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December 2002

12/17/02 - This message is Not a Test
Holy doodle! Be careful what you wish for. Alan did his rain dance and the weather gods listened. Boy do they have a sense of humor.

But a little storm warning would not ruin our party. We showed up at 6:00 a.m. and set up camp in the middle of a raging river that was the expo area and hung our glitter and glitz from a dripping wet tent. Our little tent became a funky sanctuary for all our Velo Bella and Fella racers.

In response to the rain and subsequent course damage, the organizers shortened the Saturday course. They accomplished this by taking out most of the mud sections and replacing them with pavement. There were no barriers and no run ups, and lap times were fast and furious. This led to the quick lapping of slower riders who were unapologetically pulled from the race. Pulled riders included women in the masters categories who were in podium contention. Not a good scene for those racers who put up with horrible conditions only to get the equivalent of a thanks, please drive through from the officials.

Enough of ranting, I guess being soggy makes me cranky. Here are some random racing notes:

*I am continually impressed by the Rad Racing squad. They fielded a large contingent of mostly junior racers all decked out in very cool team beanies. They enthusiasm was contagious. I could hear so many fans cheering, Go Rad Racer!! Theyre also a little nuts! Karen Amundson didnt want to let some silly old stress fractures get in the way of racing. So she hobbled up to the line on crutches, hopped on her bike and pedaled to a bronze medal performance in the Junior Womens event. I counted 16 Rad Racing finishers. The future of our sport lies in programs like this.

*The weekend was full of surprise performances. All of the winners were perfectly capable of winning, we just had not seen that much from many of them this season. Shari Kain was a surprise winner in the 35-39 category. While she has won nationals at the Elite level, that was a few years and a baby ago. She had raced some events this year, with good but not great performances. It all came together as she dominated the Masters women races. Kathy Lenno was such a surprise winner in the 30-34 race that even her own mother didnt believe her. I have watched Kathy get steadily better this year, and her technical skills have improved 10 fold. She even bunny hopped the concrete barrier. Yeah Girl!! Ann Grande scored the big surprise upset of the weekend. After a slow start due to injury, most did not consider the Queen of Cross a candidate for the win. She excelled in the mucky conditions and with that famous concentrated suffering gaze, pedaled away from the favorites for the win.

*I think the whole East Coast vs. West Coast thing is funny. I like it. It shows that cross fans have lots of fervor for their sport. These same cyclists/fans who get all rallied up dont seem to give a hoot about regions when it comes to road or MTB racing. Also, the signs, bells, painted umbrellas, painted rain jackets (Jeremiah Bishops mudder was a mudder) and screaming fans out in weather that was on the Emergency Broadcast System, are a testament that the spectating is as important as the racing.

A few of our own Velo Bellas braved the storm and raced too! It was truly inspiring to see some of our first timers out there at a National level event. Velo Bella fine performances:

  • Shelly Whisenhant, 14th Place, Elite Women
  • Esther Davis, 10th Place, Women 30-34 Former First Timer!!
  • Michelle Lee, 13th Place, Women 30-34 Former First Timer!!
  • Shelly Whisenhant, 3rd Place, Women 35-39
  • Monica Neilson, 8th Place, Women 40-44 Former First Timer!!
  • Jessie Hickel, 11th Place, Women 40-44
  • Ann Cigan, 1st Place, B Women Former First Timer!!
  • Brenda Cranford, 1st Place, C Women Former First Timer!!
  • Alyson Lowery, 3rd Place, C Women

Although there are a sprinkling of cross races left on the calendar, the US season is officially over. I promise, no more cross talk until World rolls around&Well, maybe just a little.

12/07/02 - One Big Happy Family
Cross season is winding down. The final showdown will be this weekend at Domain Chandon Vineyards. Go Carmen, Gina, Rachel, Christine, Shelly and all our other hotshot locals. You guys inspire us, be prepared for a zany, loud and colorful Bella cheering at Nationals. You WILL have home field advantage.

The last Surf City race was a blast. I wonít go on and on again about the Dirty Dozen contest this time. You guys know it rules. The fantabulous prize bags were pretty inspired as well. Maybe next year, those of you who were on the fence, will leap off and join in on the fun.

Iíve been playing spectator lately, which frees me up to take pictures. Check out these shots of the stars at Coyote Point Cyclocross and Redline Cup. Speaking of Coyote Point, what a great venue and a fun day. They also had the cutest podium stage. I hope they bring it and the race (beach and all!) back next year. And it was good to finally meet some of the Velo Girls, who provided volunteer support for the event. I hear the same promotors have a road stage race planned in March. More news on that as it approaches.

The NCNCA website has just posted the first few months of 2003 races. Yikes! Already? The Early Birds are back. These early season training crits are excellent for new racers. There is instruction before and after the race and a mentor or two will usually ride during the race to dispense helpful on the fly advice. There are five crits and each session will focus on a different skill. More info here.

In case you havenít heard, the NCNCA recently voted to rejoin with the USCF. Without going into too much of a diatribe, let me just break it down to what that will mean to you as a racer. It means you will only need a USCF license to race. No more having to buy an NCNCA and USCF license (or those pesky one day things) to compete in all of the Nor Cal races. Iím sure thereís a lot more political mumbo jumbo involved in the reunion, but if you care about that kind of stuff, you already know all about it and you wonít learn anything new here.

Whew, I actually managed to write about something other than cyclocross!


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