Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mission Accomplished!

It seems like yesterday when the concept of a club team for Vanderkitten at the beach was being bounced around. The idea of an all women’s team, who would be giving 100% of their financial support to the pro team, was new to all of us. Those who came to join the first club for Vanderkitten had many reasons for joining as well as varying levels of cycling fitness. The first order of business when setting up the team was to have a mission statement that worked for us, which was to “support women in their cycling endeavors, whatever they may be”. We are proud to say that our inaugural year of Vanderkittens at the beach surpassed all our hopes and dreams. Not only did we grow from a handful of girls to almost 30, every girl on the team had the support from all the others, so they all felt special. Our race team was small and almost unbeatable. We had members that were in their teens and we had grandmothers as well. Our felines that chose not to race found themselves comfortable in group rides getting to know each other and finding confidence in their ability to join in and be a part of something big. We found that we had triathletes who used our training rides to get better. We had runners who found their race times getting faster. We had ladies who went from beach cruisers to road bikes without missing a beat. We even had some who joined our team to be able to wear the coveted Vanderkitten kit. We are proud of each and every one of you.

The race season is winding down and fall training has started. The weather is about to turn cool so that centuries will be the ride of choice. The Vanderkittens will be seen sporting their kits up and down the East Coast. We want to thank Dave Verrecchia, the owner and creator of Vanderkitten Racing, for making this dream come true!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Third Time's No Charm But...

...what a great course! It had a little bit of everything: flats, rollers, climbs, descents. The Page Valley road race this past Sunday brought together racers from the MABRA & VAC to compete for the championship in each division. There was a good turnout for the Cat 4 group with a total of 18 girls entering. As a flatlander, I knew going into it that I was in for some pain...didn't know until that third & final climb, however, just how much.

Thankfully we had an 8:05 a.m. start b/c the day turned out to be a roaster. Our first lap was pretty non-eventful...think it may have broken up the group a bit though (guessing 18 down to 10 but don't hold me to it). Second lap proved to be more interesting as the pace picked up during different flat sections in an effort to break down the number even more. Though several attempts were made, none were seemingly successful (again, as far as I could tell).

On the back side of the course we descended again around 45 mph to head for the last 1/2 lap. One of the girls and I made the sharp right turn at the bottom and tried to get a gap going. A girl from another team joined in and the three of us managed some space for a few flat stretches. Unfortunately the effort was for naught as we couldn't hold long enough to make any ground on them so we all embraced the glorious journey up that initial climb together (for the 3rd & final time). Managed to find some(demented)humor along the way when a little help was requested at the front and a taker emerged up the middle. Problem was, once she got the space, she just kept on going & dropped us like a sack of potatoes. She was kept close enough that with some extra effort we bridged up to her just before the top.

Then as we crested & started shifting for the downhill, another girl pulled through on the outside and the chase was on. Kind of felt like we all got caught sleeping but maybe it was just me. So, here's my blow by blow at that point: try to catch her on the downhill but she’s holding the gap, turn into a straightaway, still has the gap. Realize that I'm feeling pretty spent now & better get off of the front to conserve what little I have left. With that, the pack of maybe 7 or 8 now(?) comes around me on the outside to go into the last turn (a sharp left). Lead girl in our chase group goes down in the turn due to speed & gravel. She slides out but I'm on the inside so I clear the accident and head for the dreaded uphill finish. In and out of the saddle trying to close in on the leader but not getting anywhere fast. Resign myself to 2nd if I'm lucky (because I'm sure I could have run that bike up faster). Look back & see that I'm in the crosshairs of another girl who's on the move. Dig down but it's not there - might as well have been in quicksand the way she passes me. You know you're hurtin' for certain when that happens and you can't even muster up the energy to be discouraged about it! Finally cross that $@#% line and end up 3rd overall, 2nd in the VAC division.

All in all I had a great time (easier to say now of course) & will definitely do it again next year - just with more training on hills beforehand so the pain will at least be familiar. Very happy to report that the rider who went down was okay & what’s more, she got back on her bike & finished the race! It was a strong showing for Cat 4 out there in my opinion & who knows how it would have turned out had she not crashed (doubtful I would have faired as well). Big thanks to her, her teammate & the rest of the girls who worked hard to make the race so challenging! I'm a broken record but I think it's worth noting again how quality the girls are that I’ve met this year. It's made my first season of racing truly enjoyable!

Oh yeah, the camera battery was dead so I apologize for the lack of pictures documenting my many grimaces but I think the photo below captures my race face quite well.

Ali Cat a/k/a Ramblin' Rose

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

PLT TT’s 1 - 3 (Mute Vandertunes player to hear video)

A Special thanks to our Manderkitten and my husband David, for the following video footage of the Peter Teeuwen Memorial 23 Mile Omnium Time Trials 2009 Presented by: Velo Racing on Sunday’s June 14th, July 26th and August 2nd (aged-graded state championship). I had the pleasure to participate in all three PLT’s, and as we all know, Vanderkitten made an impressively strong presence in the Cat 1,2,3, Cat 4 and 40+classes per the previous blogs. I now truly understand why TT’s are considered “the race of truth”!!! Please enjoy the videos. Meow
Zipp Cat

PLT #1 Time Trial (Peter L. Teeuwen) from David Kennedy on Vimeo.

PLT #2 from David Kennedy on Vimeo.

PLT #3 (State Championships) from David Kennedy on Vimeo.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Triathlon’s “Tour de PA”

Philadelphia “Diva” Women’s Triathlon
July 12, 2009
This time this kitty kat had to go at it alone, as I decided to do a “Tour de PA” of sorts. I started off in Philadelphia, PA competing in the Women’s “Diva” Triathlon. There were approximately 1,000 women from all walks of life. Unfortunately, for me, the night before the race, it poured down rain and caused them to cancel the swim, thus transforming the race into a duathlon. Those of you that know me well know that running is my weakness…ugggh run 2 miles, bike 17, then run another 5K (3.1 miles). Nonetheless, I tried to remain a “cool cat” and did what I had to do to complete the race to the best of my ability. I finished with a respectable time of 2:11, not so bad for kitty without running legs. The bike course was AWESOME!!! 2 loops around Fairmount Park, along the river and past the Art Museum that the Rocky movie made so famous. Since the race was now a duathlon, had no way to compare it to last year’s results for a PR, however, I did improve my bike time by almost 2 minutes for the 17 miles. That’s saying a lot considering how much running, before the bike, took out of my legs. I attribute my bike time to becoming a part of Vanderkitten Cycling this Spring. Prrrrrrrrrr!!! I decided to create my own VK tri suit before moving upward & westward.

Johnstown YMCA Triathlon July 18, 2009
Onward with my PA tour, moving west across the state to my hometown of Johnstown, PA, due southeast of Pittsburgh, PA. A glutton for punishment, competing in my second triathlon in the same week. If that wasn’t enough, this one was unusual in that the bike portion was and unprecedented 21 miles through the Allegheny Mountains. Ok, I admit I hate running, but climbing on a bike is certainly not a strong point for me by a long shot. I thought “wouldn’t this kitty kat look cute in a red polka dot jersey???” This same mountain brought me to my knees (literally) back in 2007, where I had to dismount and gather myself. At that time I had only been riding two months. It certainly didn’t help seeing signs on the side of the road letting you know that this was an “aggressive driver high crash zone” and this was the biggest gap this side of the Mississippi (1,000 ft. drop over the edge) gulp!!! The Swim was a short pool swim of 400 meters and on to the mountains I went. I took off like a bobcat for the first few miles leaving town. The climbs were unlike I recalled, with a top speed of 9 mph on most steep climbs and as low as 7 mph. I have never felt the base of my lungs ache so deeply in my life.After about 6 major climbs, things began rolling again and one major downhill at 40 mph, before heading back into the city. I made it…and I never stopped moving. I knocked off about 5 minutes from that last attempt in 2007. My legs felt like I had recently been in a “cat fight” as I pushed forward to complete the 5K run. Upon viewing the posted results of my 14th triathlon, I had actually won a 3rd place medal, my first ever!!! My time was 2:18 and oh how good it felt to have my name called, get my medal, and all with my makeshift Vanderkitten tri suit. My husband David was such a great Manderkitty, as he followed me in my friends van, and taped my journey through the Allegheny’s. This video footage was like catnip next to my bronze medal.
Zipp Cat

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Whirlwind Weekend for VK

Friday night had the Vanderkittens getting together to celebrate our Ali Cat’s 39th birthday. As the evening went on some of the younger felines felt the need to go and show off their talent at throwing darts at another local establishment while the senior felines headed for bed. On Saturday Donna celebrated her birthday and the weather gods let the sun shine long enough so that we could ride some miles to loosen up our legs for the state age graded time trial on Sunday! Today 8 of the VK girls arrived at the time trial to race while Ali and Linda came to support our team. As expected, our Cheetah, Captain Cook, won again by 2 minutes. I was happy to finish as the 3rd fastest women and claim the title as first master’s women finisher. As the season comes to a close with time trials, many of our girls are sad because they were just getting the hang of how bad you are supposed to feel when you have given it your all in a time trial. Tonight we ended our weekend with a fundraiser for the Team Kainer Foundation along with an auction for our team. We had great attendance at the 501 Grill and had a great response to the many items donated for our auction. Thanks to all those who came out to support us and the Team Kainer Foundation and thanks to 501 Grill for hosting the event.

Next stop for some of the VK cats will be the Page Valley Road Race.

BJ aka Podium Cat