August 23, 2006
by Tina Whitfield
Just a short race report for this one (say it isn’t so!!), but it was by far the funnest, and the best race I’ve done all year – and I didn’t even win! I felt good – my legs felt great – it was just an amazing amazing race.
The course is about a 1/2 mile L-shape in downtown Hamilton, MT – one of those little hamlets with mountains in the background – very scenic, very cool.
I had so… much fun after my butterflies chilled out… Zoe (Bella – Cat 3), Jane (Great Divide and my arch nemesis), and I were off the front the whole race – okay, so the field shattered and we were the race, but still – it was WAY COOL. Zoe took off at the bell for the last lap and we couldn’t bridge up to her. Jane and I came down to the sprint for 2nd and 3rd – and it was an all out sprint – i missed it by about 6 inches. And I was gaining, so if that finish had been another foot away, I’d have gotten it. I must have been in too big of a gear or I was maxxed out already when I came around the last corner, cuz Ed said I didn’t have my usual jump.
There needs to be more of those during the season in this state. What a blast. The State TT championship is this upcoming weekend and is more kinda of like – oh, okay. It should still be fun, but not that kind of adrenaline rush. A whole different personality came out during that last lap of the crit- I might even have to give her a name… It didn’t matter what my body felt like – it was going to do what she said!!! hee hee heeee… I think Zoe was right when she told me she thinks I found my race…
Wish I had photos, but my podium boy didn’t pull out the camera – so sad!
August 23, 2006
Wendy Simms is representin’ da Maple Leaf down in Rotorua, New Zealand in this coming Sunday’s Mountain Bike World Championships. Read about her pro-star-living experience (aka training camp) and catch the latest in her live report from New Zealand!
(& in the spirit of your funky bright blog font colors):
August 22, 2006
Hey gang. Just in Rotorua NZ. Time for a quick update.
TRAVEL: I was a little worried about the 20hour flight to NZ but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Traveling overnight definitely helped. I arrived Sunday morning at 7am a bit fuzzy but I don’t think it was as bad as the euro trips. Arriving so early just made it harder to stay awake until 9pm.
ROTORUA: is a pretty cool touristy town. Hot sulfur springs run underground of the town so every hotel has mineral pools and hot tubs. But as a result it smells of farts. More than once I have given my teammates a disgusted look only to remember that it probably was just sulfur I was smelling . This park in the middle of town has bridges over the pools so we got some cool shots of the VB-K kit fading in and out of the creepy steam. The kiwis are really friendly!
TEAM CANADA: I got my team kit and as always felt a little glow at being able to represent my country. I hope I don’t ever take it for granted because its a pretty cool feeling. Most of the XC team was already in Rotorua and the rest of the XC and DH members arrived with me on Sunday so we were a pretty big group.
THE COURSE: the course is pretty fun. A big long climb to start then some crazy twisty grass chutes into a second short grass climb. A couple of drops (pretty big for XC! ) unless you prefer the slower cheater line and then some BMXy burmed out areas before you get into the woods. A couple of manmade wood piles and rocky descents before the final short clinb into the start area. Not super technical but with the random hailstorms and rain squalls the potential to become REALLY slippery could change things dramatically. My Schwalbe racing raphs were perfect when it was dry but pretty slippy with the rain. I may have to pull out the Nobby Nics for the first time this year for some grip if it rains much before the race……
TEAM RELAY: I only got to see some of the team realy – a hailstorm at 1:31 (the race started at 1:30) made me rethink my decision to ride over to the course. There was a lot of changes in teh lead which made it pretty exciting. Team US was sporting some new kits. They looked good to me until someone said they looked liek a spiderman outfit so now I can’t stop thinking about spiderman when I see one. Sorry guys!
OPENING CEREMONIES: were Tuesday night but its been really cold here (frost in the morning!) so we were all a bit hesitant to go stand in the cold for over an hour. BUT we went and felt like total wusses as the Maori dudes were standing/dancing in the cold with only a thong! When they werent performing barefoot on teh concrete they were sitting on the concrete. Crazy! Canada the great white North shrunk away for hot chocolate.
That is about it. I prerode the course again today and its drying up so less slippy. The junior girls went off at 10am and the U23 girls are later today. I have been alternating between my Canada kit and my VB-K kit. I died my hair red so it clashes a bit with the VB-K kit! Lots of comments on how cool the Kula Lisa custom paint job is!! I agree. W.
August 21, 2006
19 year old Velo Bella-Kona racer Lieselot Decroix has been keeping me up to date on some of her racing back in Europe and thought I would share a few details with everyone.
Two weekends ago:
Here in Belgium I’m doing fine…last 2 weeks we’ve got great Belgian weather with day in day out heavy rain and 50 degree-weather! 100 degrees sucks but 50 in the summer does too hihi!
Anyway, I’ve done already a couple races back here in my velo bella-Kona kit, it’s really cool and people look at me like: where the heck does she come from? Some even start talking to me in English and then if they’re mad at me I pretend I don’t speak dutch haha! But I already experienced the aggressive and dangerous way of riding and especially acting on their bikes…push here, pull there, crash here, crash there, “bitch” here, “you stupid a$$hole” there…gimme the friendly American way of cycling, I like that better! Yesterday I finished 6th in an international race, I was in a break with 6…4 professional girls from the Netherlands and one other Belgian with legs like Kellie’s and they road so freakin fast, I could barely hang on with them but I stayed with them…Velo Bella-Kona in europe!
This past weekends race:
“Yeah, people look kinda interested in the kona-bike, no one has ever seen a kona-road-bike…so yeah…and yesterday i was in a break with 2 for like 20km and every time I passed the finish line the guy with the mic said/ there’s our American girl “lieselot decroix” (pronouncing my name completely Belgian!!!) it was hilarious! cause I have the us license, they were confused I guess…well on 10km of the finish the peloton took us back, but at least I showed the velo bella colors!
I got 14th overall in the sprint then…you should have seen the weather: insane! the first 35km, it was raining so hard that you couldn’t see the girl riding in front of you! We even missed a turn in the race cause we didn’t see the turn haha! It was so freakin dangerous!!!!”
See more Pics
August 17, 2006
Colorado Springs, CO
August 9 – 13, 2006
By Cathy Boland
After my disastrous attempt at Masters Nationals in Colorado Springs, 2002, I swore that I would never compete at altitude again. My asthma and the altitude pretty much made me the ‘One Lap Wonder’ – I could go one lap around the track really fast before having an asthma attack and cough up a lung. Somehow Robyn convinced me to commit to Natz again this year in Colorado Springs. She must have caught me when I was drunk or something.
Determined to do well this year in spite of the altitude, I met Robyn in Colorado Springs a week and a half before competition started so that we could acclimate. We scored host housing at our coach’s (Missy Thompson – former track star studette) mother’s house just a few blocks from downtown Colorado Springs. Karen, our hostess, was wonderful to us. Her house also had a couple of puppy dogs to play with
and a resident deer that hung out under the front porch.
Our first week consisted of track workouts that we felt like we were going to die on, alternating with easy 1.5 hour rides, playing with the dogs and drinking boat loads of Pete’s coffee. Finally by Saturday we were feeling human again and had a great workout at the track. That was a good way to end the hard efforts before competition began on Wednesday.
Wednesday was the 200 meter sprints for seeding the sprint competition and the 500m time trial. There were four Bellas competing at natz: me (45-49 age group), Robyn Jensen (50-54), Barb Harick from Minnesota (45-49) and Kele Murdin (30-34). Only Robyn and I attempted the sprint competition. The promoter lumped all 40+ women (19 of us) into one group for sprints making that field one of the deepest at the meet. The top 8 went on to compete in the sprints, but neither of us made it. I set a personal best of 13.67 seconds for the 200 meters, only .2 seconds away from 8th place, so I was pretty happy even though I didn’t make the cut. Later that afternoon was the 500 m TT. The 500 m TT is a weird trackie event – it is a standing start followed by going balls to the wall until you puke for the rest of the 500m. Half of the event is knowing how to do a standing start and how to hold the black line (the fastest line on the track). The rest is just pure speed. The Bellas kicked butt with Kele placing 5th in her age group with a time of 40.1 seconds, Robyn placing 4th in her group with 43.231 seconds, Barb was 4th in our group with 42.194 seconds and I got 3rd with 41.614 seconds. I was way happy with that time. It wasn’t a personal best, but it was the fastest I had managed to go since 1997. Woo hoo! I finally wasn’t fat and super slow anymore!
Robyn, Barb and I had the day off since we didn’t make it into the sprints. But Kele won a National Championship in the 2k pursuit with a smokin’ fast time of 2:33! Go Kele!
Today Robyn competed in the 2k pursuit and Barb and I had our points race. I thought I wasn’t worried about this event but the closer it got, the more keyed up I became. It was the hottest, driest day we had had so far and I got to the track early to cheer Robyn on in her pursuit effort (Robyn took 3rd with a very respectable time of 3:06).
By the time we finally got to the points race, I was hot, over warmed up and tired. My plan was to play it conservatively on the first few sprints, be near the front to go with any major attacks and really be aggressive on the last sprints. The 45-49 and 40-44 age groups were combined for the race so there some fast women, such as Annette Hansen, to watch for in the younger group. The groups would be scored separately at the end. On the lap before the first sprint I moved near the front and was right behind Annette for the sprint. Alright! Plan was being implemented perfectly! Until we got to the home straight anyway – then it became clear that I was under geared and not in top form as the leaders effortlessly pulled away from me. Everyone sat up after the sprint and I clawed my way back to the group. Wheezing and horking up part of a lung, I decided it was time to implement a new plan. This one was called ‘hang on for dear life and hope for good sprint at the end’. Fortunately for me the race was really lame. With the exception of Barb who did a brief attack on the front, everyone watched Annette and sprinted when she sprinted and sat up when she sat up. If anyone had decided to make a real race of it, I would have been dropped like a bad habit. With 9 laps to go, Tracy Huber from Kentucky took a flyer off the front. She was in my age group, so none of the leaders were interested in chasing. All I could think of was ‘You go girl. If you have that much energy left, you so deserve that gold medal’. All I had to do was hang on and beat everyone else in my age group in the final sprint.
I finished 7th in the last sprint, giving me 7th overall in the race and 2nd in my age group. Barb finished right behind me 8th overall and 3rd in our age group. I was just grateful it was over.
Robyn and I had the day off, but Barb competed in the 2k pursuit. The pursuit is my idea of hell, so I passed. Barb was 6th with a really good time of 2:54.
Robyn and I decided to do the team sprint just for grins. We knew we didn’t have a rats chance of winning, but we both love the event. We had a good ride – Robyn did the first lap and had a good start. I was right on her wheel and was able to accelerate in her slip stream as she pulled off. I felt good on my lap and kept my speed throughout. We ended up 6th out of 7 teams. All of .014 seconds out of medaling in 5th place and .214 seconds out of 4th place. Yikes! If we had aero helmets we definitely would have gotten 5th.
Kele and 3 other women won the 3k team time trial and set a national record for the 30+ age group in the process. I believe this is Kele’s first year on the track. Two national championships is not a bad start!
I think Velo Bella ended up 5th in the team competition. Not too shabby for only having four women. Some of the teams had more than 10 members competing.
But the best celebration was getting home and having my insane friends present me with a ‘I’m a winner!’ crown, a Velo Bella Silver medal and a giant bottle of vodka.
August 16, 2006
Rocky Mount, VA
August 13, 2006
By Chelly Richards
Rocky Mount, Virginia, is where my boyfriend, Darrell, grew up and lived before he, as so many of Rocky Mount’s young people do, left for parts exciting and unknown (in his case Atlanta). What makes it great is that the race really has a small town feel. About 20 MW employees come out to help and there’s a large cheering section waiting for you as you enter the last descent. The local paper and TV station are all over the place, snapping pictures on the course, video taping as you ride by, and grabbing people for interviews.
They started this race 5 years ago as part of the Virginia DeRailer series and Darrell has done it three times, winning it every time. Of course, they love this. The paper prints an article with pictures of him on the course and victoriously riding across the finish line. The headline is something like “Darrell Prillaman, Our Hometown Hero”. The local station’s hour-long special on the race will air in a week and if you miss it the first time, don’t you worry – you have about 10 more chances to see it that weekend. This time, there’s an interview with Darrell and his parents (Dad was the elementary school principal for 40 years so he’s a celebrity, too) with me and his niece standing there, as well.
Good thing they didn’t ask me about my race on TV because it wasn’t pretty. Beforhand, Darrell told me how easy the course is and said there was no need to pre-ride. I think he over-estimates my abilities. He was right that the course is almost entirely double track but now I know that that doesn’t mean anything. Virginia is rocky. Whether there are two tracks or one makes no difference. The uphills are steep and the downhills are steep and muddy. I screamed (literally) down every one of them. There are two RIVER crossings for which I lifted my full-suspension bike over my head. One time the water was as high as my waist!
Again, I finished back with the newbies. I couldn’t understand why this girl behind me wasn’t trying to pass and found out later it was her first race. I ended up with third out of five in the 19-35 beginner women’s age group. I was beaten by one girl in tennis shoes and beat another two in tennis shoes. For someone who has been clipped in for 3 years, I think it’s fair to gauge success by the number of not-clipped-ins that you beat or are beaten by.
On the way home, Darrell and I had a conversation that went like this:
Me: I’m sick of hurting so much and always doing so bad.
D: Chelly, everyone hurts during the race.
Me: But its different when you hurt and win sometimes. It just plain sucks to hurt and lose all the time.
He had no idea what I was talking about. My next race is tentatively planned for Lynchburg, Virginia, in a month. The game plan is to just keep doing the races. Bike racing just doesn’t come easy for me so all I can do is keep working at it and hope it gets better.
August 15, 2006
WARNING: if you are currently stressing out about how the hell you are going to fit in training, racing, work and family/social life this week, do NOT read this!! It may cause anger, bitterness, tears, or complete rage.
I am not going to lie to you. I have just discovered that the life of a professional athlete is pretty sweet. Now when I say professional athlete I don’t mean racing in the pro category on weekends, I am talking about really living the life – thinking, breathing, eating, sleeping your sport (and hopefully getting someone else to pay for it!!). Lots of girls that we race against are professional athletes so it might not seem like a big deal. But to a racer that has to squeeze in training every morning on the way to work, manipulate holidays to plan their race schedule and is an expert at high speed, one pot dinners, I was pretty pumped when I was given the opportunity to live the life, if only for ten days. And since I KNOW that most Velo Bella’s are like me – squeezing everything (and more) into their week – I figured you guys might want to hear what its like from someone who can totally appreciate it.
I guess I should back up a bit. A couple of weeks ago I found out that I had made the Canadian National mountain bike team and was heading to Rotorua, New Zealand for the World Championships at the end of August. Yeah!!! This goal has eluded me so I was pretty happy to get the news. Happy but tired from a long spring/summer of racing, traveling, and working. I was signed up to race the last two NORBAs but the national team coach was planning a training camp in Victoria, BC. Ten days of focused training to get ready for worlds. Although I wanted to end the season off with the rest of the VB-K girls, deep down I knew that the training camp would be much better preparation for worlds than more traveling and racing. Lucky for me I have the most supportive team in the world and they gave me full clearance to do what I thought would be best. Thanks Velo Bella – Kona!
So I stayed at Alison Sydor’s house in Victoria. Uhm maybe you have heard of her?? Three time world champion?? Olympic silver medalist? Yeah, I would be doing some training with Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain Business Objects) who has never been below top 6 at worlds and Trish Sinclair (Scott USA) who has been to worlds 11X. My learning curve was going to be steep.
Racing every weekend seems to always take away from my endurance rides so my first goal was to get a few long rides in. I did my MSc. in Victoria so I knew the area really well and did some of my favourite routes along the coast. No rushing, no early mornings, no stress, just a couple of wicked 5 hour rides in the sun. Already my training buddies were pushing me as I discovered that Alison “full throttle” Sydor has one speed (freakin’ fast) and Trish is a little mountain goat. No problem. With the only things on my “to do” list being: train, massage, stretch, core and eat well, I was recovering nicely. Next up : a 4 hour MTB ride with the local boys – all ex-pros. It was great training as the ride was either full out, straight up or high speed technical. If you got dropped – find your way home. I was totally scribbled by the end of the ride and realized that I definitely need some more intensity in my training at home. A much needed easy day included some running because Rotorua is experiencing a LOT of rain these days. A check up with the team doctor, meeting with the team Mental Coach and a trip to the bike shop for some repairs made it the busiest day so far. Then I was back on the intensity with a team trial workout and some motorpacing. Massage. Video of the Rotorua course. Blood work to make sure iron levels were good. Easy spin with the team. Easy run. Seven minute hill repeats that simulated the opening climb at Rotorua. Massage. Meeting with the nutritionist (need more meat). Team spin. Presentation about minimizing the stress of traveling. Race simulation. Another ex-pro MTB ride. And suddenly my ten day training camp was up.
I didn’t put in a huge number of hours but the quality of training was a lot higher than if I had been at home. I wasn’t rushing my workouts, I had training partners that pushed me (Norm is too nice to attack or drop me!), but most importantly I had time to recover and do all the things that are so important but you never seem to have time for: sleep, stretching, massage, good nutrition and more sleep. I know ten days isn’t going to catapult me to rockstar status at worlds but it has certainly helped me feel physically and mentally ready for such a big event. Unfortunately, it hasn’t helped me in real life because my head is about to explode from a typical multitasking day of training, working and having a life. Ah well it was nice to put it on hold for a ten days and see if I could handle being a pro cyclist. Sign me up!
August 15, 2006
You could summerize my season in a few words… In with a Bang and out with a Put Put.
I arrive in Snowmass on Friday, the day before my race. My husband and I pre-rode the corse and loved it. The terrain was a lot like home and I felt smooth on my bike. I was ready to race and have my best placing of the year. The night before the race my husband is very sick. We had thought it was allergies all week but we realized he was deffinately sick. So he kept Noah and I up most the night.
I woke up early because we raced at 9am and still felt pretty good. I got my warm up in and was ready to hammer. At 9am I toe the line with 60 of the best women in the US. The gun goes off and I am pertty sure I took off but I felt like everyone was flying by me. I was thinking to myself “Come on legs GO!!!” They were just loaded so I decided to just race my own race. I got in a groove (unfortunately my grooove wasn’t very fast) and rode up the climb. I was too far back in the pack and when the downhill came and I was ready to rock and roll I just got stuck behind other girls. I got by 4 or 5 girls, but this deffinately set me back. There was another single track climb and I still couldn’t find my legs.
I was very frustrated I make it back to the start finish and head out on the next lap. Thinking I am a good climber I set out to pass some girls. I passed a few and then all of a sudden my hamstrings cramp. I did everything I could to keep my place until the downhill. It finally came and I couldn’t have been happier. I was all but 1/2 mile from the finish on a bumpy decent and all of a sudden I am not on the trail anymore but going head first over my handle bars into a ditch.
I bailed out of the crash so I didn’t hurt anything, but I got passed. So to the finish I go trying to chase down whomever passed me. Needless to say I didn’t pass her back and but I finished. I was pretty discouraged to know that I had given it my all and my all really wasn’t very good. So out with a Put Put. With that said, I have an even greater desire to train and do better next year. I have a few more local races I will do but besides that Sea Otter 2007 here I come!!!
The year may have not ended ideally for me but being my first year back after having Noah I am pretty excited for what is to come. As I recollect the year it was the best year of my life. Starting with the birth of my child., what could be more amazing, to racing on an awsome all womens Pro MTB team, to placing 22 at Nationals. I have proved to myself that you can work, raise a child, and race Pro MTB. I have hopefully helped others to realize they don’t have to give up their racing and life to have a child and hopefully made being a Pro more real for other women. Good luck to you all and see you in Cross.
August 13, 2006
Esparto Time Trial, CA
5th, Angela Aldrich, Women 4
8th, Soni Andreini Poulsen, Women 4
Montana State Time Trial Championship
2nd, Renee Coppock, Women 3/4–Gold Medal
3rd, Zoe Smith, Women 3/4–Silver Medal
6th, Tina Whitfield, Women 3/4
1st, Jackie Yamanaka, Women 40-50
Patterson Pass Road Race, CA
11th, Brei Gudsell, Women 1/2/3
1st, Andi Mackie, Women 30+
3rd, Sabine Dukes, Women 30+
Howell Mountain Challenge, CA
3rd, Piper Ehlen, Senior Sport Women
2nd, Daphne Hodgson, 45+ Master Women
August 10, 2006
by Kathleen Bortolussi
Race: NORBA #3
Location: Brian Head, Utah
Weather: Fair and clear
Course: LOTS of climbing, rocks, cows, views = EPIC
I have to say this was the most epic mtn bike race I’ve experience. 85% of the course is single track for the 27 mile single loop. We raced on Saturday and on Friday I did the most idiotic pre-race ride I’ve ever done. One complete loop, minus the beginning evil climb such that I was totally spent for the race. I thought there would be a bail out but there wasn’t, oh well.
Photo Credit: Bruce Grubbs
Luckily the master women were relegated to doing the sport distance, which for once I was happy about. The race begins with a 3.5 miles climb from 9300ft to 11,000ft. The first 2.5 miles are on the road, pitching to 13% at one part, and then you climb the rest on a fire road until you hit the single track. Lots of rocks but smaller than those in Vermont. Meadows of wild flowers and fabulous views of the amazing Utah geographical wonders. Since I was pooped I sort of rode this race, deciding to enjoy it since there was only one other women in my category and she was from Park City. I’ve dubbed her Roxanne-the-man, since she looked rather….a…..buffed and fit, shall we say. Oh did I say that…oops. Coming from sea level, and being off the bike for 6wks, I figured she could win and I’d enjoy my ride and take second (which sounds much better than last). The sport race definitely cut off a lot of the climbing which I was thankful for with my empty gas tank. I’m glad I did it in the pre-ride so I at least saw the entire course. I had to pull over for a few of the pros that came through, including Kristen and Noel. It was nice to see some other Bellas during the race. I even noticed a few cows chomping flora amongst the trees as we traversed the ridge. This was a tough race for me, even riding it easy, as I’m just riding again and my gas tank is father empty. I just think the course is epic and that it was a great experience and it really ups your skill level and your interest level. It’s hard to imagine riding those boring fire roads again. Now we are in Aspen getting prepped for Snowmass. We pre-road the short loop yesterday and it’s another tough course. These courses are long, at elevation, and have grueling climbs. This one starts with another 2.5 mile exposed fire road climb. If the climb doesn’t exhaust you the altitude does, it’s just a matter of which one gets you first until you settle into your pace. I’ll let you know how this one turns out. Congrats to Kristen, Noel, and Jen at Brian Head and to Alex Fabbro who placed 1st in the Super-D. I’ve got a pic of me alone on the podium, a silly fun Bella shot.