4/29/2011

Prinner Report: Goofy Good Weather Tactics in GracĂ­a

Hey guys,

Today begins Stage 2 of Gracia Orlova in the Czech Republic.  Two days ago the stage race was commenced by a 2.2 km prologue that was half on a bike path and half on an actual road, with finishing times just seconds apart from each other.  I finished only about 10 seconds down from the leader with a time of 3:03 min.
Yesterday was Stage 1 of the tour, which was a 104km stage with a few steep, 1km climbs and a nasty, narrow pockmarked 8km climb to the finish.  I began the race doing my assigned job which was to surf the front and chase down any aggressive moves before the climbs.  Fortunately it also helped me on the climbs themselves as I was already at the front and had a few positions to lose before the top, and didn't have to waste energy to catch back on over the top.  

As soon as the rough climbs were over the race slowed down immensely and a few of use could take feeds from the car, which was easy since ours was 5th in the caravan (since we were ranked 5th in team classification).  As we approached the final 8km climb the sky was threatening with rain as dark clouds covered the peloton and sprinkles of rain could be felt.  Fortunately, the rain ended up holding out until about ten minutes after the race was over, when it began to dump.  Our German mechanic  has the habit of cleaning his plate every day at dinner, insisting that it will bring good weather.  I guess it has been working.

Anyway, we hit the final climb and the pack slowly began to splinter, and I resolved to ride within myself to prevent myself from blowing up trying to stay with any particular group.  The final 5 km felt like it took about 3 hours, but I finished about 4.5 minutes behind the winner, in 57th place.  Teammate Lindsay Myers took 8th place, moving herself up to 7th in GC.  

So far the weather looks nice for Stage 2...hope our mechanic cleaned his plate.

Jessi

CRASH! - Appelwick Report from Gila Day 2

What a day!  It was harder than yesterday!
 
I got dropped exactly where Chris says he gets dropped every year.  Right at the first big climb at about mile 10 as the group goes over the Continental Divide.  These girls can climb!  Thankfully I wasn't alone and I worked with 5 other girls to chase back on.  All was well until I tried to put my 3rd bottle into my back pocket at mile 60ish, rather than just throwing it wherever and littering the roads around here.  We were noddling at that point and I was on the left side of the road hiding from the wind.  I had one hand on the bars and one hand putting my bottle in my back pocket when a gal decided at that moment she had to get around me on the left. Basically on the very rough shoulder with little to no extra room.  She just leaned into me a bit and I held my own. I thought we were going to be fine and she'd just move over a bit, but then she came into me full force since there was nowhere for her to go on the left.  Down we went.  Since I've been a downhill skier since the age of 8, I know how to fall.  Tuck and roll!  I was just scraped up a bit, but my bike was a bit worse for the wear.  I punctured the front tire and my rear derailleur and shifter were trashed. (Don't worry Mike, your TREK is safe and sound in Addison back home.  I rode my old bike since we left it Tucson after the Tucson Bicycle Classic to save the airfare.)  The good folks at SRAM were nice enough to hand me a spare bike and off I went to chase the last 20 miles by myself.  I caught one girl who got popped at the 2nd feed zone.  We rode the last 10 together and finished it up. 
 
By the looks of the results, the group really splintered.  I can only imagine how hard it got. Heather Logan-Sprenger of Colavita took the win with Kristen LaSasso of Primal Map my Ride and Tayler Wiles of Peanut Butter & Co 2012 19 seconds back each taking 2nd and 3rd.  Mara Abbott still holds the lead in the GC.  Full results here:
 
 
I just kept telling myself to keep going after the crash.  It was an absolutely lovely day and the scenery is fabulous!
 
The TT is tomorrow.  I think I landed on my handlebars and my right thigh is bruised and swollen.  ICE and a good night's sleep will hopefully do the trick!  It's time to eat again.
 
Talk to y'all tomorrow!
 
Stacy

4/28/2011

Appelwick Report: Day 1 at Gila

Hey ABD'ers,

Just a super quick note before I crash for the night. 66 women were registered and it looks like 59 finished the 73.1 miles and I don't know how may vertical feet of climbing. If anyone's interested, here's the link to the course profile: http://www.tourofthegila.com/racecourses.html

The highest grade was 19% today. Just a little bigger than Fox River Grove! :)

Our group pretty much hung together until the last 15 miles. At that point, there's a right turn toward the Mogollon climb where the girls got serious and hit the gas! Note to self: be at the front at the turn! A few girls got gapped and it was impossible to get around and make up that ground into the head wind quickly enough and just like that, the group was gone. Coulda shoulda woulda. Who knows!? I may not have been able to hang on with the pack until the base of the climb. At that point I was able to rotate through with a few girls until the beginning of the ascent where everything splintered further. Our 8 turned into three and I was the last of those three. It's 6.7 miles of nasty hairpin turns and super steep climbs.

As Chris, my trusty partner in this crazy life always reminds me, an athlete has to believe in themselves and have a bit of hope that if they had been there at the front through the turn, they would have held on and maybe been up a few minutes more. It's what keeps me coming back for more! So, although I was 32nd on the day and ended up 6:49 behind today's winner Mara Abbott, I had a great day. It was warm and sunny and we rode through some amazing NM country! AND I was surrounded by many of the women that are role models for me! Here's a link to the results page: http://www.tourofthegila.com/2011race/day1womens12.html

To no one's surprise, Mara Abbott of the Diadora Pasta Zara team rode away from everyone and is up 19 secs on F. Parks Oliveira of the Pactimo Cycling team. Ms. Oliveira'steammate, Clara Hughes, is another 21 seconds back.

After the race, Chris and I rode back down the "Mogy" climb and saw Ben Damhoff of our men's elite team climbing. Of course I yelled "GO ABD!" We had a chance later to officially meet and chat a bit.

So, we're in recovery mode now. The forced feeding continues and we're back for another 80 miles tomorrow! I guess that wasn't such a quick note!

More to come!!

Thanks for all your support!

Stacy

4/27/2011

Damhoff Report: Hot Times at Hammerfest

This report originally posted at DamhoffRacing.com

I hoped after last week’s race being partially cancelled due to hurricane force winds, my next race in Fort Davis, TX would go off according to plan. Little did I know that high winds would be the least of our worries when a much more threatening natural disaster blew into town resulting in a race (or lack thereof) that I won’t soon forget.

Fort Davis is a small town nestled in mountainous terrain at about 5,000 ft elevation (yes, in Texas...) and home of the annual “Hammerfest.” I have been looking forward to this event for some time, having heard good things about it and the fact that it includes some good climbing and a long time trial.

I headed down with my friend Chris from Silver City a day early to check out the courses and enjoy a couple days of camping in the Davis Mountains state park on the race course. We checked out each of the three courses beforehand, including a ride on the mostly uphill 16 mile mass start race, which kicks off the three stage event. After a day of scouting the courses, we grabbed dinner and headed back to our tents for a night of sleep (a recovery tactic sure to catch on amongst Protour riders soon) to rest up for tomorrow’s two stages.

I was up well before the dawn on Saturday, as the hill climb started just after sunrise. After breakfast at the campground and getting in a good warm up, we started the 16 mile hill climb. The first 10 miles were relatively flat, and the group largely stayed together until the last climb of the race. I didn’t win the stage, but finished in 5th place, which put me in a good position for the overall with a 16 mile time trial and a tough road race still to come. After riding back to the campground from the race finish at the McDonald Space Observatory, we grabbed some lunch at our favorite local cafe and rested up for the early afternoon time trial.

The individual time trial is where things begin to take a turn for the worst. Upon arriving at the start area, we wondered if the race was still taking place, as there was absolutely no one else in the parking lot. At this point, the winds were gusting up to 40 mph. We proceeded as usual, and found a good place to warm up tucked out of the wind behind a building. Finally, the masses slowly trickled in and it appeared the race would go on as usual. While waiting in line to start my TT, the wind was howling worse than ever and tumbleweeds were striking riders as they waited to race. A Pro/1 rider just ahead of me was literally blown off the road when a gust came up just as he attempted to start. I thought to myself, “this should be fun... nothing like starting a perfectly flat TT in the small ring.” The tailwind section was a little more enjoyable and I had a high speed of 45 mph on flat ground.

After returning from my time trial and getting ready to go for a cool down spin, I noticed the sky was becoming increasingly hazy off in the distance. After last week’s affair, I first chalked it up to just another dust storm; however, as the haze continually got worse, it became evident that a fire was headed our way. Soon even the city streets were becoming hazy--not good. When Chris got back from his TT, I already had the van loaded and we threw his bike in as fast as we could and headed towards our campground. As we drove through town, visibility was becoming very limited and it appeared the massive fire would hit the town directly. When we arrived at our campsite on the opposite side of a mountain ridge, the scene was not much better, and dense smoke was already rolling over the top of the ridge. We packed up our camping supplies and decided to drive up to the Space Observatory and survey the situation from higher ground. From the Observatory, we could see the full force of the fire. The entire sky to the east was filled with smoke and the fire appeared to be hitting the town directly. We watched the fire grow throughout the evening. Eventually, the flame came over the ridge outside of town, and burned down the state park we had been staying at just the night before.

The fire continued raging to the west, and we learned that the town had been evacuated and the race had indeed been cancelled. Luckily, we found another place to camp with a fellow fire-onlooker. We ended up with a great camping spot in the mountains and a night of good company. With Sunday’s road race being cancelled, we used our extra day to spend more time exploring Big Bend National Park and the Rio Grande before heading back to New Mexico. On the way back, we visited the charred remains of the time trial course and the town of Fort Davis. The fire had indeed blown right through the time trial course and staging area, and had burned several structures in the town. Amazingly, the majority of the town was saved, but many houses were burned in the area. Even as we passed through days later, the fire was still raging out of control.


Quite the bizarre weekend of racing. Not exactly what I was expecting, but going to Big Bend was a fun diversion from racing after finishing up another hard block of training. Now it’s back to preparing and resting up for the Tour of the Gila followed shortly by the Joe Martin Stage Race. The Tour of the Gila is just over a week away and it’s exciting to finally be competing in something I have been training for months for. Stay tuned, the next installment from the Gila will be coming soon. Hopefully my streak of bringing natural disasters to each race I attend has come to an end.


Ben

4/15/2011

Prinner Report: Energiewacht Tour, Netherlands

Reposted from The Prinner Posts

You never really realize how important your passport is until you don’t have it and the visa customer service rep is telling you it won’t arrive at your house until the day after you’re supposed to be on a plane to Brussels. And I knew that it didn’t matter how verbally abusive I got with the rep because they were not in the authority to walk 50 feet to sort through a stack of passports to find mine to ship it back to me. Thankfully my flight got changed from Monday to Tuesday and my passport (with visa inside in preparation for racing in China) arrived Tuesday morning as I stood anxiously at the door waiting for the FedEx truck to come pulling up my driveway.

By the time I arrived in Brussels on Wednesday morning I had had two days off the bike after a brutal two man TT during Hillsboro Roubaix (when Kim Eppin and I broke away early and rode by ourselves for 50 miles) and my legs were seriously confused as to what kind of trick I was playing on them. And then as if the jet leg and 4 hr drive to our Dutch hotel wasn’t enough (I came by myself as the team had arrived the day before), I was to start a 4 day stage race the very next day. I managed to get in a short spin that night on some awesome bike paths, which the Dutch seem to have a well-maintained network of and are indeed well used by many Dutch locals. I was enjoying my spin on one such bike path when I heard the distinct sound of a revving engine behind me and quickly realized it wasn’t a bike path, but a street, which then began making sense with all the street signs.

I woke up Thursday morning wondering what I had gotten myself into with 108 km ahead of me and 160 women at the line. One woman insisted on being all up in my area and I kept giving her the stink eye in response to her jabbing me in the butt with her brake hood. And I couldn’t even eavesdrop on anyone’s conversation as they were speaking in a language that sounded as if they were trying to expel phlegm from their throat. I began to wonder if they were even speaking a language at all or just making amusing sounds to mess with the confused looking American.

The first stage started in a town called Sellingen and took us took large laps around a 46 km loop that was comprised of flat, narrow roads, some of which were brick, and lots of unprotected sidewinds. Holland is in some ways like my hometown of South Elgin, Il, in that what it lacks in hills it makes up with the wind, and I quickly learned that being protected and in good position is essential to doing well here. The first large lap of the race was slow, bunched up, and relatively uneventful as far as tactics go, but as far as handling and technical skills go, it was chaos. My reflexes were thoroughly tested that day as I had to decelerate from 25 mph to zero, back wheel sideways, the pungent smell of brakes in the air, to stop inches from a cluttered pileup of limbs and bikes. This soon became normal (as we humans seem to have the sick ability to normalize any twisted situation we find ourselves in just for the sake of not panicking) and I was even amused after accidentally ramming my front skewer into some chick’s back wheel, after realizing my machine was okay as her spokes were flying in all directions. Alison Starnes, my teammate, took an offroad adventure into a muddy ditch early on, and Kristen McGrath (another USA member) crashed hard in a pileup, stopping a competitor’s wheel with her hamstring, leaving a burn mark the size of a baseball.

Just a few km after the start of our second lap team HTC turned up the gas at the front in a sidewind and it was RIP for about half the field, including me as I was in bad position and could do nothing as I saw the long line of guttered riders getting annihilated and shattered. My chase group of about 30 riders remained just seconds off the back of the peloton for a while, until a few key teams turned it up in the first group and disappeared out of sight. I sat in with my group for the rest of the race and finished about 2 minutes down from the peloton in the 70s place.

The next day the whole team was relieved to only have an 80 km circuit race that consisted of five laps starting in the town of Midwolda and touring around the Dutch countryside. Even though I still didn’t see much of the front of the peloton, I still managed to stay protected from the wind as I grew accustomed to the layout of the course and could predict the direction of upcoming turns (which makes a difference because you can move up quite a few places on the outside) and the angle of wind (which would determine if the field would be bunched up or guttered down the road). Surprisingly no crashes occurred in the crazy sprint finish between HTC’s Ina Teutenberg, Nederland Bloeit’s Marianne Vos, Forno D’Asolo Colavita’s Giorgia Bronzini (current road world champ), Diadora-Pasta Zara’s Shelley Olds, and AA Drink-Leontien.nl’s Kirsten Wild. I had just enough brains to stay at the back in the last 3 km (not that I probably could have gotten to the front anyway if I had wanted to) and finished in the 50s place.

The third stage’s race was to be 128 km on a course with cruel crosswinds and a narrow, windy (used in both contexts) section of road with dikes on either side (surely with alligators and sharks awaiting the person who was sure to fall in). The first sprint would be in the first 9km to be at the front when the peloton turned into this narrow bike-path like section, because only four or so women could fit across the road, and even less could actually take the twisty turns side by side. Sure enough, everyone was taking all the risks to move up as much as possible as soon as the race began; dodging light posts on sidewalks, riding offroad ‘cross style, or just simply shoving people out of the way if they weighed less. I was approximately mid-pack and continually trying to move up when we hit a left hand turn, and instead of keeping her line through the turn, one rider decided to go from being in the middle to cutting straight across about 3 people’s lines to the right hand side. I actually did not remember this until it was retold by another Canadian rider who went down and broke her collar bone, simply because it happened so fast and there was literally no time to react. I assume that I must have T-boned the rider’s back wheel as she swept across the road and did an endo over the handlebars. The good news was that my bike and body received very little of the impact; the bad news was that it was really all absorbed by my face. My next clear memory is of my head resting on the pavement, stunned from the feeling that my face was just hit by a sledgehammer. Then I saw thick, red globs of blood dripping into a puddle on the pavement and immediately went into panic mode as I felt an absence of teeth in my mouth. The USA team car finally pulled up after much of the caravan had gone by, and Jackson Stewart (the team director) jumped out and began insisting that I was okay and to stop screaming bloody murder because I might just wake up some Australians halfway around the world.

Once I was reassured that the world wasn’t indeed crashing down all around me I hopped into the medics van, somewhat relieved I would finally get to abandon this crazy race. I would later hear from multiple sources from different teams (including the Belgian National Team, which is known for its ruthless aggressive riding) that this race was quite ridiculous in how dangerous everyone was riding and all the risks people were taking, as if they were fully willing to crash in their attempt at positioning. This may have been due to the sheer flatness of the course and that there were few hills to really splinter the peloton, or because it was the race’s debut year and the idea of going down in history as the first woman to ever win this race was truly a savory dream.

Team USA finished the race with five out of the six who started having crashed during the course of four days. Luckily, four of the five crashes weren’t serious and all but one rider on the team got to finish the race. I hate to be the one to set that one-sixth abandonment rate.

Whatever the case, I’m hoping that my upcoming one-day race feels considerably less hazardous in comparison. I also just got my teeth repaired at the Dutch dentist. They didn’t have the Olympic ring grills that I wanted, so I had to go with the conventional white tooth deal.

4/05/2011

Appelwick Report: Hillsboro Roubaix

YES! Racing season is here in the Midwest, and with it one of the best parts about racing. Re-living the experience later.

Chris and I loaded our black lab, Jazzy, the Trek Madone (thank you ABD, it's fantastic!) and Chris's stuff into our big "new" minivan and headed south for Hillsboro Friday after work. We rolled into Pheasant Valley Farms about 10pm. Kristen lined up this fabulous farmhouse 10 miles out of Hillsboro where she had stayed last year. We could actually see the stars and hear the coyotes at night out there -Thanks Kristen! If you ever want an affordable early season getaway where the weather is a tad warmer and the training is excellent, contact Vicki and John at www.pheasantvalleyfarms.com

Saturday morning we all got up early to have coffee, eat, dress and head to the course. It was just a bit chilly and breezy, but the sun was shining. For those of you who have never done this race, it's a 29 mile loop through farmland with a few rollers thrown in for fun and a nice little kicker hill before the brick paved circuit through town that leads to the finish line. Our race was two laps for a total of 58 miles. We rolled up to the start line with 45 of our Cat 1,2 and 3 racer friends. We actually ended up way in the back of the pack. Jessi and the rest of the team very wisely moved up during the neutral roll-out to get to the front of the pack. I got jammed in the back, but I wasn't worried since the rest of the team had great position. Things heated up quickly as a few girls put in some digs after about mile 5. Jessi, Kristen, Sarah and Elena were in a great position to neutralize those quickly. It wasn't long before I saw Jessi attacking and rolling away with 3 other ladies. I was super psyched! This is what we wanted! Since the attacks spread things out a bit, I was able to start moving up to cover anything that tried to go after Jessi. A few people made some efforts, but thanks to the wind, it was tough to make anything else stick. Two of Jessi's breakmates got popped and came back into the peloton, so it was just her and Kim Eppen left to do a two woman time trial for 50 miles.

As we rolled through the feed zone/finish area, we were told that Jessi and Kim were safely away with a 4 minute lead. I figured that now I could try to make a few things happen. The last thing I wanted was to end up in a bunch sprint. Tracy Tolson of the Texas Roadhouse team and I started throwing in digs. It got really hard into the headwind and things started to string out. I got super frustrated that nothing was sticking and threw in one last hard dig and it worked!!! Tracy was with me along with Lindsey Hurst and Christine Roettger who caught on Tracy's wheel. It wasn't long before it was down to just the three of us as Christine dropped back. We worked together beautifully to make time between the group and ourselves for the last 15 or so miles. As we came into town, I actually saw Jessi and Kim doing their post-race talk, so I knew Jessi was safely in with either 1st or 2nd! On that final hill, I kept the pressure on and put a nice gap between myself and Lindsey and Tracey and was able to roll it in for a 3rd place finish. Lindsey took 4th, Tracy 5th.

Kim Eppen did, unfortunately for us, take the big "V", but Jessi and I were 2nd and 3rd! What a great way to start the year for ABD!!

Elena, Kristen , and Sarah all safely finished up after lots of hard racing and work to ensure Jessi and I stayed away, and we were all fortunate enough not to have suffered any punctures or mechanical problems to cause the dreaded "DNF". In fact our Treks served us very well indeed! They are very smooth and fast machines! You can believe the hype about their incredibly silky smooth ride, as this trait was really noticeable (and appreciated!) on the bricks!

We decided to stay over another night, so we were able to do some team bonding over dinner, then a campfire with s'mores! -Hey, we earned it! :) On Sunday the wind really whipped up, but we were determined to take advantage of these country roads and ventured out to ride the course again. After Chris (who by the way took 5th in the Masters 40+ race -Yay!) checked out some of the bikes to be sure they were alright after their hard use the day before, we all noodled the 10 miles to the course from the house we were staying at. Chris had the team working on a few bridging drills, but the wind kept getting stronger, so it became just a matter of working together to finish the race course route then headed the 10 miles back home. Kristen was the lone brave soul who decided to take advantage of the day and rode another lap by herself for a total of nearly 80 miles! Crazy lady!! I'm sure she'll post nice sunburn pictures on her blog. OUCH!!!

Thanks as always to Mike Farrell and Ebert and the club for supporting us!

Here's the link to my FB photo album:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2121828&id=1184494671&l=cb18b1f4f4

Let's all send good vibes out to Jessi as she leaves for Europe to race with the National Team!!! Safe travels and good racing to you Jess! We're looking forward to hearing all about it!

Stacy

4/04/2011

The JFMTT is this Sunday: Pre-Registration Closes Tonight!

This Sunday is the 9th Annual John Fraser Memorial Time Trial and the final round of the 2011 ABD Indoor Time Trial Series. Pre-registration closes tonight (Monday) at midnight and Preliminary Start Times for all pre-registered riders will be posted by Wednesday morning at www.ABDcycling.com . Day of race registration will also be available.

This round we’re using the 2-turnaround course that is just shy of 10 miles and course maps and parking maps are also available at our website.

Results will be posted LIVE on Sunday and we will be handing out overall awards immediately after the race and then heading over to Bootleggers at 221 Main Street in Maple Park. Join us for very reasonably priced burgers, brats and post-race beverages!

11 Categories are also competing for the “Take Home the Trainer” prize- which is open to all categories with at least three riders competing for the overall. If you’re in the running for the win please stick around to pick up your Blackburn Techfluid trainer (valued at $250!)

Of course, the season is just warming up and ABD will again be hosting Wednesday night training races starting later this month and the Memorial Day Weekend Masters Races. Stay tuned to the website, Facebook.com/abdcycling or Twitter.com/abdcycling for all the latest updates.