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Race Reports Archive

December 2003

12/14/03 - Cyclocross Nationals Portland, OR
by Barb Howe

After several hours of cleaning, my bike and clothing (finally) show no sign of this past weekends mud. I would like to thank the Bella that let me borrow her skinsuit. Could I use it this weekend at District
Championships? Thanks also to everyone that showed up in Portland, hanging out in the cold is hard and I appreciate having someone in the pit for me and lots of people screaming.

Taking off my legwarmer and jacket during staging was one of the harder parts of the race. I think my core temperature dropped a few degrees when the clothing came off. I was staged at the front the largest group of women crossers I have seen. As we zoomed down the racetrack, women were bumping my wheel and grabbing
brakes. Has anyone ridden in a group before? I lost my concentration and ended up at the back of the largest group of women crossers I have seen. Once we were onto the dirt, I was able to started fighting for a better position. The mud varied from rideable broth, to slippery chowder, to split pea soup, to three day old lentils (those are hard to ride), to chunky peanutbutter that can't be ridden.

Even though the mud was like soup, it was very cold soup straight from the icebox. The broth puddles sent rooster tails of icy water all the way down your back. They also kept the feet feeling like popsicles. A local drum band helped give rythym to my running and a couple of blazing fast passes towards the end of the race left me in ninth place! Next time I won't get so nervous at the start and try harder to keep a better position.

12/16/03 - Nationals Race Report
By Sarah Kerlin

Sometimes the paper lies. It doesn't feel great to look at my 18th place result from the national championship race, when I was gunning for a top 10. But that result really doesn't reflect the quality of the race, nor how well my training came together. I can't thank my race slave Laura or Podium Boy Brent enough for anticipating my every need and helping me prepare. And thank you to Sabine and Alan for excellent support. I've never had so much help at a big event, and it makes a world of difference.

The course conditions changed rapidly throughout the weekend, and by the time our race hit the track there were many types of mud to deal with. Some sections were watery and super fast, others were dreadfully thick and unrideable. In pre riding the course on Friday and Saturday, I found that my new tires kick ass and I felt ready to hammer. Neither mud nor rain were going to slow me down!

The night before the race I wrote down the things I needed to do for a great race. Stay positive, move forward, race HARD, maintain balance, accelerate constantly, and look for opportunities. These were my
race mantras.

The start loop was a fast half mile. Alan gave me good advice, to wait until later in the loop to make my move since riders were going to move lots like in a crit. On the opening stretch of pavement girls were
touching wheels and hitting brakes - geez, get it together gals! Off the pavement onto a sweeping gravel turn, someone went down. I avoided that one, and hammered into about 12th. Along the double track approaching the first dismount, the crucial point of the start, I was feeling good about my postion, when Oh No! Melody went into a mud pit with too much weight forward and flipped over the bars! I ran right over her (sorry!) and our bikes were tangled. She got up and went on her way, but I had to unjam my chain and by the time I got it together, I was about 37th out of 40.

I was in a group of riders that were moving slow, taking poor lines and it was really hard to get around them in the mud. I had to invent opportunities to work my way through them. It was frustrating to fly through a fast paved corner into a mud bog, only to have someone plodding along in front of me on the only rideable line. I was at maximum effort, taking risks, slowly moving up.

The laps took 10-12 minutes, so we only did four laps. I didn't even get back up to Mel and Stella until the end of lap 2, and in lap 3 I attacked every running section like a 100 meter track sprint and layed down
every thing I had. I have never hurt so bad in a race, ever. My max heart rate was 204! That's a new post heart surgery record for me (I used to have a defect that put it up to 220 - 240... not good.) By the bell lap I was in 18th and no one was visible ahead. I was wasted, there was nothing in the tank, but Dorothy Wong was chasing hard about 15 seconds back. I had to dig really deep to keep moving forward, and luckily I had no mistakes in that final lap and I held on to
18th. That isn't what I had hoped for, but I accomplished all of my race goals that I had control over - staying positive, moving up, accelerating, running as hard as possible - it all happened like I
wanted so I'm happy with what I did out there.

I am so proud of Barb for hammering from start to finish. In the final moments of her race she blasted past Heather Szabo, an accomplished crosser, and came in 9th place! Like Sabine said, "Velo Bella is on fire and at next year's nationals we will be a full team of contenders." I hope Christine's on her way getting back on the bike.

I'm really looking forward to the road season. I've decided to give up triathlon, only because I can't pass up the opportunity to focus on this great cycling team. Good job to all the Bellas, if your season is over I hope you are celebrating, and if you're still going, I'll see you at Districts on Sunday!

12/16/03 Master Women Race Report
By Andi Mackie

As in true Cyclo-x National fashion, the conditions of race course the day BEFORE the race is totally different than the conditions on race day!

Just to give a few examples from my 12 years of racing cross, my first one in Denver was about 35 degrees and somewhat soft the day before. Race day we are greeted with cold wind, 10 degrees and the soft ground was now rack hard with frozen ruts.

Boston, the day before nice, dry, some fast grass...beautiful! Oh no, it had to snow overnight about 6 or 8" How 'bout Kansas? or the next time in Denver, the pre ride produced a bike of about 40 lbs after one lap with it's clay-like mud feature only to be followed the next day by a freeze and some more famous icey ruts. Get the picture? Portland was no exception to this as the Thursday pre-ride offered and wonderful fast, flat course as promised. It was beautiful! I was thrilled!

Surprise!! It rained over night, a lot! Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against a nice muddy cross course, I was just anticipating fast and hoping I could BE fast!

The start of the race went off fast and I was in a good position about 4
places back with the lead girl pulling off slighlty. I was sitting in about
3rd or 4th and feeling good about that and could feel that the pack behind me was thinning out a bit. I soon discovered that the great lines I had ridden the day before where no longer the good lines to take and made a mistake and caught my handlebar on one the the little plastic poles that holds the tape up. I crashed and came up with some tape wrapped around my bars. That now cost me two places!

The cool thing was that they didn't get a huge gap on me and I could still see everyone but 1st place ahead of me (always good to have the rabbit in sight). I figured out their weakneses, tried to not let them figure out mine and hammered as hard as I possibly could, exchanging positions throughout the race. It hurt bad!!

I finally secured 5th place on the final lap but knew I couldn't make any
mistakes to finish on the podium. While yes, I would have like to have
placed higher, it was good because 3rd through 6th where all really close and it made it more interesting and rewarding when all was said and done.

Thanks to all those out there I heard cheering for me, it helps so much!! Sabine, thanks for the great photos, you done good!!

12/15/03 - Nationals from a Podium Boy perspective
By Podium Boy #2, Brent Chapman

Ok.. so this podium boy gets to write up a race report! 12 hours driving with Booth Babe in heavy rain, loaded with goodies, tents, and chairs. God the smell coming from the backseat.. terrible!

The mud was a beautiful site, like Sabine said "peanut butter soup" it was like an oasis of slippery fun and pain. I decided since I wasn't gonna race it, I would at least go out and ride it with one of the guys
I race with on the weekends.

Slush puppies of slimy goo tossed in my face. Overloaded Kleenex gushes of duck doo water rushing through my wheels. Dismounted runs, through pooh pooh pile sliding mud that could easily take your feet from beneath your body.. I rode the Monolith in my jeans and a baseball cap and realized what a foolish thing that was... In my book, a perfect place to race.

Congrats to all you Bella's who stepped into your warm weather riding suits, to cross over into the reality of chilled wetness and pain.

It felt good to scream and cheer so hard that my throat went raw between races! If only you could have heard the comments on the sidelines and in the pits about the Bella's.. (and the pit crew dance)

Karen - the ever smiling gladiator-ette who eats mud for breakfast!

Andi - the destructor of mud. Period.

Barb - Die hard, No Pitt'n, muck spitter, Not gonna pass me by taking the easy route through the pit, goddess of the slop.

Sami - Mud water Moses who parted the sea of duck doo! A couple of times, and just for the heck of it.

Sarah - put your butt into the mud, "anaconda don't want none" singing survivor.

Ashlyn - mud water skeeter, whip you with my braids tied behind my back!

Melanie - Mud never tasted better and it showed on your teeth!

Laura and Sabine, you are the plastic baggies that wrap up the racers and keep the mud from drying out and your damn good support.

Congrats to Alan for another win, and VB PB Jon for winning the single speed race!


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\Barb Howe makes a Natl Splash w/top 10 in her 1st year of cross!Barb Howe makes a Natl Splash w/top 10 in her 1st year of cross!









Andi on the podium5th place, Women 40-44 Cyclocross NationalsAndi on the podium5th place, Women 40-44 Cyclocross Nationals









Sami is all smiles after racing in the Portland mudSami is all smiles after racing in the Portland mud









Brent is earning valuable podium boy pointsBrent is earning valuable podium boy points









Karen, smiling gladiator-ette who eats mud for breakfast!Karen, smiling gladiator-ette who eats mud for breakfast!










Our little water skeeter, Ashlyn, danced across the mudOur little water skeeter, Ashlyn, danced across the mud



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