Snow Day

December 11, 2007

By Natasha Cowie
Boulder Colorado

Yesterday was the Colorado State Cross Championships in Lyons. It was essentially forty-five minutes of utter stupidity, plus warmup time, although it totally wasn’t warmup. It was more like, hey, I’m already dumb enough to be out here in fourteen degrees racing my bike, why don’t I ride around for another hour first in order to bring my core body temperature down about fifty degrees and make sure that I feel like I’ve been sitting in liquid nitrogen. And then I’ll claw my way across the frozen tundra to the start line and stand there for another five minutes so that hypothermia can fully set in before the announcer yells go and everybody immediately runs into each other.

Jen and Amy demonstrate race preparation.

The pictures tell everything. Thanks to Chellie and Jim (Tim) and Beth for taking them and for being great great cheerers and cow bell ringers. I would tag your blogs here as a token of my gratitude, except that as I mentioned last post, I do not know how to tag other people’s blogs in my own, and this probably makes me an inferior life form. I mean, Amy probably thinks it does, but then she’s always damaging my self-esteem anyway, and trying to steal my wheels and stuff. sniff. You’re so mean Amy.

So, this is what I wore.

It took approximately 52 minutes and two mugs of ovaltine (the classic chocolate malt flavour, in the orange container) to put all this on, and by the time I was finished dressing, I had to pee. It was a long morning.

It takes work to look like a seductive doofus.

And then we raced through the playground from hell frozen over.

A Gaggle o’ Bellas

So snowy.

Then the race was over, and Amy won some badass socks and a silver medal. Jen tried to steal the entire stack of gold medals, which is as good as winning them if you can get away with it. Everybody hallucinated the whole way home. And the best part! After the race we had snacktime!

Thanks again to everybody who cheered and took pictures. and way to represent Bellas. we had Shannon G, Mo, Amy, Jen, and me. The flair was taking over the field.

Hey, it totally wasn’t cold enough. Time to head to Kansas City for the nationals afterparty.

Oh, I think there’s a race there too.

Anna Wins!

December 9, 2007

Read all about it!

Many Much Epicness

December 6, 2007

By Amy Dombrowski
Boulder, Colorado

USGP, Races 5-6, Portland Oregon

Anna! You bet your kielbasa she’s Polish.

Whateva I’m bad, I do what I wanna.

1/3 of the pit crew that saved the weekend and let the show go on.

Before the first epic day…trying to stay warm and avoid the rain.


Another third of the most excellent pit crew.

And Sara, the crazy Velo Bella downhiller who put Jen, Anna, and I up for the weekend! Who is psyched in the background?

Anna works on her game face.

Muddy much Shannon?
Epic and cluster were the words of the weekend. Geez, it wouldn’t stop raining. There was a brief 30 second period when we spotted the sun, but it vanished before the words could escape from our frosty shivering lips. Saturday was fun, but I’m not sure I can say the same about Sunday quite yet, as I can still remember the compulsive trembling shivers for 45 minutes post-race. I crossed the line cross-eyed with chills, bolted for the van, dropped my mud-soaked bike, stripped naked as quickly as possible, attempted to wipe the layer of mud off, and put every single layer of dry clothing on, while sitting in the van with the heat cranked to the max. But no, the shivers would not cease. Shaking, teeth chattering, out of our minds, we sat for 45 minutes, drinking hot chocolate until finally, slowly we mustered some sort of control over our shocked bodies. Before, during, and after was a cluster, but my-oh-my, was it epic.I had my first bike change. Though messy and a cluster, it happened with Donn’s (Challenge Tires) help. It’s something I need to work on. I was stubborn and didn’t take a bike change on Saturday, when it was really needed, so by the end, my bike had about 20lbs of excess mud on it! Sunday wasn’t so bad because there was water falling from the sky and spraying up at you as the course had basically been drowned.

Our tents blew away on Saturday night, so yet again, Ben Turner and the Clif Bar Development Team let us take over their trainers, tents, and compost for warming up.

Takin’ it for the Team

November 27, 2007

Seattle Cross Series, Race 8

By Kari Studley
Bothell, Washington

I seriously feel like the Bad News Bella…

I really am an upbeat and optimistic person. But I’ve been put to the test, especially my perserverance, this cross season. It just keeps helping me become a better racer, which will hopefully come in handy someday….

After last week’s heartbreaking chain snap at the Washington State Championship, I was ready to start chasing Kristi Berg. I know I can hold my own consistently in the top 3. The cold foggy morning burned off into a cold sunny afternoon and it was a wonderful treat to feel the sun.

The course was nice and tacky as the dew had tamed the sandpit sections and I could really grip the fun windy twisty singletrack trail corners on the Challenge tubulars – love it! The course was TOUGH, too. There were TWO steep wall-like loose sand run ups and a couple of sand pits. There was no real chance to rest as I was always winding up, down and around on the trails when I wasn’t dismounting for barriers. I felt it was good nationals prep. It’s the hardest I’ve raced yet!

The race was going great. I had a decent start and had 3rd place secured with second in sight after the second lap. On the last lap to go, I was trying to reel her for a sprint finish. The corner before the pits (1/3 into the last lap), I rolled the tubular off the rim. See what I mean by Bad News Bella? I hope I’m taking all the bad luck for the team.

As I begged for a neutral bike or a spare wheel, the pit guy said the pit was closed on the last lap, further adding to my breaking and desperate heart. So back to running the rest of the race with the bike. At least I’m getting good at this. I was VERY thankful on how light the Kona is and ergonomically designed with the flat spot perfectly for one’s shoulder – that has been a blessing. So I got last place again.

But the good news is that I’m not sore like last week from the running and as we speak, the tires are being professionally glued (I hope with superglue – never again will we try to glue up our own tires). Watch out Portland, third time will be the charm in my attempts to race….

Bella Party in Boulder!

November 12, 2007

By Amy Dombroski
Boulder, Colorado

It was an epic weekend of racing in Boulder, with two UCI races put on by DBC Events – Saturday at the Boulder Reservoir and Sunday at Fairview High school. The Velo Bella crew represented! Barb flew in from CA, and our Boulder team was in full force with Tash, Jen, and Monique. I think both days we had four of us in the top 15…not too shabby!

My legs didn’t feel too great on Saturday. I had a good first lap, but couldn’t hold onto the pace. It was my maiden voyage on the bling Easton wheels, and my first time riding tubulars. It was definitely different, and will take some time to get used to. I kept thinking I was rolling off the rim on the corners because the sidewalls are so supple, I guess?

Sunday was much better, my legs are coming back. I did have a rough start, which concerned me a bit, and a few bobbles on the first lap. Taking a corner a little too hot, I crashed and my bike landed on my head and I went through some of the fencing. You can see in the above picture that my left shifter is fairly broken. Luckily I have a single front chain ring, so I don’t need it to shift, but the brake doesn’t work (is that a bad thing?) After getting an ugly first lap out of the way, I was cruising. Barb and I got to work together a bit, which doesn’t happen too often in cross. It was so great to race in Boulder and have friends cheering my name, instead of the girl’s names in front of and behind me.

It was a very fun weekend. Thanks to Missy, Brother Dan, and Challenge Tires for your help in the pit!


Barbarella and me:

Tiara Tilley:
THE Barb:
Mo Hein:

Editor’s Note: Cyclingnews caught Barb and Jen in action, too!

Sand Trap

November 1, 2007

By Tasha
Boulder, Colorado

Here’s a race report that it took me a couple of days to put together in my head, because it needed to be totally, like, profound and stuff. I’m all about profanity. Profoundness. Right. Anyway…

Race #3 in the Boulder Cross Series was last Sunday (after a really SWEET Saturday of Veloswap insanity) at the Boulder Reservoir. So, people told me the course was sandy. I was like, oh whatever, there’ll be some sandy sections. Easy!

NO. There was SAND.

$(%*@*#! SAND.

So I’m all like pre-riding and stuff, and I’m like, sweet straightaway, nice barriers (over a big plastic weird pier) and there are skydivers parachuting into the field next to the course, and I’m watching them and running into things. And then it’s like, BEACH. SAND. AaaghghghghghhH!!!

It was cool. Finished my warmup and lined up. Started talking to my friend Chellie about halloween costumes. Whoops, the official just blew the whistle. What? Was that for us? Oh gee, looks like it’s time to race.

Against all odds I made a nice start and got into the front group just fine. It was a happy sunny ridiculously warm day, temps in the seventies, no wind. I’d just gotten into a nice pace and we gapped the chase group, when on the second lap, I carried too much speed into a turn and slid out. I sort of sat there for a minute while the chase group flew past and a nice mechanic sort of guy picked up my bike and ensured that I was coherent. Then I remembered what I was doing (oh yeah, racing. right?) and hopped back on the bike. I could tell immediately that my butt had lost some skin, and also my knee, but LUCKILY no damage sustained to my sweet Kona or Louis Garneau skinsuit. Pride comes before and after a fall in bike racing.

So, I started chasing, and also trying to brush all the dirt off my butt so everyone could see the nice design on the skinsuit. That was pretty much the rest of the race, except I also nearly fell into the lake no less than three times. The course went right along this super deep wet sand at the edge of the water. By the time I’d worked my way back up through the chase group I was sort of really tired and my butt was sore. So I was entirely content with tenth place.

Really, a delightful day, particularly the sand run-up with its perplexing characteristic of seeming to pull you slower the harder you tried to run fast. Sort of like quicksand, except with spectators and bicycles.

Happy trails and cross courses,

Anna Takes Two Second Place finishes in Michigan!

September 24, 2007

By Anna Milkowski,

The course today was very similar to yesterday’s (the ground is so dry they have to use drills to put in the stakes), same and different tricky off-cambers and tons of turns, but the grass was a bit more worn. I ran only 30psi today in the tubulars (35 yesterday) and it helped me to be much smoother in the corners. Got the hole shot again, led Kerry the whole first lap. But a friend noted what I think is the moral of the story: "You have more tools than the hammer." And said I should have eased up halfway through that first lap once I had forced the selection, made her do some work, because there was a drafting effect on this course.

I wanted to lead since I didn’t think I was good enough in the corners, but I was better today and maybe if I had not gassed myself I could have jumped ahead to lead those corners I wasn’t good at or closed a small gap coming out. But instead I led that entire first lap, went pretty hard even though I did ease up and rest a bit, but made myself vulnerable to Kerry’s attack coming through the start finish on the paved stretch. She put 23 seconds into me in that second lap, and the gap at the end was 37 (five lap race).

Pack racing and tactics are new to me in cross because so often I ride alone (we all do in the women’s fields), but I think it’s important to improve in this area. But I was psyched to ride better today than yesterday. Teammate Maria did a great ride for 10th. Promoter Jeff Notz put on a fantastic race weekend and I recommend it highly. I can help you crack in on the logistical front next year. For now, on to Vegas!


VB-K Elite Cross Racer Maria Stewart (MN) Reports in on Her First Race with the "Big Girls"

September 24, 2007

By Maria Stewart
2007 Elite Velo Bella Cross Team

Today was my first CX race with the "big girls," the UCI DoubleCross
race near Detriot, MI. I haven’t been THIS nervous for a bike race
for several years. This morning, I was sure that I was going to throw
up, pass out, or both. Luckily neither of them happened!

My race didn’t start until 1:45, but I headed out to the course around
10 so I could have plenty of time to get ready and watch the B and C
class races. I cheered on Monica, a Michigan Bella in the Women’s C
race. The venue was a horse/livestock show grounds (think 4H). The
race course was the most exciting CX course I had ever ridden. It had
everything you could put in a race course: off-camber turns, tight
corners, fast open sections, grass, gravel, dirt, pavement, riding
through a horse barn (no horses in it!), and tons of spectators.

The race started pretty fast, but I was able to hang on to the back of
the pack. Some of my competitors were top cyclists in the US- many
had UCI points. The laps were pretty long compared to courses at
home, so we ended up racing 5 laps for the 40 minute race. My barrier
training really paid off today. For those of you who don’t know, I
spend several afternoons each week at Como Park jumping my CX
barriers. Each lap, I crossed the double barriers really smoothly.
My race strategy was to hang with the pack as long as possible and
then just race hard. That’s just what I did! I even passed someone!

I finished the race 11th out of 14, which isn’t much to brag about
except that its my first CX race of the season and my first UCI race
ever. My race was Cat 1/2 Women, so I definitely placed within my Cat
2 ability. My VB-K teammate Anna Milkowski (New Haven, CT) finished
2nd. I was impressed, even though she thought she could have raced

This race definitely sparked the racing fire under my butt! It was
really inspiring to race with women who are among the top in the
country. It was even more inspiring to know that I didn’t get
completely shelled (even though the winner was posting lap times that
were a minute faster than mine!). The CX world had better watch out
for Maria Stewart in the next couple years!

The Men’s Elite race was awesome too. Probably 50 racers started, and
it was amazing to watch them snake through the course. Jonathan Page,
who placed 2nd at Worlds last year, took the win, but not without a fight.

Tomorrow is another race at the same venue, but a different course.
More about that race tomorrow. Now, I’m looking forward to a great
night of sleep!



September 18, 2007


The Velo Bella – Kona women return for another year of dirty fun all across the United States and Europe. For the fourth year in a row, the world’s most successful all female cyclocross team will spread the Bella vibe around the Crank Brother’s US Grand Prix of Cyclocross, US Cyclocross Nationals and over 92 local races across the US. The Velo Bella – Kona team will also send a select squad of racers to Belgium this December to show the Europeans how female American cross racers get their groove on.

“Velo Bella is dedicated to providing a place for women to ride their bikes, race their bikes, and above all, have fun getting muddy and cold in a skinsuit,” said Team Co Founder, Sabine Dukes. “Our membership continues to grow with nearly 400 women in 28 states climbing up the category ranks in every major cycling discipline. Velo Bella – Kona professional teams exist to mentor and inspire our members wherever they are. Therefore, we are proud to announce the largest elite cyclocross team in the world with 19 athletes competing at the highest level in every corner of the country.”

West Coast

Barb Howe (Larkspur, CA) – 2004/05 US World Championship Team Member

Natasha Perry (Santa Cruz, CA)

Ann Fitzsimmons (Morgan Hill, CA)

Marian Jamison (Verdi, NV)


Shannon Holden (Spokane, WA)

Kari Studley (Bothell, WA)


Melanie Swartz (Reston, VA)

Jennifer Bodine (Garret Park, MD) – 2007 US Collegiate Criterium National Champion – Div 2

New England

Anna Milkowski (New Haven, CT)

Stephanie White (Durham, NH) – 2007 US Junior XC National Champion

Melody Chase (Portsmouth, NH)

The Rockies

Kathy Sherwin (Heber City, UT)

Jennifer Tilley (Boulder, CO)

Amy Dombroski (Boulder, CO) – 2007 U23 Cyclocross National Champion

Monique Hein (Boulder, CO)

Natasha Cowie (Boulder, CO)

Shannon Gibson (Durango, CO)

Kristin Danielson (Durango, CO)


Maria Stewart (St Paul, MN)

The team will be riding in sweet style with custom painted cyclocross frames from Kona Bicycles, featuring Easton stems, seatposts, bars, forks and wheels, as well as SRAM Force drive trains, Avid brakes, Chris King headsets and Selle San Marco saddles. sells team clothing and sexy skinsuits provided by Louis Garneau, and Giro helmets and Zeal Optics protect our racers through the worst conditions possible. Patagonia and the Vanderkitten clothing line will help us relax post-race, and the lovely Good Vibrations will keep our racers “safe” at the post-race parties. Pedro’s and Ultimate Support rovide our mechanics with all they need to keep the team’s bikes rolling smoothly.

’tis the Season

September 6, 2007

By Shannon Holden
Spokane, Washington


Can you believe it’s cross season already?

I am so excited. This past weekend my husband, son, and I drove to Portland, Oregon to spend the weekend with my brother-in-law and his family. He is an amazing free rider, so it is always a blast to ride with him. We went on some pretty spectacular rides.

We had made plans to drive to Seattle Monday morning to race in the Labor Day cross. I was pretty excited, because I haven’t raced since June. I was actually really nervous driving in, my stomach up in the air. When we got there I got signed up and took out to pre-ride. It was a fun course, really sandy. It had a 3 good run ups and 1 set of barriers. I got a couple of laps in and it was time to get to the start line.

When I got there I noticed there were some pretty fast girls there, Bridgette Stoick, Kelly Jones, Kristi Berg to name some. It was going to be brutal. I took out hard with the front pack. It felt good, I love the run ups. I come from a running background so I can usually do some damage.

We came around to the barriers and when I went to get back on my bike I hit a rut and bounced my chain out. It seemed like foreve and couldn’t get it back on. While bent over I saw 2 girls fly by through my legs. So I was sitting in 7th at this point. Furious I took off on my bike and started hammering. I passed one right away. The other is pretty strong so it took me about 1/2 lap to catch her and I passed her on the run up.

So back to hammering. It is so windy at South Sea Tac I never could see anyone in front of me. So I had no Idea where I was. I came around a corner the 4th lap and there was 4th place right in front of me. I got so excited that when we got to the barriers I set my bike down in the same rut and bounced my chain off again and off went 4th place. I pushed hard the last 1/4 lap but just didn’t have it.

It was fun. I finished 5th which I was pretty happy with. Plus I got to race cross in September which doesn’t happen on the other side of the state.

Full results


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