Dash for Cash Criterium, CA

May 31, 2008

Dash for Cash Criterium, CA
10th, Sarah Kerlin, Women 1/2
5th, Andrea Monroe, Women 3
6th, April Hamlin, Women 4

Lake Auburn Road Race, ME
7th, Ivy Luhrs, Women Pro/1/2/3

Fire and Ice

May 29, 2008

By Kimber Gabryszak
Park City, Utah

So there’s no way I can come up with as colorful a writeup as that, Allie! But warning – mine will be wordy, sorry! It was just an amazing weekend and I’m full of things I want to share!


Yep, Angel Fire DH was BRUTAL, and the women’s field was whittled from 21 to 18 by the time we qualified. The first third of the course consisted of seemingly endless boulders, and adding in the rain on day one and the ice/snow/craziness on day two, seemed nearly impossible. But by race day most of us were cleaning them, and let’s just say I feel that my riding has improved exponentially as a result of throwing myself down the course over and over. And it was actually fun! Once the snow melted, that is. A super good time, and can’t wait until this time next year.


I found myself really wishing for a camera on Saturday, in the early morning snow and ice. Addie had fallen in the slippery icyness of the upper rock garden, and was standing in the snow picking up her bike when I rolled up behind her. Wearing a bright red jersey and standing alone, she stood out brilliantly against the snow, and the collage of rocks, trees, and snow was just incredibly surreal…


The other surreal moment was cleaning the imfamous road-gap / step-down that ended my season so early last year. Run I, I rode past it and thought “no way! That is WAY smaller than I remember it!” Run II, I rode past and thought “I’m hitting that this weekend” and felt cold in the pit of my belly. Day II, Addie and Allie pep talked me (thanks!), then I watched Addie hit it, watched Allie hit it, and then held my breath and went for it…and hit my brakes in a panic just before takeoff but somehow landed it. Funny, but that almost crashing made day III’s attempt even scarier…

Day III, I spent 20 minutes chatting (stalling) with the EMT stationed at the road step down, a hilarious older gentleman who told me “Kimber, you’ve got a choice to make here.” Which I thought would be choose a) be safe or b) take a risk, like most EMTs might say. Nope, not Vladimir! “Kimber,” he said, “you can choose, to hit this today, or you can choose, to die old and in bed.”

WOW! He went on with such philosophies as “injuries keep you young – they keep you appreciating your life, keep your immune system working and healthy.” Really? The EMT is TELLing me to hit this thing?

I hiked back to my bike. Stood it up. Straddled it. Watched a dozen more riders clean the drop with ease. Closed my eyes and envisioned the turn of the approach, envisioned the 2 or 3 pedal strokes to get my speed up, envisioned removing my fingers from the brake levers entirely. Opened my eyes and saw Vladimir looking at me. Fiddled some more with my bike. Watched more riders. Finally, when I saw the fabulous Melissa Buhl ride by so effortlessly, I knew it was time to quit stalling.

Deep breath, foot on pedal, other foot on pedal, coast into the turn, bank, pedal pedal pedal, pull fingers back, sudden weightlessness, then the amazingly soft rumble of the dirt back under the tires, so smooth! YES! The demon is dead.


Like Allie said, Sunday was when things started getting crazy. The weekend of riding on such rough ground started to take a toll on our bikes, and little malfunctions started to emerge. Well, some malfunctions and some, um, breakage due to impacts with rocks. A hole poked in one frame, a deep gouge in another, scratched fork stanchions, bashed derailleur that lost some screws, chainguide shiftage and failure, etc.

(Plus, my bike hadn’t been ridden before this weekend. I had the wrong size bottom bracket, and had to wait for a replacement before I could finish assembling the bike. The BB got here 4 days before the race, so I had no choice, but I’m sure some of the malfunctions were just the bugs working themselves out.)

In practice before qualifying, my chain had come loose from the chainguide, and it seemed that the guide itself was misaligned and derailling the chain off itself. I spent an hour after practice at the Chili Pepper shop jamming cassette spacers into the chainguide wheel (not made for each other, so that was interesting) to correct the problem. It wasn’t enough, and just after the top rock garden the chain came off and hung around my pedal, and without tools it was in a position that I couldn’t stop and fix. I took the go-round on the road gap since I feared not being able to pedal into it, but finished the qualifier in one piece. No worries – the actual race is a day away.


On a side note, it was rather funny when Allie and I went to the Chili Pepper. There we were, wearing our Bella jerseys, with rhinestones decking out my bike and both with glitter/makeup on, asking for tools instead of for help. Yippee! I think they liked it. 😉


Monday morning, I tightened the chainguide, then realized that my derailleur was missing the high limit screw, allowing the chain to jump off at that end of the system. I didn’t have time to fix it since practice was only an hour long, so I went up for a run and kept the chain in a lower gear, which seemed to work. And then had 2 flat tires on the descent. Are you kidding me???

2 hours and $75 later (parts, not labor, tee hee), and with a modified limit screw repairing my derailleur, onto the lift we go; it’s finally time to race. One more trip down this course.

I finally have a successful S-turn, clean the first few rock gardens and feel elated, pass the rider ahead of me (who had a bad crash slow her down, sigh), then promptly feel my pedals lurch to a stop. No!!! The limit screw is out, and the chain has slipped off the cassette and is wedged in place. But the wheels keep rolling…

One pedal up and one down, I keep coasting and pumping. Clearing a steep rock feature, a couple guys watching cheer, then trail off as I say “Thank you!” to them and promptly STOP and pull over to mess with my bike. I know the next section is nearly impossible to clear without pedalling, though the 20+ seconds it takes to put the chain back into a somewhat functional position feels like an eternity. Is it worth it?

Yes. It’s worth it. I pedal through the remaining sections, and crowning moment is when I pedal into the drop without hesitating and clean it! Hurrah! I cross the finish line, and somehow still have a time a bit faster than my qualifying time, so I’m ok. My goal was to have a sub-9 minute time (sub-8 would have been better, but…), and with just the time wasted unjamming my chain I would have met the goal.

Still, I think that Angel Fire just really likes me, so it keeps giving me reasons to go back. This year it was to overcome the road drop, next year it’s to have a malfunctionless run. Silly Angel Fire, I don’t need a reason to come back!


Lessons learned:

* pack a disposable camera for those must-have photos
* do whatever I can to make sure that the first weekend on the bike isn’t a race!
* speed is your friend – both in the rock gardens and the road gap, it was easier and safer to go faster
* um, TMI…3 separate incidents of, ah, 3 of us, um, well, mmhm, you see, er, injuring sensitive areas makes us wonder if we can get sponsored by someone who makes female cups…but the lesson learned is just to bring those no matter what!
* EMTs named Vladimir are wise


And the final comment is that 5 girls in a condo / at a race together = good times, good racing, good support, good conversation, good conglomeration of repair/healing knowledge, good karma, good vibes, good food, good encouragement, just overall good stuff! This weekend was one of the best biking weekends I’ve ever had, thanks ladies! You rock!

May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Criterium, CA
20th, Marian Jamison, Women 3/4
11th, Ryan Hostetter, Women Pro/1/2/3
43rd, Soni Andreini Poulsen, Women Pro/1/2/3

May 26, 2008

Mount Hamilton Classic, CA
32nd, Marian Jamison, Women 1/2/3
33rd, Erika Donald, Women 1/2/3
34th, Linda Locke, Women 1/2/3
9th, April Hamlin, Women 4
18th, Sherri Lehman, Women 4

Hartford Downtown Criterium, CT
16th, Ivy Luhrs, Women

May 25, 2008

Golden State Criterium, CA
4th, Katie Norton, Women 3/4
8th, April Hamlin, Women 3/4

Cyclonauts Racers Criterium, CT
3rd, Ivy Luhrs, Women

Invisible teammates support Kate and Melissa at Syracuse

May 21, 2008

With the weather threatening to blast the peleton into thin air, most of the bella’s rode undercover except for the brave and fearless "Captain Killer Kate" and newest baby bella "Melissa Mad Dog."

Gaetane was spotted trying to sprint across the finish in her wheel chair during the crit. She just could not sit that one out since sprinting runs constantly through her blood. She was carried off kicking and screaming. Although I do believe she actually won the crit in that darn chair. DQ’d for too many wheels.
Jenn was doing her usual sacrificing lead outs in the crit until the price tags on her bike got all caught up in her spokes and she ended up taking out the announcer.
Sue Atwoods semi just couldn’t make the turn to the hill in the road race and was never seen again until the next day after the crit. She was looking for detour signs which no one ever thought to place for her. Sorry sue.
And of course Michele "madonna" was still in the back of the sue’s semi cheering us on and by the time sue arrived on Sunday, poor madonna’s voice was shot and she had no more cheer left for the bella’s.
This left all the cheering up to Katina with no semi to be the pace car so she had to actually run ahead of the peleton and cheer at the same time on Sunday. Good job Katina. She’s good at that cross kinda stuff.
Well Sunday afternoon we realized Sue Kahler "mighty mouse" was still riding around the road race course and had missed the crit. That’s Sue all right. No stopping her. She’s a distance girl. She’s never finished!
Kate and Melissa weren’t quit sure where the cheering was coming from during the TT but that would have been Jano, Kira, and another new tri bella Pam out in the lake just doing 150 laps for fun.
Oh, and the bella riding her bike backwards taking pics of you as you felt like puking going up that really steep hill, well that was our new photographer bella Laura. She’s so strong she rides backwards with no hands.

Well we were all there for the big stage race in one way or another but it was Kate and Melissa who did us proud girls. If you notice in the photos who Kate is holding off most of the crit, it was one of our own. Ain’t that sweet. So Kate had a good Crit and she looks mean.
Melissa held her own. It was her first race, first stage race, first everything and she hung in there all by her lonesome.
Great job you two!

Chasing Down the Beast

May 20, 2008

By Erika Donald
Berkeley, California

Kern County Womens’ Stage Race

“Insanity has company, they are called teammates and they all show up to race Kern.

Lilly is so right.

i love my insane teammates. our 35+ group just keeps getting better and better. we will be back again next year. did i just write that? the other teams will see us and know they have their work cut out for themselves. if they were smart they would copy our style. they’d start getting sillier and insaner and funner and winninger — like us.

we slayed the kern beast…no, i don’t like that metaphor. bellas don’t kill animals. what do bellas do? we tame the beast. we make the beast purr and roll over and then we put pretty shiny flair around its furry neck and say, can i get you a beer?

but it takes a team to soften up the beast and we each played our part.

we all let the beast roar and howl at the TT — whatever beast. do your bad beasty thing. we’ll see you in a bit.

lilly faced down the beast at Walker Basin. she attacked and attacked. chased after time bonuses which would help her and take away from the other teams. the pack was closing in after lilly and i moved over to andrea to suggest she might get ready for a counter attack.

“Andrea,” I began…”
“Yup,” she said. and off she went.

oh we are so good.

and there was linda with the water bottle to cool riders down. getting up to the front on the hill sprint to help me get back on. shutting it down when we realized we weren’t all there. and then in the last lap linda, sabine, and Andrea moved up the side as we approached the 1K mark. the field strung out and we had it.

the hill climb was key. last year we didn’t know the course so we rode at the other teams’ pace. but this year we knew we had to go from the gun if we were going to make the time we were down from the TT.

and so sue and I went. we looked back and the beast was chasing. we rotated taking pulls. and soon the beast was nowhere in sight. silly beast you have to be fast to catch us.

and you’re so gonna look cute in flair.

on to Woody. we had a 34 second gap between first and 2nd. and a 1.43 (?) gap to third. our main objective was to hold the 34 seconds and secondarily to move Sue into second. the course this year suited us very well. since it started on the rollers followed by the steep downhill and then more flattish rollers. we kept watch on the Protech TT’ers and any moves by the Kalyra gals who had nothing to lose by going out and trying to get away on the descent and rollers — which they tried! But no luck. And having the teammies there calmed me immensely because i always fear that section as i’m no tt’er and if the other teams worked together they might just possibly get away taking Janet with them and our 34 second lead.

Purrrr…pretty, pretty beast, pretty baby.

Linda and Andrea patrolled the descent and then on the rollers Sabine and linda set pace in the wind going up the hills. Linda worked so hard. resting and recovering. And sabine gave 110 % coming back for more and more…and more. Sue and I sat in. We knew our part was coming. I kept seeing Maryanne and Janet whispering and it made me edgy. But then I would see Sue with her game face on and I felt better and I just had to remember how we’d drilled it on the hill climb. And i couldn’t help but notice that Janet was in a big, big gear and i wondered if she would be fresh for that steep finish.

and then linda and Andrea hit the rollers. Sue and I had discussed that we might go at this point and I really should have been ready for it, but when it happened it threw me into shock. I thought perhaps Linda and Andrea were going to be given a little freedom to fly, but Janet was going with everything. EVERYTHING. I waited for the initial acceleration to ease. but it kept going. Linda was like the energizer bunny. I wanted to shout “I’m getting dropped!” but of course I knew tactically this was like shoving raw meat under the beast.

so I did the only thing I could. “LINDA!” i shouted in that special loving married couple voice.

but then Andrea was going strong and Sue was jamming and Janet was covering EVERYTHING. aw jeeze.

And then we looked behind and Maryanne and the professor…i mean Sonia were coming up. Sue attacked. Janet covered. I attacked, Janet covered. So finally it was the five of us hitting the final hill. I marked Janet until the end though I was never certain if she was going to jump me create a gap and get the bonus finish points — and possibly the overall GC.

But it was not to be. we had the beast feeding out of our hands. it rolled on its back. Lilly removed its beast’s mask and we slung bella flair around its neck.

we will be back.

Tennessee Bellas Get Dirty!

May 19, 2008

The mountain bike chicks of Velo Bella-KONA Tennessee are several events into the season and gaining major momentum!

The season-opening Chickasaw Trace Classic was March 30. The already muddy course received several inches of rain right before the race, turning the entire course into a mud-covered 9-mile loop about the consistency of peanut butter. The sloppy mess didn’t deter our Bellas from starting the course and bringing home results, with many finishing the race despite spills, cuts, and (for one) stitches.

Chickasaw Trace Classic Results:
Amber Favorite: 3rd Beginner
Angela Brown: 10th Sport
Jennifer Morehead: 6th Expert

Next on the TBRA calendar was a weekend of racing in Kentucky. The White Lightning TT and XC races landed on April 19 and 20. Keeping in consistency with what seems to be a theme of this years’ races, it flooded rain the night before Saturday’s time trial. The Bellas used their mud expertise gained at Chickasaw to steer their way to wins!

White Lightning TT and XC Results:
Jennifer Morehead: 2nd TT Expert Women, 3rd XC Pro/Expert Women
(pic of Jen above, crossing the street on the race course. Photo courtesy Kim Lilley)
Angela Brown: 1st TT Sport Women 30-39, 1st XC Sport Women 30-39
(pic of Angela on the TT course in the Vanderkitten jersey, Photo courtesy Dustin Greer)

We’re looking for sponsors for our co-sponsored race with the Jackson Spokes on June 8 at Mousetail Landing in Linden, TN. If you’d like to be a sponsor, contact Angela at [email protected]companyzero.com. More details coming soon to mousetailchallenge.com!

May 16-18

May 18, 2008

Kern County Women’s Stage Race, CA

Stage One–Bena Time Trial
8th, Stella Carey, Women 1/2
10th, Natasha Perry, Women 1/2
11th, Ryan Hostetter, Women 1/2
6th, Jenna Kowalski, Women 3
8th, Marian Hunting, Women 3
9th, Marian Jamison, Women 3
6th, April Hamlin, Women 4
16th, Sherri Lehman, Women 4
17th, Thea Rusthoven, Women 4
9th, Sue Lovecchio, Women 35+
10th, Erika Donald, Women 35+
12th, Laura Sanchez, Women 35+
14th, Andrea Monroe, Women 35+
19th, Sabine Dukes, Women 35+
20th, Linda Locke, Women 35+
2nd, Liz Benishin, Women 45+
5th, Andi Mackie, Women 45+

Stage Two–Walker Basin Road Race
6th, Stella Carey, Women 1/2
7th, Natasha Perry, Women 1/2
8th, Ryan Hostetter, Women 1/2
1st, Jenna Kowalski, Women 3
6th, Marian Jamison, Women 3
11th, Marian Hunting, Women 3
4th, Thea Rusthoven, Women 4
14th, Sherri Lehman, Women 4
16th, April Hamlin, Women 4
1st, Erika Donald, Women 35+
7th, Laura Sanchez, Women 35+
8th, Sue Lovecchio, Women 35+
15th, Andrea Monroe, Women 35+
16th, Sabine Dukes, Women 35+
17th, Linda Locke, Women 35+
3rd, Liz Benishin, Women 45+
4th, Andi Mackie, Women 45+

Stage 3–Mt. Breckenridge Hillclimb
9th, Stella Carey, Women 1/2
10th, Natasha Perry, Women 1/2
11th, Ryan Hostetter, Women 1/2
4th, Jenna Kowalski, Women 3
6th, Marian Jamison, Women 3
9th, Marian Hunting, Women 3
9th, Thea Rusthoven, Women 4
11th, April Hamlin, Women 4
16th, Sherri Lehman, Women 4
1st, Erika Donald, Women 35+
2nd, Sue Lovecchio, Women 35+
5th, Laura Sanchez, Women 35+
15th, Andrea Monroe, Women 35+
17th, Sabine Dukes, Women 35+
18th, Linda Locke, Women 35+
2nd, Liz Benishin, Women 45+
4th, Andi Mackie, Women 45+

Iron Mountain Road Race
2nd, Jenna Kowalski, Women 3
5th, Marian Jamison, Women 3
10th, Marian Hunting, Women 3
5th, Thea Rusthoven, Women 4
12th, Sherri Lehman, Women 4
13th, April Hamline, Women 4
1st, Erika Donald, Women 35+
3rd, Sue Lovecchio, Women 35+
9th, Laura Sanchez, Women 35+
12th, Andrea Monroe, Women 35+
14th, Linda Locke, Women 35+
16th, Sabine Dukes, Women 35+
2nd, Liz Benishin, Women 45+
4th, Andi Mackie, Women 45+

General Classification
3rd, Jenna Kowalski, Women 3
5th, Marian Jamison, Women 3
9th, Marian Hunting, Women 3
8th, Thea Rusthoven, Women 4
12th, April Hamlin, Women 4
14th, Sherri Lehman, Women 4
1st, Erika Donald, Women 35+
3rd, Sue Lovecchio, Women 35+
9th, Laura Sanchez, Women 35+
13th, Andrea Monroe, Women 35+
14th, Linda Locke, Women 35+
17th, Sabine Dukes, Women 35+
2nd, Liz Benishin, Women 45+
4th, Andi Mackie, Women 45+

May 18, 2008

Whidbey Island Mudder, Langley WA
2nd, Erika Krumpleman, Open women 19+
1st, Kari Studley, Expert Women 34 & Under

Panoche Valley Road Race, CA
4th, Soni Andreini Poulsen, Women 3/4

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