Date: Sept. 11, 2016
Race: Thompson Criterium of Doylestown
Rider(s): Emily Underwood and Deborah Leedale-Briown
In the immortal words of Monty Python, "And now for something completely different..."
A race report written by someone who didn't race!!
Though I'm currently on the "injured reserve" list, I simply couldn't stay away from what is truly one of my favorite races of the season... a true circuit style criterium, Doylestown offers a screaming fast downhill section, plenty of tight and zippy turns, and a leg-crushing riser up to the start finish line. I've raced the event twice previous and this year, I supported Emily, Deborah, and Meredith in my role as team Director Sportif. Though I was sad to not race, it was great to be out there to support these ladies as they lined up against the Nation's best.
The competition was out... full 6-women squads from ISCorp and Fearless Femme, LVG and her Mellow Mushrooms, a few H&H riders, and two ladies named Tina Pic and Lauren Hall to round out a truly powerful field.
The race was animated from the start. Josie Talbot from ISCorp got away only 3 laps into the race. Certain that it would be pulled back in quickly, we sat beautifully at the front end of the pack, waiting for the inevitable catch and watching for other moves that might occur. But, that wasn't the case. Talbot stayed off the front for nearly the entire race, pushing her lead out to over 40 seconds at points. With only 3 to go, she was reeled back in and the counter attacks from ISCorp ensued with frenetic energy. With 2 laps to go, Skyler Schneider and Gretchen Sturmhoffer of Colavita, made a move away from the field and were able to hold it to the line for 1st and 2nd.
The Emily and Deborah maintained their solid positions in the final few laps and finished with the main bunch for 18th and 20th with Meredith finishing in 26th.
This was the last race of the season for the Elite squad and everyone (even me as DS!) left with a smile. It's been an amazing season... a team that plays together, stays together... and we played our hearts out this year. It's been an honor to race and DS such an incredible team of women. Thank you to all of our fabulous sponsors for making it possible.
And, thank you to David Harwi and Dean Warren Photography for the photos of the girls mid-flight!
Emily Underwood 18th
Deborah Leedale-Brown 20th
Over Labor Day weekend, I was fortunate enough to compete in the 2016 Green Mountain Stage Race, a 4 race with a stage each day through the picturesque hills of Vermont that gives even the best climbers a good challenge. I had done this race last year and had been training to do it again ever since; I felt more or less ready for the following several days. This race would be the closing race to my 2016 road season and I was eager to see how this year would compare to 2015. Having more or less the same racing setup as the year before (same bike, wheels, though hopefully stronger legs), I expected this would be a good metric for me to determine how I’ve progressed. The weather held out beautifully all 4 days with no rain and never getting unbearably warm. With specific goals for each day, I picked up my registration packet, along with 40 other women in the women’s 3/4 category, and settled in.
Stage One: Warren Store Individual Time Trial
Location: Warren, Vermont
The course was a 5.7 mile straight out dash that starts off with a 2.5 mile steady climb followed by a lovely rolling section before finishing out the race with a short, but sharp climb. My goal going into this race was to beat my time from the previous year. I had seen a lot of improvement in the last several races I’ve done, especially on the hills, so I didn’t expect this to be the exception. Unfortunately, life had alternate plans… just before my start, I received some troubling news that someone very dear to me had had an accident. Try as I might, my focus was miles away. (Since then, the person is recovering quite nicely in spite of an impromptu hip replacement and minor road rash and has been in great spirits, just in case you were wondering :))
Stage One Results: 38th out of 41
Stage Two: The Bridges Resort Circuit Race
Location: New Haven, Vermont
The course for the second day had changed from previous years due to roadway construction in the area the route traditionally ran. This would be the wild card day for the stages since it was new to everyone and I couldn’t call on past experience on how hard/when to push myself. The race began with a 4.7 mile opening loop before settling into 17.4 mile circuit. The women 3/4 race was to do two laps of the circuit, resulting in ~40 miles total. I would say that a good portion of the first half of the 17.4 miles was uphill, which included the King of the Mountain (KOM) competition to add to the challenge; the second portion was beautiful flowing roads that allowed for a slight recovery before starting the circuit over. My goal for this race was to finish with the field, I just didn’t have it in the legs after giving it everything on the KOM and fell off on the hill just after. Thankfully, I was able to work with a delightful lady from Canada who helped me practice pacing lining, drafting, and even lead me out in a sprint finish (a first for me, even if it was a solo sprint). Maja, if you’re reading this – thank you again!!!
Stage Two Results: 39th out of 41
Stage Three: Champion System Mad River Road Race
Location: Appalachian Gap, Vermont
The dreaded day three… the 65 mile road race through that climbs Middlebury Gap (beginning around 20 miles in), finishes up Appalachian Gap, and made me question my sanity countless times. This stage boasts around 6,000 ft in climbing with grades over 22% in spots. My goal was to make it to the top of Middlebury Gap with the group and from there, just finish. As was the way of last year, racers staged at Sugar Bush Ski Area, for a brisk, long descent towards the town of Waitsfield. The first couple miles
were neutralized but once the race was on, the 3/4 ladies meant business. The pace felt much higher than the previous year, but I made it to the first gap with the field.
The same racer who had stuck it out with me the day before also hung tough with me up Middlebury but lost touch with the field. She and I were both huge fans of the descents and took turns charging up the hills. She stuck with me up until the beginning of Baby Gap, but there’s nothing “baby” about it. The best part about Baby Gap is that it means App Gap is just a few miles away which means the race is nearly over. The worst thing about Baby gap is that it means App Gap is just a few miles away and you have to climb a killer hill after 60 hard, fast paced miles with tired legs… This is about when I felt the pain in my knee creep in and I told my riding buddy not to hold back, I didn’t want to overdo it on my knee after fighting leg cramping a good portion of the race.
It took a lot of clenching my teeth and mental profanity, but I crossed that line despite wanting to quit numerous times on those hills. Stubborn and pushing through the pain (doesn’t sound like anyone else I know…thanks Padre!), the last 5k felt like 500k, but I finished. I put ice on my knee shortly after reaching the top and monitored it closely the remainder of the day. It would be a morning-of call whether I’d be racing the next day or not.
Stage Three Results: 38th out of 41
Stage Four: Burlington Criterium
Location: Burlington, Vermont
The crit is a short 0.62 miles loop with 6 turns through downtown Burlington and I remember it being ridiculously tough. The start/finish is on a mild hill of only maybe 4-5% (naturally – it wouldn’t fit with the rest of the stages if wasn’t an uphill finish!) but with high paces, it wears you out fast from the 3 days before and if you lose the draft, it feels much steeper. Still uncertain if I’d race that morning due to my knee being questionable… but with 20 minutes to decide whether I should begin my warm up or not, I found myself putting on my kit, just to see how it’d feel. Then I started to warm up, to see how that’d feel. My knee still felt tender, but not horrible… and I found myself at the start line. “Just do a few laps till they pull you, just see how it goes,” I thought and before I could think otherwise, the race was underway. I did several laps (not sure on the exact count) until the officials gave the signal my race was over. It was official, I had completed my second GMSR!
Stage Four Results: 37th out of 38
Overall General Classification: 38th out of 38
(8th for USA Cat 4’s)
Overall, I had an amazing experience, caught up with some people I had raced with last year and met more stellar people. I may have been the Lanterne Rouge in my field, but I stuck it out, completing this season safely. I will be back next year, hopefully with less issues and stronger legs!
…Now onto Cross!
Race: Chris Thater Memorial Criterium Weekend
Date: 8/27 & 8/28 2016
Riders: Deborah Leedale-Brown, Emily Underwood
(Saturday 27th) & Deborah Leedale-Brown, Emily Underwood, Meredith Ehn (Sunday 28th)
(As told by Deborah Leedale-Brown)
After an intense and fast race at the Ironhill Twilight Crit, competing against a stacked field, it was more of the same this past weekend for the Chris Thater races - the women of ISCorp and United Healthcare among others were still in town! Saturday nights Women's Pro 1/2 race ran in a clockwise direction and with only two of the corners that require some careful attention, its a fast crit course. Emily received a call up as the NY State Crit Champion and so she enjoyed a front line seat, I was just behind in the 2nd row. The race started and the pace was immediately fast but a smooth pace with no real attacks in the first few laps of the 43 lap race. It was our aim to be stronger in our positioning and to look for a preme opportunity if one came about. As it came up to the 2nd or 3rd preme I found myself close to the front of the race so decided to keep pace and see if I could sneak anything on the preme, as we headed for the line I found myself in 5th but in case there was a counter attack I did not want to ease up the pace. It was off this preme that a breakaway went with an ISCorp and United Healthcare rider, then myself and two other riders jumped to try and catch onto the breakaway. So the race quickly split into two breaks of two riders and three riders, with myself safely ensconced in the three rider break my team mate Emily played her role perfectly patrolling the main field. Unfortunately our break group could not close the gap on the two rider breakaway which would have allowed for more strength and with Rally Team not represented in the break they decided to turn up the pace and bring the race back together. As the race entered its final laps it was evident that it would end up a field sprint, Emily and I were well positioned and we moved towards the front end as we entered the final lap. I felt in a good position going into the final corner however a heavy crash with a number of riders happened just in front and so some heavy braking to avoid riders on the ground meant that I lost a lot of momentum, happy to be upright, myself and Emily sprinted for the line, coming in 16th and 20th respectively.
Deborah Leedale-Brown 16th
Emily Underwood 20th
Sunday's race was 43 laps run in reverse, but also included the intense heat of the midday sun. Pretty much the same field lined up with the exception of IsCorp and the addition of some Cat 3 riders. The reverse course was equally fast, if not a bit faster as the tight corners seemed to flow better in reverse. It was windy however and a strong headwind greeted us on the back part of the course. The early part of the race stayed together and with 3 of our team in this race it was goal to get in a breakaway. The pace was fast but it was more surging than the previous night which made it tough and let gaps open up. An attack of pace did occur on the uphill stretch through the start/finish line and unfortunately we were unable to capitalize and get in what was a 4 rider break. There was some chasing occurring but it was short lived and really only had the effect of putting surges of pace and creating gaps. As we rode through the start/finish area on one lap a slow motion crash happened that took a number of riders down including Emily. She went down hard and hit her head so was given an extra lap before re-entering the race. My legs were not feeling strong, combination of not being recovered from the effort of the previous night and the hot temperatures. My goal was to just stay in contact with the main group and do what I could in the sprint finish. The breakaway was very successful and ended up lapping our field, as we entered the final laps and with Emily a lap down because of the crash she took some front pulls to try and string it out and for me to save my legs for whatever I had left. I ended up crossing the line in 13th place, not what I wanted but happy to have stayed the course and another great showing of teamwork that included Sarah Iepson, unable to race with injuries being our DS from the sidelines.
Deborah Leedale-Brown 13th
Meredith Ehn 22nd
Emily Underwood DNF - Crashed