Whew what a weekend. 3 days off from work and I'm beat!;)--I actually couldn't wait to sit behind my desk and rest!
It all started on Friday late afternoon when Chris and I loaded up the van with all the bike stuff, loaded up Elena and her gear, dropped off Jazzy with Donna Maday (thank you again Donna!) and hit the road for Burlington, IA. We checked into the luxurious (by circa ~1964 standards) Howard Johnson at about 11:30pm. We were beat from a long week of work and training, but ready and excited for the weekend of racing, especially since this was the first weekend with Jeannie Kuhajek racing with ABD back up here from her home in New Zealand! She and her man, Brian, aka Lami, had arrived in the States after the long difficult trip here earlier in the week. Needless to say, they were more than a bit jet lagged.
We woke up on Saturday ready to attack the Snake. Unfortunately, Mother Nature wanted to make it tougher on us with frequent rain showers that moved through the area making the cobbles slick and the descent on the back side tricky. Elena, Sarah, Jessi (after her mad dash to IA from her graduation earlier in the day-congrats Jess!), Jeannie and I lined up toward the front. As you probably read in her blog, Kristen wasn't able to join us due to her husband Jason's knee surgery. Our team had some bad luck as both Jeannie and I had a bad clip-in and worse yet, Elena broke her chain right there on the line. We did the best we could and climbed the Snake 12 times. I was quite conservative on the descents and had Jeannie and the small group she was with in my sights the whole race. They'd drop me on the downhill and I'd make up distance on the flat so that I was just behind them on the climb every lap. On the last lap, an especially large gap opened up and I had to kill it to catch up. At the perfect moment, Jeannie, who was on the front of her group, sat up before the last turn and I came around the corner with some speed and out sprinted that group to end up 11th. I wasn't sure how many girls were up the road, so I figured since Jeannie set it up so perfectly, I'd try to increase the teams placing a tad. She came in just behing me at 13th. Jessi, after warming up during the first half of the race, finnaly got her "car legs" going ("car legs" are the heavy feeling you get in your legs from sitting in a car for too long right before a ride)and moved up from her understandably slow-ish start to garner 16th. Afterwards spectators said they could actually see Jessi picking up speed every lap, which is the reverse of what usually happens during the Snake. The podium consisted of Amanda Miller-Coumbia HTA 1st, Coryn Rivera-Peanut Butter & Co. 2nd and Kaitlin Antonneau-Peanut Butter & Co. 3rd.
It rained on Sunday. That's an understatement as you know, since the same storm that gave us a two hour delay for the Melon City Criterium in Muscatine, IA, came through the Chicago area too. After waiting the storm out at the HOJO's, we headed north to Muscatine about noon. Our race wouldn't go off for another 5 hours.
The course was super fun and was held in the beautfiful setting of not appropriately named Weed Park. It has a nice climb before the last few hairpin turns going into the finish line. The descent has a speed hump at the bottom that like Kristen, freaked me out for the first four laps. Jessi was nice enough to talk me down from my fear. Chris told me it was no big deal and he and Jess were right. I just started going over it without braking. What an energy saver. Ashley James from the Kenda team rolled off the front in about the 2nd or 3rd lap of the 20 lap event. She put in a massive effort to stick that lead for the win. ABD raced well together and attacked and countered and covered moves nicely. With about four to go, after a fast stretch, I put in a dig at the top and got a nice gap going into the descent. I only held it for a lap before Amanda Miller of Columbia-HTC and Coryn Rivera of PB&Co rolled up to me. I caught their wheel and we traded pulls for the remainder of the race until on that last ascent, Amanda put in a dig that I couldn't respond to. Luckily for me, my fanstastically gifted and smart teammate Jeannie had burned one of Coryn's matches earlier in the race by letting a gap open up that Coryn had to close. That was key to me dropping Coryn on that last climb and getting the last podium spot. Jess was just nipped at the line by Samantha Schneider of Team TIBCO and garnered 6th place. Jeannie, after a successful 4th place finish (she should have won, but that's another story) in the 2/3 race, put forth a fabulous team performance and ended up 22nd.
Quad Cities Criterium
Monday morning we rose to very warm and windy conditions. Yes, summer was here! Jeannie, Sarah, Elena and I decided to double dip and do the morning 2/3 race. Jessi was smart and studied for a college class she's taking. The race was a short affair at only 13 laps and after a very botched attempt at a leadout on my part for Jeannie(sorry Jeannie) that I won't go into right now, she was able to salvage a 7th place finish and I sheepishly rolled in behind her for 9th. I've got work to do!
The afternoon race was set to go at 2:30. It would run 33 laps. It's a flat course, but the wind added a difficult dimension to the race having kicked up a bit more since the morning. Kristen, being the defending champion, got her call up as did Jessi. I wasn't paying attention when I got mine for being 3rd the day before. I wasn't expecting it and had to be told twice. OOPS! It was my first call up! COOL!
The race started out hot and heavy with Kristen covering the first dangerous move and was in that group! I was relieved, since I'm on a roll of kind of starting out slowly. I had to bridge a gap to get up to Jeannie and she informed me that I could sit up since Kristen was up the road. Being that Kristen had won this very race the year before, and also being pretty much a local legend, this tactic forced the other teams that hadn't made the break to chase, saving the rest of the team from having to work too much early on. WHEW! Thank you K!:) --Kristen has a TON of experience and has alot to bring to the table and we all very much appreciate having her on the team!
Jessi and Jeannie put in attacks once Kristen was caught though, and Jeannie ended up in a nice break of 4, again taking the pressure off Jessie and me. We did our best to slow things up but the field was still fresh enough to reel the break back in over the course of the next several laps. Once it was caught, I found myself out of position to counter. Honestly, I was struggling to hang on while they chased, and they chased hard! I needed another half lap to move up. Two girls attacked into the head wind and I bridged up to them solo. When they sat up, I attacked them into the headwind section past the start/finish dropping them and after taking a quick look back I saw the field sit up! I couldn't believe it, they were going to let me go! --Well at least for the moment as they must have started to tire out a bit after so much hard racing. So, I went into "time trial mode" --which Chris has taught me so well! I'm not sure exactly when I got the gap, Chris thought it was around lap 15, others put it more like 12, I dunno, all I knew it seemed a LONG way to go by myself, so I just had to pray it would stick. My prayers were answered in the form of Jeannie Kuhajek and Jessi Prinner! Thank you ladies for being great actresses --Jess to field "is that a Kenda girl up there?" in order to maybe throw off team Kenda so that they might shut down any chase attempts since they seemed to have the most riders in the field. That's some fast thinking Jess! Then Jeanie and her held the pace just high enough that when attacks were made, there wasn't enough of a speed differential for anything to get away, but not so high as to roll up on me.Those long lonely laps by myself were tough, but it's all worth it when you know you've got a team backing you and cheering you on! Huge thanks to Mike Ebert and Sarah for giving me splits at important spots along the course! Thanks to my Moso Man for saying the perfect thing along the way. And Kristen and Elena, thanks for screaming your brains out for me! I couldn't have done it without you all! So, on the last lap, I was just trying to stay upright and get my skinsuit zipped up for the "post up". I was so exhausted coming into the finish line that I was afraid I would fall over with the big headwind so I kept one hand on the bar. Better to do that than go down! :)
Coryn Rivera came in 2nd and sprinter Holly Matthews of IS Corp came in third. Jessi and Jeanie's HUGE efforts to help ensure I stayed away of course didn't leave much energy left for them to contest the finish but did finish up very respectfully in 17th and 22nd respectfully due to their incredible natural ability.
I was so happy to head home after a successful weekend of racing for ABD. I couldn't wait to pick up our team dog, Jazzy, at Donna's house. She took awesome care of her and I hear Jazzy even had the pleasure of meeting several ABD members at the Master's race, including celebrity announcer, Todd Busteed. Jazzy says "HI Todd!" Donna you're the best!
Thanks to the ABD Club, Farrell and Ebert for everything you do. Chris, thanks as always for making my sweet Trek Madone run like a top so all I have to do is concentrate on racing and for always listening to me! :) Lastly, thanks for my amazing teammates. I can't wait to see what we can do together once we really get to know each other! :)
We have a weekend off from travel, but we're off to Minneapolis next for the Fixed Gear Classic and Nature Valley Grand Prix.
Have a great week!