Race for Hope, Borodino, NY

May 31, 2010


NY Bellas Kate, LiLynn and Sue


A fun and still “little” race, the Race for Hope is in honor of a well loved local cyclist and racer who died four years ago of cancer.  Our little crew of NY bellas has been not very active the last year, and hopefully with the success of yesterday’s race, energy will be imbued into the crew and we’ll pick up our participation.

This was a short, 24 mile citizen’s race, with a 3 mile climb which, thankfully, pays back with a long, sweeping decent to the finish.  The weather was absolutely perfect, not too hot, not too cold, very little breeze; one couldn’t ask for a more beautiful day.

LL Dawg Graves has been training all winter with her Ithaca Homies and has come into the season in the best shape of her life.  Her workout program (self designed) has whipped her pals and her into such incredible buffness, we’ll be seeing her on the podium a LOT this summer.  Sue and I, on the other hand, are not in our best fitness, but we went out there anyway – got to get a ride in sometime, eh?

The L Dawg and I were together in the chase pack for the first 6 miles, but as I expected, as soon as a hill came, I was spit off the back and I got to watch the pink fluff on her helmet lightly ruffle in the wind as she danced on her pedals up the hill.  I then jumped into the second chase pack, tried in my usually bossy way to get them to work a paceline and none of these guys were having it, and predictably, the next hill did me in, and I was feeling pretty silly about having given suggestions to those fellows about how to ride.  Along came chase pack #3, and not even with them could I keep up on the hill.  I dropped a chain on the upper part of the last hill, just as I trailed the grumpiest lump of a miserable cuss after having foolishly again suggested we work together.  (He did not like my helpful tips and told me to shut up – oh, did I want to trounce his little round ass.)  To try to  shorten a long and boring story, LL Dawg had a fantastic race,  pulling her little crew up the hills and she finished 2nd woman overall and let the boys in her pack sort out the finish among themselves.  I rode all alone for miles behind Mr. Shut Up and finished nonetheless cheerfully realizing I had gotten 3rd woman.  Did I get lucky!

Sue, in the meantime, was in her own little pack plugging along, until the guy in the front unexpectedly bunny-hopped over a pothole and lead Sue right into the pit.  Bam!  Flat tire.  Tough, resourceful cookie that she is, Sue came prepared and she stopped, changed her tire and finished her race well ahead of loads of people.  Now that’s an attitude which we can all emulate!

Here’s a random picture from last week’s Syracuse Crit (taken by Marcus Lewis http://www.varietystudios.com)  Suffice it to say, I stayed with the women (1-2-3s) for 21.5 of the 22 laps…considering it was my first fast ride of the year, I count myself lucky.  Former NY Bella Gaetane Perreault got 3rd Cat 3!


Mount Hamilton Road Race, CA

May 30, 2010

Mount Hamilton Road Race, CA

2nd, Camile Deluca-Flaherty, Women 35+ 1/2/3

Sundance, UT

May 29, 2010

Connie Misket
Sundance Showdown Super D – 1st place pro women

Sundance, UT on Saturday, May 29th


Auburn Half Ironman, Auburn CA

May 23, 2010

Auburn Half Ironman, Auburn, CA, May 10, 2010

5/17 DeeAnn Smith, 40-44

Calaveras Time Trial, CA

May 22, 2010

Calaveras Time Trial, CA

3rd, Liz Benishin, Women, 35+ 1/2/3
4th, Camille Deluca-Flaherty, Women 35+ 1/2/3
7th, Marsha Kirschbaum, Women 35+ 1/2/3
10th, Linda Locke, Women 35+ 1/2/3
1st, Soni Andreini Poulsen and Jeff Poulsen, Co-ed Tandem

Bunny Goes to SoCali

May 17, 2010


I haven’t done a race report in a while so I decided it was time!

Jeff and I have been training a lot on our tandem again this year–no big surprise to many of you…..

I mean, we’ve got these stars-and-stripey skinsuits and if we don’t do some races in them, the per race price is going to be ridiculous for those things!  We missed the Berkeley Team TT because of the stupid Dinuba Crit and all those resultant fractures in Jeff’s lumbar spine….and Dunlap dropped their tandem category.  

So we’ve been doing training intervals and our local practice tt but it isn’t the same as a real race.  And the 10 mile Calaveras TT just isn’t enough practice before the 40K Norcal District TT next month.  So we packed up our bags and our dog and stuffed the car full and headed off to…….Southern California to their District TT.  Six hours from our house…..

I won’t spend too much time telling you how much we (didn’t) like Lancaster and Lake Los Angeles.  Blech.  I hope I don’t move into that district.  Oh, but I sorta do want to move into that district.  Conundrum time.

Well, our pre-ride was no fun.  We got a flat on some gravel in the 3rd turn, ruined one of our race tires, and almost went down.  We learned never to set our bike by a sprinkler.  We ate dinner at 10pm at the Olive Garden in Palmdale and went to bed at midnight with a 5:00 wakeup.  I’m not complaining–I know it was harder for the gals at Kern.  Just stating the facts!

We had some good competition.  Their district champs from last year who got 4th at Nats as well as the team that got 5th at Nats were there and we were sandwiched between them with only 30 second intervals.  And when I compared the size of my legs to their champ’s stoker’s legs, I was wishing for some hills….

But this course is a nearly flat rectangle that you do 5 legs of (so you do the 1st leg twice) and the (supposed) cool thing about this course is that it can be kinda windy and the leg you do twice is the tailwind leg so you get way more tailwind than headwind so the times are fast for 23.5 miles…..

As usual, we looked pretty damn good with our color coordinated shoe covers that I made. No pictures though, sorry.  I only saw one person with a camera and I think she was taking a picture of an giant red-ant hill.  

And we started off…….into a HEADwind!  It wasn’t very windy, but it was backwards so we had 2 legs of headwind.  That was cruel.  We caught the team ahead of us at about mile 15 but we couldn’t ever see the team behind us well and they were the faster team.  Jeff thought he saw them at mile 15 about 20 sec behind us but how he could tell that is beyond me.  He is amazing with that little mirror.  Or he my have been hallucinating.  So when we hit the last 6 mile headwind section we gave it all we had.  Jeff knew they were on our tail.  I didn’t, but I assumed that we were going to lose by one second so that I went as hard as I could and couldn’t say I should have gone just a little faster if they did win by one second!  I’m pretty mental. Despite all of that, the race was just a bit long for us.  There was a little teeny hump in the road at about mile 20 or 21 that I thought was going to stop us dead in our tracks. 

I spit on Jeff during the race.  I had to spit and didn’t want to really turn my head as that is so un-aero and half my job is to be aero.  So I just turned a smidge and aimed to the side but my spittle was pretty viscous at that point and it went straight into his butt.  He said afterwards that he thought I barfed on him!

Being out of district, we weren’t in contention for medals, but we were pretty stoked to win by 26 seconds.  It’ll make this week a little easier to take as I’m pretty sure I’m going to feel bad all week. 

Oh, and the socal tt crowd is way too intense.  They did not properly appreciate my rabbit ears……

See you at the next one!

— Soni Andreini Poulsen

Grace in Adversity

May 17, 2010

whitneyI participated in the inaugural Ironman St. George on May 1st.  I registered for this race almost a year ago, and had been nervous about it ever since.  It is a VERY, VERY hilly course, and I am not a climber by nature.  I trained like crazy, and on May 1st I knew that I was ready to race. 

The swim was fantastic.  I was still on the shore, making my way to the water, when the cannon went off.  It ended up being a blessing.  I was able to find open water quickly, and didn’t get the crap beat out of me!  I felt strong.  All the work I’ had been doing on my stroke with Mickey Murad over the past few months paid off.  I had my best swim ever, and made it out of the water with a PR and feeling great.

The changing tent was packed with shivering women.  The water was cold, and it had taken it’s toll.  There were no volunteers able to help me (there are usually plenty), so I had to get changed on my own.  Harder than it sounds with numb and frozen hands, but I did it.  I ran through the bike lot, grabbed Big O, and hopped on.

I love being on my bike, and I had a blast once I started riding.  My legs felt great.  I had to keep reminding myself to slow down- that it was going to be a long day and if I was patient now it would pay off later.  The course was beautiful, and the volunteers and spectators were everywhere cheering.  I made it through the first loop feeling FANTASTIC.  I had done the math in my head, and knew that even if I slowed down on the second loop, I would make the bike cut off with over a half an hour to spare.  I KNEW that all the hill work I’d done over the past 4 months was really paying off.  Coming down the long decent at almost 50mph, I was elated!

At the bottom of the hills everyone had to slow down for a sharp right hand turn.  The corner was absolutely packed with spectators.  I feathered my brakes to make the turn.  Then- BAM!  My rear tire blew.

No problem.  I had plenty of time, and I can change tires pretty dang fast.  So I did.  No problem.

Roch Frey, who is a friend as well as the race director, just happened to be standing on the corner.  As I was getting back on the bike, he cheered me on.  Everything was fine. 

I had barely clipped in when- BAM!  It blew again.

Roch ran over and said I probably had a pinch flat.  I didn’t think that was the case, but since I had tried to change it really fast it was possible.  He went through the tire, and couldn’t find anything.  We looked at the tube- big hole.  We looked at the other tube- big hole in the same spot.  We looked through the tire again.  Still couldn’t find the problem.  Roch started bending and moving the tire around and found it.  The tread and the side of the tire had separated about an inch.  The tire was unridable.

Roch called tech support to get a new tire.  She wasn’t too far away, but he said we could try to boot it to get me past the checkpoint.  I didn’t have a boot, so he pulled a $20 out of his wallet to use.  He had his assistant run back to the truck to get a pump.  When he got back, Roch pumped the tire up to 70 psi.  There really was no way this tire was going to hold.

He called tech again.  She was only about a mile away.  He told me to hang on.

The spectators were great.  There were a ton of folks watching all of this happen, and they were all rooting for me.  One woman offered me her chair while I waited.  Several others offered me food.  Everyone was so, so nice.  I looked at my clock and saw it was getting late.  I asked someone if I could use their phone to call my husband, Rob.  She kindly let me, and I was able to let him know I was fine, and not to worry.

A few minutes later, Roch ran back over.  He told me tech support was having to stop to help other people, so I needed to get across the timing mat or I wouldn’t make the cut off.  He made sure I understood the tire was not going to hold- that I just needed to get across the mat.  He said to go slowly, and he would send tech support to find me.

The crowd cheered as I took off.  I was trying really, really hard not to cry.  At this point, I realized that I was in serious trouble.  I started doing the math in my head.  It didn’t look good.  The next cut off point was at the top of  the course.  I was going to have to average 15 mph up some serious inclines to make it happen.

I rolled on slowly, being careful not to go over any big bumps.  After a while tech support pulled up on her scooter.  She was great.  She told me I had a “guardian angel” and that Roch had been calling her repeatedly to come help me.  She looked at the tire and agreed that it was unridable.  She got another tire out of her supplies and changed it.  She wished me luck as I started riding again.

I was mad.  I pushed as hard as I could.  I was out of my saddle on every climb.  I did my very best, but it wasn’t enough.  I couldn’t make the cut off.

I’ve never had to pull out of a race before, and I have to say it sucks.  It sucks to have your chip taken away.  It sucks to have to hand your bike to someone.  It really, really sucks to have to be driven past other riders who are still on the course.  It just straight up sucks.

I can say with almost complete certainty that I was going to finish.  I was ready.  My legs felt great.  My nutrition was going perfectly.  If I hadn’t lost so much time, I would have easily made the cut offs.  I would have finished.

The good news is that I didn’t crash.  I didn’t bonk.  I feel fine.  I’m just really, really disappointed.

I have so many amazing friends who have been calling, texting, emailing, and posting on my Facebook page words of encouragement.  I am a very lucky girl.  Thank you all so, so much. 

I’m doing Ironman Arizona again this November.  AND I’m doing St. George again next May.  It’s not over.

— Whitney Despain
San Diego, California

Beth Rides Monster Cookie Metric

May 17, 2010

Beth Hamon Velo BellaPal Lynne had recommended the Monster Cookie Metric Century to me as a way for me to ride that distance this spring. When it became clear that Oregon Randonneurs wouldn’t offer an official populaire (100k brevet) until next fall, the Monster Cookie became pretty much my only option for an organized ride of that length.

When I say “organized ride”, let me emphasize that the Monster Cookie is NOT a populaire, NOT a randonnee, NOT a ride where one has to be self-sufficient to quite that degree. In this contest, “organized ride” means that there are sag and mechanical support vehicles, fully-stocked rest stops and a lunch stop that includes catered box lunches for riders who pre-registered (including me and Lynne). Having not done any ambitious riding other than a couple of St. Johns loops and a Rocky Butte climb over the winter, an “organized ride” turned out to have been a good choice for me.

We arrived at the state Capitol building and Lynne was amazed at how crowded it was at 8:00 am. There were easily two to three thousand cyclists lined up to get their packets and a couple hundred more lined up for same-day registration. By 8:40, after Lynne was accosted and greeted by a dozen or so of her Portland Velo buddies, we were off. We’d been given a cue sheet, but didn’t need it; the route was well-marked with painted symbols on the road and, well, there were so many participants that we were never actually alone on the road – for the entire day.

The route was a loop from the state Capitol to beautiful, historic Champoeg Park and back again, taking us through Salem suburbs and out into the gently rolling farmland of the Willamette Valley. The sun came out from behind the clouds and warmed things up quickly. I’d started the day in wool jersey, arm warmers, and my long-sleeved OrRando jersey as a sweater. I’d shed the long-sleeved jersey at the first rest stop, 15 miles in. As advertised, the rest stops for the Monster Cookie were well-stocked with good basic bike food: fruit, bagels with peanut butter and jelly, and, true to the ride’s name, lots of cookies. Along with the regular choices – chocolate chip, peanut butter and such – were Mexican wedding cookies (Lynne’s favorite) and coconut macaroons (which were basically small and densely packed coconut sugar-bombs). I ate two and stuffed two more in my jersey pocket for the road.

Rivendells besides ours were in evidence along the route, including this beautiful ’96 All-Rounder we admired at the first stop: 4552906457_1634217d7d

As we rolled along, admiring the rich green colors of the spring fields, faster riders passed us clad in jerseys from all over, including club jerseys from Oregon, Washington and northern California, indicating how popular this ride had become. Portland Velo, one of Oregon’s largest cycling clubs with nearly 500 members, was well represented with several groups passing us and shouting hello to Lynne as they did. Due to a bad winter flare-up, I was under-trained for this distance and focused on maintaining an even pace of around 12 mph. Lynne told me to let her know if we got too fast for my comfort. Mostly it was fine. I let Lynne know that I would probably deal with most of the uphills by sprinting up them so as not to lose momentum, and that she could pass me on the way back down (I love to climb but I’m not a confident descender). Lynne’s strength is not climbing (it’s endurance, and she can ride my butt into the ground) so she was fine with that suggestion. We leapfrogged each other over the gentle rollers that dotted the route, and continued our conversation when we’d caught up to each other again. Most of the time I fell behind Lynne but it was not a problem, and she patiently waited for me to catch up again.

We turned onto the familiar road that led us to Champoeg Park, our lunch stop. Pal Cecil, who’d been nursing an injured foot and had graduated from her walking boot a few weeks ago, had arranged to meet us at Champoeg for our lunch stop. She’d ridden there from her home in Portland, making for a round trip of about 50 miles. (Cecil doesn’t exactly over-train, she under-rests.)


Lunch was catered for pre-registrants. My turkey sandwich was not bad, and a pile of potato chips and some fruit helped round out the meal. We sat on the grass in a sea of bikes and their colorfully-clad riders, chatting and joking with Cecil, who was in excellent spirits. After lunch, my knee-warmers came off; the temperature had warmed into the 60’s. We said goodbye to Cecil, who rode back to Portland. Although I’d been careful to stretch during the lunch stop, my legs still felt stiff and thick as we climbed the slope out of the park. I shed the arm-warmers soon after we were back on the road.

The 15 miles to the final rest stop passed without incident, though I did have to walk my bike up the steepest hill of the ride because by then I was getting quite tired. Lynne waited for me at the top, and greeted me with a smile. There is no shame in walking your bike up a hill, especially when you’re riding 62 miles in a day. We chatted and leapfrogged each other some more, with Lynne doing most of the riding at the front because I was getting more fatigued.

At the last snack stop (located at the church where the first stop had been), I refilled my water bottles, ate some more macaroons and fished around for the gel-blocks that had been part of my rider’s packet. I opened the packet and tried one, flavored “blueberry-pomegranate”, and immediately regretted it. It tasted hideous. I looked at the packet. It contained four gel blocks, labeled a “one day supply”. I can’t imagine living on a pack of these on a full-day ride. I gave the rest to Lynne and grabbed a couple more macaroons for the road.

The last twenty miles were tough. I was really fatigued by now, and even the bucolic rural scenery wasn’t enough to bolster my flagging legs, which had turned to rubber. I choked down a macaroon, gulped some water, and kept spinning. The only bright spot was that my trick knee hadn’t really 4553535820_ae5e07dda4bothered me all day, except on the hill I’d had to walk up. The sun was beginning its descent in the late April sky, and the breeze from the river cooled me as we entered the suburbs of Keizer. In the heart of suburbia, on a street lined with neat, middle-class homes and trimmed lawns, we passed three girls staffing a lemonade stand. They called out in their best middle-school singsong, “Lemonade, all money goes to charity!” That was enough for us. Lynne did a quick U-turn, I followed, and I handed the girls a dollar bill for two glasses of cold lemonade. It was exactly what I needed with six miles and change left in the ride, and by the time we rolled into downtown Salem and the Capitol came into view, I was more than ready to get off my bike. After a bit of faffing, we were back in the van and heading home. We capped it off with dinner at County Cork before calling it a lovely day.

Total distance (according to my cyclometer): 61.9 miles.
Average speed (according to Lynne’s much fancier computer): 12.1 mph.

— Beth Hamon
Portland, Oregon

Kern County Women’s Stage Race, CA

May 16, 2010

Kern County Women’s Stage Race, CA


1st, Liz Benishin, Women 35+
5th, Sue Lovecchio, Women 35+
1st, Camille Deluca-Flaherty, Women 45+
4th, Monica Neilson, Women 45+
7th, Andi Mackie, Women 45+
11th, Linda Locke, Women 45+


3rd, Elizabeth Benishin, Women 35+
4th, Sue Lovecchio, Women 35+
1st, Monica Neilson, Women 45+
8th, Camille Deluca-Flaherty, Women 45+
10th, Andi Mackie, Women 45+
11th, Linda Locke, Women 45+


1st, Sue Lovecchio, Women 35+
2nd, Elizabeth Benishin, Women 35+
1st, Monica Neilson, Women 45+
4th, Camille Deluca-Flaherty, Women 45+
5th, Andi Mackie, Women 45+
9th, Linda Locke, Women 45+


1st, Elizabeth Benishin, Women 35+
2nd, Sue Lovecchio, Women 35+
1st, Monica Neilson, Women 45+
4th, Camille Deluca-Flaherty, Women 45+
5th, Andi Mackie, Women 45+
9th, Linda Locke, Women 45+


1st, Liz Benishin, Women 35+
2nd, Sue Lovecchio, Women 35+
1st, Monica Neilson, Women 45+
4th, Camille Deluca-Flaherty, Women 45+
5th, Andi Mackie, Women 45+
8th, Linda Locke, Women 45+

Encinitas Triathlon, Encinitas, CA

May 16, 2010

Encinitas Triathlon, Encinitas, CA

2/35 Raja Lahti, Women 30-34

3/73 Victoria Jones, Women Overall

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