Bellas Groovin’ on Long Island

October 3, 2006 · Print This Article

Cross season is here!

This Saturday I took the ferry across Long Island Sound to outer Long Island with my brother in what’s becoming an annual family pilgrimage, only this time he’s visiting from his new home in far-off Alaska. Good to get him some some light prior to the onset of winter with its dark and -50 F temperatures, even if it means contending with my asking for favors right and left!

Friday somehow included the seemingly-inevitable scramble of getting the bikes dialed in before the first race – everything is set and then all of a sudden this pedal’s bearings are shot, and this bike’s derailleur cage turns out to be bent. All I can say is I’m glad to have had a dress rehearsal prior to Gloucester. Soon the race bag will be ready to go – gloves in their Ziploc, arm/knee/leg warmers in theirs, rain gear in its, and travel will be the efficient norm. Oats, bars, drink mix, raisins and I can survive for weeks, if a little vegetable-deprived.

I entered the races right up against a big training block, the second day on the cross bike. The goal heading in was to race for “training and practice,” to be smooth in the technical sections and hammer on the riding sections. It would also be my first time racing as a Velo Bella with my new teammates Erin Kassoy and Melanie Swartz.

September 30 – Whitmore’s Landscaping Super Cross Cup C1

I’ve grown spoiled in recent years accruing tons of UCI points, and found myself at a bit of a loss with a second-row start. Boxed in and with the legs to come around, I didn’t have the room and had a lot of catching up to do off the start. Lyne Bessette was off the front, then Mo Bruno, Mackenzie Dickey, and Christine Vardaros followed by Tara Ross and Mandy Lazano of Cheerwine, then Amy Wallace of Richard Sachs. I thought I would have no trouble charging up to the second group, but mental mistake number one: a small gap in a cross race is a big gap.

The course was dry and sandy featuring a steep ride/run-up and a tricky off-camber descent. Probably 39psi was not the right tire pressure of choice but I didn’t want to flat over the “rock garden” section of the course. I was a bit overzealous when I caught and attacked the Cheerwine group, since then they caught me back, as well as teammate Melanie, and dumped me. Patience! It took me a while to recover, a chain wedged in the spokes didn’t help, and in the end I was battling to capture 8th. So it goes! I’d been able to do the steep ride-up, which was pleasing, even though it seemed highly debatable whether riding up a hill at 40rpm was really that good in the long run.

Lynne won, followed by Vardaros, looking clean in a white kit, then Mo, showing her prowess at technical hilly courses (among others). Erin didn’t feel overjoyed with her legs, but rode a great technical race, which sounds pretty good to me.

October 1 – Whitmore’s Landscaping Super Cross Cup C2

Rain arrived to make for some slick spots. The course was basically the same minus a long horsepower section on a flat grass field. The goal was a good start, and this time I had the room to move up, but not the legs. We went almost directly into the bottleneck run/ride-up off the start. I found myself running past about five people to try to claw my way back toward the front of the race prior to the single-track.

I felt more comfortable on the cross bike Sunday, though still rusty. Battled with Mackenzie Dickey and lost. She outfoxed me and out techniqued me – forcing me to go slow on the single track as she lead so she could recover, then after I attacked her, attacking me back through the downhill off-camber, then I attacked again, then she attacked again on a descent and u-turn. She is a competitor. I will just need to count on the sense of balance and confidence in the tricky sections returning with practice.

Melanie was right behind me on the course, and I tried to give her a draft on the drag strip part of the course (which wasn’t very long, unfortunately for me), but coordination didn’t seem the word of the day. Regrettably, I didn’t see the front of the race at all, in what sounded like a characteristically boring women’s cross race where no one attacks people just ride away from one another and then everyone rides their own race, alone. And so: Lyne, Georgia Gould, Mo, Christine, Tara, Mandy, Mackenzie, me, Melanie, Pauline Franscone, and shortly after, Erin.

Many thanks to Southampton Velo race promoter Myles Romanov, for putting on these awesome races, for believing in equal prize money for men and women, for hosting a delicious dinner at his restaurant Wild Thyme, and for housing us! This was a truly Herculean effort! Thanks also to my dear brother Stefan, who was a pro soigneur all weekend, and to Melanie’s friend Bill and his big Kona tent.

Good job teammates! It’s great to be racing. I’m looking forward to being a bit more rested for Gloucester, to putting myself in the mix at the start, and to be racing with Velo Bella in full force. Now off to training and school and recovery!

Until next weekend, happy pedaling,


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