Rachel’s First Race

March 31, 2009

By Rachel Wolff
Santa Cruz, California

Rachel Wolff

I finished my first race yesterday at CCCX in Toro Park. It was really fun and I feel proud I finished. I was really impressed with how supportive everyone was. I really was not expecting it, and it felt really good. I got lapped and only got to finish 2 of the three laps, but I am ok with that. There was alot of climbing. I did catch another woman from our group and passed her on the climb (wow, first time I have ever passed anyone) but I fell on the down hill and never saw anyone from my field again.

I am really happy I did it, and have a few things in mind for next time. Like oh train a bit more! Being a homeschooling mother, my rides don’t quite happen as frequently as I would want them to. I also have a lot of respect for you women who race year after year. You all are fast!!

Oh and I need to make sure I start in the right gear, oops, totally spinning too fast. I need to practice going faster down hill and I totally panicked when we took off from the start, and it messed up my breathing on the climb, but I calmed myself down and recovered.

I am still high from the whole experience and really happy I accomplished a goal and finished a race. Oh, and it was great to be recognized as a Velo Bella!! People were really great saying “GO BELLA!!” It shows what a great reputation you all carry.

I am going to try to make it out to some saturday rides and get pushed by all you beautiful ladies!!!

Beat the Clock

March 31, 2009

By Marsha Kirschbaum
Berkeley, California

Beat the Clock
A Low Key TT and fundraiser for the Lance Armstrong foundation’s fight against cancer

I love these practice races and am so happy that Patt is doing them again this year. I was really happy to see teammates at a time trial event! (Erika, Linda, Andi and Liz). Marsha KirschbaumThis is my first race in a while, so I was going through a list trying to remember all the things I had to bring and equipment to test to see if it still worked. I was feeling pretty good about this and fairly relaxed when I had a moment of reflection in the last Port o Potty visit before lineup and thought I had better ask someone if my number was okay. As I stepped out the door, I saw Erika and asked her about it. She said, “it’s on upside down.” “Seriously?” “Seriously.” Bless her heart, she let several people go in front of her while she hastily unpinned and repinned my number. And she had an earlier start time than I did. Thank you Erika!

I got a nice holding start and off I went, trying not to go out too fast. I wanted to save a little for the return trip, as I know it is harder. Dawn Neisser started 1 minute behind me. I knew she was very close when my heart rate monitor soared to 196. My heart has never seen a rate like that, so I figured it was Dawn. Sure enough about 1 minute later she passed me and then put on the afterburners and disappeared into the distance like a SR71. I managed to hold off Jennie Phillips, who started a 2 minutes behind me, so that felt good.

Today was a little cool, but no wind. I had to break once during the TT as a car made a U turn in front of me and then just sat cross wise in my lane for a bit. Crazy. I left all my energy out on the course and I couldn’t ask more than that . . . well, maybe just a little more speed :)) I did a short cool down and then went to the Berkely Hills course to practice for next weeks TT w/ Nancy F.

My body feels deliciously tired.

Another Round: Beth Does Boggs

March 31, 2009

By Beth Welliver
Pacific Grove, California

I used to think I was a distance runner. It must have been a phase to transition me from my soccer playing days to something else. I ran a few 1/2 marathons and did a full marathon and was all ready to tackle a 50-km trail run, but running hurts after awhile and I skipped the 50K. Then I moved to California and just had to buy a bike. But I was still all about the long distance thing, so I thought I should do long distance mountain bike races, and really for no reason other than that I thought I was some sort of endurance athlete or that I wanted to be some crazy endurance athlete, and I had a mountain bike that I sort of knew how to sort of ride on singletrack. So last year I did the craziness of Boggs 8-hour mountain bike race on a brand new full-suspension that I sucked at riding. But I survived and had so much fun that I decided to do it again…and bring people with me! Somehow Natasha and I convinced each other to do it (she says I convinced her, but I think it was really her idea to do it this year).

So fast-forward another year. I figured out how to ride my full-suspension bike at a reasonable, yet still significantly slower than most, downhill speed. And I gained a lot of cycling fitness and all that in the last year, too. But I also did a lot of track racing and cyclocross and crits–pretty much the opposite of marathon mountain bike races, but whatever. The pedals go around just the same. Oh, and I’m rocking some serious “thesis fitness” right now as I’d like to call it…I’ve been lucky to get 1.5 hour rides in about three times during the week and maybe eeked out 3.5 to 4 hours on either Saturday or Sunday, but rarely did I ride on both Saturday and Sunday (except for that stupid Madera thing) in the last 3 months due to demands of finishing my master’s thesis. So I really had no expectations going into Boggs this past weekend. I was hoping to match the same number of laps I had finished the year before, but I had no idea what would happen.

Before I get into the bloody details, I have to thank the unbelievable support crew we had! Terry waited patiently at the starting line for the entire 8 hours, keeping Natasha and I hydrated and fed all day long. Natasha’s hubby Aaron was there for most laps and made sure we had the right food and lubed my chain when it needed it. Plus Hernando was there and up to his usual heckling shenanigans while Sabine made sure we were all taken care of and saved the day with a cookie for me (more on that later)…plus the three of them all got to go ride the sweet trails up there while we were racing, so it worked out great.

Now for the race…there was this racer announcement meeting at 8 and races were supposed to start at 8:30. Well, the guy talked until 8:25 so I had about 5 minutes to go change and get back to the line. I literally rolled up, set my foot down, and then they started us. Luckily I had 8 hours to get warmed up. The course was exactly the same as the year, so at least I knew what to expect. The first few laps went by easily. The weather was gorgeous, the trails were perfect, the fellow racers were cordial and friendly. There were guys on unicycles and couples on tandems and the fabulous Lorri Lown rocking some awesome pink socks to go with her awesome pink bike (not gonna lie, I’m a little jealous)…

Beth Welliver

Around 1 pm, people started getting a little crabby. I was still happily frolicking along at my “thesis fitness” pace, but some people wanted to go much faster and wanted me to get out of there way. Most likely because around lap 4 I started going really slow. The “thesis fitness” was catching up with me. After the 4th lap I got the great reassurance from Terry of “you’d better hurry up if you think you’re going to do 3 more laps” and “Natasha is about to lap you”. Now, I fully expected Tash to lap me, so I was cool with that. She was actually racing as opposed to my putzing. Plus she knew all the secrets of endurance racing after doing the 24-Hours of Adrenaline a ridiculous number of times, like drinking Mountain Dew in between laps. So I made a deal with myself…go until I finish 7 laps or until Tash passes me–then I could drink beer.

Off I went for lap 5…holy cow I’m slow. And my hamstrings hurt. But I made it back around. Terry fueled me up and sent me off and told me to hurry up. So I started out on lap 6. The course had one big fire road climb early in the lap, then some fun, rolling singletrack for awhile, and then a monstrous death march of a climb that went for about a mile up a fire road and then another mile up some singletrack. The first climb was taking its toll on me, but I survived. Unfortunately my hamstrings were getting so tight that it hurt to pedal or stand on my pedals, so I just sat on my saddle and coasted through a lot of the next section. Then came the second huge climb. I noticed that I was getting so defeated that I was starting to do that whiny weird gasping breathing thing I do when I’m on the edge of a melt down and about to cry. So I decided, this is it. I’m only doing 6 laps this year. No one could fault me with all the moving and school and lack of training and general crap we’re dealing with right now. But it was less than I did last year, which frustrated me, but not enough to care to do another lap. So I suffered my way to the top of the climb. The Boggs folks were smart when they designed that course though…roughly the last 1.5 miles back to the start/finish area was fun downhill. So the meltdown didn’t fully come to fruition and I swooped my way back to the venue where the support crew was there to see me say, “I’m done”. Too bad I was still smiling from the last downhill section so they didn’t believe me. Plus I looked like a big dofus with my helmet all askew on my head, so no one would take me seriously anyway.

Beth Welliver

I was all prepared to convince Terry that I was done. He’d talked me into doing another lap last year, so I knew what tactics he’d use to get me to do another lap. I was ready to counter him. But then Aaron said, “its only 3:15, you have have over 2 hours to finish this last lap. You have to do another one”. Uh, okay…Then Sabine says, “just stretch for a second and you can go back in a few minutes, you don’t have to go right now.” And then she said the golden words, “Do you want a cookie?” Yes, YES!! COOKIE! And to top it off, it was a sugar cookie. An unbelievable soft and oh-so-sugary sweet homemade sugar cookie. So I ate my cookie and drank my cytomax while the crew tended to my bike. I told them I would do another lap but I might be crying when I finish. That’s how hard the last lap had been for me. Hernando said he’d have a beer to put in my hand when I finished, so fine. I’ll go do the damn lap.

Shockingly, lap 7 was not so bad. Maybe because I knew I was absolutely done at the end of this lap because there wasn’t time to do another one. Or maybe the after taste of the sugar cookie for the first part of the lap just made me happy. Or maybe because the crew had totally rallied me to get out there and do it. I sucked it up on the climbs and let go of the brakes on the downhills and just decided to have fun with it. My hammys didn’t hurt as much any more and I finally had all the fast lines figured out. I made it almost to the very tip-top of the last climb and heard a familiar voice behind me, “Hey Wellie, can I get by?” Yay! Tash was finally lapping me…I knew she was really close to the chic just ahead of her in the expert category, so I was so excited to see her go flying by me and start down the final descent! She rode so hard and was absolutely crushing it for 8 straight hours! Unbelievable. She wound up finishing 3rd in the solo expert category, just 20 seconds behind 2nd place after 8 hours of racing. Awesome!

I cruised down the last little bit of singletrack, pretty tired, relieved to know I was almost done, and going faster than I’d ever ridden that section. That made me happy because improving my downhilling ability has been a slow and frustrating process. I’m still pretty slow at it, but I’m getting faster, and more importantly, more confident with speed in technical sections. I think my final lap ended up being faster than laps 4 thru 6, so I can’t complain about that. And I was able to finish with a smile on my face. I did the same number of laps as last year but I think I finished those 7 laps at least 45 minutes sooner than I had the year before. I ended up 2nd in the solo sport category, well behind 1st place, but happy to have survived.

So that was it, last race in NorCal. I’m glad it was a fun one and that I got to share it with some great friends. And extra thanks to Terry for putting up with this whole cycling thing. He’s out there at nearly every race, always supporting and helping and cheering and pinning numbers and manning the feed zones and keeping track of water bottles and taking some sweet pictures…and he doesn’t even like riding a bike. I’m pretty darn lucky!

Not Thinking Too Much

March 31, 2009

By Natasha Perry
Santa Cruz, California

Natasha Perry

My motto for this year is a favorite saying by a friend of ours:
“If you don’t think too good, don’t think too much.”

And that prettyyyyy much sums up 8 hour solo MTB races in my mind. Wellie-Bella said to me last year with that cute little smile of hers ‘let’s do Boggs’. Of course I said yes with nary a second thought…cuz if you don’t think too good…anyway…

Finding Boggs Demonstration Forest is a feat in its own. Tucked above Napa you arrive at 7:45am, reg closes at 8am – and even though you are sure you read that the race starts at 9am…you are not dressed yet and hear your call up at 8:25am. Whooops! Two seconds to spare – and you’re off.

Is there nothing better than hitting a FRESH new piece of single-track you’ve never ridden? Why pre-ride when you can scare the heck out of yourself screaming around new corners and snaking between trees that just clear your handle-bars. Guys kept telling me ‘it’s all about the last lap’ for us solo’ers. I thought the hell with that advice – I’m gonna tear it up as much as I can on the downhill, cuz the spin-spin uphill – whatever.

The first couple laps are fun, rip-roaring good fun. By noon – I thought this is the dumbest thing ever. Ever. Ever. But I figured out why people do these solo races – you start to hallucinate! I swear – some sort of crazy adrenalin drug takes over. If you stop your bike you feel woozy and can’t see straight. Start pedalin’ and ripping downhill – life is good.

But what is a MTB race without your awesome Bella Crew!!!!!!!! Wellie’s hubby Terry was there, along with Michael/Sabine, and my hubby Aaron. You could hear them screaming miles away. More than one person said ‘you have quite the crew’!

So the actual race part – I played tag from about lap 5 on with the woman in second. The woman who won was about 20 minutes (!) ahead of us. I kept catching my second place rider on the downhill, then she’d pass me on the up. By lap 8 all I could think of was ‘must get off bike’, MUST get off bike – but punched down for the final climb and felt my legs cramp (again) and had to dial back. I came in 3rd about 20 seconds back.

Wellie rode an AWESOME race and came in second in her category. It was amazing to see her come off her bike fresh as a daisy! It’s been so much fun to see her progression in cycling – from starting off as a cyclo-cross racer, to track, to MTB, to road – so inspiring. We’re gonna miss ya Wellie!!!!!!!!

Finally the Boggs course itself is a superity-dupity fun place to race or ride. Plenty of tricky (but not too tricky) single-track on the race course – tough little uphills, but no nasty fire-road climbs (thank you course designers!). The Bella pit crew got to hit the trails too (8 hours gives you plenty of time;)) – so fun was had by all. Of course we topped it all off a with stop at the local brew-pub in Middletown. Racing Bella-style – I love it!

Photo courtesy Terry Welliver. Thanks Terry!

Super Seal Triathlon, San Diego, CA

March 29, 2009

Super Seal Triathlon

1/26, Raja Lahti, Women 30-34

Warnerville Road Race, CA

March 29, 2009

Warnerville Road Race, CA

7th, Sue Lovecchio, Women 1/2/3

CNY Junior Bellas prepare for racing season – arms and lungs!

March 24, 2009

from LiLynn



Although cycling season is just around the corner, these Jr Bellas have been keeping quite busy training for another performance. I was such a proud VB “mom” in the Music Hall at Cornell University, these young athletes brought tears to my eyes to hear them perform so fabulous.  At the age of 13, Ellie Bayles (left on the flute) and Julie Erickson (middle on the cello) are such talented gems and super athletes to top it off. Along with their running, soccer, and lacrosse, these young Bellas will be biking soon to get ready for the famous tandem challenge with their dads against many other tandems at the Hollenbecks Race in May. Keep an eye on these two!

Hanford Criterium, CA

March 22, 2009

Hanford Criterium, CA

12th, Natasha Perry, Elite 3
26th, Ryan Hostetter, Elite 3
4th, Natasha Perry, Women
9th, Ryan Hostetter, Women
15th, Brittany Thibault, Women
16th, Emily Kurze, Women

Land Park Criterium, CA

March 21, 2009

Land Park Criterium, CA

11th, Katie Norton, Women 1/2/3
24th, Marian Jamison, Women 1/2/3
9th, Denise Ramirez, Women 4
16th, Brittany Thibault, Women 4

Madera County Stage Race, CA

March 15, 2009


Madera County Stage Race, CA


23rd, Ryan Hostetter, Women 1/2
29th, Natasha Perry, Women 1/2
14th, Julie Porter, Women 3
3rd, Beth Newell, Women 4
6th, Beth Welliver, Women 4
3rd, Sue Lovecchio, Women 35+
4th, Soni Andreini Poulsen, Women 35+
5th, Erika Donald, Women 35+
15th, Laura Sanchez, Women 35+
18th, Sabine Dukes, Women 35+
19th, Marsha Kirschbaum, Women 35+
20th, Linda Locke, Women 35+

Time Trial

16th, Ryan Hostetter, Women 1/2
25th, Natasha Perry, Women 1/2
10th, Julie Porter, Women 3
12th, Beth Welliver, Women 4
14th, Beth Newell, Women 4
9th, Sue Lovecchio, Women 35+
11th, Erika Donald, Women 35+
15th, Marsha Kirschbaum, Women 35+
16th, Soni Andreini Poulsen, Women 35+
18th, Laura Sanchez, Women 35+
19th, Sabine Dukes, Women 35+
20th, Linda Locke, Women 35+

Road Race

17th, Ryan Hostetter, Women 1/2
24th, Natasha Perry, Women 1/2
19th, Julie Porter, Women 3
5th, Beth Newell, Women 4
1st, Sue Lovecchio, Women 35+
4th, Erika Donald, Women 35+
13th, Soni Andreini Poulsen, Women 35+
14th, Laura Sanchez, Women 35+
18th, Marsha Kirschbaum, Women 35+

Overall General Classification

14th, Ryan Hostetter, Women 1/2
22nd, Natasha Perry, Women 1/2
12th, Julie Porter, Women 3
11th, Beth Newell, Women 4
3rd, Sue Lovecchio, Women 35+
8th, Erika Donald, Women 35+
13th, Soni Andreini Poulsen, Women 35+
14th, Laura Sanchez, Women 35+
18th, Marsha Kirschbaum, Women 35+

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