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Race Reports Archive

August 2002

08/16-17/02 - NORBA NCS Finals, Mt. Snow
by Petra

After a long night and half a day of travelling, I arrived in Albany, NY with my bag and bike box. I waited curbside in 95 degree heat for my ride to Mt. Snow, Jeremiah from the Trek East Coast Team. Once I got to my hotel, I built up my bike and headed out to do an easy spin on the road. The heat at 7pm was devastating and I was drenched in sweat immediately. The next morning, I met up with some friends and we pre-rode the super technical 4.5 mile course. Lots of climbing and lots of rooty and rocky single track. I should have done 2 laps to get more familiar with the terrain but opted to spin out on the road instead.

Dinner was a team effort between my friends Kate, Robin, Kate (both from Jackson, WY) and me. A huge plate of pasta, veggies, chicken and bread, which, by the way, was my first taste of real food after living off bars and bagels for two days.

On race day morning, we rode from the hotel to the venue, which was a solid 45-minute warm up. The weather was still good to us, and even though the heat was gonna make for a hard race, it's still better than racing in the mud! My awesome team support crew at Trek went over my bike and got it race-ready. The race started fast, one parade lap and then out for another 3 laps. From the very beginning I kept Gina Hall (LUNA CHIX) in sight and ended up racing with her the entire race. Even though I took all feeds, I still ran out of liquid and started cramping in both hamstrings by the beginning of the third lap. I got a bottle of water from a spectating race friend and that saved me. Gina and I bridged up to a rider in front of us and then I took a tumble (similar to my road crash the week before) and ended up losing 2 minutes to Gina and the girl we had caught. And to make things even worse, I got caught by another girl who outsprinted me by a second! I ended up 26th and 27th overall in the NCS series.

The Short Track was only 11-minutes long for me, but fun fun fun with hundreds of cheering and yelling spectators (I haven't even checked my finish for that race.). Afterwards, Kate and I drove to western Massachussets to stay at her aunt's cottage on a lake. I woke up Sunday morning and took a plunge in the warm water before heading to the airport. It was a fun weekend, even though I missed having Jim and Shelly there with me!

08/14/02 - NCNCA District Road Race Championships
by Monica

So here I am at the tail end of my first year in this bike racing thing, sitting on the starting line looking around for my teammates. Im pretty excited to be a part of this team and have only experienced one race with them (Pescadero RR). The referee was going over the rules of the road for this course while Im thinking where are those girls? Jessie and Laura rode up slowly, teasing me with their last-minute arrival, (funny, girls, really funny). Soon the whistle blows, and were off!

The first lap started out at a fairly slow pace, people were jockeying for position, waiting to see who would pull, sizing up the competition, and getting a feel for the group. I used this time to eat some Gu and think about how quiet and smooth my chain was thanks to the Rock n Roll lube on it. About 5-7 miles into it, I looked around and I realized Laura was not with us. Hmmm, whats that all about? Before long, Jessie rolled alongside me to tell me Laura flatted damn!

Thanks to the pre-ride, I knew I wanted to be in the lead or close to it as we headed into the long descent on Henneken. I feel cornering is a weak link for me and this descent had a couple of hairy corners at the bottom. Across the flats leading up to the descent, I sprinted to get to the front (I think it was in here somewhere that Laura caught back on the girl really put in a strong solo effort to chase us down) as we crested the last knoll before the downhill. As I crested the knoll, I realized dang, theres one more flat section and then the descent! Ooops!, Despite my memory lapse, we headed down the hill, and I was happy with my position.

As we started up The Wall, the pack began to separate. I crested the top of the hill with three other riders, and I glanced back to see we had a pretty good gap going. I immediately rallied the group, suggesting we work together to keep them off. We began a rotating pace line, widening our distance on the others. I was keeping close tabs on what was happening behind me, turning often to see if we were being chased. At one point in time, someone kind of laughed at me, and I said hey this is my first year, I dont know how this stuff works. Big mistake&

We kept this pace line going at a pretty good effort, but I began noticing that when it was my turn to pull no one was too eager to switch positions. Not falling prey to their plan, I sat up, stretched, drank some Gu2O, slowed way down...I may be a rookie, but I am not naïve! A while later, after it had became apparent we werent going to be caught, we had a little discussion, exchanged names, and had some idle chit chat. I found out the girls in the break were Tracy from Mako/Galaxy, Holly from Palo Alto, and Sue from unattached&the team I used to ride with before I hooked up with Velo Bella. When the support vehicle pulled in behind us, I was informed that this was the key to knowing we were not going to be caught. Thanks ladies, appreciate the tip!

On lap three, the final lap, things began to heat up. It had clearly become a battle for position. As we rode the flats leading up to the long descent I was determined to be in front at the start of the downhill. I sprinted my way up the knoll, the right one this time, and led down the hill. I had excellent positioning as I made my way through the two tight corners and I found myself with a decent lead heading up The Wall for the third and final time. At the top it was Holly and me, as we had gapped the other two. I feared being hunted down, so I looked at Holly and said Ill work with you until the final corner, are you in it? She nodded.

We rode pretty much together, trading pulls until the corner near the start and the final S curves leading into the last corner. I knew I wanted her to lead out in the sprint at the end, so I slowed and waited to get myself behind her, and we rounded the final corner with her in front. She took off right there and I was thinking shit, I didnt want to sprint from here! I got up, and we were side-by-side for a minute, but soon I was past her and still going. I felt like my legs were going to burst; they were screaming with pain, and after I turned to see she was far enough back I sat down. (I had no idea how far was far enough back?) I heard the cheers of my fellow teammates, those gathered with them and other people, I dont know who they were, but it was great, I loved it! I crossed the finish line in first place. I continued on, slowly pedaling when it hit me I won Districts. Oh my God, I won Districts. (hey, like I said&first year and my first BIG win!)

Everyone was so excited, it was awesome. Thanks to Sabine and crew who were there for us. Life is good as a Velo Bella!

08/14/02 - District Championships Race Report Women 1/2/3
by Shelly

For me, this race was going to be my grand finale fireworks show as a Cat 3 Road Racer. I thought going out as the Cat 3 District Champ would be cool, and that I could feel good about moving up to Cat 2 if I had a good race and could hold my own with the big girls. Petra (racing for TREK/VW), on the other hand, was going into her 2nd race after moving up to the 3s and her first 1/2/3 race, so her confidence and excitement about the race was, conservatively speaking, a little lower than mine.

So race morning comes, and at registration I notice that they are not marking down any categories on the start list. It turns out they are NOT picking the 3s out separately from the 1/2s. So half of my big plan for the day was down the drain, and it was starting to look like a "good hard training ride" instead. A quick glance at the 25 or 30 names on the start list clued us in that the day could be quite painful, with the likes of Carmen D'Lusio (former Nat. Crit Champion, Pro MTB racer, and Elite CX racer) and Kathy Lenno (well, just an animal) in the mix. We figured the day would go something like this: Kathy and Carmen drag our asses around all day, then kick our asses at the end. Are you getting a feeling for our mood at this point?

So anyway, with the pressure off of me now, I go into the race with more like SMR expectations, and our plan is to just hang with whomever we can and to try to stay patient and not go out and drive the pace (which, as MTB'ers, is always the first instinct). Ok, so here is how it unfolded:

It was a four-lap race, the 15-mile course being quite technical for a road race, with lots of sharp turns off of short, fast descents, short, steep power climbs, and slow flat sections in between. There were lots of places to get away, and I figured the last climb of the lap, "The Wall", would be the spot where things would happen. The first two laps were pretty mellow. No attacks, just some hard pushes up the climbs, and no efforts to build gaps after going over the top, so the group stayed pretty much intact. On the third lap going up the relatively (for this race) long climb up Henneken's, it finally got interesting.

A few girls decided to attack near the top of the Henneken's climb, on the 1/2 mile or so flat stretch before the steep short decent to Eucalyptus, before the climb up "The Wall." Carmen was right next to me, and Petra and Kathy were right behind. I decide to try to bridge up to them and hope that Petra and Kathy come with me, but the only person I end up dragging is Carmen. I felt like saying to her "this is the least I could do for you, after you knocked me off my bike at Sea Otter 3 years ago" (that's another story). Carmen and I end up bridging up just before the decent, and I am hoping that Kathy and Petra can catch back on going up the wall. About half way up, I was happy to look back to see Petra there with us but surprised to not see Kathy. I couldn't believe we dropped her. (We caught hell from her after the race, of course.)

So at the top of The Wall, there were about 10 of us, a little strewn out at this point. The ones in front were pushing through the rollers after the climb in an effort to build the gap; the ones behind were pushing to bridge up. I was in the middle of this, and bridged up first, with Petra, Carmen, and the few others catching on before the last decent back to the venue and into the feed zone climb. I was still in shock from having dropped Kathy and couldn't believe Petra and I had made it into the break together...with the big girls! I guess Petra was so happy that she pushed the pace almost the entire last lap, riding at the front of the pack about 75% of the time.

The last time up Henneken's, this girl on a Simonetti who had been making some little "test" attacks on the climbs all race, just flew away from us, and no one reacted. She was gone. Apparently on speed or some really awesome energy gel, she sprinted all the way up and down Henneken's, and all the way up the wall. By the time we got to the bottom of the wall, she was just a speck near the top. The race was now for 2nd place. Next was the "pinnacle moment" of the race for Petra and me. The last hard push up the wall found Carmen apparently with little left in her legs. Petra and I came up on her as if she was standing still and went around her on both sides. Neither one of us could believe that we were about to leave the projected pain-inflicting winner of the race in the dust. That is just what happened.

The first to the top of the wall, I found myself with a bit of a gap on Petra and about 4 other girls, so I decide to try to push hard to the finish and see if I can stay away for 2nd place. I looked back occasionally to see Petra also pushing hard to catch me, the other 4 right on her wheel. By the time I get to the last decent around the church, just before the climb to the finish, Petra and her train catch me. I am pretty sure Petra got no help from her train either.

Thinking she could not outsprint me, Petra decides to go hard into the last turn for max momentum into the finish climb. She went by me fast just before the turn, waved to her fans, got distracted, and slid out into the outside corner of the turn and into the dirt. I contemplated stopping, but as soon as the dust cloud cleared, I saw her sit up and start cussing; I figured it she was at least conscious and she'd probably be mad at me for stopping and not finishing. But that was pretty much the end of the race for both of us.

After my hard effort to stay away, then seeing my best friend eat it right in front of me, I barely had anything left to sprint up the hill to the finish line, and the rest of the chase group went around me. I got up the hill and crossed the line thinking only of getting back down to my buddy lying at the bottom of the hill. As soon as I turned around, I see Petra, with a little more red than usual in her Trek uniform, riding up toward the finish line, with Carmen right next to her and edging Petra out by a nose! What a tough cookie. She had some major road rash on her left hip and arm, with blood gushing from a big ole hole in her forearm, where a rock or something must have ground its way in, and a couple of bruised knuckles that got pinched between her hood and the road on impact. After some treatment by a really cute EMT, some tortuous scrubbing, disinfecting and high-tech bandaging, and an Otter Bay sandwich from Ord Market and a diet coke, she was almost back to herself.

Petra's crash was a traumatic and disappointing way to end the race, but all in all, we were still really happy to have finished in the top 10 in the District Championship 1/2/3 race, especially for Petra since again this was only her 2nd race after moving up from the 4s. As for me, I guess I will say, "Goodbye, 3s!"

08/13/02 - District Championships Race Report (40-44)
by Laura

Since I have enjoyed so many race reports, (I obsessively love reading every one of them) I felt my turn had come to write one. This is how the race unfolded from my perspective.

After a short warm-up, Jessie and I rolled up to the start of the District's Women's 40- 44 yr category. We lined up in true Laura redline fashion, as the official was giving instructions. It was, after all, part of the master plan Jessie and I concocted so Monica could get her adequate dose of adrenaline, an old veteran's trick. In truth, anyone who knows me, recognizes that as pretty much standard practice in my world. I love living on the red. I call it perfect timing. Since all three of us are pretty well matched, Jessie and I had discussed how we needed to see the race unfold and work for whomever made the break as opposed to randomly selecting the leader.

Within the first 10 minutes, I flatted on Giggling Rd. Not thinking I had any other recourse but to drop out, I informed Jess I was out and dropped off. To my surprise the support vehicle was right behind us and quickly pulled off to hand me another rear wheel. Wow! A wheel angel, just for me, ready to switch out a spare. Problem was I had to mentally adjust to the task of chasing instead of dropping out. Chasing and hopefully getting back on, making the break and somewhere in the middle resting for the action. That was Plan B. So much for the sage Hennessy advice to not show your strengths until the last lap and rest as much as possible for the key parts of this race, that was Plan A. I was down to Plan C, cut my costs and chase like mad.

Fortunately, I had a small window of opportunity before the peloton started pushing the pace since most women would be saving themselves for the climbs. Catching back on without sight of the group is much, much harder than I had imagined and certainly harder than the pros make it look on OLN. (You have to go faster than the peloton, yet not so fast you can't make the distance, which is an "unknown," because you don't know how fast the peloton is traveling or how far they are in front.) I finally caught sight of the group climbing Parker Flats. I gained enough distance to tease me into digging deep to catch them before the steep part of the climb. I knew this was a critical point, since Monica was going to push the pace on the bumps so she could have a good clearance on that tricky turn. Oh so close yet so far. I managed to just crest as they started the next bump and watched as all the distance I just made up disappear in a matter of seconds.

I drank down some liquids,recovered for a bit, and set my mind for one more last push knowing if I didn't make it I never would. Head-down, time trial position, I worked as hard as possible, resting on the down portions. I caught back on before the right turn on Parker Flats heading towards Giggling Road. Good name for that road since that is what I recall as I passed Jess to let her know I was back. She bursts out with a genuine incredulous laugh, being the veteran she appreciated how hard that was for me. That made me feel good, and I proceded to put back my "race face" so no one else knew how cashed out I was on that effort. I was afraid someone might attack, and I needed to recover as much as possible. My breathing was fine, but my legs...oh how they hurt. I was so focused on catching I really never thought about how I'd recover. If it wasn't for the van behind me rooting me on, I most surely would have dropped after the first lap. But I could not disappoint my wheel angel.

It was just shortly after that the pace began to liven as the women prepared for the sharp turn onto Heinekens Hill. I was able to climb with a moderate tempo, but when Monica hit the first crest hard there was no way I could hold another hard effort that long. She made a master move allowing herself a clean descent and another opportunity to charge up the Wall, separating the group. By the time we all descended Heinekens, (just so you know, we renamed all the roads) the Wall, indeed became the dealmaker. Monica proceeded to rally the girls around her and worked for a good break from the rest of us. I think she had a good strong five girls in her group. Taking a strong granola girl with her (Tracy) I knew that would stick. The granola team also had three girls in the field so it pretty much shut down a chase group from forming.

Jessie and I then took control to make sure no one tried to bridge on and rode back any attempts from the single team riders. By the time we were back on Giggling, we had just four in our group with one being a Galaxy Granola girl. It was time to practice team strategy. The break was secure. The Granola girl dropped off our group, now there were three, a Spokesman racer and two Velo Bellas. The Spokesman rider tried valiantly to coax us into chasing or helping, even suggesting how we could beat her in the end. This made Jess and I laugh, so I finally told her there were many ways we could beat her. You have to hand it to riders in that position; it is so difficult to not give up and she didn't, riding strong all the way up Parker Flats and back to Giggling.

When we got to Giggling, I decided it was time to play again. Jessie and I "relay attacked" her, so by the time we hit Heinekens I am sure she needed a beer. Wanting to just not work the Wall so much, I hit Youcanlickthis (new name for Eucalyptus) downhill section hard. Turned back to wait for Jessie who finished the rider off by attacking her in true Lance Armstrong style. She took one look back at her face to make sure she couldn't come with and off she went. Yahoo! Jessie. As soon as Jessie was back with me, there was no rider in sight behind us. We now were the chase group. Jessie recovered, and we worked together for our last lap. All in all Plan C worked out to be Plan A in disguise, because Monica, being wary of the one Granola girl (Tracy), attacked the wall and rode like mad for her District Champion finish. Which I am sure Monica can relay this part of the race with much more detail. Tracy did let me know that Monica rode extremely well and a very smart race. She could not believe it was her first year racing, let alone a Cat 4. For the rest of us, it's not so hard to believe, after all she is a Velo Bella.

08/06/02 - Durango Nat Cross Country Pro Women
by Shelly
Just got back from a great 4 days in Durango, Colorado, at the 4th NORBA National Mountain Bike Race. Petra (racing for Trek/VW) and I flew into Durango on Wednesday and took a shuttle to our motel, The Dollar Inn, advertised as the "best deal for your money" in Durango. It turned out to be a run down on the outside but clean and functional on the inside kind of place, definitely a low-budget place, but not trashy. So we checked in, put our bikes together, and rode up to the venue, which was at Ft. Lewis College. The college is located on top of a Mesa, above the town of Durango. There was a really nice trail that switchbacked from the town up to the campus, so we could avoid the town traffic on our bikes. The top part of the trail was actually part of the race course.

After getting our race numbers at registration, we headed out for a practice lap on the course. The 7.9-mile course was a great mix of gradual fireroad and double track climbing, slick-rock and steep technical climbing, fun and swoopy decents along creeks and in the trees, and scary straight down steep decents out in the open. Everything you could ask for in terms of dry course challenges.

The two scary decents were what we called "the triple down" (because it had the "danger" triple arrow down sign at the top of it) and Chapman hill. Triple down was this loose, steep decent out in the open, that was basically a 10-inch-wide rut littered with baby-head sized river rocks. If you could just let your bike ride the rut and keep from white knuckling the brakes all the way down, it was doable. Chapman hill was right near the venue and at the end of the lap. It was an off-camber, cliff-side decent (right next to the mountain cross course), with a scary drop in off the top, then steady drop to the bottom of the hill. This was immediately followed by lung busting climb back to the top, at the same pitch!! The drop in was a little scary because there was just this little, 10-inch-wide trail with the hillside on your right and NOTHING on your left. But these two decents were nothing us PROs couldn't handle, HAH!!

All those rides at Nisene and Coe were about to pay off for us both...

When we rode on Wednesday the course was bone dry and pretty loose and dusty on the descents. Over the next two days, some monsoon moisture kicked off some good convective showers, which were just enough to beat down the dust and improve traction on the course. So conditions were great for our race on Friday.

There was a HUGE field of pro women at this race, nearly 70. I think there were a lot of local racers at this one, so the potential for the locals advantage to affect our placings this time was pretty good. But that didn't matter in the end, because Petra and I had great races. For the pro womens' race we did one "modified" lap without the scary descents as a start loop, and then two full laps with the descents. Petra and I were together for just about the entire race, which is the first time that has really happened this year. Sometimes she'd get ahead of me, then I would perk up and get ahead of her. We seemed to be pushing each other the whole way. We both cleaned all of the gnarly descents easily. At one point during the race, Courtney, the husband of another pro racer, who knew that Petra and I trained together, yelled to us, "hey do you guys train together or something?? Are you going to hold hands the whole race or what??"

At the start of the first full lap, my life flashed before my eyes as a
pick up truck pulled right in front of me as I was going hard on the
pavement out of the start/finish area. I simultaneously slammed on the
brakes, fish tailed, and yelled vulgarities to the driver as I pictured the Velo Bella logo and me plastered to the side of his truck. Thanks goodness he just didn't stop in the middle of the road, and I miraculously squeaked past. So, I had a little extra adrenalin(e) kick for that lap.

The first time down Chapman Hill, the fans were all congregated at the drop-off into the decent and along the last 1/3 of the climb back out. They were awesome, totally screaming their heads off at the drop in, then totally Tour de France/San Fran Cross Nats style in-your-face and ringing cowbells on the climb out. They totally motivated you to stay on your bike on this last, hardest part of the climb, which I was able to do on the first time up it thanks to them. But even for the racers walking it, they were making just as much noise.

By the last lap my legs had turned to hamburger, probably in part due to my show for the fans up Chapman hill. Near the end of the lap, Petra and I were riding right behind a group of three other racers. They started pulling away from me, and with Petra behind me at that point, I moved over and told her to go ahead and try to stay with those girls. At that point Petra and the other girls pulled away from me. Shortly thereafter, Petra was able to leave those girls behind and build a good gap on them - she was soooo strong that day. Then I think the three must have blown themselves trying to stay with Petra, because I was also able to pick the three off one at a time, on the switchback climb after the feed zone, and the final brutal climb up Chapman hill near the end of the race, and ended up finishing a few seconds behind Petra. We broke the top 30 at 28th and 29th.

This was definitely the most fun I have had racing at the Nationals. We are seriously contemplating going out for the Iron Horse Classic next year same venue we heard).

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Team Velo BellaMonica Flesher - District Champion, W 40-44Monica Flesher - District Champion, W 40-44










Petra racing Mt. Snow, NORBA FinalsPetra racing Mt. Snow, NORBA Finals










Jessie, Sue, Laura, Monica - Team Velo Bella at DistrictsJessie, Sue, Laura, Monica - Team Velo Bella at Districts










Shelly in form for Livermore winShelly in form for Livermore win










Petra racing for Team Treak/VWPetra racing for Team Treak/VW










Laura & Jessie - Team Velo BellaLaura & Jessie - Team Velo Bella



















Monica sprints to win - no contender in sight!Monica sprints to win - no contender in sight!










Dana congratulates MonicaDana congratulates Monica























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