Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Racing with the Big Girls

So I've only done a couple of "pro" races and would really like to do more. I became a Cat 2 rider last year and competed at Fitchburg and a couple other big races, but most of my racing has been pretty local. This past Sunday I drove up to Washington DC to race with the big girls for the first time this season. Hub Racing hosted the City Bikes Criterium at RFK Stadium. This is an awesome event, drawing some of the biggest names in professional cycling to the area. They had $10k in prize money for both the pro men and the pro women's races, some of the biggest cash for racing anywhere in the country. I raced in the women's pro race and saw a lot of familiar faces (among them were Rachel Warner and Amity Elliot from Team Salamander, Deidre Winfield from C3 Sollay, Sonya Evers from CycleLife, Carol Ennser from Artemis, and Julie K and Emily Joyner from Marshall Mechanical) and also got the chance to meet two of the women from the Vanderkitten pro team who came to town for the race (Melissa Sanborn and Leigh Hopkins). The race was pretty fast, averaged 25mph for the 35 mile race. I felt very comfortable, except for in one of the turns that was pretty tight. There was a lot of slowing down for and accelerating out of that particular turn and it was hard on the legs to make the jump if you weren't toward the front of the pack.

I tried to position myself toward the front as much as possible, and was able to get in a good spot for the final couple of laps. Although there had been several break attempts, none stuck so we were a pretty big pack coming down the finishing straight. I was in the main field for the finish (placing 30th). It was a lot of fun being out there with some of the biggest names in women's cycling, and to watch how frickin fast some of those girls can SPRINT!!!

So here's a link to the video finish of the women's race: http://www.hubracing.com/news/2009/05/video-of-womens-finish.html

A link to the final results: http://www.usacycling.org/results/index.php?permit=2009-509

And finally, the write-up for the race from Hub Racing's website:

"The race was littered with attack after attack from as teams tried to duplicate the breakaways that have won half of the previous women's pro races at RFK. But 10 individual $200 primes kept the entire field pulled out like a rubber band all race long as everyone wanted a share of the cash. Sara Carravella of Alan North American showed her power as she timed the jump correctly out of the turn to take 3 of the big money primes. But her effort would hurt down the stretch and she was shut out of the finish money. Host team Hub Racing launched 4 seperate attacks with Sally Annis. She won a prime on the way, but never got further than 3 seconds before juggernauts Colavita/Sutter Home and the Australian National Team hammered it back. When the group came out of the headwind through the hairpin final turn, it looked like Colavita had it together for Tina Pic. But Laura Van Gilder riding for C3/Sollay dove to the rumple strip on the inside and launched from 200 meters. Laura took Tina at the line by a bike length, with a Lauren Kitchen of the Aussies just along side Tina for 3rd. Hub Racing's Elizabeth Morse Hill was just behind for 9th, and Hub's Amy McGuire held on after the lead out for 20th."

Ride Safe!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day Memories

Maggie and Donna took out Wendy, one of our newest Vanderkittens, for her first ride down Shore Drive in Virginia Beach through the hills of Fort Story not once but twice. The group totalled more than 25 miles and Wendy was hanging in there from start to finish. Club Vanderkitten welcomes you Wendy.

Bob and I went to Loudoun County this weekend to not only celebrate our 34th anniversary but to visit my dad, who is now living in an assisted living facility in Leesburg, Virginia. He's in a quite nice spot but the best part of his new home is that his view out of his window is of the W&OD bike trail! We had a great ride going from Leesburg to Waterford to Taylorstown and loved the "bike friendly" roads the whole day. The only bad part was getting back in the car, driving down I-95 and taking 5 hours to get home from a trip that should have only taken 3 1/2 hours.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Knotts Island - Metric Century

Well to say the least the last two weekends have been challenging and exhilarating all at the same time…

Last weekend I took on the challenge of completing my first century. Facing many questions from my non-biker friends of “Why would you want to ride 100 miles,” etc…I sloughed it off and just smiled as I went about my business. I wasn’t really sure of the answer myself.

The drive up to Williamsburg was easy; such a nice time to ride when one does not have to deal with traffic. Arrived at Chickahomony park, checked in, got ready and off we went. My riding partner Erika was feeling spunky and decided to try to catch a wheel of the first group, likewise I followed and when I realized that within the first 3 miles I was cruising at 24 mph logic set in and I said, “Claudia, you have 97 more miles of this, do you really want to be going this speed so soon?” So I dropped off and eventually got into my groove, met back up with my pal, hooked up with a nice group and off we went to Richmond into the headwind praying to God the wind would not change directions right when we had to head back. Feeling thrilled to be flying down the hill into the city of Richmond, it hit me we would eventually have to climb back up this sucker to go home.

Lots of things went through my mind as I rode. Despite the fact that there were many more hills than I anticipated, I felt strong until about mile 75. Then I started getting hot spots – new experience for me mind you and severe back pain – need to talk to Roberio about my fit. Some stretching and a little foot massaging at the rest stops helped a lot and before I know it we were climbing the Chickahomony Bridge to the finish…

The feeling of exhaustion I felt that night was a new one on me. It wasn’t until I got home, sat in my garage and slugged a beer with my hubby that I realized just how tired my legs were. I fell asleep with a huge sense of accomplishment and my little girl wrapped in my arms; a perfect ending to a perfect day. I am proud to be showing my daughter the importance of staying healthy and taking care of your body. She rides around our driveway and our garage and considers herself a Vanderkitten because she rides a Specialized like mommy. She gets off and feigns being out of breath and sits down for a quick refuel as she calls it then hops back onto her bike for some more exercise…needs to strengthen her muscles she tells me. She’s already looking towards and talking about her next bike, she said as long as it’s purple and a Specialized, she’ll be happy.

Onto Knott’s Island this weekend took some of the kittens. The decision for me to complete the metric and not the full century again was simply just one of logistics. I wasn’t really sure I could swing two 100 mile bikes rides two weekends in a row (wasn’t sure I really wanted to) and when I completed the Metric I was happy I had made the decision I did. Joined by other kittens Susan, Donna and Maggie, we set off at the start. Knotts Island itself was an uneventful ride, well despite the rain that dumped down on us the first several miles causing splatter to form on my brand new jersey! The surprising part was pulling into the Ferry Dock along with my riding buddies Erika and Darryl, ahead of everyone else! We passed several groups and felt like pretty hot stuff; me sporting my new Pink Vanderkitty jersey and her in her Coastal Racing gear; Darrly said he was just happy to hang with us chicks as we met in the first few miles and rode the whole ride together. We met our bright cheery faced V-kitty teammates and Manderkittens Bob and Ryan braving the century ride as we boarded the ferry bound for the final leg of the ride. We had great conversation on the ferry with new friends we made and managed to soak up a little sun in the process. Then off we went into the headwind for the last 27 miles of our ride. The course itself wasn’t anything special, in fact I’d say the road surfaces in general were pretty yucky overall…but the company was great and we managed to get to know our new kitten friend Susan pretty well. Way to hang kitty cat Susan– you roared! Complete with a decent spaghetti lunch – which as BJ said is surprisingly yummy in the afternoon, we headed home with again a feeling of accomplishment and some new friends.

Donna and Maggie also said they enjoyed the h - - - out of it. They loved everything about it and were very proud of themselves for finishing it as well as they did. They averaged 17-19 mph, and neither of them had biked that far before. The route was very interesting and they met some really helpful and friendly people.

We all agreed bikers are so friendly and always willing to help you out. Donna and Maggie cannot wait until next year and hopefully they will be ready for the 100 miler!!

Spunky Cat

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Knotts Island Century

Waking up early is not a problem when you’re going to be spending the better part of the day riding a 100 miles. Today at 5:00 AM, it was out of bed in a hurry to go check the radar to see if there was any bad weather looming over Virginia Beach for the Knott’s Island Century. Radar looked perfect for the century, so off to pack the car and be out the door by 6:00. As we backed the car out to load up the bikes, we saw dark skies and felt a light drizzle. We didn’t even think twice to question the weather since there were no blips on the radar. Riding down I-64, we saw the skies get even darker and down came the rain. We drove to the site where the race started and it looked “iffy” but we were already there, so why not ride? The century riders rolled 27 miles to catch a ferry from Currituck to Knotts Island; the metric riders rode to Knotts Island to catch the ferry back to Currituck. Donna, Maggie, Susan and Claudia rode the Metric route and BJ, Julie, Laura and Ali rode the full century. So, as we were getting off the ferry, the metric crowd was waiting to board. It was great to see those very cool gals in their Vanderkitten kits smiling like it was Christmas.

The riders who chose to do the century gathered and we rolled at 7:00 for the 9:00 ferry. We had a nice warm up pace going since we didn’t want to be there too early for the ferry ride since we knew we would be on board for an hour. Once on the ferry, we took off our socks, wrung them out to dry and came up with innovative ways to spend our hour. We even had a bird’s eye view of an osprey in her nest. After the ferry unloaded about 50 riders and their bikes, we all settled into our groups and knocked off the rest of the ride rest stop by rest stop. The weather got better as the day went on but lots of bikes will have to be cleaned tomorrow. Once back at the finish we enjoyed spaghetti and salad and all left before the skies opened again. This is one of my favorite centuries and a good training ride for this time of the year.

One of the more memorable parts of the ride was when I decided to time trial in for the last 5 miles. I just felt I had strong legs and wanted to see how fast I could go. I took off at the last turn and looked back a few minutes later to see that no one had followed. I was thinking I was pretty hot stuff dropping all of those fast folks until they rolled in and told me my husband had a flat and that I was the only one who didn’t wait for him while he changed his tire. I guess I’ll be delegated to the TIME OUT CHAIR for that!!!

Podium Cat

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Kittens invade Contes!

Tonight was our first of many visits to Contes to learn about bike maintenance with Clint, the new service manager at Contes. We were a captive audience not only learning how to change a flat if need be, but also learning how to get the most life out of our chains when they get wet, how to take care of a bike when it's on top of the car and gets caught in a downpour and how a dollar bill will do the trick if you slice a tire.

The beach kittens want to thank Bonnie who organized the event and made sure all the details were covered including food and wine along with great pesonalized VK bike decals.

After our clinic, we launched into a spending frenzy when we found out that some of the VK clothes had arrived hours earlier at the shop. Linda was able to find herself a great t-shirt on E-Bay that was previously owned by one of the pro racers for Vanderkitten. May we all be so lucky in the future to pick up such great merchandise at such great prices.

We were also glad to meet 3 of our new team members. Welcome Wendy, Susan and Summer. They now have the job of coming up with their "cat names" otherwise we'll be coming up with ones for them.

The evening ended early only because we have a large group riding the Knott's Island Century tomorrow morning. The weather looks favorable and it's always a nice way to spend the day with great teammates. As for me, I'll be enjoying the sights with camera in hand and will hopefully have a report out on the blog by the end of the weekend.
Podium Cat

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

CALIFORNIA - Here they come!

Julie and Ryan will be leaving soon for California so it was just another reason for the Beach kittens to get together to have a proper send off for them. This couple, with a combined height of 12’, has just got this triathlon racing down to a science. If one’s not winning the race, the other is and on a good day they both win. It’s just plain sad that they are leaving now that all of us are getting to know each other so well. Julie and Ryan are already talking about having our pride come to California for training. I think the VK gals would be all over that invitation plus we would love to go meet the pro racers and VK organizers who live on the West Coast.

I took lots of photos of the send off and see that everyone was very playful. It may be that some of the kittens got into some of the catnip. I think I even saw that the Charlie’s Angels were on hand.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Meredith, our youngest feline on the team, turns 24 today! I can only imagine how happy her mom must have been to have a “Mother’s Day" baby.

The girls on the VK team have been impressed with her since the day she joined. Fresh out of college, she is just what the team needed to round us out. She’s from an athletic family, she was a rower, she’s very determined to do her homework on everything she buys so it’s the right purchase, she’s poised, she’s mature beyond her years and when you talk with her you almost forget that she’s only 24. If anyone on the team needs to know anything about proper bike maintenance, Meredith has the answer. She credits all of this to her dad, who also rides a bike.

Her first bike purchase was in 2008. She quickly outfitted her Specialized bike with some nice new American Classic 420 aero wheels. She’s found company with Claudia on our team and the 2 of them not only train together but almost have the same time trial times as well.

Our Meredith was comfortable at her job with Davenport as a stock broker but is about to follow her passion to become a PA. School for her will start in January 2011. I think any patient she will see will be the recipient of the best care available because with Meredith you get 100% of anything she has to offer.

She thinks Vanderkitten is a good fit for her, and we agree. We look forward to her being on our team for many years to come and also look forward to her racing. I think with her discipline and training, many good things will come to her in the future!

Happy Birthday to you our feline friend. We had a great time celebrating your birthday a couple of days early at our new hot spot, 501 Grill.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Up, Up and Away!

There are some people who love to climb and there are others who just can’t do it! I happen to be one that almost has “panic attacks” at the thought of having to climb a mountain since I live where there are no hills for training. My manderkitten, Banker Bob, thinks it is just plain fun to go on vacation, climb a hill, and tell the story when it’s over. For me, going to the bar, having a bottle of wine, hoping I forgot to pack my biking shoes, is a better story.

Bob and I left early Friday to go to Wintergreen so we could enjoy a nice quiet get away for the weekend. I usually love to talk for hours about nothing, but found that I had nothing to say all the way up the road. There was too much traffic, we missed the exit to Jefferson Avenue in Newport News to go to Trader Joes, and ended up at Wintergreen an hour after we should have. Once I did get my race #, had a meal under my belt, I settled in to a night of thinking “why am I doing this when I don’t have to." When I woke up early on Saturday and opened our door to the patio at our very nice condo at Wintergreen, I felt the breeze blowing through the door. That was a great sign since I realized it would be a tailwind all the way from the start to the finish. It was now time to put on my “race face” and get my head into the task ahead.

Since I had been awake off and on all night , I talked Bob into going to the start very early, parking the car and getting ready since I was thinking the social side of this race was going to take place before my start and not after. We did a little warm up and before I knew it I was facing the beast and it wasn't going to be pretty.

I felt good starting out and I was glad I had my new Storck which is known as the lightest frame in the world, taking me up the ascent. I saw Jacob on the sidelines cheering me on. I heard someone saying "you don’t even need to peddle because that bike will take you up the hill." I was in my zone and pretty much didn’t hear anything else. I remember getting to the lodge and turning left to the last hill of the climb and wondering where the devil was with a fork, who had been there in the past. I was just looking for BLOG material at that point. Well the good news is that I did finish, didn’t have to walk and felt great at the end. I was happy with my finish of 50:52 and placing 3rd in the master’s ladies category. My teammate, Ali, did a 48:42 for her first Wintergreen Ascent and placed 2nd in the Category 4. Congratulations to DeeDee for breaking her own course record with a time of 39:36 and to Jeremiah Bishop for breaking the course record with a 32:00.

I’ll be back next year and will probably have the same misgivings of the race. I know it’s good to challenge yourself in doing things you normally don’t do to make yourself stronger. I know others feel the same. Next year I know I’ll have more Vanderkittens by my side. I know I won’t be first and won’t be the last. To finish is a good goal.