Thursday, May 6, 2010


This was the second MASS cross-country race for those of us that couldn't travel to the Danville race.

Course Highlights: The part where the beginners and the sport/expert/enduro racers went in different directions. That made me sad after the first lap when I realized how much more technical and uphill the part that I had to ride was.

Stats: 2 HZ ladies in the Sport 19-34 race, Ali and myself, Kristine in the enduro and at least 5 HZ men in a variety of categories. Ali and I lined up with 9 other women. Two of whom I found out live in the same zip code as myself.

Weather: Hot and muggy.

Summary: As usual, the start was fast as we all hustled up the road for the wide hole-shot. Ali was screaming fast as were a few other girls. I did my best to keep up with the front group in hopes of passing a bunch of them as the race got more technical. My hopes worked out and I got on the next fire road in a solid 5th position. Through the next few pieces of single track I got within chatting distance of 3rd place, though there wasn't a lot of talking and mostly a lot of quick turns and long uphills. As we came together through the end of the first lap, I knew that I needed to work hard all of the second lap to get past this girl and put enough time in to her so that she wouldn't out-sprint me up the long finishing climb. I did just that. It was just me, looking forward for Ali and behind for this girl, a Spokes racer.

I only ever heard of or from Ali twice, once at the end of the first lap as she cheered me on and again in a kind message relayed through my mom that I should go faster. She was hauling and there ended up being 4 minutes between her and 1st, and between her and I. I was pumped to cross the line in 3rd of 11, probably my best finish in a MASS race yet. It was hot though, and it was nice to lay around in the shade afterward.

In summary, at least 5 HZers took home plaques and medals for top 5 places in their respective races.

Monday, April 26, 2010

No easy races to warm up for 2010…Tour of the Battenkill

I should probably start with a summary of my winter off season…after Reston, took a few weeks off, mostly to catch up for exams, then drove three bikes on the roof of my car into a garage, was without a road bike until Marchish, spent the first months of the year learning to delivery babies, spent another few weeks rotating at Friends psych hospital, then onto surgery…somewhere in there I rode a little.

I thought for a fleeting moment in January about racing Battenkill. But after my lackluster off season and my thoughts that I should probably study more, I decided to pass the opportunity and wait to race road for another few weeks. That was until a week before the race when our fearless leader, Kristine, told me it would be fun. I require little arm twisting for adventures and signed up that day.

The entire week before was sunny and 80s. Then I checked the weather on Thursday for the Saturday race…35, snow flurries. Awesome, not only was I not feeling like I had fast legs, but it was going to be freezing.

Friday – adventure time! - Luckily Kristine let me study a little on the 5 hour drive – pretty much up to VT. Got to the hotel in time to get ready to sleep – only to have a bachelor party reving up in the room next to us. Some highlights – “All I want to do is shot guns tomorrow,” “Is it bad that I don’t trust leaving my kids with my wife.”

Alright, time for the actual race…the weather was partially right – 35, no snow luckily. The course cruised, pretty quick pace, slight rollers for the first 10 km. Part of it went onto a dirt road – luckily it rained the day before so the dirt was really hard packed and fast. 15 km – hello, first climb – the pack split slightly. 20-30km punchy uphill followed by dirt downhill. I’d like to think I am decent on the decents thanks to lots of riding with boys trying to keep up, but the girls in the pack were charging, super aggressive on the downhill’s. 45 km – long, steep, 150-200 m climb. Then some more little punchy rollers. The course highlight began at 70 km – a 10 km uphill section mostly on dirt. Pretty brutal. Luckily the sun was out, the course was perfectly marked and maned, and all we had to do was pedal. Just when the course looked like it was done, at 90 km there was another 100 m climb. Finally a downhill and flatish finish. The women’s 3 field spilt up early and I stayed will a small pack for the majority of the race, minus a 15 mile section somewhere in the middle and the last 2 miles of the race. My race was fun, ended up nice weather, great course, great views. Kristine’s race found her in a police car…not for anything entertaining, but for a flat at mile 37 (I may have told her to bring a flat kit…) requiring a ride one mile down the road to neutral support. Not one to quit, she pounded the rest of the course and DQed herself at the finish for “taking a ride in a cop car.”

Battenkill – we will be back next year. Hopefully with more teammates, better luck, and fresh legs…

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fair Hill: Mid-Atlantic SuperSeries

The roster is in, well, at least the first draft. We have 12 HZ men and women racing in the MASS this year. I think that 9 of us towed the line this weekend at Fair Hill in Elkton, MD. Almost all of us raced in the sport class races starting at 10:30.

Cross-country category: Sport Women I
Course Highlights: A stream crossing, a metal grate over a log (note the following picture courtesy of and the fast sweeping corners.

Stats: 2 HZ women, Ali Flis and Caitlin Thompson in a field of 9. 2 laps of 7.5 miles each.
Average speed: 12+ mph
Weather: Sunny, highs in the 60's, perfect for a mountain bike race

Well, it was by far the most exciting mountain bike race that I have ever entered. As we got up the road on to the single track, I was sitting 8th. Twenty minutes of standing in the corral sure had not helped me stay warmed up. I made it up to 6th within 10 minutes, powering through some straight single track. Then I could see Kat from C3 Sollay. She, Ali and I all duked it out in the MAC cross series. I guess it was time for round 2. I got past Kat on a tricky bridge that she decided to walk and I finally caught up to Ali, who was 4th, as we she was cruising to the end of the first lap. Sitting in 4th was tough because I was fairly certain that 1-3 were up the road, but I could see Ali and Kat right behind me. Ali got past me as we pulled through the start calling at me to get on her wheel. Kat got past me soon after that as well. Back in 6th I hung on to Kat's wheel like white on rice. I got around her one last time but knew that if I didn't drop her then, she'd pass me at the finish. Then I caught a tree with my bars and somehow ended up with a bar-end sized bruise on my tush. Hmmmm.... Anyways, tried to sprint out in front of Kat, for 2 seconds. Then she hauled past me and I'm fairly certain I crawled to the finish line, exhausted.

Official results aren't up, but Ali got 4th and I got 6th. Great competition, awesome race. Can't wait for Granogue and the Stoopid 50.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In it to win it!

Philly Phlyer TTT- March 20th

Weather- amazing

Course - Memorial hall heading west -> sketchy turns-> sketchy turns-> down Black Rd -> Left on West River -> turn around at Fall's Bridge -> back up Black Rd.

We wanted to show everyone exactly what we've got. We entered 2 teams: a team of Cat 2 riders (Kristine, Andrea, Thea, and myself), and a team of Cat 3 riders (Caitlin, Ali, and Victoria).

We all had somewhat of a haphazard morning. Most of us were up really early, and none of us got much of a warm up. As we were standing around chit chatting, all of a sudden the official called us to the line with 30 seconds to start. I don't think any of us were ready to ride, but we were certainly ready to kick ass! We navigated the sketchy turns to the best of our ability and headed down black road to west river safely with the help of some great communication. With some short strong pulls, we passed one team on the way to falls bridge and another on the way back, but our sights were ultimately on the Cadence girls who won last year. They weren't in sight, and frankly, I'm not even sure if they started before or after us.

We managed to "always ride through the pain" (imagine music in the background). I got dropped at the bottom of Black Rd., but the others finished together, with a time that was faster than all other women's TTT teams (including the collegiate teams).

The cat 3 team finished strong in 5th place.

All in all - it was a fun morning and great to be with teammates and friends!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sunny Day. Sweepin' the Clouds Away

We in Philadelphia were graced with lovely weather for most of MLK weekend. I hadn't been on my road bike in over 80 days. And no, I didn't count. My training log in Excel did it for me. But i had the pleasure this past weekend of riding not once, but three times.

On Friday I got out my friend Charles and we did a short 75min loop. And darn, 75min was tiring. And yes, that little n belongs there, it was not a 70mi ride. I wish I had the time and energy for that. Saturday I had to be at detention all morning, allowing the temperature to reach a lovely 50 degrees before Bianca and I embarked on our 2+ hour ride. Sunday was gloomy and wet, so I had a lazy day. But Monday I got out once again with Victoria and Sarah for another 2+ ride and a great post-ride snack at Ants Pants Cafe on South Street.

I am grateful for my friends, the weather and my trusty road bike. We will all meet again once I get my life back in balance. Somehow, this winter/spring has found me with the following commitments: planning a wedding, buying our first house, planning a school trip to Liverpool, training for a half-Ironman and pretending I'm training for bike racing season. Oh right, and work as a high school teacher. Looks like cyclocross might get the most attention this year (besides the tri, of course).