Race: Fort Lee Crit
Location: Fort Lee, NJ
Rider: Cheryl Clark
With Fort Lee being a 30 minute drive from home, I figured why not hop into a crit and see what came out of it. It was a gorgeous day a nice race vibe of spectators and racers. I rolled around a bit to warm up, chatted with some of the racers who I knew, and then off we went! The pace started out quick, but controlled, and I made my way to the front. Marlies, joined me, and there was no decisive attack, but a hard effort by the riders at the front, that cased a gap to form a few laps in on the straightaway coming off of the hill. I recognized the gap, and the riders that I was with (Emily Spence and Marlies), and knew this would be a strong breakaway, we immediately began to work together to increase the gap, and less than a lap later, Aimee Layton bridged to the three of us. We heard time gaps of 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 minute, 1:10, and we were pretty confident that we would not get caught, but kept the pace fast. I didn't mind doing work up the hill, as I knew the harder I could hit the hill each time around, the more tired sprinter legs would be, which would work in my favor. I was aware that this would most likely come down to a 4 rider sprint....ugh, not my strength! But I focused, and gave myself a pep talk. After we lapped the field approaching 3 laps to go, we settled into a rhythm, as I am sure we were all thinking about the same thing..."How am I going to win this sprint?" I led into the hill, punched up it, and at the top, all 3 riders came around me, which I actually acknowledged as a good thing, as I was going to try to come around a good positioned wheel, and start the sprint. I went left, and wanted to go sooner, but Marlies was hugging the left side, but once she swung slightly right, I laid down my sprint up the left side and just went as hard as I could to the line, surprised to hold onto second place! It wasn't a win, but will definitely be a fond memory I will remember forever, as I have rarely contested sprints, especially in a criterium. A beautiful day!
Race: Branchbrook Summer Classic
Location: Newark, NJ
Rider: Andy Maher
The forecast had been pretty ominous for this weekend but luckily mother nature cooperated and conditions were perfect for racing.
It was a pretty small field for the women's race but tough competition nonetheless. With four riders team CRCA/Dave Jordan racing went to the front and took control of the pace. I moved up to the front and pulled for a lap before the first attack came from a Rockstar games rider. There was a small gap which was easily bridged by the rest of the field. Not having a great sprint I decided to launch an attack myself with 2 laps to go. Another rider jumped with me but we were caught shorty after so I eased off the gas and the field was back together. The pace was slow as we made the last left, the men's 35+ race was coming up fast and we wanted to let them pass safely by us. With five hundred meters to go the accelaration started. I made the decision to take the left side but the rider in front of me moved at the same time causing me to have to hit the breaks. Should have gone right!
Result: 6th place
Race: Masters & Rookies Track Races/Track
Location: Trexlertown, PA
Rider(s): Jo Johnson
Another FUN day at the track although it was really hot and humid. A good field of 17 women this day gave me plenty of riders to go after. First race was a 6 lap scratch which was a really quick warm up race for me. I went out into the lead and was quickly swallowed up and spit out the back. But I think I managed not to be last. Next race was a 10 lap Point a Lap. I knew this would be quick so I went to the front again but did not stay long. I was in the group for several laps then was dropped a bit. Not wanting to be at the back, I redoubled my efforts to catch 4 riders and close on the group. The last race was an Elimination where one rider at the back is eliminated each lap. My goal was to stay in the group and not be the first one out. Each lap got just a bit faster than the last and I stayed in the group for 4 laps which is an improvement. We were only doing 30 mph!
Result: 6 lap scratch; 10th
10 lap Point a Lap; 11th
Race: Capital Region Road Race
Date: July 15th
Location: Albany, NY
Riders: Cheryl Clark
A beautiful day for a road race! Well, it was raining when I arrived, but the sun soon came through. I traveled in good company, with the FinKraft master’s team, and had plenty of time to get ready for the race and check in. I was able to catch up with Beth Ruiz, the race organizer, and it was very nice to see her and hear about her new triathlon adventures, along with everything that goes into organizing a bike race. All of the women racers lined up together, and it was a pleasant group of ladies as we rolled out with the 3 mile neutral start. After we made the first turn, the pace was calm and controlled and I was happy to be at the front, feeling out the course. When we hit the second hill, I started to pick up the pace to see how my legs felt and what gears would be best. I glanced behind me towards the top of the hill, and noticed a gap from the field had formed. I hesitated a moment, as I was a bit timid about trying to make a big effort, around mile 6, so early on in the 63 mile race, but after a few seconds of hesitating, I decided to commit, and went into time trial mode. For the first 10 minutes, I laid a lot of pressure on the pedals and kept an eye out on what was happening behind me. I knew there were chasers and I had to be smart about the distance that I was either gaining or loosing. I then let myself fall into a more ‘comfortable’ and sustainable effort, and received my first time gap information from the lead car, 52 seconds…I picked up the pace again, and received a second update of 1:10, I picked up my pace again, and the next time gap information I received was 3:15. I was more comfortable now, but knew it was still a long race ahead. I tried to stay smart about eating and drinking, and took the neutral water from the fed zone each lap around (thank you for supplying it, as it was a life saver!). I did not receive any more time gap updates, but just tried to stay within a pace I could carry to the finish line without bonking. I must say, every volunteer and spectator that I passed on the course was very supportive and yelled words of encouragement, which was amazing. I broke the race down into small segments to mentally process it better and to stay focused on my effort to ensure a win. Rolling up to the finish line solo felt so good, and that root beer at the finish was extra tasty! Thank you for all that made this race possible this year, I am thankful for the suffer fest and good people.
Cheryl Clark 1st place
Photo credit to Steve Thum
Race: Pottstown Crit
Date: July 16th
Location: Pottstown, PA
Riders: Deborah Leedale-Brown & Shaina Kravitz
A last minute decision to do this race for riders Deb and Shaina but since it was very local to them and it was a stacked field for such a local race, it was too great an opportunity to miss. It was a straightforward 4 corner crit, half the course was pretty chopped up and bumpy but it still rode well. With the whole Pickle Juice Pro team and the legendary Laura Van Gilder, along with other strong track and crit racers, we anticipated that the race would be faster and potentially aggressive. For the most part the pace was not super aggressive, but whenever it did slow down too much there was always a rider keeping it driving forward. Deb happily spent plenty of time on or near the front and even tested out her legs on one of the premes, unfortunately she got just beat on the line. As the race neared its conclusion it was evident that it would be a bunch sprint and a lot of sprinter legs ready to contest. The pace lifted in the final 2 laps to string it out and keep it safe. Everyone was jostling to get mark the Pickle Juice riders and LVG. It was a wide fast last corner with a fast slightly false flat finish. Deb ended up with her line slightly blocked as she was close to the cones where the road narrowed but ended up crossing the line in 8th and Shaina just a bit further back in 13th.
Deborah Leedale-Brown 8th
Shaina Kravitz 13th
Race: Honoring Sandrinos Sacrifice TT
Date: July 16, 2017
Location: Mullica HIll, NJ
Rider(s): Doreen Bridgman
It was a beautiful morning in Mullica Hill to honor Sergeant Alessandro Leonard Plutino, who was known as Sandrino. Sandrino was killed in action in Afghanistan on August 8, 2011. The course was a straight out 7.7 miles with some short rollers. There were 233 riders registered; 10 riders in the Eddy Cat 4/5. I had been off the bike for a couple of weeks dealing with a medical issue so I knew it would be a test to see how my power was returning; it’s almost there. It was a well-organized race enjoyed by all.
Doreen Bridgman-7th place
Date: July 8-9th, 2017
Race: Giro del Cielo Stage Race
Location: Augusta, NJ
Rider(s): Cat 1/2: Alexa, Cheryl, Deborah, and Emily
Cat 3: Andy and Shaina
Cat 4/5: Danielle and Sarah
Written by Cheryl Clark...
What a beautiful weekend of team racing it was!
Saturday started out a little groggy, and we all rolled around on our bike, waking up our legs in our rhythmic ways trying to deal with the humidity. One by one we headed out on the rolling hills of a challenging 13 mile time trial course. I think we can all agree that each one of us rode hard, and did our best on the day to master the course and test our strength.
We were able to regroup for a couple of hours at the local diner with our recovery foods of choice. After some laughs, strategic crit talk, and full stomachs, we headed over to the crit course. Here is where we found out the TT results, and saw that Cheryl was in the lead for the Pro/1/2 field, and Shania with her fabulous 4th place overall in TT was now in the lead of the Cat 3 field...not a bad way to start the crit stage....double pink! We wanted the crit to stay safe and keep the speed high without initiating too many attacks. As a team we manned the front, communicated, and no attacks escaped the field. Going into the final straight away, we were positioned well, it was the plan to have Cheryl drive the last half of the lap, then Deb to lead out Emily with Cheryl and Shaina to stay on their wheels to keep their GC placings high. but Cheryl unfortunately clipped out of her pedal twice while trying to hold the pressure on for our power house sprinters to accelerate past, which left us a little further back than desired, but Emily still pulled off 3rd place for the Cat 1/2, and Shaina held onto her pink jersey!
And what a pleasure it was to go back to our bed and breakfast barn, that Deb had found for us. It was so beautiful and comfortable there. We relaxed outside, ordered a delicious dinner, and enjoyed the crisp evening with a beer to top it off! Day two, and race number three was just a good night's sleep away.
Road Race time! 7 laps of a 5.5 rolling loop, with one pretty punchy climb. The plan going in, was to try to attack and counter attack, until ideally Cheryl and potentially Shaina were in a small and smart breakaway that would stick, as these 2 riders were our best bet for being able to win individual and team GC. We stayed at the front, and the pace was relaxed, and we were all ready to be right there if another team sent someone up the road. No significant attacks were made, and we checked in with each other. After 15 miles of racing, Alexa laid on some pressure going into the hill, and Cheryl came around her bringing two other riders with her, Ainhoa from ABRT and Leslie Sunapee. This meant all three major GC teams were represented.
The break was established after a few miles and Leslie was working well with Cheryl in the break. The pace became too much and Leslie dropped off, (but was able to time trial her way to 3rd place) leaving Cheryl and Ainhoa in a breakaway of two riders. All of the EPS ladies made sure they covered attacks and kept the field controlled, while allowing the breakaway to gain a larger time gap. Ainhoa was in the pink jersey, so Cheryl was left with most of the work to try to secure the Pro1/2 win. It came down to a sprint finish and Cheryl was second, which left the team with an individual 1/2 GC 2nd place, overall team 2nd place, and stage 2nd place, while our pink Cat3 rider Shaina, kept safely in the field, and held onto the Cat3 GC win!
Giro del Cielo Stage Race (as told by Shaina)
Double race weekends are pretty normal for me, but I have never participated in a stage race before. Having heard nothing but positive feedback from the team, I was excited to join them to race this year's Giro del Cielo in Augusta, New Jersey. A rolling time trial, then a crit, followed the next day by a circuit road race was the order of events for the weekend. I learned that as a Cat 3 rider, I would be scored separately and was eager to see how I stacked up against the local field
It is easy to be intimidated when participating in a time trial. There is seems to be lot of fancy equipment that merely makes everyone look faster. Having never competed in a time trial before, I was unsure of the approach and only had a vague idea of course by studying a map with elevation profile. But I strapped on some clip-on aerobars and tapped into my pain cave honed from seasons of cyclocross/xc mountain racing and just went for it. I started passing riders at the 2 mile mark. I counted about six by mile 11. I crossed the line feeling accomplished, tired but with gas left in the tank. We checked results before heading over for the crit. Cheryl crushed everyone for 1st and I was 4th overall, 1st for Cat 3. Cheryl and I would line up at the crit as our respective category leaders.
The crit was long, sweeping course with two real turns and a small rise before a narrow downhill into a false flat finish. The plan was to protect the leaders, especially Cheryl. I knew the riders I needed to watch to make sure I finished ahead of to keep the GC lead. As predicted, nothing got away. The team did an great job controlling the front. There was an unfortunate crash late in the race that took out a number of riders, including Andy. The sprint did not go as we had hoped, but we all, most importantly, crossed the line safely in the top 10.
With Cheryl just barely out of the 1/2 lead and me with a good cushion, but not having it safely locked up, we headed into the road race with a plan to get our riders into a break and get a win for the team to boost the team GC points. The break happened on the third of 7 laps of the rolling course with Cheryl and two other riders going off the front for the rest of the race. She would finish 2nd ahead of the field. My objective was to stay towards the front and stay protected while watching the other GC contenders. There were a few surges over the remaining laps with no lasting attacks. Like the day before, a crash caught up riders a few hundred meters from the finish. I had to swing wide to the right to avoid the fall out, but was able to hold my sprint to finish 2nd in the category and enough to win the GC.
While I feel like I made some mistakes and would have done a few things differently, I owe it to the the team for helping me clinch the GC. (A special thanks for Doreen for getting me to the start line!) Even though we couldn't all win the team GC, it was great to chat with other teams and hear how much they enjoy racing with us. Overall, it was great to bring such a big group of us together for a full weekend of racing and another strong showing for the season.
Cheryl Clark 1st place Womens Open Time Trial, 6th place Cat 1/2 Crit, 2nd place Cat 1/2 Road Race, 2nd place Cat 1/2 Overall
Deborah Leedale-Brown 10th place Cat 1/2 Time Trial, 5th place Cat 1/2 Crit, 8th place Cat 1/2 Road Race, 6th place Cat 1/2 Overall
Emily Underwood 11th place Cat 1/2 Time Trial, 3rd place Cat 1/2 Crit, 7th place Cat 1/2 Road Race, 5th place Cat 1/2 Overall
Alexa Gubinski 13th place Cat 1/2 Time Trial, 12th place Cat 1/2 Crit, 12th place Cat 1/2 Road Race, 11th place Cat 1/2 Overall
Shaina Kravitz 1st place Cat 3 Time Trial, 3rd place Cat 3 Crit, 2nd place Cat 3 Road Race, 1st place Cat 3 Overal!!
Andy Maher 5th place Cat 3 Time Trial, 15th place Cat 3 Crit, 11th place Cat 3 Road Race (2nd place NJ Road Race Championships), 11th place Cat 3 Overall
Danielle Ferland 11th place Cat 4/5 Time Trial, 14th place Cat 4 Crit, 19th place Cat 4/5 Road Race, 11th place Overall
Sarah Hauze 21st place (with a mechanical) Cat 4/5 Time Trial, 24th place Cat 4 Crit, 24th place Overall
Race: Masters Track National Championships
Location: Rock Hill, SC
Rider: Jo Johnson
The rain came down the prior night just before our scheduled time to race. The ground in the infield was flooded but only our feet got soaked. The night’s schedule was rescheduled for the next day so my last race, the 40 lap Points race would be run about 9:30 the next morning.
Temps began to rise and it was definitely a hot 94 degree, humid day. The group of 55+ age group women started off fast. I stayed with the group through the first quarter of the laps and even led a lap before missing the catch back into the group. Then I began pacing to catch the group and picked up one rider and then another. Half lap pacing began but we just missed catching the group. In the end, leading a lap, not finishing last, and not being lapped is improvement over last year.
Points Race: 1st
Best All Round Rider, women, 70-74
Race: Masters Track National Championships Day 3 and 4
Location: Rock Hill, SC
Rider: Jo Johnson
Day 3 is done. And another silver medal collected in the warm sun. This morning was the Flying 200 meter qualifier but then a very long 4 hr wait until the Match Sprint rounds. The Match Sprints were each a quick 3 laps each in a best of 2 competition. Different tactics and strategies were planned but it really depends on how it all plays out with your competitor. So much more to learn and practice.
Match Sprint: 2nd
Thank goodness the temps were not so high but the racing is fast and furious. Last night was the Scratch race, 20 laps of mass of riders all whipping up the pace then slowing it down. First rider over the line wins in each 5 yr age category. For me it is the 70-74 group. The younger group is 55-59.
The race starts from the rail on the home straight. I position myself first in line as I want to get off the rail quickly. The rest of the group quickly fills in around me and I am in the second row as we come around for the starters gun. Then we are off, I am holding my position well and find I am comfortable moving in and around the group. After 5 laps, 2 riders are off the pace and are riding on the lowest part of the track. A few laps after that I am leading but do not stay long and get off the front. My goal is not to expend too much energy and save it for the last lap. Then I position myself down the track some but find the slow riders will box you in. I yell “up” and the gal to my right moves up track just a bit which allows me to pull through and around one of the slower riders. After that there are a few more surges but I am quickly on them. Finally the bell lap, I look to my left and see the kit of my age group competitor. No way is she going to win this. I stay above her and keep my engine running, then on the back stretch we are neck and neck and I give a little more power surge and go around turn 3, I am just in front of her now. Coming out of turn 4, I am in perfect position to make the final surge which I do and hit the line a few bike lengths ahead.
Yeah! A National Champion Gold medal run.
The podiums are held the next day at the noon break as a lightning storm is approaching and we must clear the outdoor velodrome.
So much fun