Saturday, June 17, 2017
Race: Grandview Grand Prix - PA State Championship Crit
Location: Lancaster, PA
Rider(s): Shaina Kravitz, Deborah Leedale-Brown,Allie McCabe, Emily Underwood
This year's edition of the PA State Championship Crit was a whole lot different than the previous year. Almost as hot, with temps about reaching 90 along with the chance of storms all day, the field was even hotter. We were surprised that a number of fierce riders stayed local rather than traveling to the Midwest for over a full week of racing. However, one thing did remain the same and that was to get Deborah to keep the PA State title for another season.
Much like the weekend before, the mile-long course was a technical multi-cornered affair through a picturesque suburban neighborhood. The idea again was to start fast, string it out and make it safe through the turns. This time things did pick up right off the line. With a small rise after the first corner and a false flat going into the final sweeping turn, it was easy to fatigue if you didn't follow a strong wheel. By the second lap we had already shed some riders.
The first attack came shortly after but was brought back quickly. Working their magic at the front, Emily and Deborah kept putting in great efforts to make the group work. The first preme lap came about halfway through the 20 lap race, after which I put in a dig to see if anything would happen. I settled in for a few laps to control the front, keeping it steady and watching for any moves. The group mainly stayed together.
With 3 laps to go, I made one more move after the final preme. No one followed immediately, but after the first few turns the pack reconnected. I sat at the front to keep the pace high and get Emily and Deborah set up for the sprint. The group surged around me early, even before we rounded the final corner, and it was a scramble to find the right position for the long downhill finish. Deborah contested the sprint to cross the line 5th (4th for PA) while Emily and I rolled in after our work was done. (Unaware that they were scoring Cat 3 riders separately, I casually crossed the line 3rd.)
Although this was not the end we hoped for, it was quite an accomplishment given the number of talented racers in the mix. We knew it wouldn't be an easy day and Deborah did an amazing job at the end. A huge thank you to Emily for traveling all the way to PA to help us vie for the title. I'm always inspired by the of amount of teamwork brought to each race, and consistently appreciate all of the help and support as I figure out my strengths and shake out the nerves. Even if things didn't go to plan, we walked away with more valuable experience and new ideas on how to execute as a team in races to come. Till next time!
Deborah Leedale-Brown- 5th
Shaina Kravitz - 12th
Emily Underwood -13th
Allie McCabe - DNF
Race: Oldmans Township Individual Time Trial
Date: June 17, 2017
Location: Pedricktown NJ
Riders: Cheryl, Doreen, Danielle, Sarah H.
A rainy morning didn't dampen the fun of the Oldmans Township TT in Pedricktown, NJ. All riders warmed up in good spirits making the best out of the cloud burst that seemed to begin just as we got on our bikes. Luckily, the rain was tapering off as our ride times came closer. First off for our team was Doreen in the non TT. Danielle and Sarah started off next in the TT cat 4/5 and Cheryl was the last for us to set off in the Open Women. All riders noticed a steady headwind for the first few miles of the 8.5 mile circuit. Time Trials can be difficult to report from. It's really about being in your own head and going as hard as you can for the duration of the miles specified and that's a totally different experience for everyone. As a racer who is new to road racing, I wasn't sure how my mind and body was going to respond to the demands of a time trial. I have to say- I love every second of it. We ended the day with two podiums, Cheryl 2nd for the very competitive Open Women TT and myself in 2nd for the Women 4/5 TT. This was my first podium and I was super stoked to have my teammates there to cheer me on!
Open Women TT: Cheryl 2nd
Women Cat 4/5 Non TT: Doreen 5th
Women Cat 4/5 TT: Sarah 2nd, Danielle 6th
Race: Masters & Rookies Track Races, Track
Date: June 17, 2017
Location: Trexlertown, PA
Rider(s): Jo Johnson
A few sprinkles of rain did not dampen the races. A small field of women started the first race, an elimination race. The 3 youngsters took off right away and I was not really into it yet so out I came. Then a change in plans as the other women decided to race with the Cat 4 men. I was asked to go along as well. This will be a new experience. The next race with the men was a Miss & Out. Same result for me as before as I was not quite ready for the faster pace right away. Now for the 3rd race of the day, a 10 lap Tempo Points with the winner of each lap gaining points. This time I would push the pace up in front for a few laps then drop to the back and get back into the group. This was good practice and alot of fun. Finished in the group. According to the rules, I qualified for the B Feature which was a 18 lap Scratch Race, winner take all. I tried a different tactic to practice so I went out front chasing one of the gals and a fellow came with me. We traded half laps for about 4 laps before the main group was almost on us. I went up track just before the group caught us and got back in the group, went around then up track and came back to the group again. Then finally caught the middle of the pack to come across the line. Valuable experience gained this day.
Result: 4th Omnium
Race: Historic Riverton
Date: June 11th
Location: Riverton, NJ
Riders: Deborah Leedale-Brown, Emily Underwood, Shaina Kravitz, Emily Smith, Gabby Longchamp
The heat was turned up for this excellent race in more ways than one! 95deg on the start line and a very strong field of nearly 30 riders to take on the technical 7 corner crit. Our plan for this race was to keep the pace high from the gun to try and make the race string out and safe through the turns. a few attacks were initiated but quickly brought back. A couple of crashes happened within the race but thankfully we all remained unscathed as we headed into the latter half of the race. Shaina's role was to get on the front of the race and drive the pace, she did this admirably allowing Emily Underwood and myself to keep our legs in check for the what was inevitably going to be a bunch sprint. With two laps to go Shaina was no longer on the front and Emily and myself perhaps missed out opportunity to gain control, but at the same time we were perfectly situated on the wheels of riders we knew were going to make some moves. Initially it was our plan A for me to lead out Emily but we quickly acted out plan B in the final lap as the longer sprint finish suited my legs. My positioning was a little off coming out the final corner as I hesitated a little getting safely through then latched onto Emily's wheel and came around her to secure 3rd, Emily was right there protecting my wheel and got 4th. Shaina, despite her 6 or so lap pull at the front still had legs to finish 12th. Some mistakes were made made by us upon reflection and we had a debrief to chat through things so we can ensure our future races yield our best team effort. Once again what is important is that our podium was only possible because our team rides TOGETHER for EACH OTHER.
3rd Deborah Leedale-Brown
4th Emily Underwood
12th Shaina Kravitz
DNF Emily Smith, Gabby Longchamp
Race: Historic Riverton
Date: June 10, 2017
Race: Bob Riccio Memorial Tour de Pitman
Location: Pitman, NJ
Racers: Emily Smith, Sarah Hauze, Doreen Bridgman, & Danielle Ferland
Doreen – 18th
The course was a closed course with a length of about 3 miles, 4 corners with a chicane in the back section. It also featured a short but punchy hill after the first corner, followed by a false flat on the back stretch, turned down hill before the final corner, and a wide flat section into the start/finish. Racers Emily, Sarah, Doreen, and Danielle were able to take a practice lap around the course before racing and try to devise a game plan. The race itself was open to category 3, 4, and 5 women racers, leaving everyone a bit unsure of how the race would play out.
No extra layers were finally needed and nearly 30 women came out to one of the nicest days of weather for racing so far this season. The race started at a moderate pace as everyone settled into seeing just how much of a punch the hill would give. Emily was on the defensive in the front and helped reel back a few break attempts made while Sarah, Doreen, and Danielle worked to support each other for positions. The field mainly stayed together until the last lap where a charge up the hill, one final time, strung out the field a bit more. The pace remained high through the back section, down the hill, and into the final corner. Being able to work for each other, Emily helped Danielle gain a podium spot and Sarah making top 10 for the cat 4/5’s by leading a charge with 200m to go. Overall, it was a great day of racing and the 4/5’s gained a great deal of experience being able to race with the 3’s.
Cat 3 Women:
Emily – 8th
Cat 4/5 Women:
Danielle – 2nd
Sarah H – 8th
Doreen – 18th
Race: Masters & Rookies Races, Track
Date: June 10, 2017
Location: Trexlertown, PA
Rider(s): Jo Johnson
Races today were part of the Pennsylvania BAR series which resulted in many more riders throughout the categories. First race for the women was a 9 lap scratch race with winner taking all. I had a good start, worked in and around the group to position myself for a late charge. With 2 laps remaining, I was just behind theleader when she pulled off. Now with an extra lap I could only give it a great effort to stay in front. Pulling off at this point would not be good. Stayed on it but on the last lap my effort was covered as the fastest women came around. Finish place was 5th. Next race a 6 lap point a lap to the winner. I knew this would be quick. It was. I went for it in the front end and ended up with tired legs on the back end of the race. Managed another 5th place. With the wind now increasing intensity and the flags straight out on the bridge this last race would be fast and very tough. The 6 lap sprint every 2 laps was a straight line of riders strung out all around the track so in the end it was just a sprint for 6 laps. Again i ended up 5th and gathered a point. I also managed to gather 3 Omnium points for the day. That is a new result for me.
Result: 9 lap scratch: 5th
6 lap point a lap: 5th
6 lap sprint every 2 laps; 5th
Omnium points: 3, 5th
Race: Nutmeg Criterium/CT State Crit Championships
Date: June 4th, 2017
Riders: Emily Undderwood and Alexa Gubinski
On Sunday, June 4th, Emily Underwood and Alexa Gubinski persevered against a 5 pm race time, a pretty ominous weather forecast and a rather anaemic (in number of racers, not quality!) start list… to crown Emily (who recently relocated to Norwalk, CT) the 2017 Connecticut State Criterium Champion at the Nutmeg Games!! Here’s how it played out…
The field was definitely small, but we knew everyone could hold her own and that there were a number of talented sprinters in the mix. The plan was for Emily to save her watts as much as possible and for Alexa to cover moves and throw in an attack or two where appropriate. Despite the race promoter’s best efforts to talk us into a much shorter race on the start line, all the racers held firm and we were in for the full hour. (Yes, it was late, and heavily raining and 50 degrees, but we came to race for an hour and that’s what we were going to do!!)
We took a pretty calm first lap to get a feel for the slippery road and note the obstacles and turns (although as a dedicated bicycle park, it’s happily a pretty safe course) and Alexa quickly countered one attack to ride a solo lap with the goal of keeping the race sharp - we needed to ride fast to have any chance of staying warm! Emily countered when Alexa was caught and we all kept up a nice tempo for the rest of the race. Alexa covered most of the rest of the attacks and was super grateful for Emily’s shouted instructions during the race! We knew the course and conditions weren’t particularly conducive to anyone getting away, so Alexa was happy to ride the front at a decent clip for the last 5 laps or so with the goals of letting Emily stay protected, ride fast enough to discourage any attacks and keep the field strung out and safe in increasingly poor road conditions. At the last turn the group got ready to sprint, Alexa sat up and Emily followed wheels to snag an excellent third overall and first in Connecticut! Woohooo!! While we may have grumbled on the ride about the weather and start time, we were super thrilled that we stuck with it and came away with the championship.
Any many thanks to the New England Bicycle Racing Association who quickly stepped in to resolve out the situation with the prize money (background here, and resolution here: short story, the promoter cut the prize money at the line, which appears to be against USAC policy.) We feel lucky to race under NEBRA’s umbrella here in Connecticut and continue to appreciate their support of equality in men’s and women’s cycling.
Emily Underwood: 1st place STATE CHAMPION
Alexa Gubinski: 8th place
Race: Wilmington Whiteface 100k
Date: Saturday, June 3rd 2017
Riders: Teresa DiSessa-Johnson
There’s 67 miles and over six hours of racing to unpack, so I wanted to start by saying that the event staff made this a wonderful event from check-in to afterparty! On-course support was excellent as well. Every turn of the course was well-marshaled by police, firemen, race officials, and volunteers. Well-stocked rest stops with plenty of friendly volunteers came every 15 miles of the course. The event was so well run, I felt really valued and supported as a racer.
Now for the good stuff! I signed up for this event, which was billed as 69 mostly dirt and paved road miles with 9,000 feet of climbing, with no little trepidation. I'd been wanting to try an endurance mountain bike race for years, and with a fun squad of three teammates this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I found it helpful to study the course map on the event website, which included a cue sheet broken down into segments (ie, 4 miles of dirt road with 500 feet of elevation gain and 400 feet of elevation loss). An embedded media player even showed bar cam footage of each segment! Regardless, I knew I was in for a tough day of riding and the lack of first hand experience unnerved me.
So imagine my surprise and delight on race day when, after lining up with several hundred other racers at a beautiful ski resort, we covered the first five miles of the course in about 15 minutes! The start was paved and trended downhill, so I hopped from wheel to wheel, drafting at about 25mph. At mile 5 the pavement turned to dirt and the road tipped upwards. I knew pacing myself would be key, especially now that there were five fewer miles to spread all that climbing over, so I drifted back through easily 50-100 riders. I rode mostly alone for the next 15 miles, enjoying the beautiful, undulating, quiet back roads of the Adirondacks. The route was a not-quite out and back loop, so I started to see the front of the race coming towards me as I reached the 25 mile mark. Those riders were flying, in tight groups riding tactical races. I, on the other hand, was content to wave at the speedy racers I knew and chat with some of the friendly male racers riding with me, many who were returning to the event and had great insight on the coming miles.
Ironically, when we finally hit singletrack almost 30 miles into the race I felt frustrated, thinking “they must be crazy to make us race in the woods!” Fortunately I met up with team owner Teresa, who'd been riding about a minute ahead of me; I’d catch sight of her on the longer stretches, pedaling steadily away, despite injury and illness. We trudged through the woods together, happy for each other’s company. But once we emerged from the singletrack, I started to feel really good. I rode steadily up back-to-back dirt road climbs accompanied by a friendly gentleman from Massachusetts. Then I flew through miles 40-52, across smooth dirt roads, down a harrowing paved descent, through a gorge aside a raging river, in the sort of surreal flow state. My legs felt weightless, the sun and breeze felt good on my face, and I felt so happy and alive.
I caught sight of teammate Jessie, and perhaps the funniest moment of the day came when I put in a big effort to catch her, only to have her cruise past me while I botched an aid station refuel by spilling water all over myself and my camelback. I got my life together and put in another big dig, energized since I recognized I was approaching the same roads we'd started on. But the mileage didn't quite add up - it made more sense when I was directed off the main course down a side road. As at the other turnaround, faster racers who had completed the upcoming singletrack loop rode towards me. I got pretty excited as some of them were talking about finishing in under six hours-I was only about 20 minutes behind them, meaning I'd finish well under my goal of 7 hours.
I was directed into another singletrack segment and, to be honest, well, I started to cry. Sobbed, really. About three weeks ago a guy I knew from collegiate cycling was killed while riding his bike to work. He left behind a wife and barely one-year-old daughter. He was a sweet, goofy soul who loved mountain biking. The unfairness and sadness of this loss had been weighing on me for weeks, and I had vowed to dedicate this race to Nate’s memory. As I sailed through fun, swoopy, bermed red clay trail, I thought that Nate would never again feel the sweet, cool air as he sped under a green canopy of trees. He'd never get to share another mountain bike ride with his wife Jak, or watch their daughter graduate from strider bike to two-wheeler. I said what I guess amounted to a prayer for Nate and his family, and promised I wouldn't take a single pedalstroke or second with my loved ones for granted.
By the time I emerged at the other end of the trail, my heart and my legs felt wrung out. I continued up the road to the last six miles of the course. Fortunately, the other racers had prepared me, so I wasn't surprised when I was directed right at the final corner, when a left turn would have taken me back to the start line in minutes. I had about 2.5 miles and 400-500 feet of climbing to go. Unfortunately, I thought I had about 4.5 miles and 1000 feet of climbing left. I knew we had to go “up and over the mountain” to the finish; I had been thinking we would very literally crest the peak. When the road pitched up after about 2.5km of climbing, with the mountaintop looking far overhead, I hopped off my bike to walk, as I'd been doing anytime my speed dropped below 3.5mph. “Sorry, Nate, I'm hella tired,” I thought to myself. A large group rode slowly past me. I didn't realize this had been the last climb of the day and I now had to enter the last bit of rooty singletrack behind 10 exhausted racers. It didn't matter much, because as I exited the dark woods I was just so happy to see the finishing arch and hear our fantastic team support system cheering at the end!
All told, I crossed the line in 6:22:13, with a moving time of 6:12. I was proud of myself for finishing, grateful for the support of my teammates, and honored to dedicate my ride to Nate’s memory.
Race: Somerville Tour de Fish
Date: June 4th
Location: Somerdale, NJ
Riders: Deborah Leedale-Brown
It was a small field for this Women's Open Masters State Crit and unfortunately our team didn't have riders available to contest this as we were already racing across NY/PA/CT. As it was local and NJ I wanted to support the race. It was a great eight corner course and with such a small field it was my intention to keep the pace higher and enjoy the corners. The race was 45mins duration with 3 preme laps. A few attacks occurred on the finish straight but nothing stuck so it ended up being a bunch sprint. I felt strong the whole race and so started my sprint a long way out and crossed the line with daylight.
Results: Deborah Leedale Brown 1st
Race: Watermelon Crit
Date:June 3, 2017
Location: Piscataway, NJ
Riders: Danielle F. and Sarah H.
Even though the forecast called for clear skies, riders in the Watermelon Crit woke up to a rainy dreary morning. Luckily, as time neared for Danielle and Sarah to head to the start the skies cleared and the sun began to shine. From the start, it was apparent the small group of Cat 4/5 riders were all very strong and ready for a fast race. The course is short with 3 turns and a small incline in to the final turn. A few attempts were made to attack but the rest of the pack was soon to follow. It was going to be very hard to get away from this group! With only a few laps to go, the pace increased drastically and a few riders were stuck behind a gap that was forming. Sarah hung in to contend for the final sprint taking 4th place and just missing the podium. Post race all riders could agree on one thing: this race was a blast!
Results: Sarah 4th