, I was excited to have taken first with a total time of 2:37:16. Kathy placed second at 2:38:05, and a guy from the area in third with a time of 2:41:43., almost 4 minutes back. Yes, the Bellas beat the boys in the Challenge! Now that we ordered our Bella skinsuits, we can ride the Challenge next year in real style!

Kathy will be participating in the Death Ride in California in August, and has been diligently training for the event. If any of you have ever done it, I’m sure she would welcome comments.

Wacky Jackie Wins!

June 28, 2006

Jackie Yamanaka wins the 24 Hours of Rapelje in Montana

and survives to tell about it!

24 Hours of Rapelje

June 28, 2006

by Jackie

“I didn’t know you could get a bruise in the shape of a bike seat.Yuck! And look at those mosquito bites.” This observation from myhusband – my bike mechanic and all-around support guy – a day after I won the women’s solo category at 24 Hours of Rapelje.

My bruised, lactic acid-filled, mosquito-bite laden butt basically illustrates how up beat up your body gets at this race through the cow pastures of central Montana.

In good ol’ Western fashion we started at high noon with a shotgun blast near the Stockman Cafe. A Le Mans start. At first I started running then thought better of it and walked to my bike. When I got there I discovered I needed to zero out my cyclo-computer.

My dawdling put me way behind the hammerheads, but then again I
didn’t have team mates to share the load.

The 12.5 mile course wound through dirt and paved farm roads, cowpaths, and up and down random sections of pastures (no trail). We rolled over sandy dirt, sage brush, lots of rocks, and dead gophers and birds for hours on end. The only sign of civilization was the occasional windmill, fence, or the rare farm house miles away.

At night it was so dark I got disoriented. Right away, another female soloist with a very expensive racing bike began throwing down laps. I kept pace. Finally at lap 4 something inside me snap. I got competitive. New experience for me on the bike.

So here I was – exhausted from the grind of work, lack of sleep for months on end, and little to no time spent on the bike – gunning for a gal half my age. I polished off 8 laps before my butt said, ‘nomore’; she stopped at 5. The folks at the Stockman Cafe told me it’s a new women’s solo course record. Makes me wonder, “what would happen if I actually trained?” hmmmm….

Then again, am I stupid enough to solo again next year and go for a three-peat? I’ll think about that only after my butt heals.

Check out out the multi-media coverage from the Billings Gazette!

June 22-25

June 25, 2006

Pescadero Road Race, CA
12th, Monica Neilson, Women Pro/1/2
17th, Jen Joynt, Women,Women Pro/1/2
19th, Elizabeth Benishin, Women Pro/1/2
22nd, Luciana Vecchi, Women 3
22nd, Tracy Loper, Women 4
25th, Angela Aldrich, Women 4
26th, Soni Andreini Poulsen, Women 4

24 Hours of Rapelje, MT
1st, Jackie Yamanaka, Solo Women

Pacific Crest Olympic Duathlon, OR
10th, Miss Mary Perez, Women 25-29

Minnesota State Road Race Championship, MN
1st, Lieselot Decroix, Women 1/2/3
4th, Margot Herman, Women 1/2/3
7th, Sheryl Golin, Women 1/2/3
9th, Laurel Sundberg, Women 1/2/3

Wildflower Rush Downhill, Crested Butte, CO
1st, Kim Luks, Sport Women

Nature Valley From the Little Bella

June 23, 2006

By Jen Joynt

First, I would like to clarify for the record that Jane, Kele and I all Absolutely Did Finish (ADF) the Stillwater Crit and the race. For some reason in the results, they list us all as DNF; we were pulled as were many other riders, but we finished half the race.

Okay, now that I’ve cleared that up, on to the races. Day 1 was the time trial, a flat, windy course. Not really my ideal course, but I went as hard as I could and paced the course pretty well. I achieved that burning pain in my stomach about 2 miles from the finish and kept it all the way to the line.

Day 2 was the first road stage. 133 eager women trying to get out of the wind led to many close calls, a few small crashes, and then a bigger pile up a few miles from the 2 mile gravel road. This turned out to be a critical moment, as those behind the crash had to chase hard and could see that the peleton was already broken into multiple groups of 20 or so from the crosswind. I found myself behind the crash and did not chase nearly hard enough to get back into a good group. Then we hit the gravel road, which was super painful. Women were sliding out all over the place, and it was really hard to keep your momentum going. My Schwalbe tires stood up well to the task, and I just went as hard as I could. Once we left the dirt, I grouped up with some women. Then I heard John on the radio saying that Colavita was dropping back. Good news for me as I waited for them to come along and drive a good pace. We caught up to a group with Jane in it. Then we saw Kele. Eventually, the pace picked up quite fast in a crosswind section, and my legs died. I caught up to Kele a few minutes later. And she and I rode in together.

Next up was a downtown Minneapolis evening crit. And the big excitement for this race was the crazy thunder, lightning, hail storm that hit about 40 minutes before the start of our race. So much for warming up. We all jumped in the car and watched the weird weather. Our race was delayed and shortened due to the weather. But considering how crazy it was before our race and the second storm that hit while the men were racing, we really lucked out.

Day 4 was the second road stage in Mankato. We were greeted by a hot, sticky day for this one. The air was super thick, leading many riders including me to wish for some rain. It was also another windy day, although the guttering portion of the race waited a little longer than the first road race. Kele got herself into a break with some strong women, and they got the gap up to 40 seconds. But then it seemed like the wind picked up, and we could see them. The gap dropped quickly to 15 seconds, and then the chasers really put on the speed. Unfortunately, this led to the long string in the cross wind. Gaps were opening all over the place. I could not close them. A few women, including Jane screaming encouragement, came around me. I clutched on to Jane’s wheel for as long as I could, but not long enough. So I ended up in a chase group with a bunch of women.

The final event was the Stillwater crit, which is a bit like Cat’s Hill, only much harder. The race starts right at the base of the main climb, which is long enough that you begin to feel the pain of your efforts about 1/2 up. Then there are 2 more easier climbs on the 1.5 mile circuit. Then some super fast descending turns, and you are back to the hill. The race started out fast, with the definitive move going on the second lap. I hung on as long as I could, 3 or 4 laps I think. Eventually, Jane caught up to me with a few people, and I hopped in with her. And then Kele came flying down the descent, and I hopped on for that ride. So we all three finished together when we were pulled after 27 minutes of racing or so.

It was a super hard week, but we really supported each other through the race. And we had awesome support from all the Twin Cities Bellas and even some Fellas (who I heard cheering on the Stillwater hill). It was great having so many fans cheering for us at all the races, which is all thanks to the local Velo Bellas. And I had quite a few of those fans admiring my super cute Queen Zing; she is fast and a head-turner. And a final shout out to John Coleman, our all-around super support guy, who made the hard days of racing a whole lot easier.

Nature Valley Race report

June 23, 2006

By Jane Ziegler

Nature Valley was just plain windy. Everyday it was
windy. On one of the road races, there was a dirt
road section for about 2 miles. All sorts of riders
were getting flat tires, but our Schwalbe tires held
up great. No flat tires here.

We absolutely wouldn’t have been able to survive the
week without our mechanic, driver, team manager,
everything man…John Coleman. He was in such good
spirits all week and his enthusiasm never died. He
helped us with anything and everything.

All of the stages in Nature Valley were tough. It is
definitely the hardest stage race on the NRC calendar,
besides Toona. The racers don’t go there to fluff
around, nor do they go easy during any parts of the

The Minnesota Bellas also came out to help us. They
were also very supportive and positive people to be
around. During the crit, I think there was a Bella on
every straight away and every corner because not once
did , “Go Velo Bella,” ever die down. Thanks guys!

June 14-18

June 16, 2006

Nature Valley Grand Prix, MN(Women 1/2/Pro)
Stage 1-Time Trial
21st, Kele Murdin
78th, Jane Ziegler
97th, Margot Hermann
111th, Jen Joynt
130th, Laurel Lundberg

Stage 2-Road Race
61st, Jane Ziegler
90th,Jen Joynt
91st, Kele Murdin
112th, Margot Herman

Stage 3-Criterium
41st, Kele Murdin
65th, Jane Ziegler
84th, Jen Joynt

Stage 4- Road Race
55th, Kele Murdin
69th, Jane Ziegler
86th, Jen Joynt

Nevada City Classic, CA
11th, Sarah Kerlin, Women

Sierra Nevada/Specialized Criterium, CA
8th, Luciana Vecchi, Women 1/2/3
15th, Sabine Dukes, Women 1/2/3
4th, Julie Porter, Women 4
15th, Soni Andreini Poulsen, Women 4

NORBA Nationals #3, VT
21st, Kristin Danielson, Pro Women XC
49th, Kim Passafiume, Pro Women XC
53rd, Sami Fournier, Pro Women XC
17th, Kristin Danielson, Pro Women STX
38th, Sami Fournier, Pro Women STX
39th, Kim Passafiume, Pro Women STX
41st, Noel Weddle, Pro Women STX

Prairie City Race Series #10, CA
1st, Renee Ridgley, Women Sport 34 and under
4th, Bonnie Darrah, Women Sport 35 plus

Central Coast MTB #6, CA
4th, Julie Starling, Sport Women
5th, Daphne Hodgeson, Sport Women
4th, Angela Aldrich, Beginner Women

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