Written by Deborah Leedale-Brown
Winter can be lonely months for training, and so that is why each month, this dedicated team of women racers look to ride together. Both for camaraderie and to get to know each other's riding styles and strengths in readiness for race season. Last Sunday was our November ride date, the temps were certainly chilly and it was significantly windy but after our team owner Teresa checked her 10 weather apps (only joking she just checked 4) we all headed out for a 40 mile loop. Only missing a couple of our team mates due to the Thanksgiving holiday weekend we had a nice size pace-line all sporting our new Vice Pink Bontrager helmets. The group was a mix of all our category riders and the aim of the ride was to keep it together and work on some skill development with our newbies. It was a a solid winter pace and everyone did their share of work based upon their skill level and fitness.
A great end to the Thanksgiving weekend, to ride together, take some cool photo's on our new Trek Bikes and eat some fabulous home-made Lentil soup and pulled pork (made by Teresa's fair hands) after the ride.
How lucky do I feel to be part of this amazing team!
Race: Race the Ridge
Date: November 4th 2017
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Rider: Jessica Kutz and her partner in the race Michael
Results: 1st place co-ed team
After racing the Buff Betty in September, I got in my head that I wanted to tackle a bigger adventure race. It’s a fun way to stay in shape for mountain bike season and a great outlet from work in the Fall. In my opinion, there is no better time to be outside. Something about the smell of leaves and cool temperatures warms my soul! I knew Race the Ridge, which was a 15 hour adventure race requiring elite level navigation, was not a race I could do alone (remember my team name for the Buff Betty race was “Directionally Challenged.”) Lucky for me I was able to talk my two adventure racing buddies, Michael and Barry, into racing. This adventure race was only mountain biking and trekking/running, which is helpful for me because I’m crap in the boat. I watched the forecast all week leading up to the event and came to the conclusion it would rain a little bit in the afternoon, no big deal. Whelp, as per usual the weather man (or woman) threw me for a loop. Instead we got rain the majority of the day!
The race kicked off at 6am sharp (we were almost late for the start!). After a short prologue run we jumped on the bikes, riding trails at the Blue Ridge School via lights. The Blue Ridge School is a private all boys boarding school outside of Charlottesville, VA and they have an amazing trail network that they open up to the public (THANK YOU!) The temperature was reasonable and the weather at the time was dry. We rode a big climb to a trail called “Moonshine”. I was warned this trail may or may not be the best downhill on the east coast! The race was perfectly timed so that we were hitting the peak of the ridge at sunrise and riding the sweet, flowing trails of Moonshine by the first mornings light!
Michael's navigation was on point the whole race. We quickly hurried through the early check points, holding the lead for all teams. We had a grueling 8 mile climb to the highest privately owned peak in VA, Flattop mountain. On the way up the mountain we had a checkpoint in a winery….no wine though! The weather started going south while we were on a trekking section at the top of the mountain. The next thing I knew I had all my clothes on (including my rain shell) and I was struggling to stay warm. It was going to be a long day. The race seemed to chug along, lots of riding…little bits of trekking, all the while getting more and more cold (we were already soaked at this point).
Moral was lifted when we got to some special private mountain bike trails not generally open to the public. Thank you to the owners of Blue Ridge Cyclery for opening up the trails on their home properties for us to ride! Just after finishing these sweet trails, mother nature opened her soul and we were getting poured on. We made it to a check point at a cabin that had volunteers where our team gathered ourselves as the weather worsened. At this point in the race I was graced with a Honey Stinger Waffle, a sip o’ beer and a trash bag for added warmth! Those three items are probably the reason I was able to finish the race! After a foot trekking session, we were headed back to the Blue Ridge School. At this point we had been racing for 12 hours; I was cold and couldn’t feel my hands and I could feel myself emotionally losing it. I rode ahead of the guys on my team and had a few minutes to myself to generate some extra body heat while pedaling hard and to get myself together. I wasn’t going to freeze, I was just really cold…time to move faster.
When we got back to the school head lamps were on and we were out for the final trekking session. We struggled finding a few of these checkpoints. Probably a combination of it being 13 hours into the race, cold/dark and pouring rain. We were getting pummeled with rain and before I knew it we were concerned about not making it back by the 9pm cuff off. We quickly shuffled our way back to the finish with 10 minutes to spare.
This is the first time we’ve not cleared a course (acquiring all the checkpoints), but given the weather we were pretty pleased with our performance as a team. We snagged the overall win for the co-ed team division and were the 3rd place finishers out of everyone. Another adventure race in the books and some solid mental training! Thank you Adventure Addicts Racing for another great event!
Wowee Shaina Kravitz is a busy busy girl this time of the year!! Shaina competed very successfully in TWO CycloCross races this weekend both of which were apart of the Brewery Cup CX Series!! Check out Shaina's thougths below on her exciting weekend of racing!!
Race: Swashbuckler Cross PACX Series & Brewery Cup Series Race #1
Date: November 4th, 2017
Location: Manheim, PA 17545-8711
Rider: Shaina Kravitz
Survived! Rolled in 2nd after leading most of the race. The course had varied terrain- pavement, grass, gravel, sand- and a lot of sneaky elevation. (And it’s through the Ren Faire!) My goal was to stay on the bike as much as possible to avoid stress on my leg. I was able to do that a majority of the race following messy first lap traffic. One of the last times over the barriers, I clipped a pedal after remounting and felt a twinge that never let up. I wasn’t able to match my friend and fellow rider’s power through the sand and let a gap open. Hitting a lapped rider and a small bobble in a rock sealed the deal and I fell 13 seconds off after over 50 minutes of racing. Think they miscalculated the laps. (Poor 3/4/5 ladies raced for an hour.) Not feeling as healed as I’d like to, but not disappointed with my first race back in a few weeks. Will play the next races by ear and listen to my body first.
Race: STOUDTS CROSS PACX Series Race & The Brewery Cup Series Race #2
Date: 5 November, 2017
Location: Adamstown, PA
Rider Shaina Kravitz
Another 2nd for the weekend and finally a proper muddy race! The rain overnight made the course perfectly wet and tacky, but not too slick. The course essentially runs up and down a hillside with some single track through surrounding woods with one set of barriers, stairs, two small logs and a rideable ledge. Despite the conditions, the course raced fast, even the off camber descents. Rode a clean race sitting in 2nd most of the time. No problems pedaling, but still having issues with transitions, off the bike, and will take the next few weeks day by day. If not racing, I will definitely be spectating, enjoying beer and cheering everyone on.(didn’t get my own pics, but grabbed some ig screenshot from friends)
2018 Road and Mountain Bike Team. Top Row L to R: Erin Healy, Alli McCabe, Sara Iepson, Beth Bonilla, Amanda Rinderer, Diane Elmore, Mckensie Walker, Jo Johnson, Cheryl Clark, Deborah Leedale-Brown, Shaina Kravitz Bottom Row L to R: Serena DeFelice, Katrine waterman, Sarah Hauze, Danielle Ferland, Andy Maher, Owners Teresa DiSessa and Jeff Johnson, Taylor Armstrong, Emily Underwood. (Not picture: Manger Bobbie Mach, Jessica Kutz, Meredith Ehn)
This is my first year as a rider on the Riptide-Cawes Team EPS/M3 p/b Brielle Cyclery, and the kick off meeting was incredible! It is clear that Teresa and Jeff care a lot about each woman on the team. They spent a lot of time organizing for a day packed with information. The meeting was at Brielle Cyclery (best bike shop in the land if you haven't heard already!). We were able to meet most of the women on the team, and were also introduced to some of our amazing sponsors, including Toni from EPS Corporation who has been with the team as a sponsor since the start in 2005, Mary Mease from Ocean Gate Yacht Basin as well as Dr. Majeski from Main Street Foot and ankle.
Next up, we met with Castelli clothing representative Phil Penman, and were able to try on samples for our kits. It will be difficult to choose which pieces to buy because there are so many incredible options, many of which are also worn by team Sky. A sample design of our kits was also revealed - they are going to be so awesome!
Next up, Steve Hawkins from Powertap/CycleOps/Saris gave a presentation on pedals and power trainers available to us, and I'm glad he did - it can be hard to navigate all the pedals and power trainers available on the market. It's good to know that the Powertap products are what DC Rainmaker compares other new products to, so the standard is obviously set.
Team group pictures was next up on the schedule. We are a great looking group! No we didn't plan the black Tee shirt and jeans, we are all just that connected. hehe
Right before lunch which was provided by Teresa's family place Bruno's in Neptune City we received our helmets, sunglasses and any other products we had ordered. This was pretty exciting - it felt a little like Christmas. Then (almost) all of the amazing bikes that had been ordered from Trek by teammates were revealed. Talk about some serious bikes. Teresa also received a new bike, which was a complete surprise to her, and it is a beauty!
After all this excitement, it was down to business talking about contracts (read it, follow it!), team ride dates, and racing for next season.
It was a lot of information to take in all in one day, but, fortunately all the documents and links are available to us online.
I am grateful to be a part of this amazing team with incredible sponsors and team owners that make it all happen!
Thank you again to Brielle Cyclery and their crew for hosting us, building all the team bikes in time for our meeting, and for treating us like family. We are truly lucky to have such an amazing shop who supports women cycling. Thank you, James Erb for all you do to make sure our team is on the best equipment possible.
Thank you to our sponsors. We couldn't be where we are or go as far as we do without the awesome support from all our sponsors and their commitment to women's cycling.
Thank you for believing in us and providing the resources to do what we love!
Thank you to Toni Musorrafiti from EPS Corporation and "Moose", Meg Moore "Goat", Greg Wright from John B Wright Insurance, Mary Mease from Ocean gate Yacht Basin, Dr. Majeski from Main Street Foot and ankle, Bruce Robinson from Miles Ahead Sports, Dr Dana Fallon from Dana Fallon Studio For Cosmetic Dentistry, and Sara Iepson "Flying Pig"!!
Two different riders with two very different experiences at the same race!!! Check out what Shaina Kravitz and Amanda Rinderer thought about the 6th Annual Cooper River CX race last weekend!!
Shaina Kravitz's reacap of the day!!!
"4th today. I wasn’t aggressive enough at the start and had to work too much to drop the group of four I got stuck in. We got gapped off the front group by lap 2. It’s a power course, wide turns with a lot of flow, so lots of pedaling. It was drizzly early in the day, so it was finally tacky, not dusty and dry. Felt good, could have put more power down, but wanted to stay upright and keep from cramping again. It’s still too hot for cross!"
2018 teammate Amanda Rinderer's thoughts on the day...
To finish off 2017 I got my butt handed to me at Cooper River. Low power, low stamina = 16th out of 24. I was tired and sloppy on the few obstacles they had and not enough power on the straight a-ways to pass other riders after the second lap. I was also anxious at the start and took time to settle in. Still, it was a good time. And I didn’t fall or face plant! Looking forward to being strong again!
Results: Shaina Kravitz - 1st
Town Hall Cross kicked off the 2017-18 PACX series and my first race of the season. Conditions were hot and dry, and the notorious St. Luke's Staircase was back in all its blazing glory. The course winds its way through the woods and up a hillside before sending you flying back down and through multiple series of turns, single set of barriers and fast gravel and grass straightaways. I lined up with about a dozen fast ladies ready to start the local season. I took the hole-shot and never looked back. I opened a gap early and rode a conservative, clean race, trying to save as much energy as much as possible in the heat. I rode in for the win after thinking I had one more lap to go, which was a double win! Hats off to organizers and racers who suffered in the sun for a great early season race day.
Results: Shaina Kravitz - 3rd
Bridgeton Cross is back! As the first race of the NJCX series, this favorite was missing for a few years and recently returned. The course is extremely varied with lots of sandy, loamy turns, short kicker climbs, barriers, rideable log, beach run and this year featured a super steep, loose run up that had me grabbing onto the fencing each time. (Thankfully, the amphitheater weren't included in the course. The bane of short racers!) I didn't realize how much the previous day's race had taken out of me, because I had a slow start. I was sitting 6th wheel as the course shot up a short road climb with a sharp left into sandy double track. The run up was early in the lap and the group started to split at that point. I'd made up a few spots at that point, but lost them immediately when I couldn't easily engage my pedals (switched pedal system this year and not too sure about it yet). I gained one spot back before the first time through beach run. The next came after the barriers, and the final spot on a rocky climb by the third lap. I was focused on putting down as much power when possible and keep it controlled through turn after turn in the sand. I finished 3rd with no one around me. I was zapped again by the heat, especially drained from two nearly 90 degree race days. Here's to hoping we get more cross-like weather soon!
Results: Shaina Kravitz - 3rd
HippoCross was stop #2 on the NJCX schedule. The course was run in the opposite direction as the previous year, but most features remained the same. It was still a power course with lots of long, bumpy straights, a nice mid-course climb and a few false flat sections that really drained you legs. There was a set of barriers, but also a new flyover, stairs-to-ramp style, that everyone approached differently. Remount at the top, or run down and remount at the base? It would all come down to a race time decision. I lined up with the largest field yet, due in part to the super supportive promoters and sponsors who offered equal payout to the for the men's and women's elite fields. The day was much cooler with windy conditions and drizzle on the start line. I was too conservative due to the rain and a hard right turn through gravel, putting myself in a tough spot early. I found myself shouldering through the first few turns, latching onto the back of the front group. I burned a few matches in the process and had trouble settling in. It took a lap before I was able to start making passes as the riders in front of me began to fade. I made a big pass of three riders at the barriers. The rest of the race was a struggle. Constant bobbling, overcooking turns, difficultly navigating lapped rider traffic had me trapped, unable to make any gains. I rode in for 3rd, with the next riders pretty close behind. The beauty of racing is that there is always another race, another opportunity to try it again. (And I ran the flyover each time to save my poor seat rails!)
Results: Shaina Kravitz - 2nd
Caffeinated Cross is one of my favorite races on the NJCX calendar. It is a course that requires good handling skills (very mountain bike-y) with rideable steps, ride/run-up, logs and sand. It was another hot, dry day and my legs were not happy. I made an early foot-down mistake and lost my front position, letting the now lead rider get away. With too much of a warm-up and lots of dusty, loose single track, I started getting calf cramps by the second lap. I kept botching every feature and had a trouble turning the pedals. I was battling with another rider for two laps and was getting frustrated by my mistakes. Rather than admit defeat, I tried to stay patient and, importantly, to have fun, taking as many dollar bills (and a few hand-ups) as possible. I finished 2nd, and a few bucks richer!
Race: Buff Betty Adventure race
Date: Sept 9, 2017
Location: Shenandoah River State Park
Rider: Jessica Kutz
So every once in a while I deviate from the traditional cycling scene; specifically, I’ve taken a liking to adventure racing. On Sept 9 I participated in the Buff Betty, which is my 3rd ever adventure race (1st solo race). I was super excited for this event because it was a women’s only event, which isn’t that common for sports affiliated with the outdoor world. The race was hosted by Adventure Addicts Racing, the two previous races I had done were hosted by them, so I new I was in for a treat.
The challenge of racing solo had nothing to do with the “stages” of the race: mountain biking, trekking and paddling, but everything to do with the fact that I still don’t know how to use a compass (disclaimer: I was a girl scout. My mom was my troop leader. All I remember is how to sew pillows and start a fire.) I had with me a $3 compass, which proved useless the first time I “tried” to use it and it couldn’t settle on which way was north. In the defense of the compass, it had air bubbles (because it cost $3) so it wouldn’t function properly. No worries, I used my womanly intuition and read terrain features (that I do well, I’ve been lost MANY time on my mountain bike).
The day started off on foot and I was moving fast (strange because I’m not much of a runner…in my opinion). I found the first few check points REALLY fast and then came a bonus checkpoint. Bonuses checkpoints are in addition to the regular check points but tend to be harder to find (hence the need for navigational skills…and a working compass). Needless to say, while on the trek (run) portion I wasted 45 minutes between 2 different bonus checkpoints. Not my proudest moment (but hey, I didn’t get lost!). The next portion was on the bike I knew I could make up so of that lost time.
I actually ride my bike in the park that the race took place in (Andy Guest State Park) all the time. So I had a big confidence boost and a really solid plan of how to go about snagging checkpoints quickly and effectively. Oddly, I think I road those trails, and not on the trails, faster than I ever have out there. The bike portion was over and done with in just 1 hour without any mistakes and some pretty sweet short cuts through the woods (this is legal and encouraged in adventure racing).
Then I hit the paddle portion, the dreaded paddle portion. Don’t get me wrong, I like to paddle….when I can go slowly and listen to music. I don’t love paddling when I’m trying to go fast, look for little flags and trying not to flip my kayak when I get stuck on rocks and insist or rocking back and forth instead of simply wading through the water. The paddle is always mentally tough. I was really excited during this section because I was SURE I was going to clean the course (get all checkpoints and bonus check points) but then my enthusiasm took a turn for the worst. I paddled right past where the 2nd to last check point should have been, and I have eyes like a hawk and didn’t see it. I contemplated paddling back but I couldn’t justify that amount of work for 1 checkpoint. I paddled into the finish sort of excited (I was the first solo racer in; only a team of team experienced adventure racers came in before me) because I thought I missed a checkpoint. BUT THEN….more racers started coming in and EVERYONE was missing that checkpoint. Low and behold, some park user decided to take down the checkpoint flag (it was recused floating down the river). So technically I didn’t clear the course BUT I was given credit for clearing the course since there was no flag to find in about 4 hours (you were given 6 hours to finish). I’ll take it!.
At the end of the day, I had a blast being outside. These races are like a scavenger hunt for adults/ outdoor lovers. Honestly, I kept thinking how much FUN I was having during the race…that’s something special. I’ll wrap up my fall continuing to cross train with trail running and mountain biking and finally by competing in one more adventure race in Charlottesville VA (this one is 15 hours long!). I’m looking forward to working with our mountain bike contingent for the start of our spring season. Several long endurance races are in store for me this coming year!
Result: 1st place
Reading Radsport Hill Climb
A small but powerful field took off Friday night in the mist of the beer tent and music festivities starting to entertain the evening. I knew it was going to approximately 10 minutes of pain and suffering up Mount Penn, and I knew who to keep my eye on.
It was a quick, winding course, where drafting played a factor. I was torn between strategies, as I knew to work in my favor, I could not delay the effort to the final part of the course, but I also had to do my best to not have riders on my wheel. I went almost full gas from the bottom of the hill, glancing over my shoulder every now and then to see who was dropping off. There was 5 of us, and then 3 of us... when it was down to the 3 of us, I tried to keep the pace high, but knew it was going to be a sprint to the finish line. Emily Spence and her teammate rode extremely smartly, and knew they just had to hold my wheel to win the race. Emily had be beat at the line, and played the game smart, as I ended up in 2nd. It was a fun, short battle!
Josh Billings Runaground Triathlon
What a fun opportunity! I was invited to join forces with 3 powerful athletes (runner, and two paddlers). Did someone just invite me to ride a 27 mile hilly course at threshold in one of the most beautiful places in the country? Yes please!
My husband Ian jumped in and joined a team as their runner, and we made the road trip together up to the Berkshires. I was a bit nervous about the bike start, as there were 500 riders lined up for a mass start! I was lucky enough to have my host and starter of the race, Craig Walton, invite me to the front row. It was like I back at home, riding with the guys :) wondering if I can hold the strongest riders' wheels. Two riders got away about 8 miles into the course, and I missed the boat on attempting to work with them, and was about a minute 30 seconds back, with a group of about 15 riders. We worked together for the most part to keep the pace high and safe. It was rolling hills, but nothing long enough to attempt an effective 'breakaway.' My legs felt good and smooth, and was actually surprised when I uploaded my race file, to see a powerful file of strong work for a solid hour.
Gloria, one of my paddler teammates, was right there in the transition area to receive the wrist band hand off, and off went Laura and Gloria to paddle their way to Lori, our runner. We ended up 7th overall, including the male teams, and first overall female team, with what I believe was a new female course record! A great weekend spent with some new faces.
Race: Masters and Rookies/ Track
Date: September 9, 2017
Location: Trexlertown, PA
Rider: Jo Johnson
The last Saturday race day for the track season today. Sorry to see it all end but I think a short break would be nice too. The first race was a 12 lap scratch with winner take all. It would be a fast race with 14 riders. I went to the front from the start but did not want to stay there so went up track after the first lap, I worked within the group and as the group morphed in a few laps, I was in the back of a tight pack and I mean shoulder to shoulder. The pace was too comfortable so I moved myself up and over the group, charging from the back to lead and up the pace at lap 7 with 5 laps to go. Dangling at the front for about 2 laps, I was overtaken with about 3 laps to go but came in behind the group in 10th.
Next race was the Miss N Out which is usually very quick. The number of riders starting begins to change and I think we are less one rider now. Last rider across the line is dropped each lap until 3 riders are left to sprint it out for the win. The number of riders starting begins to change and I think we are less one rider now. Coach says to get to the front. Ok, so I jump into the lead from the start for 3 laps then stay in the group for the 4th lap but can not hold on for the 5th lap so I am dropped.
Last race of the season is the 10 lap Snowball. The winner of each lap gains one more point each lap. First lap is one point, second lap is 2 points etc. This continues until the last lap which is double points. My objective is to see if I can win lap one and gain one point. The neutral lap is a good positioning lap and I put myself in the first row on the bottom of the track. When the gun sounds, I take off at the same time Jenna, a 16 year old, takes off from the top of the track. I jump in behind her and we quickly gain a little bit on the rest of the field. She wins the first lap but I am right behind her and pass her half way around on the second lap, now I push hard for lap 2 lead and capture 2 points. Best for me to stay on it and I can, crossing the line again for 3 points for lap 3. At this point I am not thinking of anything except do not get lapped so I push hard and continue on. I don’t remember the middle laps but only that I can see the leader coming out of the pack and the pack on the opposite side of the track with 5 laps to go. Just get me to the line ahead of the pack is all I am working for. On the last lap, the lone rider passes me and crosses the line but I finish just a short distance behind her. The field is about 150 meters behind me. I did it. I did not loose my points and come in 5th.
And this 5th place also places me 5th in the Omnium. A nice additional surprise.
12 Lap Scratch: 10th
10 Lap Snowball: 5th
Race: Masters & Rookies/ Track
Date: August 26, 2017
Location: Trexlertown, PA
Rider: Jo Johnson
A fast field of 15 riders came out for this BAR event day. A plus was the nice weather in the 70's with not much wind. The first race was a 2K scratch, winner take all. My goal was to stay up in the front group as long as possible so I went out quick on the first lap and looked for a chance to get off but riders were too my right and it seemed too close to go up track safely so I stayed in front for the next 3 laps trying to get off but with no luck. Then I slowed just a tiny bit on the 5th lap and the group went around me but I hung on until the bell sounded and that was when the group jumped ahead of me and I accelerated and motored in best as I could.
Second race was a 15 lap Points Race with sprints every 5 laps. This time I started a bit slower in the neutral lap so I could be in the group at the start. I was able to stay with the group through the first sprint and into the second sprint at 10 laps in then began to fall off the pace and finished the last lap just off the back.
The last race was a 10 lap Snowball. The first lap winner gains one point and each successive lap winner gains an additional point with double points for winning the last lap. Figuring the gals would let me gain a point on the first lap, I went for it and did win the first lap, but they were not on me yet so, I pushed hard for the second lap and gained another 2 points for a total of 3. But now I am totally out of energy so I pull up track but decelerated so much I could not catch back on. The leader came by me and I was lapped. So now I lost my points. Next time, jump in the group and keep at least one point.
Oh, I did not mention, our max speeds reached 31.8! Flying for me. Still learning and having FUN.
2 K scratch; 15
15 lap Points: 15
10 lap Snowball: 15