Otter Pop

April 21, 2008

By Janet Lafleur
Mountain View, Cali

Since last year I finished the Beginner Cross-country race in the bottom half, I registered for the same race category again. My only goal was that nebulous “do better this year” which meant finishing in the top half.

My race strategy was simple: (1) find a good wheel at the start so I could get onto the dirt in good position (2) pass as many of the slower ones from the earlier groups on the first fire road to avoid the “conga line” on the singetrack (3) be more assertive in passing people on the singletrack. That was about it. I really didn’t think too far ahead.

It seems to happen every race. At some point before the race starts I wonder why I ever registered and quietly hope something will cancel it. Starting that morning and continuing through the whole drive down and into the registration process I was a little disgusted with myself. Just why am I doing this? Finally, after meeting up with Cindy Shambaugh and Michelle Perez I started to feel better about racing. Thank God for Velo Bella teammates!

After we got our bikes and gear in order, we rode to get our friend Harper so we could warm up together. Sea Otter was Harper’s first race ever. When we pulled in to her campsite fully kitted out in Velo Bella style Harper’s husband Matt blurted: “Wow, you guys look intimidating”. I guess we were light on the flair for this race. Harper was looking great for her first race–calm, collected and ready to go.

During the warm-up on the track we ran into more friends: Bella Elizabeth Rein, Lesley (Code 3) and Holly (LGBRC). Then we lined up for the start. Even though Holly told me she wasn’t really feeling strong after racing Madera and wouldn’t be going out hard I pulled up next to her on the front row just in case. Didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity for a good wheel.

Then the buzzer and as expected a couple of women shot off, giving me some good choices for wheels–really important since there was a stiff headwind. I sat in behind one woman and kept an eye on another pair just off to the right. They were a bit ahead but on a less optimal line so I held tight. After the hairpin turn the second group got closer so I whispered to the woman in front of me: “Grab her wheel” which she did.

So the first handful or so of the field pacelined along until it broke apart at the bottom of the corkscrew. That final little pitch is where I passed my lead-out woman and where Holly and a Team Hamana racer passed me getting off the track.
Strategy item #1 complete.

Once off the track, we were funneled through a hole in the fence. Holly slides out and the Team Hamana woman pops off her bike too. I’m just far enough back that I have a chance to get around, but there was no room. We all scramble to get back on the bikes and head down the fireroad toward the infamous Misleading Signs Area #1.

We’re going pretty fast and I must have seen Holly looking confused about which way cause she said I yelled out “Go left”. On the hill and the rollers that followed Holly and Team Hamana gained ground on me, but I still managed to keep them in sight. This is where we passed a lot of racers from earlier categories. Strategy item #2 complete.

Before long we’re on the Trail 50 downhill singletrack. It’s not nearly as bad a conga line as last year, but Holly and Team Hamana were slowed down enough for me to catch them. Then it’s uphill on Trail 50 where they pull away from me again but once again not too far. Of course there’s a bit of a conga line here too and I catch them near the top. But overall I did much better getting around people. Strategy item #3 complete.

On the fire road leading to the beach there were plenty of opportunities to pass. Unfortunately, I couldn’t pass the cute 12 year old before the beach. She got to the top of it and stopped dead in her tracks at what she saw. I almost got around both her and the woman who got stopped behind her, but couldn’t. So I ran around her down the first ten feet or so and mounted my bike. Having tried and failed four times before, I really didn’t have a goal of getting down the beach without stopping. But somehow I cleaned it, passing Holly on the way down. Unexpected achievement #1!

Then it’s the grunt up Trail 82. Not far from the bottom I recognize Lesley’s voice (probably letting someone know she’s passing). As she passes, she asks me “Did you go off course?” I said: “No, you’re just fast”. I didn’t know what she was talking about.

It’s so steep on Trail 82 that people are popping off everywhere. So it’s dodge where you can, hop off quick and run around where you have to all the way to the top. Nice downhill, left on pavement, right on fireroad to the feed zone. Eat a Clif shot, drink a bit too. Then start grinding up Skyline toward Misleading Signs Area #2.

As I approached the turnoff for Trail 44 it was like deja vu from our pre-ride last week where we lost the faster climbers in our group. I see the turnoff to the left and I see riders climbing Skyline past it. I know that’s a mistake and I’m wondering what happened. Then I get close enough to read the signs. A red one with a left arrow that says “XC race” with “20 miles” handwritten on it and a yellow straight arrow that says “10 mile off-road tour”. I’m perplexed. I know the course–I did it last year and even pre-rode it using maps and directions from the web site this year. But the signs implied that 20 miles was left and 10 miles was straight.

I knew that going straight shortens the course by a mile or so and that the race officials would never be able to reconcile the mistakes. So I knew the results for many racers would be wrong. But I decided to not let that bother me and turned left. Even if the placings are screwed up, at least then I can compare my time vs. last year. At the bottom of 44 there was a big “Beginner women and clydesdales turn right” sign so I knew that I was on the true course.

Then its up up up the mind-numbing fireroad into the wind. Almost as soon as the climb begins, we are joined by the teeming masses of men completing their long loop. Normally this would be annoying, but in the wind it was a bit of a blessing. More people to block the wind. I chugged along, just focusing on keeping the pedals turning. A woman in a red & white kit passes me toward the end of the climb but I pass her on the somewhat technical descent in a relatively tight space. Strategy item #3 again.

A final steep turn to get back on the race track has everyone dismount, run up and remount. A total cyclocross moment. Then it’s a biggest gear descent on the pavement to the finish.

At the finish I see Lesley there and Harper too. Then in comes Cindy, who started 2 min back and almost caught me and then Holly and Michelle. Then we go to the results and find people with 39 minute times already posted. Huh? Obviously some big mistakes cause we know the winners finished last year in about 1:20. The 40-44 group only shows the first couple of finishers including some 39 min times. None of us are listed.

So we head for the protest booth, wait with many others to talk to the guy. It takes them a while, but they finally figure out that the 39 minute people were off course. Duh. But there was no way to figure out who cut the course at Misleading Signs #2.

By now it’s getting really cold. Cindy and Lesley leave for warmer places while Michelle, Holly and I wait. Eventually they award some of the categories. Lesley is declared winner of 45+! But they tell us they won’t award the 40-44 until morning so we leave.

The next morning I head for the results area where I get the big surprise. I placed 2nd, Holly 3rd and Michelle 4th in a field of 16. Sweet! I got on the phone and relayed the good news. Michelle comes down and we finally get our award around noon.

So I went home pleased. Not only did I follow my strategy to race smarter, I improved my time by 5 minutes in worse conditions (much windier) than last year. I also cleaned the beach for the first time. The 2nd place medal was an unexpected bonus. It’s pretty too, much prettier than the Sea Otter hydration pack I got in the schwag bad.

If you’ve read this far, thank you for taking the time. I’m a talker.

See you out there on the trails. Or even the race course next year where I’ll be racing Sport.

April 17-20

April 20, 2008

Sea Otter Classic, CA

Road Race
17th, April Hamlin, Women 4
25th, Thea Rusthoven, Women 4
4th, Erika Donald, Women 35+

Road Circuit Race
10th, Sue Lovecchio, Women 3
15th, Marian Hunting, Women 3
19th, April Hamlin, Women 4
28th, Sherri Lehman, Women 4
7th, Eliece Horton, Women 35+

April 20, 2008

Cross Country
3rd, Connie Misket, Beg/Sport Female SS
5th, Kimber Gabryszak, Beg/Sport Female SS
9th, Katrina Lorea, Beg/Sport Female SS
4th, Alex Fabbro, Pro/Expert Female SS
36th, Stella Carey, Pro/Expert (Fe)Male SS
2nd, Janet Lafleur, Beginner Female 40-44
4th, Michelle Perez, Beginner Female 40-44
9th, Cindy Shambaugh, Beginner Female 45-49
5th, Nicole Bumbaca, Sport Female 19-29
8th, Beth Welliver, Sport Female 19-29
30th, Katrina Lorea, Sport Female 40+
40th, Daphne Hodgson, Sport Female 40+
17th, Shannon Gibson, Pro Female
25th, Erika Krumpelman, Pro Female
29th, Jennifer Tilley, Pro Female
31st, Johanna Kraus, Pro Female
34th, Rebecca Gross , Pro Female

20th, Allie Burch, Pro Female
29th, Kimber Gabryszak, Pro Female
31st, Connie Misket, Pro Female

Super D
2nd, Kathleen Bortolussi , Open Female 30+
12th, Johanna Kraus, Pro Female
13th, Alex Fabbro, Pro Female

Thule Adventure Challenge
1st, Anna Holden-Martz, Individual Female 20-29
5th, Elizabeth Cantu, Individual Female 40-49

Bellas do the Otter

April 16, 2008

 Bellas do the Otter Originally uploaded by Sabine Dukes

Let the racing, or whatever…..commence! See us at Booth #509

Cold Sunday Ride

April 14, 2008

On what I hope is the last sub-40-degree Sunday for awhile, Brook, Laura and I met up at Lake Calhoun to view the still-frozen lake before we headed north past Cedar Lake and Wirth Park. The Parkways were quiet on this chilly morning, and we had the roads to ourselves. Aside from the debris waiting to be streetcleaned from the gutters, we had a perfect ride. The route that Brook created even had some surprise hills to challenge us. We managed to get in 30 miles and a coffee break before noon, all without ever being more than a few miles from downtown Minneapolis.

April 13, 2008

Garrett Lemire Memorial Grand Prix, CA
31st, Ryan Hostetter, Women 1/2/3

Ford Ironman Arizona Triathlon, Tempe, AZ

April 13, 2008

Ford Ironman Arizona Triathlon, Tempe, AZ

8/10, Whitney DeSpain, Athena Women

April 12-13

April 13, 2008

Tour Del Paso, TX

Stage 1–Time Trial
2nd, Jennifer Wilson, Women 1/2
3rd, Josephine Nelson, Women 1/2
5th, Shannon Gibson, Women 1/2
2nd, Karen Rishel, Women 3

Stage 2–Road Race
2nd, Josephine Nelson, Women 1/2
3rd, Jennifer Wilson, Women 1/2
4th, Shannon Gibson, Women 1/2
2nd, Karen Rishel, Women 3

Overall General Classification
2nd, Jennifer Wilson, Women 1/2
3rd, Josephine Wilson, Women 1/2
4th, Shannon Gibson, Women 1/2
2nd, Karen Rishel, Women 3

Team Classification
1st, Velo Bella, Women

Madera County Stage Race, CA

Stage One–Madera Criterium
12th, Marian Jamison, Women 3
13th, Marian Hunting, Women 3
3rd, April Hamlin, Women 4
23rd, Sherri Lehman, Women 4
3rd, Andrea Monroe, Women 35+
4th, Erika Donald, Women 35+
8th, Andrea Smith, Women 35+
10th, Sue Lovecchio, Women 35+
13th, Soni Andreini Poulsen, Women 35+
20th, Laura Sanchez, Women 35+
21st, Sabine Dukes, Women 35+
22nd, Linda Locke, Women 35+

Stage Two–Sharon Time Trial
6th, Marian Jamison, Women 3
14th, Marian Hunting, Women 3
7th, April Hamlin, Women 4
25th, Sherri Lehman, Women 4
3rd, Andrea Smith, Women 35+
5th, Andrea Monroe, Women 35+
8th, Erika Donald, Women 35+
10th, Soni Andreini Poulsen, Women 35+
11th, Sue Lovecchio, Women 35+
14th, Laura Sanchez, Women 35+
17th, Sabine Dukes, Women 35+
22nd, Linda Locke, Women 35+

Stage Three–Daulton Road Race
9th, Marian Jamison, Women 3
11th, April Hamlin, Women 4
15th, Sherri Lehman, Women 4
2nd, Andrea Smith, Women 35+
3rd, Sue Lovecchio, Women 35+
4th, Andrea Monroe, Women 35+
6th, Laura Sanchez, Women 35+
13th, Soni Andreini Poulsen, Women 35+

General Classification
9th, Marian Jamison, Women 3
8th, April Hamlin, Women 4
15th, Sherri Lehman, Women 4
2nd, Andrea Smith, Women 35+
4th, Sue Lovecchio, Women 35+
5th, Andrea Monroe, Women 35+
7th, Laura Sanchez, Women 35+
14th, Soni Andreini Poulsen, Women 35+

AFLAC Iron Girl Women’s Triathlon, Lake Las Vegas, NV

April 12, 2008

AFLAC Iron Girl Women’s Triathlon, Lake Las Vegas, NV

25/27, Sandra Fairchild, Women 40-44

In the News…

April 7, 2008

Bellas at play in Santa Cruz — Read all about it!

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