Monday, November 10th, 2014- Louisville KY
Louisville, KY is only 6 hours away from Brevard, NC drive time so I coordinated with some friends and drove Friday to Kentucky.
Saturday was the C1 race, which was being held at night. The course was really fun not only to race but also to ride. The woods section was smooth, hard packed, and flowing that gave the course a mountain bike feel. The hardest features for me on this course were the stairs on the fly-over but more challenging was the two sand pits, the most notable feature of the Louisville course. I definitely took a mental note that I need to find a place back home that has deep sand, which I could practice in.
I didn’t have the greatest start and made a mistake on the later half of what was the first or second lap, I cant quite remember. I slid out on a 180 degree corner and was stuck in a pretty tough gear for the remainder of the lap until I was able to pit. It was a frustrating race for me because I was loosing a good amount of time on the technical parts of the course. I guess in some ways it is always nice to know that you can improve with bike handling because when improving a skill often times you can see improvement fairly quick as oppose to trying to gain fitness. Apart from being a little disappointed with my place of 13th I was happy to have raced! I also got to experience Dusty and Caroline in the same place, eating potato chips, and being pretty hilarious.
Sunday the course was very much the same as the night before except for the absence of the barriers after the small sandpit and an extra turn before the last steep pitch to the pavement finishing straight. I rode a much stronger race on Sunday even though I only placed 12th, the time gaps were much tighter with 12th place and 8th place only being 30 seconds apart.
Caroline had a great weekend, making 3rd on Sunday. Ben rode very strong on Sunday placing 2nd, and Jamey had a consistent weekend placing 4th both days.
Monday my carpool friends had all ended up with different transportation situations so I was flying or rather driving solo, which lead to an awesome side adventure. James asked if I would like to join him and Doug on a tour of the Louisville Slugger Factory. My answer was of course YES! It was definitely cool to see and I also learned based on my limited success in the batting cage that perhaps baseball is not one of my strong points but James on the other hand…
Monday, October 27th, 2014- St. Louis MO
I won my first C2 race! Ok sorry I guess I spoiled this whole race report but I had to get to the good part.
Back to the report.
This weekend both days at Gateway were C2 races so the field was a little smaller then normal but the weather was great and the course was hard. Unfortunately Caroline was feeling a little under the weather so the general consensus seemed to be for me to win the race.
The course was similar to Ellison Park Cyclocross race in that it was a hard grassy course that did not allow for much recovery. I took the start slower and rode at the back to the lead group watching and letting the others set the pace. Myself, Nicole Duke, Amanda Miller, Courtney McFadden, and Samantha Schneider were in the lead group when Sunny Gilbert caught and attacked the group. Amanda Miller reacted but I decided (with the help of Caroline who was just off the main group and yelling at me to GO!) that now was the time to GO! It took me just a little to close the gap to Sunny. We rode together for a lap distancing the racers behind us. On the climb just before one lap to go I attacked on held my gap. My first UCI win, solo!
Notable things about the day:
It was very hot
Cross racing is hard
My team is the best
Day two of Gateway Cup. I didn’t win. Again this might spoil the report.
Sometimes when you truly believe you are going to win you ride fast then what might be possible. If you ride faster then what may be possible your legs might hurt quite a bit the next day.
I rode my best but I was definitely feeling the effort from Saturday. I held onto the lead group for a bit but slid back to a group of two riders. I was able to recover just a bit and jump ahead of that group to finish 5th. Not exactly what I was hoping for but still a respectable weekend.
Thank you Raleigh Clement teammates and mechanics and the Amy D. Foundation. You guys are the best!
Monday, October 6, 2014- Rochester, NY
New York! After a week at home in PA with my family I was pumped to check out Ellison Park Cross race in Rochester, NY. Saturday, following suit, was categorized as a C1 and Sunday a C2. I arrived Friday and did some hot laps on the course hoping to get in some good efforts as I generally have been having a better day on Sunday. After a few laps I quickly learned that this was going to be a hard course. The long grassy climbs and technical features didn’t leave much room for recovery (or coasting!). I rode a fast lap with the American Classic crew and might have been trying to show off a bit on the downhill grass switchbacks, my rear wheel started to slide out so I put a foot down to catch myself. The problem was that I put a foot down a little too hard and about high-sided myself. So I decided to bail and leaped off, sending the bike sliding a long ways…oops! Very thankful to have awesome mechanics who unbent my derailleur hanger!
Saturday I went hard at the start but was dropped pretty early on and suffered a lot during the race. It was a frustrating day, I was hurting so bad yet I was moving backwards instead of forwards. I made a few mistakes on course, specifically on the loose steep decent and climb around a tree in the woods, but apart from that I was just moving slow. I finished in 9th place. I was so disappointed. I didn’t race well but I couldn’t figure out why. Sometimes poor races make you question so much, much more than you should. The races previous to this I was able to finish and see many places where I could make improvements but for this race I couldn’t see what I had done wrong and that really bothered me. I spent a lot of the night thinking about the racing.
Sunday morning I had breakfast with Caroline, Donn, and Jamey. I am so thankful to have such great support. They were so encouraging but also constructive and helpful in the suggestions. Caroline recommended I don’t go out so hard from the gun because of the nature of the course. She felt that the course was very demanding and it was more of a race of attrition. I took her word for it and went easy on the start. I rode around 10th position and rode more of my pace. It worked great! I was slowly able to keep moving up throughout the race. With two laps to go it was me and Crystal Anthony riding together, it was so fun to race with her. We both have slightly different strengths, on this course she seemed to have great power but I was riding a bit smoother lines. We both were attacking, gapping each other at different points. On the last lap I attacked right before the last corner to the finishing straight and put my head down. I was sprinting as hard as I could and was surprised to keep the lead and finish with my best result this season in 5th place. Caroline won for the second day in a row!
Another great weekend and with an off weekend coming up it was a little sad to see the weekend end. Although having a weekend off means some much needed time for training and maybe some mountain biking!
Monday, October 6, 2014 – Providence, Rhode Island
Friday morning we made the drive from the house in Gloucester down to Providence. It was nice to get to the venue Friday to see the course and for this particular course there was a lot to see. A lot of turns, three fly-overs, one small fly-over, a barrier section, a corner stair section, a longer grass/gravel climb, some off camber, and a steep up, all not in that order.
Saturday was a bit of a jumble, the rain came in and we had a delayed start so it was a little bit of hurry up and wait situation. First rain race! It ended up being a tough one for me. I started on the third row and I missed a pedal completely off the start which ended up really far back. I had to activate the turbo for the first lap and after a week of easy riding while recovering from a cold, I paid the price of that effort for the next two laps. Caroline was having a tough day as well, this course in particular was very hard for broken wrists. I was thankful that Caroline stuck with me for the remainder of the race. Ended up 13th with Caroline in 12th. I was pretty disappointed after having such a great finish last Sunday but I could see the areas that I needed to improve. Remembering how to relax and move with the bike in the wet was my major point to improve.
Sunday the sun came out and the course dried. Apart from a few minor changes it was the course conditions that varied the most from day one to day two. I have been feeling much better on the second day of racing, partly from being more opened from the day before and partly because, not having raced these venues before, I know the course better. So with the sun shinning I remained positive although I was feeling a bit discouraged after Saturday’s race. Same start position on the third row but at least I got my pedal today. I still had a bit of passing to do and I wanted to get through as much traffic as I could before the leaders got too too far. Meredith Miller was having a tough day so I jumped on her wheel for a bit as she was still powering forward. I could see Crystal Anthony and Gabby Durrin up ahead so I made the jump and put down some power to connect with them. I made the catch and in retrospect a part of me wished I had just kept going. All three of us were riding aggressively and attacking. At two laps to go my pit crew and teammates saying, “Attack! Attack!” I should have listened and attacked sooner. Miller wasn’t going to catch me even if I did blow myself up so the worst I could have done was 10th. Had I gone sooner I would have given myself room to ride my pace and not have to follow surges. I finally decided to make a move on the stairs with a half lap to go but Crystal bumped into me and my bike got knocked to the ground. Duho! I got back on as fast so possible and sprinted after the duo but with a half lap left it was not enough time. I saw Anthony attack on the climb and Durrin drop. I almost caught Durrin. I wish I had been there for the attack; it would have been good for me.
You live and you learn. Next time when the team says Go you ignore your legs and mind and GO. You only get one chance.
Thursday, October 2, 2014 – Gloucester, Massachusetts
I have been pretty excited for this trip to the New England area first to Gloucester and then to Providence the next weekend, staying over the week in a house in Rock Port. So when I was feeling a little under the weather Thursday I was hoping it would blow over. Saturday proved that that was not going to be the case. I had a great start and was riding around 6th position for the first lap but after that point my body said enough and I started moving backwards, fast. I finally ended up in 22nd position. It was a rough race but it was just too much stress on my body trying to race full out and fight a cold at the same time. Sunday morning Ben, Caroline, and myself went for a morning spin and despite the beautiful scenery I was still feeling a bit under the weather. After the frustration and disappointment of Saturday’s race I wasn’t planning on not racing Sunday but being a bike racer I decided to pack and prepare as if I was racing. Yup once I got to the venue I couldn’t help but race, hey I was here and I love racing so even if I was sick, why not?
Guess that was a good call. I was second onto the track and was at the front of the race on the first and second laps. I’ve never been at the front of this level of bike race before so I got a little excited and attacked…ooops. As we got onto the uphill pavement section everyone in the lead group started to look at each other so I decided I was going to attack, maybe not the best choice when you are in the lead group with the best women in the business. Ok not the best tactics you’ll ever see and I definitely learned a lot. After a combination of still fighting this cold and some poor race tactics I started to loose contact with the leaders and started to move backwards. Chloe made a mistake in the single track and went down cause a split in the group, after this point I wasn’t able to match the accelerations to of the people bridging the gap back up to the lead. Part of me was disappointed with finishing 6th because I feel that I could have finished in a higher position but I have to remind myself that 6th is the best finishing place I have ever had with this level of competition, ha I guess another characteristic of a bike racer, huh?
Lessons learned, I’m ready for next weekend! Busting out the Vitamin C, Zinc, Multi-vitamins, and tea! Time to get well!
Apart from racing we did a little exploring of Gloucester and Rock Port MA. I love this area. It is very beautiful and the sea is so intense. I learned a bit about the history of the area after reading the Perfect Storm this summer so getting to visit spend the week here and see the town has been pretty exciting.
We checked out the local coffee shops and explored the beaches by bike!
Saturday, September 27, 2014 – Trek Cup
Wisconsin, also know as the Badger State although I didn’t see any badger but I did see a lot of cows so I guess America’s Dairy Land wins out on the nick name contest.
Another quick trip but really fun. Got in Friday afternoon to Madison and was able to get out for a spin with Laurel before the afternoon light faded. (You know you travel a lot when you realize that you have stayed in the same Madison Hampton in a few times before, hey it feels like home!) Props to promoter who hold afternoon pro race start times, I’ve been pretty pumped with the later race times these past few weekends, its been really nice to wake up and get in a good breakfast and morning spin and then heading to the venue. I’ve started traveling with my big suitcase! Traditionally I’ve been a minimalist packer but my goal this season is to not be cold at the races! So far so good but the weekend weather has been such that feeding during the races has been allowed, details, details…
Both days Waterloo, WI held dry, dusty courses surrounding the Trek factory. Very fun course with a lot of turns, some barriers, some steep up’s, and some steep down’s. With my riding style and the course conditions (and the help of James) I decided to run the MXP Clement tires.
I had fairly good starts both days but I’ve found myself either a little too tentative at the start or way too excited and make little mistakes. Both days I was just behind making the lead group and with the dry course conditions and windy weather being in a group was definitely a necessity so it was a bit frustrating but having placed 8th both days I cant complain too much (but I might just a little)!
A notable lessoned from Wisconsin: Make such you get it down right in practice. Sunday’s course was held just a few course change ups including a very short, steep, down and up section. I thought I was good to go after a lap or two of pre-riding but race time proved otherwise. I’m not sure what the deal was but every time I hit that section I came in wrong and suddenly my speed and balance was all off. This turned into a very awkward dismount half run situation which did not go unnoticed. Spectators saw the struggle (every lap) and it must have look bad because they didn’t even bother to heckle, it was more like a sympathetic, “ehhh you have to do that better, you are loosing a ton of time…” Apart from this mistake I felt like I rode very well Sunday, I rode good lines, and rode aggressively but I think most of my good race could be contributing to jamming out with Laurel to a Pop music sesh during our pre-race packing so incase you are looking for secret racing tips, Taylor Swift and Meghan Trainor are the ticket.
Tuesday, September 15, 2014 – Boulder Cup
Holy Smokes it was cold Thursday and Friday in Boulder CO! Caroline’s car read in Celsius so 2 degrees makes it sound way more hardcore but 35 degrees Fahrenheit feels like 2 degrees when you are flying from Las Vegas! The local Colorado crew tried to – my concern saying Colorado weather is crazy. They were definitely right, for the race Saturday and Sunday the weather was in the 80’s but that didn’t make Fridays ride warmer and I may have been riding around wearing our mechanics winter weather apparel…
First off Colorado is beautiful! Big skies that run into rugged mountains, valleys and, a novelty for an East coaster like myself, prairie dogs. As a team we stayed in Longmont, which is much smaller then Boulder but a really cool town. If you ever end up there I recommend breakfast at Lucile’s Creole Café, yup delicious. The first race of the weekend was Saturday afternoon at the Boulder Reservoir. The course was really fun; it incorporated the sand on the shore of the reservoir that was a prefect addition. I was thankful for all the cheers from the sideline and especially for the technical advice from Michael Robson. I am learning not to death grip the bars when I’m not on East coast mud and dirt, the sand and gravel plus the high elevation makes CO racing a definite challenge for me but I had a great time and learned a lot. I ended up 12th having had a broken buckle on my shoe and a pit exchange from a flat.
Saturday night Chloe Woodruff hosted a dinner at her parent’s house so Dan gave me a ride from the race venue. It was great to great everyone together for a bit. The crew consisted of: Dan and Nicole and their two little ones, Ed (Dan’s dad), Michelle Khare and Sarah Lukas (the Ride Like Amy D. squad), Mical Dyck Chloe’s Stans NoTubes teammate, Chloe’s mom and Shannon Chloe’s sister, as well as Nicole’s brother John and his girlfriend Alicia, and lastly Chloe’s dog Mija. It was a good time and nice to be able to spend some relaxed moments together.
Sunday’s course was familiar to me being held at Valmont Park, last years ‘cross nationals venue. I was feeling a bit nervous about the steep downhill portion of the course with the remembrance of crashing pretty hard on my head there last year. This year though I was feeling much better with a good bike set up combined with watching Nicole Duke and Ben Berden’s lines down the track, that definitely gave me confidence. Nicole Novembre and Dan Dombroski delivered a pre-race gift, a set of Paul McCarthy’s Cross Propz to take home with me for barrier practice. Pretty handy design, I’m excited to put them to work, thanks Paul. After final warm-ups it was time to line up. I was looking around at one the start line, here I am behind Katie Compton and next to Georgia Gould, it was a bit unreal and pretty freaking cool! At the start I decided I was going to go out much harder then I did at Vegas and the Boulder Reservoir. I was frustrated because I was trying not to blow myself up but I kept getting behind a few crashed as well as general lap traffic so today I decided to pick up some speed. Maybe too much speed..I ended up having to slow way down mid-race as I looked for a few more O2 molecules floating around in the Colorado air but fortunately I was able to pick up the pace once more to finish 11th for the C1 day. Again, more good practice on loose gravely course. Unfortunately I spent about two and a half hours at doping control, hot race day plus altitude equals a long time waiting at doping control. Hopefully that will be the last of my random test selections! By the time I walked by to the team area most teams were already gone. But not Katie Compton and Georgia Gould’s bread bake-off! Yes it was good!
Monday morning it was back on the plane headed home. Feeww what a trip! I am so happy to be a part of the Amy D. Foundation as well as the Raleigh Clement team. So many thanks to my awesome teammates on Raleigh and the mechanics and of course team manager Donn Kellogg! Also Dan and Nicole are pretty amazing people. With two small kids and full time jobs, they are also putting together not only a race program for me but also all the other workings of the foundation. The whole time I was around the Dombroski family I never saw them stop moving. Incredible. Thanks so much for the opportunity.
Friday, September 12, 2014 – Interbike
Sensory overload! Even with only being at Interbike Thursday morning to mid-afternoon I was completely overwhelmed! There are just so many companies some that I’ve never hear of before, each with so much product, displays, and people. I was thankful to have enough time to walk around with Dan Dombroski and have the opportunity to meet and say thank you to the many people who have given a lot to make the Amy D. Racing program happen. Just to name a few (but definitely not all, just those I was able to see at the expo).
I was able to stop by and learn learned from Tim Kelley about the history of K-Edge (Kristin Armstrong’s edge, who knew!) and now am running a K-Edge chain catch as well as a sweet blue iodized Garmin mount (Thanks Jason for installing that for me).
Lazer Helmet’s has been doing big things not only for the foundation but also for women’s cycling in general. Remember that equal payout we received at Cross Vegas? Yup Lazer made that happen, thanks guys! Lazer is also is creating a special Amy D. helment and is donating a portion of the proceeds to the Amy D. Foundation. I am excited to see the finished product, what a generous gift from Lazer. It was so great to meet Chris Smith who is connecting the Amy D. Foundation and Lazer!
Dave McElwaine is one of the top race photographer in the US, I’m sure you’ve seen more than one of his photos before. Each year Dave chooses a small team to highlight with his photos and has graciously chosen me. This is really great for giving media for the Foundation and who doesn’t love race photos?
Prologo, very Italian! Nice to meet the crew and rock Prologo saddles this year.
Wednesday night before the race Castelli took some pretty funny photos of all the racers in Castelli kits (hint- the theme was Hawaiian beach) check ‘em out on Castelli’s Instagram. I really like my Castelli Sanremo Speedsuit, its very different and super comfortable. It has a full zipper down the front with pockets on the back but is a skin suit. Cool stuff.
Of course meeting the Raleigh guys was great and well as the Clement crew. Man there are so many more people who are apart of the Amy D. Foundation I definitely haven’t mentioned the everyone just a few of the folks I was able to see at Inter-Bike.
Thursday, September 11, 2014 – Cross Vegas
Wow, what a whirlwind of a trip! Tuesday afternoon I got on a plane for Las Vegas, NV and now Thursday afternoon I am on a plane to Denver, CO. Within those three days I have raced my first UCI C1 Cyclocross race of the season, met more people than I can count, had the opportunity to invite my aunt and uncle to see their first professional bike race, met and got to know the Raleigh Clement Team, had my first Interbike experience, and so much more.
I have to say that I am completely overwhelmed by the incredible amount of encouragement, support, cheers, well wishes, offers of help, and an overall element of passion for the Amy D. Racing program and my racing this week. For me as a racer and I am so inspired and excited for this season. As I am learning to get a handle on social media I have received so many nice note and “tweets” and shout-outs. I just cant believe how blessed I am to be able to be apart of the Amy D. Foundation.
Tuesday was quite a long day, starting out with some good workouts at home and then some quick packing for the trip. My awesome roommate Reid Beloni took his lunch break, working as a coach for CTS, to give me a ride to the airport. Thanks Reid! Made the cross-country flight with no problems and met up with the team for dinner.
Wednesday was pretty exciting as we all got our new bikes for the season, pretty sweet Raleigh RXC Pro ‘cross bikes with Di2 and disk breaks, yup I love them! We did some hot laps or maybe temperate laps, if you ask Michael Robson, on the Vegas course to dial them in a bit. FYI the desert is hot But it was the dryness was a welcomed element after coming from the North Carolina. I quickly began to learn that all the riders on the Raleigh Clement team are really, really fast and accomplished riders. I’m super fortunate to pre-ride with these guys and see their line choices and bike handling and apart from that they are super nice people.
Race time started at 8:20pm it definitely gave time for spectators to find the venue because there was a ton of people there. What an awesome atmosphere! I felt good at the start and was able to keep a position in the top quarter of the field. Unfortunately I did get caught behind a crash; I didn’t go down but had to come to a stop. The course was great, including: barriers, fly-overs, drafting sections, twists and turns, and steep climbs. I have a lot that I can improve on but ended up 9th just missing 8th place after making an attack halfway into the last lap. I did get in a sweet sideways drift across a short concrete sideway section, ooops (definitely slowed it down a bit on that section for the remain laps). We watched the guy’s race and finished the night with a 1 am dinner at Denny’s.
I cant think of a better way to start the season!
Friday, September 5, 2014
Getting ready for the upcoming cyclocross season with some nice long rides on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I’m always taken back by how beautiful the world can be, looking across the mountain range, the changing shades of blue mountains look like waves in the ocean. It’s a pretty awesome way to train for the season.
I’m also loving my new Lazer glasses and helmet. Just got a package in with some really nice Lazer items, packed by my old teammate Jack. Thanks Jack, you rock!! I was so excited with how comfortable the Lazer Z1 helmet fit as well as the sweet color pattern! I always get a little nervous wondering how the glasses look on me or if the helmet fits ok but everything looks and fits great!
We are getting close to Cross Vegas and the start of cyclocross season. Ready to make the trip from the temperate rainforest on the East Coast to the dry desert of the West Coast. I can’t wait!
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
I couldn’t help but to feel a little silly with such a huge smile on my face as I sat alone on my porch steps dreaming about the upcoming cyclocross season. I had just hung up the phone with Nicole Novembre and Dan Dombroski and learned that I was selected be a part of the Amy D. Racing Program.
I am so incredibly happy and excited for this upcoming cross season being a part of the Amy D. Foundation. The Amy D. Foundation is such a wonderful tribute to Amy Dombroski, giving back through the sport of cycling.
My background in cycling is includes road, mountain, and cyclocross racing. I have been fortunate to race collegiately, from which, I was really able to work on the skills and fitness for each of these disciplines. I have won individual national titles for collegiate cross-country mountain bike, short track, downhill, and cyclocross as well as being part of a winning collegiate team relay for cyclocross and mountain bike and team titles for collegiate three times cyclocross and two times mountain bike.
My personal racing goals for this season are to continue to get stronger and better results as well as work on better bike handling skills. I’m excited to be an active part in the Amy D. Foundation. I also hope the Caroline Mani will teach me a few words of French over the season!
Looking forward to CYCLOCROSS!