Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dynamic Duo!

Ryan and I headed to Lynchburg, VA last weekend to participate in the Angel’s Race Triathlon. The spirit of this race was to be someone’s “Angel” and to do the race in their honor. We both dedicated our race to Daniel Hersh who was killed a week earlier in a cycling accident in Virginia Beach.

We got there in time to preview the bike course. It was a pretty technical course- hilly and lots of twists and turns... but it was really fun!!! After checking into the hotel, we took a walk down to the local hotspot for dinner. It was prom night in Lynchburg and it was quite entertaining to see some of the outfits! Back to the hotel with full bellies, we got our bikes ready... and I noticed that my rear wheel had a slow leak.... good thing Ryan had a spare wheel with him in the car, so I made the switch so I wouldn't have to worry about it race morning. Not very fashionable with an 808 on the front and a heavy trainer wheel on the back, but at this point I was looking for function not fashion!

The hotel messed up our reservation and had us in 2 Double Beds. Sleeping like the Cleavers, we went to bed pretty early and I must say it was pretty relaxing to have the whole bed to myself. The alarm went off before we knew it and we got up, stretched, had a bite to eat and were out the door to the race site. Our hotel was right down the street from the YMCA where the swim and transition area were, so it was very convenient. I quickly warmed up on the bike to make sure my gears were shifting and then set my stuff up back in transition and jumped in the pool to loosen up. The swim went well, and I felt really smooth... quickly out and on my bike. I passed a ton of the "swimmers" who had started before me (with the pool swim, you are seeded by your 100-meter swim time and start in 15-second intervals) and got into my groove. Things were going well and I felt great until I made a quick gear shift down and dropped my chain! I tried to spin it back in place, but that was not working, so I got off my bike and put it back on... it was a little frustrating, but I knew I would just have to hammer that much harder from then on. The course was out-and-back and I saw Ryan right after I made the turn around, so I knew he would be passing me soon. Coming back into downtown was very uphill and kicked my butt, I struggled to keep it going and rode into transition. Off the bike and onto the run, I knew I rode well, but I was a little concerned because I haven't been running at all for the past month due to nagging shin splints. I tried to just get into a steady rhythm and keep it going. The first mile was hard, I picked it up for the 2nd mile and the last mile hurt bad (and it was getting hot)... the last 1000 meters was about a 22% grade and that was a tough finish. Ryan was there (already finished) to cheer me into the finish line. I was really happy with how I ran each leg of the race. It’s been awhile since I have put together 3 solid efforts in the same race.... Because of the staggered starts, we didn't know the final results until several hours later. Ryan ended up with not only the overall win, but also the course record for the whole race (and for the bike split alone)! It was fun to be co-champions (a first for us) as husband/wife and a fun way to end our Virginia triathlons. That was likely my last race in VA.... and we rewarded ourselves with massages last night.
Thinking about Daniel Hersh throughout the race was motivating and inspirational- to know that he could no longer do what he loved gave me that extra push throughout the race as I was still able to test my limits doing what I love.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How To Turn A Morning Bike Ride Into An All-Day Adventure

Vanderkittens Barb V., Maggie, Donna, and Barb R. took to the country roads on Tuesday morning after meeting at the Lagomar Neighborhood Park at 9:30AM. The weather was purrfect, the sky a deep blue, and the fields sprinkled with golden flowers. It just doesn't get any better than this, so at Creed's, we decided to continue on to Blackwater. Crossing the Pungo Ferry Bridge was a first for Donna and Maggie, and they climbed it like pros.

After admiring the rattlesnake rattles at the Blackwater Trading Post and purchasing some drinks and Snickers bars, we relaxed at the picnic table overlooking the scenic river (or overlooking the two port-o-potties--- depending on the side of the table sat upon). We chatted with a fisherman who snapped this photo of us. I'm sure it was NO coincidence that he caught a Vander-catfish minutes after we arrived!

I believe it was Barb V. who suggested "Let's keep going!" so, refueled and energized, we continued on to Northwest River Park --- another first for Donna and Maggie --- where we refueled again :-) and got to use real potties.

We sailed back to Creed's with the wind at our backs, stopping once again to refuel, enjoy each other's company, and visit with some other cyclists. We arrived back at our cars at 2:15pm then met at the BoardWok restaurant down the road for some great food and more fun conversation. Before we parted, we hugged each other in the parking lot and realized that the funky smell we had blamed on the Blackwater port-o-potties might be emanating from ourselves!

I arrived home at 4:15pm. It was a great day --- the riding was fantastic and, even more so, were the women on it. Thank you Barb V., Donna, and Maggie for the memories!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Linda, our Smitten Kitten, went south for the weekend to enjoy a nice little R&R. She stayed at the Inn at Bryant House in Aberdeen, a turn of the century restored mansion, while her Manderkitten, “Steve the Stud” Simet, raced at the Tour de Moore. Steve managed to finish 6th out of a field of 50 in his 50 plus race so the weekend was going just great. They came back to enjoy the town of Southern Pines and do a little antiquing followed by good food and drink. After a well deserved night’s sleep they woke up, packed the car, put the bikes on top and just when Linda thought it was time to go home, there was a little surprise waiting for her in a little black box!


Your Vanderkittens are ready and waiting to see your ring and to wish you a lifetime of health and happiness !

We also know that your VanderDog is delighted to hear the good news!

Monday, April 27, 2009

If The Shoe Fits....

We all wear many hats in our lives but it’s the shoes that hold us up and carry us along during our day-to-day journeys and escapades that life often throws at us. We choose different shoes for different occasions, hoping we have picked the right one to pull us through and not leave us at the end of the day sore and wishing we had chosen differently.

This past weekend brought the VB Vanderkittens together in a variety of settings for many reasons, and hence there were lots of shoes involved. Friday night’s birthday bash for our fearless leader Barb V. gave all of us some down time and the chance to unwind from our long work weeks. We all had on our party shoes! As well, our courageous kitten Laura was back in town for a reprieve from tending to her dear husband Bill whom we are all praying for and sending our well wishes to! Although we know Laura is a nurturing, loving caretaker, I’m not sure nursing shoes are quite her style? (I’m thinking more of a stacked wedge with some cute strap across the back is probably more along the lines here.) But we know she is nonetheless fulfilling her “nursing” duties and making sure what needs to get done is getting done!

On Sunday Barb V., Donna, Maggie, Joie, Meredith, and Claudia donned their biking shoes and headed off to join the hundred or so other cyclists across the City of Virginia Beach to memorialize on our fellow citizens and cyclists Daniel Wayne Hersh and . It was humbling to be a part of something so much bigger than ourselves, and despite the sadness associated with the event, there were no other shoes we would have wanted to be wearing that morning.

BJ headed up to DC and donned her daughter – in- law shoes helping to celebrate Bob’s mother’s 90th birthday! I bet that woman has worn some interesting shoes in her lifetime!

I tell my husband often, it’s all about the shoes, but this weekend when I started to think about the paths we take and the trials and tribulations we face in our lives, it’s an interesting analogy to explore. The shoes we wear for the different experiences we weather in life support us and define us as much as the experiences themselves. Some of them last us a long time, and others only a season. We find the need to replace them here and there but sometimes we hang on to the worn ones despite the fact we may never wear them again. It is painfully difficult for me to part with shoes. I guess I always think there may be a “what if”, and so I hold onto them. I’ll leave you with these parting words; just as experiences, friends, jobs, romances, and places to live etc… may come and go, how we choose to react to these circumstances ultimately defines us. We hopefully make the right choices and when we don’t we learn, just as every once in a while we buy a pair of shoes we think are going to be great but they really aren’t. As the saying goes, If the Shoe Fits…if not, just try another pair, it’s the feet inside that really matter!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Barbie Cat’s birthday week finally came to a close on Friday evening when all her feline friends showed up on the doorsteps of Kelly Cat for a grand time. Food and drink flowed through the evening and the cats were out with calendars in hand attempting to schedule the next social. We also had many Manderkittens in attendance who were content to sit pool and bar side to talk about anything other than cycling!

Claudia was quick to grab a VK kit to model. We are all in love with the kits and knew when we ordered them that we would not be disappointed. Great job to Dave, the VK designer for the purrfect fit. We are already getting ready to place another order since we all realized we want more. We’ve also added some new members to our rapidly growing team so welcome one welcome all. If anyone is still interested in learning more about our club team, please contact for more information.

I no longer have my CAAD 9 frame for sale but do have a CAAD 8. If any one is interested, contact me at Price is $250.00. For those of you may be thinking of doing Wintergreen but don’t have proper gearing, I have a deal for you. I have a 9 speed 12/32 mountain cassette with Shimano Deore XT derailleur with a long chain which will work with a 9 or 10 speed shifter. Bob and I have used this gearing for Wintergreen as well as Bike Virginia and it did just fine since there’s not a lot of shifting involved. Price for that set up is $50.00.

On a somber note, Barb V., Donna, Joie, Claudia, Meredith and Maggie, participated in the Daniel Hersh Memorial Ride today. Daniel was killed while riding his bike last Sunday on a route many of us ride frequently. We hope that the number of riders who showed up today will help bring awareness for all so that we can safely share the road. Our condolences go out to the Hersh family.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

58 Candles

Barb is our unsung hero on Team Vanderkitten. She is the one who has spent countless hours creating our club team here at the beach. What started with 1 team member has ended with 20 plus ladies who have all come together to enjoy the life of a cyclist both on and off the bike.

Barb is a stunning woman whose husband describes her as his “china doll.” The girls on our team know that behind that face and that porcelain skin is a true competitor finding her way in a sport where she will ultimately excel to a new level.

The felines on the team refer to our club manager as our “BARBie Cat.” What most of our teammates don’t realize is the resume she has built over the years. She started her sports career early on at the game of tennis. She then moved on to being a ski instructor. She was top notch in freestyle skiing and rock climbing. While she was in California she was part of the first wave of females to compete in triathlons. She has run a 3:09 marathon and also held 2 world records for 24 hour relays run on a track with her team “Bosom Buddies.” This china doll is a force to be reckoned with, as you can see. Not only does she embrace every sport she tries, but her family does as well. Her daughter Lauren is traveling around the country on a bike and her son Patrick is on his way to becoming a professional surfer. Albie, her husband and one of our Manderkittens, shares her love of cycling and has found himself wrapped up in the sport. Instead of spending hours on the sidelines cheering our team on, he has found that his time will be better spent racing as well!

Our VK beach club team is so fortunate to have Barb watching over us. She has sacrificed her season to see that our first season goes smoothly. Her birthday wish is to find herself on a time trial bike soon where she will shave minutes off her time. Your VK friends hope that your birthday wish comes true!

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I had the opportunity today to “test ride” a Storck bike and it was everything I hoped it would be. It was pretty, it matched my new Team Vanderkitten kit, and it was a smooth and fast ride. After my test ride of 60 plus miles, I couldn’t get back fast enough to Conte’s to close the deal.

It’s hard to part with a bike that has been a great ride for 3 years, and has also put me on the podium multiple times at Nationals, but it’s time to say goodbye to that bike and hello to my new Storck. If anyone happens to want a great Cannondale Caad 9 frame, let me know because you’ll get a great deal!

Congratulations again to Ali for winning the CAT 4 race at the Casey Crit in Newport News today. Ali has proven time and time again that she’s GOLDEN.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's a Girl Thing!

It all started when I was in 7th grade and had my first out of town field trip to Williamsburg. One of the evening activities was to be bowling. After a day of walking around Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown, I remember thinking about how much I looked forward to something other than a history lesson. It was also the first time I had gone out of town with both girls and boys. We arrived at the bowling alley after dinner (I remember this like it was yesterday). We all went up to get our shoes and the clerk behind the counter asked me my size. I remember saying I wear a Size 10 and all my “friends” looked at me like I had 2 heads. To make matters worse, the size of the shoe was sewn in a stripe down the back of the shoe so every time I went to bowl, everyone started laughing at me because I was a size 10. Being a “10” in some things is a good thing, but being at that very impressionable age when you don’t want to stand out as anything different, it just wasn’t right. I remember coming home and telling my parents how much I hated having big feet and then looking at their feet and realizing I was just the product of good stock. From that day forward I decided that whatever shoe I wore on my BIG feet was going to not only be a size 10, but a killer shoe as well.

When Bob and I got married, he was always looking in my closet and telling me to count my shoes. I didn’t want to bring any extra attention to the 50 plus pair I have, so I just busied myself ignoring him. Over the years I have been married, I have obviously collecte
d a few more pairs, which are in perfect cubbies so I can always grab the right shoe for the right outfit. On my last trip to South Carolina I promised Bob I would only spend 5 minutes in the famous Bob Ellis Shoe Store on King Street. To Bob, 5 minutes was way too long to shop for shoes, but for me, the very skilled shoe shopper, it was to be short and sweet. I passed the pole dancing shoes with 5 inch heels at $960.00, skipped the Prada section, and ended up with good old Donald Pliners for $310.00. These new tortoise shell shoes would be at home next to my zebra and python sandals. I was in and out in a flash and Bob was done for the day.

When we arrived home, Bob was telling folks at the Saturday ride about how ridiculous it was to spend $310.00 on a pair of shoes. I then asked Bob how much he spends on his Sidi cycling shoes and I think it was in the ballpark of $400.00. I just can’t imagine spending that much money on a shoe that doesn’t have a cute heel and is all sweaty inside. Bob totally gets his purchase and I totally get mine. I guess it’s a “Girl Thing.”

Monday, April 6, 2009

Vanderkittens Kick Ass

Three of our Vanderkittens represented us well at the Smithfield Sprint Triathlon on Saturday. Julie placed 2nd overall and Kelly and Vanda placed 6th and 14th in the 45-49 category. Way to go girls!

Sunday brought the Conquer the Canal Time Trial. Vanderkitten again was well represented with 13 competitors giving it their all. We had first timers who were all smiles when the race was over. We swept the women’s events with 3 first places and a second.
Congratulations to Laura for breaking the course record in the CAT 1,2,3, Ali winning CAT 4
and BJ winning the 40 plus. Julie, after a hard effort at the triathlon the day before, again brought home the silver.

Five of our team members did their first race ever and were all smiles at the end. Congratulations to Claudia, Donna, Maggie, Meredith and Winnie.

Claudia has included her report as a first time racer. I think you’ll enjoy her “Newbie’s Perspective.”

A Newbie’s Perspective….

My first time trial! Needless to say despite the fact that I did not feel overly nervous, I had very restless sleep the night before, and way too many trips to the bathroom the morning of. Meredith and I caravanned out to the trail which was relatively easy to find and found a parking place pretty easily; shortly thereafter Laura, Ali, Julie and Ryan showed up and we all just started doing the pre-race activities of getting our numbers and setting up our trainers. It was nice having some veterans there if nothing else to mimic their actions and not look like such a newbie beginner, and thanks to Ryan for taking off my gay reflector- lol.

As we warmed up, people came by and chatted here and there and it seemed before I knew it, it was time to head to the start. One more trip to the bathroom – for good luck, a quick spin down the road and back and up to the start. It was actually kind of interesting just watching people go off. Various tidbits of advice being offered from different people such as keep your eye on your 30 second and minute person lingered in my mind as the starter counted down my last ten seconds. I was fiddling with my odometer and didn’t get the greatest start, and then I couldn’t click in immediately which was simply annoying. Finally, I settled in and started my ride. As I slowly watched my 30 second person vanish from view (being that it was Ann Burns, I guess I couldn’t be too surprised, and of course with my minute person being Julie), reality set in that my race would be a solitary journey to the six mile marker as I would never quite catch up to anyone else. So I tried to play music in my head and think about anything other than my leg pain, or my speed- except to maintain at least 19 (my goal), and just ride. The scenery was beautiful and I went back and forth between wondering should I spin faster at an easier gear or try to push a harder gear; I never quite determined which was better- will need to consult Captn’ Cook and others about the best answer to that question. The miles moseyed along and I found myself watching others and thinking they are all going much faster than you Claudia, move your legs you lazy slug! When I got to the turn around I thought what a simply stupid concept, surely a nice big turning circle would make our lives so much easier, and I tried to focus on not falling as I turned left, clearly my non-comfortable side to turn on. (Note to self, practice turning left more) The way back felt windier and I found myself relishing the points along the trail that didn’t include big fields on my right side so as not to blow even more wind onto my already struggling self. Again those voices in my head told me Claudia you are going too slow, PEDAL!!!!!!!! It was right about that time that I heard the humming…..and WHOOOOOSH!!!!!!!! Like a flash of lightening BJ flew by me looking like Wonder Woman on wheels! That was inspiring and I think I actually sped up a bit – thank you BJ. In the distance I could see the tent and the odometer told me I was rapidly approaching the finish so I tried to push it even more. My legs were burning, and I was thinking you need to get your act together young lady and start riding more!!!! When I finally passed the finish I believe it was Barb Ryan who yelled my name cheering for me – Thank you Barb – that was great! But again, like everyone else wasn’t quite sure I was done so I kept pushing pretty hard. Seeing the team at the end was great although being the last one to go simply because of my last name was frustrating. Hope all races are not reverse alphabet. At the end, I unclicked and definitely felt in my legs that I had given my all. I was pretty happy and at that point really just wanted to see what my time would be as I didn’t have a good read from my bike computer.

What I learned. A bike race is completely different mentally from a running race, at least for me. I had no idea what to anticipate. I learned I needed a longer warm-up. I learned that I have a lot to learn and I desperately want to learn more. I got better at running from reading and asking questions and I fully intend to do the same thing with biking. I learned that there is a huge difference from being able to go out and ride even 30 miles and being able to then perform well at a time trial. This is a very complex sport. And I learned that I’m completely in awe of my teammates who make it look so easy even more so than I was before the time trial. This was a fun day and I’m excited to be a part of such a supportive group of athletic, empowering women. Team Vanderkitten is phenomenal!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Good Genes

When I go to a race and I see a talented rider always making the right moves, having a great sprint, or climbing a hill like they’re on the flats, I stand in awe. I sometimes wonder if their family is there to watch and take photos, if they are married and if so, does their spouse support the rider with all the hours of training it takes to be a great competitor. I know I try to do the right thing by getting in those 8,000 miles a year so I can justify my bikes, clothes and gear. I also wonder if I had started this sport when I was in my 20s and not in my 50s how would I have fared with others and what my future might have been. Since all of that is out of my control at this time in my life, I look to the younger generation to see what the future has in store for them instead.

I happen to be a part of a cycling family and for that I'm very thankful. My husband rides 60 plus, my son is a CAT 2 racer, my granddaughter is 9 and is comfortable on a bike, a soccer field and in the pool. At this time she’s not even aware that she will be a very competitive triathlete. My father was a baseball player. My brother is multi-talented and not only was a nationally ranked triathlete, enjoys golf, tennis and skiing as well. All of this leads me to thinking about what genes my parents gave me and what genes I’m passing along.

Obviously athletic parents will have athletic kids. The opportunities are abundant at every age for almost every sport. Donna, a beach Vanderkitten, took on the volunteer job of mentoring 60 plus middle school students to get them through their first 8K. I bet their parents were out there not only cheering them on but probably running the 1/2 or marathon the same day.

Claudia has a daughter who will be giving Liz Hatch a run for her money in the near future! I see she's already on a Specialized bike and will soon be teaching her brother how to ride.

My granddaughter has fire in her eyes after I bought her a racing bike complete with 24” tires. When she finally learns how to clip her shoes in her pedals. she’ll be good to go.

Look around at every race. What a gene pool. Our future looks bright!