Attempts at Spreading Bella-dom in Germany

August 28, 2007

Here I am posing in front of a nuclear plant and wind turbines (which you can’t see) on a 35 K bike path that lead to Warnemünde, a seaside resort on the Baltic Sea where we hoped to swim – the ride took so long because we kept losing the route that we ended up taking the train back to Rostock. I had wanted to rent a racing bike, but that just wasn’t possible, and as it was, this mountain bike cost me nearly $18 for the day to rent, much more expensive than the usual cruisers that the trainstations have to lease out.

This is me and two other German teachers, the woman in the middle is Canadian and the one who came on the ride with me. I frightened her with my outfit. (and maybe my white legs too)

This is what I want to ride next time:

And here is what the German police look like when they are preventing drunken soccer fans from getting too rowdy at the trianstation.

And you thought I’d been arrested for something like talking on my cell phone while riding, right? (There actually is a law against that, and it’s a 25 Euro fine!)

August 25, 2007

San Ardo Road Race, CA
4th, Ryan Hostetter, Women 3
13th, Laura Sanchez, Women 3
11th, Denise Ramirez, Women 4
13th, April Hamlin, Women 4
1st, Erika Donald, Women 30+
4th, Linda Locke, Women 30+

"It’s Good being a Bella"

August 23, 2007

By Heidi Kanayan
Mammoth Lakes, California

The smell of fall is in the air and it is still quite brisk at 9 am. I arrived to a small group of riders and officials huddled together. I go over to only find out that they are contemplating canceling the DH race for that day. No! I think they can’t. I need to do this race the get the DH Nevada state champ title. After much discussion they decide to hold the race for the seven of us that came to compete. I only had time for one practice run before the race. I still wish I could have gotten another. The course was fun with a mix of very tight single track through tight trees, a step up, a few small rock gardens, and a few small drops. During my practice up I lost my chain guide and my chain and had no spare. Luckily I had a spare chain but later I will come to find that it was of no use to put it on.

It was a 12pm start and we were all gathered around in anticipation at the start. The officials start lining us up. Among the seven of us there were about 3 or 4 pros, 2 sport riders including me, and one beginner on a single speed hard tail. I was the only girl. I was up and the official was counting me off for my start. Off I went down the course. In no time I was having problems. Not riding problems but ….my chain fell off and I had to coast the rest of the course. The top of the course would have been much easier is I could have peddled for it was fairly flat and slightly up hill. The rock gardens were a challenge since I could not keep my speed up by pedaling to get over them easily. The approach to the step up was also affected but I made it down with some new coasting skills. I was able to grab the Nevada State womens sport 19-29 title but now I had to focus on the XC race the next day.

I arrived to an even cooler morning for the start of the XC race. That day competitor numbers were not a problem. I did not get a chance to pre ride the course the day before so I was going into the race blind. I wasn’t too worried because we were to do 3 laps of the same course. I decided to go all out form the start of the race and see how long I could last. It was a good tactic for that day because I managed to stay ahead of a lot of people that could have possibly held me up on the descent. On the first lap I caught one of the three girls that were ahead of me. We went back and forth for the rest of that lap and for half of the second lap. This always makes things interesting when you have someone to fight for position with. But by the time I got to the descent on the second lap I put a solid enough gap between us that I didn’t see her again until the finish. So I finished up the race as the third fastest girl overall and missed getting the 19-29 expert Nevada State title by a slight over sight of the requirements for attaining an overall in the State series. That requirment was having to do at least two races in the series. I will keep that is mind for next year.

Oh and everyone loved my jersey and hair bling. Its good being a Bella.

Pro MTB Team member Alex Fabbro destroys the Masters Field in France!

August 23, 2007

Alex Fabbro took the bronze medal at the Masters’ XC World Championships this past weekend. Alex is part of our Pro MTB team and focuses on endurance events as much as XC. She spent the last 5 weeks traveling and racing non-stop doing 24 hour races (she and a VB teammate won 24 hours of Killington), US Nationals and NMBS races preparing for Worlds. She literally left Snowmass immediately after the Super D event and DROVE to LAX where she boarded a flight for France.

Now, Alex is taking on the TransAlps race! Can you say energizer bunny? Oh, and she’s 43…

August 20, 2007

Suisun Harbor Criterium, CA
6th, Ryan Hostetter, Women

August 18, 2007

Dunnigan Hills Road Race, CA
7th, Ryan Hostetter, Women 3
3rd, Katie Norton, Women 4
26th, April Hamlin, Women 4

steroids- just say NO plus rumors of results

August 17, 2007

Well my bella friends, the blog is collecting dust and cobwebs since I came off the steroids, but I’ll get to that later. For now I want to know where the reports are for those juicy rumors I’ve been hearing about some particular bella’s. Lets just say the little sexy one with the french accent that only knows one speed—poof and she’s off chasing the ‘mens’. The talk on this side of town is that she kicked some serious bella booty at the Canal Classic and took 4 minutes off her 1st place time of last year. Yea baby. And then there’s “semi Sue” the truck driving triathlete who claims she almost drowned but put a big hurt on the field of 90+ woman to place 3rd overall in the bike section at the Caz Tri. I hear she uses that serious trucker look of hers to intimidate her competition. Possibly a more areo dynamic life preserver and she could either leave the field in the dust with her biking and running or just really scare some folks out there. And then of course the jolly Jano “streak lightning” who crushed her field and took 1st in her age group in the triathlon. Did her son Lars really tie all the competetors running shoes together in her age group or was that just a vicious rumour. She was later tested for steriods and she is truely a sincere and honest bella after all. whew. All this action took place on Sunday, August 12. Still waiting on photos from the associated press.

Bella sparks were definetely flying on Sunday and I could tell for sure from my point of view on the couch. Early July when I dabbled in steroid enhancement for my biking OK, so I was on prednizone for asthma, I felt like an animal and ended up tearing my calf muscle in the owasco stage race and also came down with the “kissing disease.” I guess kissing all the cute boys as they came through the finish like Vana White was probably not the smartest on my part. I hope it was that dark, tall, young, totally ripped 20 something kid that gave me mono. That would be worth the 6 weeks of sleeping.

Well the lesson here is that coming down off steroids ain’t pretty bellas, so just say no! Gosh, I should have been a spokes person for “Tour de France.” The side effects are costly: new fat tires, wide touring saddle with springs, bananna bars to reach out over the gut, entirely new velo bella kit size XXXXL. I can still squeeze into my helmet. I am in my last week of mono and have risen from my deep sleep. I vow to get you bellas whooped into writing your reports and me loosing my load! Your results have inspired me. You go girls!

Captain Kate sent a photo of Eric in Germany in his first Time Trial. He will be sending in a report as soon as he is found. He was last spotted in Switzerland still in his drops and looking strong. We will keep you posted.

Coffee Crit

August 17, 2007

By Monica Tory
Kalamazoo, Michigan

to Jason / De La Paz and Kevin / Schering
for the great prizes and publicity for Velo Bella!

Tara Tasma, Team Giant, Women’s 1/2/3 race winner
…. and winner of many bella primes!

A few weeks ago, with the 2nd annual BTR Park Criterium fast approaching, I found myself busy with two tasks. First of all, campaigning for some other cat 4 women to race with me! The organizers told me that due to the points series rules, they would NOT be able to combine fields, even if I was the only cat 4 women’s entrant. I don’t want to be a bad sport, but … the thought of paying to spend 45 minutes riding around my local business park by myself was not a good one. Don’t get me wrong — I LOVE to time trial. But I’m entering crits to get more group-racing experience and …. well, 45 minutes, by myself, in circles, sounded downright awful! Second, and most importantly, I wanted to do something extra to sweeten the primes for the women’s races, and (hopefully) encourage more women in our area to come out and try this very beginner-friendly race. I didn’t have to look very far to come up with Bella-riffic primes! One of our super Velo Bella – Kona sponsors, Jason Benford / De La Paz Coffee, generously offered to donate a shipment of ultra-fresh, unbelievably scrumptious Bella Blend to the cause. Schering-Plough & Coppertone, a sponsor of our local triathlon club, also stepped up and donated some very nice schwag bags (filled with “all sorts of stuff you can use” — spray on Coppertone sunscreen, water bottles, towels, Dr. Scholl’s products, and more), which were distributed on behalf of Velo Bella – Kona and Schering-Plough.

While my first task one didn’t start out so well (by race morning, I was still the only cat 4 woman entered, and I found myself walking around the race course asking female spectators if they’d like to come out and race in the afternoon!!!!), by the end of the day I had two girls to race with — one (Mariann Barnes) that I recruited from the sidelines, and another (Jenny) who braved construction traffic, had to change in the car on her way down from Traverse City, and … thankfully … the race organizer’s held the race start for 5 minutes so she could sprint over to the start line.

The weather was great — gorgeous, sunny, and in the high 80s, with a slight headwind on parts of the course. Turns out the officials DID combine the 1/2/3 and 4 women’s fields, so I didn’t need to worry about recruiting fellow racers after all! While waiting for the start, I was super-surprised to see that I had a fan club! Ten or so friends from our bike and triathlon club had come to watch me race…which stepped up the ante for me! (It’s also good for the race….they loved watching and can’t wait to try it next year. yay!) Bella Dianna Rose had also made as 2 hour drive just to watch! I am really spoiled and lucky to have such great support out there and every day!

A Bellalicious Prime from De La Paz Coffee

It was exhilirating to stay with the 1/2/3 ladies, even if it was just for the first 2 laps. The course was wonderful….big swoopy curves, smooth pavement, a small hill/overpass, a nice section that was with the wind, and plenty of enthusiastic spectators. After being neatly dropped by the 1/2/3 ladies (and Jenny) in their 3rd or 4th acceleration, Mariann and I worked together for the rest of the race, trying different strategies to see if we could bridge back up to the main group. Our strategies didn’t work, but we had a great time experimenting, trying to lose one another, and getting to know each other too. Without trying, we split the primes pretty evenly (1 De La Paz Bella Blend for each of us, the Schering-Plough Coppertone schwag to Mariann), and by the last few laps it was obvious that Mariann was going to win any sprint that I left to the last minute! I tried to time my final attack well & it worked … I was still several bike lengths ahead by the time I crossed the finish line….

Monica Tory, cat 4 women, 2nd of 3

Fellow Kalamazoo Bicycle Club member Zolton Cohen has posted a fantastic gallery of race photos (click here).

Fit to be Tri’d

August 15, 2007

By Raja Lahti
San Diego, California

Let’s first define “FIT”: An athlete who is more than just a good or well prepared athlete. Being freakishly good. Having the ability to crush your competition into little bits. Being a Worlds athlete.

Or you can just say “Folsom International Triathlon”

Yeah. Pure Worlds here. I think the winners at nearly every age group were headed to World Championships at the end of the month..used this cute little race as a springboard for Worlds… and so the day went… very, very, quickly.

But before I get into the race and the more than spectacular selection of age group athletes that appeared.. let’s talk travel.

You know, that travel with the “extra” luggage. The luggage that makes your fellow air-travelers rubber neck and ask you if you’ve got “your mother-in-law” in there (seriously, someone did ask me that!).. Yes, the bike coffin.

This thing is so big it makes the lady with 9 suitcases on her way to a 4 day vacation in the Bahamas seem like a light packer.

And then there’s the wheel you’re carrying on with you for fear that the baggage gorillas will damage My Precious. My wheel bag is not very subtle. It’s black with big white lettering “HED CYCLING”. And yet, every trip to the airport people ask me.. “Now what is that?” It’s a wheel. “Did you just get back from the Tour day France”. Uh… no…. (have they noticed that there are no women in the race?? Or perhaps they think I’m a representative Podium Girl… uh, ok!)

And then there’s the 4 rolls of duck tape, another roll of TSA “Inspected” tape, 6 “Fragile-Handle with Care” stickers and the multiple remaining fragments of old luggage tags that clearly define this over sized black case as mine. No two cases could possibly be alike. Just head to Oversize Luggage and see when my pet box is birthed from the extra-large baggage curtains. “That one can’t possibly be mine… there’s not enough duct tape.”

So I located my patch-work-oversize-case, grab the little pull cord and walk myself over to the rental car counter. Just like a little pet, it follow me with surprising willingness. “Yes, I rented an gas guzzling, over sized SUV, for that,” and then point to the big black thing on wheels. You know, the rental car companies must just cringe when they see “that”. I recommend the Ford Escape…. it’s small enough, yet all the seats fold down and give you more than plenty of room for your beast-box. It’ll even fit in the back standing up! To boot, you can fit your bike, wheels and all fully assembled in the back when you head off to the race.

I spent the weekend with a friend of ours that we don’t get to see that often. Fellow cyclists, she and he husband are crazy tandem mountain bikers. Yup, move out of their way.. their brake fluid is boiling….. We had a fantastic girls weekend doing nothing but talking about subjects boys really don’t want to talk about, seeing movies that boys won’t see.. and admiring the soothing affects of Beljium Budder.

Ok, back to the race. Outside of Nationals, this was the most talented group of Age Group athletes I’ve ever raced with. I don’t say raced “against” because that’s a whole different ball park… The course was fun, a chilly lake swim, rolling hills with some decent climbs on the bike and an undulating run down the twisty lake bike path.

Let’s start with our own Ashley Erickson. She races for a local sponsor, Fluid, but she’s a Bella. Really freakin’ good bella at that. I wish I could swim & run like that… she crushed her age group with a 2:17 race, placed 5th overall and is off to worlds next week. Go Ashley!

I had the race of my year. I PR’d, had a decent swim (for me…), a super bike (fastest in my crazy age group and even faster than the women’s Elite bike splits too), and my best run yet. I finished in 2:24 and was delighted (Swim:27:44, Bike 1:08:58, Run 45:06). After my mechanical issues at Nationals, all I wanted was a good race. And I got it. That race would have sent me to Worlds too if I had done that at Nationals. It felt good to know I was playing with the best, and doing fine. While I did expect that time to podium, I didn’t and was 4th. The caliber of racers was incredible.

I did the math and was excited… This is my third year owning a bike and racing. From my first Olympic race to now, it’s taken me 2 years to widdle down a measly 12 minutes. The first year I improved by 4 minutes. This year I sliced off an additional 8 minutes… so next year… hopefully I can do a sub 2:20.. now that would be nice. :-)

Now my husband and I are off to Italy for our 3 week honeymoon. I can’t wait… it’s been a long, hard year so far and the thought of renting bikes in Italy and sporting the Bella gear in the Land of the Gods is all I can think about these days. Well, that of course would be second to my dreams of Gelato consumption…… um.. yum!

Happy Riding!

Click here for the full results:

A Pleasant Win

August 15, 2007

Pleasant Valley Road Race, Maryland
By Mel Westminster

I did the Pleasant Valley RR in Maryland on Saturday. It was a first time event, they had a great turnout, good marshalling, neutral feeds, friendly and helpful promoters and volunteers, a few locals waving and cheering along the route, a decent course…all around, the event was actually pleasant, aside from the brain simmering heat. Note to self – don’t wear a black helmet on a 95+ degree day. That may have contributed to the awful headache I got on the 2nd of 4 x 10mile laps which made me wonder if I was having an aneurysm or something (yes I’m a slight hypochondriac).

What’s the first you thing you do when you arrive at a race, and before you register? Well, on the fourth trip to the port-o-potties and all of a sudden feeling REALLY sick to my stomach I started worrying that I must have a stomach virus or maybe food poisoning. “I shouldn’t race. I feel sick.” After a brief rational moment I realized it must be nerves and not some mysterious illness. I reassure myself (with my internal coach kicking in) “Just get out of the friggin’ jon, to the start line, and then the upset stomach feeling will magically go away once the gun goes off”. And sure enough it did.

We had a decent field of 43 women or so. It was an open women’s race, but they were scoring the cat 3s separately for the series. I started near the front of the group but once we started going I suddenly was at the back of the pack. Damn. I’m a little sketched out by the size of the pack since I hadn’t ridden in a group larger than 8 or so all year. And so as it goes with riding at the back, I got yo-yo’d all over the place and my quick brake grabs, overlapping of wheels made me think I was the freakshow at the back who didn’t know how to ride in a pack. “Watch out for her,” I chuckled about myself in frustration of my own lack of experience.

The group stayed together for the first lap until the only real hill, the one through the feedzone. At the end of the first lap those unsuspecting riders silly enough to reach for a bottle on a 90+ degree day, got dropped. The group split and in the end only those 10-15 or so that hung on during the split would finish. I and 2 others were caught off-guard but with a lot of hard work and battles with self doubt, we were able to close that gap after 15mins of all out TTT to catch back on because the group’s pace had slowed up finally, thank god!

Once back in the pack, I took a few mins to enjoy the leisure pace of the group before questioning what the point of the “race” was. As I watched the race “unfold” the image came to my mind that the pack was like a sleepy lioness. She would let a little mouse go out for a little bit, while she would doze in the hot sun with half-open eye. When she felt the mouse was just about out of reach, she would stretch out her big paw and pull the mouse back in. This game continued on a few times and even I played it. In the end the frustrated little mice wanted to get away but knew they couldn’t.

We get near the finish (which is at the top of the feedzone hill) and the pack all of a sudden is awake. I’m not sure what happened other than I was on the wheel I had marked as a likely winner and when she pulled off, there were only two others just a little ahead that had come around on the side. I tried to catch them but went too late. And so I rolled across the line 3rd overall, first in the cat 3s. Pretty cool.

Doing well in this race gave me confidence, finally, in myself, my training, and my little yellow adviser.

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