April 22, 2008
By Shannon Gibson, Pro Bella
Out Playin’ in the Dirt Somewheres
Since becoming a Bella, I rank Sea Otter as one of the most fun race trips all year. NorCal is grand Belladom, and resident within are many leaders of the queensland.
I feel privileged to follow in the footsteps of women like Sabine and Laura who wanted their own feminine cycling kit to rock while going fast riding a bike and, oh yes, having fun! Apparently, I’m told, the spousal/significant other men who belong to or have belonged to the queens have their own team- VOS, as well.
Well, Brava to Giant’s Kelli Emmett for riding off the front all day. Gutsy move considering the length of the race and the wind. But I did a season of marathons a couple years back, and Kelli always could just motor along really fast for really long!!
Now for my excuses… not yet on form with a post cross late start to base, 3 too many jobs, I couldn’t hang with the surge over the back side. Got stuck behind lotsa traffic and had to be patient until traffic thinned out. Good news is I didn’t run outta gas and I can feel the form coming. Every race weekend gets better.
And kudos to Leah, who is coming into her own with two wins this weekend. She’s definitely a youngun on the way up to the top!
April 22, 2008
Hi all, please see my post here:
Thanks to all for the wonderful camaraderie and support!
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 15, 2007
stays in Snowmass
July 30, 2007
By Boa Boy
Dawn broke over the North Carolina hills to reveal a gorgous valley below our rented house. Shannon Gibson, Barb Howe, Jennifer Tilley, Natascha Cowie and Erika Krumpelman journeyed to Banner Elk, NC contesting the sixth round of the NMBS this past weekend. Morgan Styer and his family joined to support the team and do a little racing over their own.
The XC race began under threatening skies but relented long enough for the girls to complete three laps with an average time of about 42 minutes per lap. Shannon had to withdraw after taking a flying leap off her bike during a tricky decent. Fortunately, her ballet skills came into full use and while ending up spread across a large boulder, walked away from the race with minor injuries to race the following day.
Barb Howe continues to improve her fitness and competitiveness on the circuit with a season high 23rd placing in XC and a strong showing at the Short Track on Sunday.
After finishing 3rd in the U23 Nationals race, Natascha “Clunk” Cowie suffered a bit during the XC race, but recovered well enough to post a fantastic first national-level pro Short Track race on Sunday. Natascha is one to watch for the future. In the meantime, anyone know of any jobs in the Boulder, CO area?
Jen Tilley returned to racing after a long month of illness and no training to post a respectable 33rd placing in XC. Jen has begun transitioning to cross and looks forward to a strong season this year after sitting out last year with a severe collar bone injury.
Erika Krumpelman exemplifies all that a Bella can be. This was her first year as a pro and at the experienced age of, well, older than most of her competitors, Erika battled through adversity and injury to complete a successful season. While her results were never to her liking, Erika is one tough competitor and an excellent role model for all of us reading this blog. Battered, bruised, scarred and perhaps even broken, Erika never quit, never gave in to the second thoughts or the doubts so common amongst bike racers and perservered to finish her season this past weekend with a solid showing in the XC. Barely able to move Sunday morning after a close encounter with a tree on Thursday during practice, Erika cheered her teammates on from the side lines and I am proud she elevated her status to pro. Thanks Erika and CONGRATULATIONS on a fine season.
The final round of the NMBS is in two weeks in Snowmass, CO and I invite ALL VBs in attendance to use our tents as their own and enjoy yourselves while preparing for the races.
July 23, 2007
Velo Bella Crushes the Field at the US National Naked Crit Championships!
Mt Snow, VT
July 21, 2007
Four members of the 2007 VB-K Pro MTB team contested the 2007 National Naked Crit Championship Saturday night taking home Stars and Stripes and a wad of cash.
Amidst giant crowds of interested onlookers of ALL ages, a mixed field of male and female athletes representing Cross Country, Down Hill and Trials disciplines bore all to achieve glory. After a few warm-up laps and the occassional “feed,” your Bella sisters toyed with the field before dropping the Tilley Hammer and launching Barb Howe to victory.
The first team to arrive and survey the scene, our athletes casually rode in circles staying warm and checking things out before deciding whether or not the contest was worthy. Fortunately, after a stop in the tech zone where Head Bella Wrench Boy Tim Brennan gathered clothes and distributed small cap-fulls of warming liquid, our racers took to the course joining an ever increasing number of male and female contestants riding all manner of two-wheeled machines.
While their male competitors launched off the front in the first few laps vainly attempting to display their, well, prowess; our ladies grabbed wheels and tucked-in to conserve their energy before setting-up the Pink, Purple and Blue train for sprinting star and Queen of the Galaxy, Barbarella. Our train firmly in place, Natasha “Clunk” Cowie cranked things up leaving the boys bewildered and out of the breath.
Spent and covered in sweat, Clunk pulled off letting Shannon Gibson take over. Powerful thrusting legs further distanced our ladies from the trailing boys, but alas one final attempt to preserve dignity from a young Down Hilling male brought things a bit closer before Tilley The Hammer thundered forward.
With the bit between her teeth and an eye on the cash, Tilley launched an aggressive assault ultimately sacrificing her body for the team colliding with the offending down hiller at the start of the bell lap.
Seeing her chance and filled with rage over The Hammer’s fall, Barbarella took over the reigns and whipped forward displaying the power only a two time World Cross Team member can. With a final race ending explosive sprint, Barbarella shot across the line arms thrust to the sky with victory and a wad of cash in her hands.
July 16, 2007
Race 7, Ellijay
By Natasha Cowie
So, it was supposed to be a rest weekend, but at 9:30 last Saturday night I was like, sure whatever, it’s the closest race I’m going to do all year (45 minutes from home) and it’s a cool course. Why not. Also, I was chasing points in the Georgia State Championship series. My points lead was large enough that I was almost assured of winning without the race, but not quite. BUT I was totally going to race conservatively, just cruise, go easy, whatever. Finish for the points.
Right. That was the plan, but there’s nothing conservative about me. I mean, I have a nose piercing and a subscription to Mother Jones magazine. Anyway, so I got to the race course early on a cloudy morning. Beautiful course, lots of climbing, winding around ridges that border Carters Lake in north Georgia. Warmed up. Sort of. Needed more coffee. No problem, though, I had my Magic Canadian Hot Short Shorts on. (I am seriously into the Louis Garneau team kit. The short shorts are very fun. And they are making me favourably adjust my tan lines upwards.)
On the start line. OH my god there are some fast people. Well that’s okay, I told myself, just try to hit the singletrack second or third wheel, hang out, see what happens. We started with a parade lap thing: half a mile of climbing on a paved road, then the last 2/3 of the course before going through the start/finish to start the first full lap. Predictably, Jamie took off in front, and I sat third wheel for a while to see how my legs were working. Hm. They were happy, I was happy, so I passed Paula and moved into second. That kind of surprised me. So I was like okay, might as well try to chase Jamie, at least it’ll give me something to do for the next hour or so.
I notched up the pace, nearly got run over by some large singlespeed dudes, and then rode by myself for a while, observing the oak-hickory hardwood forest and thinking about how much I wanted to eat the blackberries hanging from bushes surrounding the trail. And then…I found Jamie. Hey girl, she chirps. How are you doing? Well, pretty good, I said. Do you know what lap we’re on? No. Um…are we on our last lap? I don’t know, girl, she says. Do you think anyone can tell us? I ask. (At this point we were in the middle of a huge section of forest without anyone or anything nearby.) Yeah, maybe someone at the finish line, Jamie says. Well, Jamie, I say, I guess I’d better pass you then. Been nice riding with you.
Thus began my two laps of freaking out. I passed Jamie, decided that probably that parade lap counted as a full lap and sure, I was probably about to finish, cruised across the line shouting at people “Is this the pro finish?” Everybody either a. stared at me like I was a driveling idiot or b. cheered me on, saying “Go faster! Go faster!” Crap. I had just run out of water. Like “going faster” was totally going to happen for the next eight miles and 1000 feet of climbing. So I started lap 3.5.
Somehow I finished. I lapped a bunch of sport guys on the last lap, and as I was climbing a hill so steep I couldn’t really see straight, some dude proposed to me. I told him I’d better finish the race before I made a decision on that one.
A nice clean win by about 2 minutes, and many comments on my pretty Kona as I rode around after the race. I also got a lovely pink massage stick for turning the fastest female lap.
Happy trails everyone. (And happy roads too.)
Editor’s note: Clicky here for more on Tasha’s adventures.
June 21, 2007
Have you ever had one of those weeks where everything was falling apart and you weren’t sure you should even hop on the plane to go race for fear it may not make it? This was my week prior to Deer Valley. A couple of weeks ago I re-injured my knee which was just mentally hard for me to take and I couldn’t put in the training I needed. I knew I would race anyways because I had already purchased plane tickets and registered. So then last friday night Noah woke up in the middle of the night with the stomach flew. Kris came down with it Saturday and me Sunday.
So by Tuesday night I had lost 10 lbs. Lucky for me I recovered fairly fast, Kris was unlucky and was still fighting it Thursday when we left. Thursday morning (the day we were to leave) I woke up with a head cold and a hamstring that was as solid as concrete. I was really feeling that the forces that be were not with me, I was a train wreck. We got on the plane anyways and made it to Salt Lake. I chose to not race the Super D to conserve my energy. I must say my attitude wasn’t the greatest. I was excited to be around all the Bellas because they all have such a great presence/attitude and I was hoping it would be infectious (since I seem to catch everything). Our tires finally came from Schwalbe so I had Tim put on the Racing Ralphs and then pre rode with Jen and Kristin which was fun and the new tires were awsome and my bike felt great.
We got done pre-riding and Jen gave me some words of encouragement , she said I had nothing to worry about for the race on Saturday (thanks Jen). It really made me feel better because at that point I wasn’t sure why I was entered in a Pro XC race with the year I have had. So Saturday morning I woke up and decided I was going to make the best of it. I took off for my pre race warm up and oddly enough I felt awsome. Not really sure how but I felt great. I got to the start line. I was going to try someting new and try and start more conservatively. I was towards the end of the pack by the halfway point. I think someone said 45th. I didn’t really care because I wasn’t last and the course is so much fun. So I just kept on riding and passing people.
In the second and third lap I probably should have been more aggresive at passing people becuase I kept getting stuck behind girls on the singletrack. So the entire race I just kept moving up. My knee was great ( I had a shot of Kenalog on Wednesday) and my attitude was the best it has been in years. The third lap I realized I was doing alright and really wanted to beat last years time. About 1/2 way through the lap I was getting ready to pass 2 more girls and a bee decided to take residence in my jersey and kept stinging me.
I finally had to stop to find it and get it out, I lost the girls unfortunatley. So I worked hard and pushed to the finish for 35th place and 9 minutes faster that last year. My best placing at an NMBS race ever. So….not too shabby. My confidence restored and attitude renewed. So I guess I learned that attitude really is everything. I know from here my season will be better and hopefully I will see that top 25 placing I have been training hard for.
June 11, 2007
So this past weekend my husband, Noah, and I headed to Portland, Oregon for a weekend of riding, racing and, well, family time. It was a beautiful weekend until the evening before the race in which it started pouring. It poured most of the night and most of the next day. We drove from Portland where my sister lives down to Falls City for the Firecracker MTB race. The race is held at a free ride park, that should tell you how the course is going to look. It was raining when we got there but I decided I needed to pre ride. So I went out and got some pre race mud. The course climbs on a fire road for some time before it turns left and heads up a muddy slippery pitch, in which at the top you get to climb over tree which is about waist high, unless you can ride the off camber slippery ladders that go up and down each side. You then hit the fire road again for about 1/2 mile until you make a right turn up a totally unridable climb. This was the longest hike a bike I have ever seen in a XC race and once again quite slippery. Once to the top more ladders to get over some more downed trees and then another fire road up. Once at the top it is fun downhill for about a mile, turns to fire road for a little then it turns left and goes straight down the hillside, crazy dhing. From there the DH is fun for a little a few more ladders one with a drop at the end then a fire road decent which makes a 180 and goes straight up a slipppery mudd climb back to the start finish. It sounds like a lot but it was all compacted in to all but 4.5 miles. Now to the race. I felt pretty good. The course is totally my husbands style so I felt a little strange with him on the sidelines watching Noah. I started pretty good, no one would go so I took lead and a couple of girls went with me. I let them by and hung on the rear wheel for awhile. We climbed up and up and when we finally got to the downhill one of the girls was downhilling like my husband, insanely fast. I was dropped. I was having problems with my glasses so I had to take them off. This turned out to be interesting because when we hit the fire road decent I was going so fast that it was like I was being attacked my a million little mud nazi’s. It was crazy, I couldn’t see anything, If I opened my eyes I would get splatted with mud and then my contacts would move all over. I decided then that I needed to put my glasses on before the Fire road next time, even if I couldn’t see out of them. I lost a lot of time the first laps trying to figure out the vision issue and just getting used to riding in the mud. I actually got caught by another girl, which pissed me off so I stepped up my downhilling the third and fourth lap. The awsome thing was that as muddy as it was my shifting stayed perfect and my brakes worked awsome the entire time like there wasn’t any mud at all. Got to love Easton and SRAM. My husband put on a Nobby Nik and a Skinny Jimmy so my climbing traction was awsome even though it was slick as snot, I could ride better than I could walk. So I kind of settled in the Second and third lap. I haven’t raced much there year and I think it was showing. I was unsure of how my body would do (especially my knee) so I settled in and I shouldn’t have. The last lap I decided I needed to go. So I cranked the climb. Just as hard as I could go 185 plus Heart rate the entire time, and pushed the downhill, testing my limits. I made some awsome time on the girls in front of me and put 3 minutes on the girl I passed at the begining of the lap. Now if I could just figure out how to get my mind and body to push that hard the entire way. It was a good race, I got 3rd to some amazing riders so I am happy. I was so caked in mud, about 1/4 inch on my bum and I couldn’t even unzip my jearsey because there was too much mud in the zipper. My face was unrecognizable. The best part about it was I got to race my mountain bike and race on some awsome trails improving my skills. After the road race last weekend I have realized my true passion lies with the nobby tires. I just LOVE mountain biking.
So for those wondering how my knee is doing, here is a little update. My friend is a rep for a certain bike company (name not to be disclosed) he gave me their newest pair of MTB Shoes to try. I switched over 2 weeks ago and have been riding them soley. They are very very stiff and seem to keep me more in alignment. Between that, Physical Therapy, icing twice a day, and motrin, my knee seems to be doing a little better. Maybe I am mental but it seems better. I still have pain when racing but it is tolerable for now. I am hoping this is a trend and I will be back to myself in the next month. I am just so happy to be racing at all right now, that placings don’t matter. They will come when they come. Welll Noah and I are off to support my husband this weekend for his first every solo 24 hour race. Should be fun!!! I will enjoy his pain I think after doing it solo last year. He He He.
Until next time…