Monday, July 25, 2011

Lost River Classic

In an attempt to escape the heat wave over the east coast, Jen headed toward the mountains of West Virginia for Lost River Classic this past weekend. The 31 mile road race for the women’s field (roughly three 10 mile loops) proved to be well-suited to her love for climbing. The women’s field enjoyed rolling through narrow mountain roads until Laurel (Syn-Fit) launched an attack that shredded the field. Despite valiant attempts to match Laurel’s climbing prowess, the race settled into 4 leaders, a chase group of 4 riders, and a series of individual finishers behind. Jen helped power the chase group and happily finished 7th overall. Vanderkitten extends a big congrats to Mary of Team Traveler for the overall win!

Jen spent the remainder of the afternoon attending to friends in the men’s cat 3 field, who simply melted as they crossed the finish line with the heat index approaching triple digits. This was a great race thanks to NCVC and Raw Talent Ranch.

Next up, Vanderkitten VB will be racing Presbyterian Hospital Invitational in Charlotte, NC and Tour of Page Co. in Luray, VA.

Photo courtesy of David Cobb/Team Traveler

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Franklin Omnium

The kittens were wide awake early Saturday AM to make the journey to Franklin, Virginia for the first ever Franklin Omnium. The Vanderkittens were honored to be asked to share the event with Celerity, a very classy group of racers. Humid weather gave way to beautiful blue skies for the whole weekend.

It’s not often to find a nice short time trial course in a town with very little traffic. The Franklin police officers, as well as the residents, seemed to be very happy to have us in their town. For the time trial, VK had Ali, Laura, Brittany and Jen representing in the CAT 1/2/3 category. The outcome of that race was Ali taking the gold, Laura taking the bronze, Brittany in 4th and Jen in 5th. Representing VK in the CAT 4/40 plus was BJ, Karen, Suszann and Lisa. BJ brought home the gold, Karen the silver, Suszann bringing home bar points in 9th and Lisa doing the same in 10th place.

After a quick cat nap and some good grub at Fred’s Restaurant, we got ready for some exciting action for a very technical crit course. BJ was probably the happiest of all because photo opportunities were abundant with great shots being taken from every corner. The CAT 4/40 plus women consisted of BJ, Karen and Suszann. Action took place immediately when BJ took off to make sure she got through the first turn without company. That worked for a few laps but unfortunately she came up on a rider down who had clipped her pedal and BJ did one of her very graceful head over heels maneuvers. Saved by her helmet and a pit crew to get her back in the race, she was able to finish in 3rd place. Karen was right behind in 5th and Suszann placing in 6th. The Cat 1/2/3 race was very exciting and much safer. In the end, it was Ali sprinting to the finish against Erin and Emily (VA Asset Group) where Ali pulled off a 2nd. Close behind was Jen in 4th, Laura in 7th and Brittany in 8th.

Sunday morning was just another beautiful day to do a race. 14 miles of quiet with a few rollers was a perfect way to end the weekend with a nice road race around town. The Cat 4/40 plus took off at 8:00 for 2 laps. The field stayed together for the first lap but the pace picked up quickly on the next lap. A few attempts were made but nothing really stuck other than the field thinning out for the final sprint. Karen, in an out of body experience, took the win at the end with BJ taking 4th. Everyone stayed upright when a motorcycle went down near the finish. Our CAT 1/2/3 racers went late in the day. Laurel and Emily (Va Asset Group) took off and were never seen again to take the top 2 spots. Ali came in 4th, Jen 5th, Brittany 6th and Laura 8th. When all was said and done, Ali captured 2nd place in the CAT 1/2/3 Omnium. In the CAT 4/40 plus BJ took home some loot with 1st in the omnium in that category and Karen took home the 2nd coveted spot.

We all want to thank Celerity for a great weekend. They did an outstanding job for their first annual event. We also want to thank Donna for being a race official and a big shout out to Wendie and Maggie for driving all the way to Franklin to help out with volunteering.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Coffee Talk with the Vanderkittens

We were just featured in the GamJams Coffee Talk column. Read it at the link below:

Gus is now one of our Manderkittens, with his own limited edition T-shirt!

Podium Cat

Monday, July 11, 2011

7th Race, 7th Place

Headed up to West Chester, PA over the weekend to do my first evening race at the 7th Annual Iron Hill Twilight Crit. It was a 6:45 p.m. start for this 4 corner, .8 mile rectangular course on the streets of downtown. Prime forecast and an atmosphere that was pretty happening thanks to lots of spectators and a brewery as the primary sponsor.

The start seemed standard with everyone trying to get a feel for whom to watch. Not surprisingly, Kacey Manderfield (Pure Energy) & Erica Allar (Ride Clean) were top on the list. To avoid any potential accidents or slow ups going into the third corner (the only slight downhill turn where speed and momentum would come into play), I worked to stay toward the front of the field.

Several nice primes helped to keep the pace up and eventually led to a break when Manderfield and Allar sprinted for one and got a gap. What was initially 12 seconds increased with each following lap as attempts were made to close it down but no one seemed committed to the effort, including myself. Once it was evident that we weren’t working as a group to make it happen, it then became a matter of holding position as the pace was pushed off and on with different riders launching off the field to try for a second split.

Going into the last lap the pace picked up and into that 3rd turn, the sprint was on. One racer crashed on the right side but was okay and no one else was involved from what I could see. My placement coming into the 4th corner turned out to be how I finished (5th in field, 7th overall). Another great learning experience.

(All photos courtesy of Todd Leister)

Very cool venue, very nice crowd, very tasty beer…this one will be on our team schedule next year fo sho! Thanks to the West Chester community for supporting such a successful and damn fun event! Highly recommend a visit to this area any time though with all that it has to offer: many miles of scenic, rural roads that have rolling climbs and descents through various townships and quality restaurants in the quaint downtown area to refuel at afterward.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Kitties tear it up in the 'Noke!

This Fourth of July weekend, Jen and I were Roanoke bound. The ID3 is an omnium consisting of a 1.87 mile time trial and two downtown crits. We both competed in this last year and really enjoyed it, so it has become a staple on our race calendar. With so many from local teams competing in this race, it was a great way to get away for the weekend and still feel like you’re with family during the holiday. The only bummer was that the 4th landed on a Monday this year instead of a Sunday so we missed the fireworks…not that it would have mattered due to the torrential downpour!

Saturday’s Mill Mountain TT
The first of the three races was the 1.87 mile time trial. You may be thinking, “Hey it’s barely even two miles…how difficult could it be?” I invite you to try it out next year and see! Though this climb isn’t incredibly steep, due to the short distance you’ve got to push it to the max and there are little to no opportunities for recovery. The main thought going through my mind during this race was “It’s supposed to hurt, it’s supposed to hurt”, and hurt it did. When I asked Jen how she thought she had done, she basically said she was enjoying the ride and forgot for a moment that she was actually racing, until she realized close to the end that she was supposed to be holding off her hubby and our Manderkitten, Tim, who had started 2 minutes behind her. A few hours later, we were incredibly excited to see that Jen came in first and was this year’s “Queen of the Mountain”, with a time of 11:58. I came in with a time of 12:11 to secure the second place finish.

Sunday’s Downtown Criterium
The second race of the weekend took place in downtown Roanoke and was a fast, 5-corner, 1KM course with a particularly interesting section consisting of a 180 degree turn onto brick. This is my favorite of the two ID3 crit courses simply because it’s short and fast.
The initial few laps were held at a steady pace until we heard the first prime called out and we found ourselves sprinting to the line. Throughout the 45 minute race Jen and I took turns issuing attacks off the front, in an attempt to make a breakaway from the pack. With less than ten to go, Jen made an attack which I countered when she was brought back by the group. Though I was not able to make a solo breakaway, Emily (Tradewinds) and I were able to sustain a widening gap for the rest of the race. I came in second at the line and Jen won the field sprint, taking third for the day.

Monday’s Downtown Criterium
The second crit and last race of the weekend also took place in downtown Roanoke and was a technical “L” shaped course with a slight uphill finish. Early on in the race, Emily and a Virginia Tech rider had a gap from the rest of the pack which Jen and I spent about a lap closing down. With the heat picking up and the pace quickening, several primes were called with the group sprinting to the line on each. After being first to the line on one prime, Emily made a breakaway from the pack with Jen shortly bridging up behind her. The two worked together and were able to hold us off for the rest of the race. For the last several laps, Rebecca Keller (Dire Wolf) and the VT rider took turns setting the pace as I sat second wheel. On the last lap, Rebecca stepped it up and made an early move for the finish. Shortly after the last turn I came around her and was able to take the field sprint and secure third for the day. I heard later that Jen had an incredible sprint behind Emily and that the two road around for a lap after the race unsure of who had reached the line first. Emily ended up taking first for the day as well as the overall win for the omnium. Jen took 2nd for the omnium/“Queen of the Mountain” and I finished third.

A huge thanks goes out to the promoters of the Roanoke ID3 for a fun and successful race/holiday weekend.

Till next time,

“Crusher Cat”

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bike Virginia 2011

Suszann and Karen headed out west for some hill training last week during Bike Virginia. The girls were joined by their favorite Tripower, Fat Frog's, and triathlete friends for 5 days of amazing riding. There was over 1,600 cyclist participating in Bike VA this year.
This was Suszann's first Bike VA and she proved that a flat lander could excel in the mountains. Every day she rode she got stronger and faster on the climbs and was fearless on the downhills. Karen, who did Bike VA last year on her TT bike, was much more comfortable on her new road bike and she learned a valuable lesson in proper hydration. The girls survived their first hilly century ride with close to 9,000 feet of climbing. Suszann decided that 100 miles wasn't far enough and added a little detour to spice things up a little. After the five hilly days, the girls rode over 300 miles and climbed over 20,000 feet.
Suszann and Karen are back home in Virginia Beach and hoping to cash in on some of the fitness they gained in the next few weeks.