Monday, August 27, 2007

Bye Bye Wisconsin and Illinois-Back to Cali!!

As much as I love my birthplace, Wisconsin, and consider it a second home in many ways, my current home is California. So, with that said, thank you to everyone in the Midwest who backed me this summer with racing and coaching. I will always come back to visit.

Thanks to the City of Elk Grove, Illinois for naming the streets so kindly. I'll be back for sure.

I am back in Cali now, finishing up the season with some criterium racing, and great Northern California training.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Few Pros at Elk Grove, and a Drug Test.


Elk Grove, Illinois: 1.7 mile, flat neighborhood loop with 2 pretty wide 180 degree turns, for 1 hour and 33 minutes. The weather was hot. 37 women on the line. The purse was something big. The flyer, and the website said $15,000. The official at the starting line said $11,000. It paid 20 deep, onward ho. Cheerwine, Express Copy, ValueAct Capital, Target Training, Kenda Tire, Hub Racing, and a bunch of solo acts.

ruled the day. A crash on the last lap left the field less top heavy (mainly from people getting caught behind it) while coming down the final stretch. We were missing a few good contenders like Leigh Valletti of Target Training, Lara Kroepsch of Team Lipton, and some of the Kenda Tire Team. I managed 19th place, just inside the money, but it felt weird to have the field all mixed up, and not really racing with leadouts all over the place. Cheerwine was the main team doing a leadout. ValueAct Capital had lost Taitt Soto to a mechanical at 5 laps to go (at which point there were no more free laps from the wheel pit), which was ridiculous, since there was still so much time, and distance (5 x 1.7 miles) left in the bike race. They really should have had free laps until 3 to go, with such long laps. Anyway, the eventful part of the day was the drug test afterwards. I was chosen as a random rider to get tested. The only other reason they test you, is if you WON. It was so hot that I could not give the doping agents enough of a sample. So I got to wait around, drink some water, and keep trying, and trying....finally they had what they needed. Whew. What fun.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Back to the Children-My friend Grant

Have you ever been absolutely charmed by an interaction with a child? I encourage you to chat with a child, if you haven't lately. My best bud, and teammate, Anita, has a son named Grant. Grant and I have known each other since 2003. He's 8 years old now. Yesterday I was able to chat with him on the phone in the wee hours of the morning between Wisconsin and California. He has also shared some of his cool computer art with me too!!

Laurel: "Grant, what are you doing right now?"
Grant: "Playing with leggos. I just got up about 10 minutes ago."
Laurel: "Wow, you slept in today!"
Grant: "No, I usually get up around 6:00 every day."
Laurel: "I heard you got a new kitty cat! How is she?"
Grant: "She's great. Right now, she's waiting to play with me. Every time I pick something up, to put it away, she wants to come and play with it."
Laurel: "What are you up to today?"
Grant: "Swimming lessons, and I'm not sure what else."
Laurel: "How's swimming going? What strokes are you learning?"
Grant: "The back stroke, and the crawl, then we use the kick boards to go from one end of the pool to the other. You know what? I am in the big pool now, and I can swim all the way to the other end and back! All of the other kids start out ahead of me, and then I catch them, and can beat them all! They are stronger than me in the beginning, then I pass them."
Laurel: "Is that because you're in better shape than they are?"
Grant: "No, it's because I have more endurance, and when they get tired, I just keep going, and going."
Laurel: "Oh yea, that's right, you have all of that endurance. How did that run go, that you did a couple of weeks ago?"
Grant: "Oh yea, that was a fundraiser. I ran 12 laps, which was about 3 miles and I raised $115.00. But, I have not been doing much running since then. Just soccer tournaments. We have one this weekend. We are going up against a really good team though, so we may not win it."
Laurel: "You never know, your team might play better than they ever have and surprise the other team with a really good game!"
Grant: "Well, maybe, but the other team is really good."
Laurel: "How many games will you play this weekend?"
Grant: "Four. Two on Saturday, and two on Sunday."
Laurel: "Whew! You have a big weekend ahead of you!"
Grant: "Yea, well there's my brother, and he wants to play, so I better go. Do you want to talk to my mom? She is still in bed...."
Laurel: "Oh no, don't wake her up!"
Grant: "It's o.k, she's awake, she's just lying there, and I am sure she would love to talk to you!"
Laurel: "Aww...thanks buddy!"

Monday, August 6, 2007

Midwestern School of Bike Racing.....Homework Journal Entry

Hey All,
Racing in the Midwest is a little different than racing in Northern California. In Nor Cal, the biggest jackpot we get in most bike races, is on the starting line with the incredible talented field of riders from all over the region (which, by the way, is why I love Nor Cal Cycling so much!!). In the Midwest, we have a small pool of strong riders, and interestingly large purses.

Saturday August 4th- Lessons in Basic Bike Racing at Grayslake, Wisconsin:

Ten women on the line. 40 minutes plus 3 laps of a flat criterium. $650 purse paying 7 places deep. There were several attacks that we reeled in by the ISCORP girls from Milwaukee (there were 3 of them). Another strong rider from Athletes by Design (ABD) in Chicago area helped with the work, a brand new, strong young rider from "Get a Grip" Cycling Team and a local sprinter from Mercy Cycling team in Iowa City were there to cover things. There were cash primes (race within a race prizes for winner of the next lap), so those fast laps would string out the field a bit. With 3 laps to go, the officials rang the bell for a prime. I went with the lead riders, but was not interested in the prize. However, they went pretty hard, so it was a good effort to stay with them. Right after the prime was won, the ABD rider launched a beautiful attack from the back of the group of about 8 of us, and got a huge gap. We all hesitated, and missed her. There she went. We all chased (well I DID, with the field in tow) very hard, to no avail, then there it was 1 lap to go, still chasing, and not reeling her in. Geesh, good job ABD! I did what I could on the last lap, but it only got me 6th in the field sprint, and 7th overall. Optimal frustration, and humbling were a wonderful piece of this re-learned lesson. But, I was "in the money", I had stayed upright, and the workout was good. So, onward ho.

Sunday, August 5th-Going back to School in Elgin, Illinois:

Eleven women on the line. $2000 purse, paying 20 deep (hmm, with 11 racers, what does that mean? Yup, we would all get paid). Same crew as yesterday. My goal was to apply lessons re-learned yesterday today at school. 40 min plus 3 laps, technical criterium with a 1 block decent, followed by two flat corners and up into a 1 block climb that took about 15-20 seconds to get up in the big chain ring. Then the course kept ascending very gradually as a false flat around 2 more corners to the finish line. The ISCORP women were attacking and getting primes, as well as the "Get a Grip" rider. I decided to just watch everything happen today. I actually have never ridden a small race as conservatively as I did today. With 3 laps to go a prime was won by an ISCORP rider, and she, and another rider got away with a pretty good gap. Then two riders followed them with another good gap. I was gapped behind these four riders. I was not too worried as I knew I could make up ground in the corners and on the descent. I heard some yelling behind me about closing the gap, but I was not concerned. On the last lap, I let myself float back a bit, to see what was going to happen. The pace picked up, but it did not pick up over the digger, so I dug in, and stomped on the pedals hard passing the whole group by the top of the climb. I had a little gap after the climb, and just pressed as hard as I could over the long stretch to the finish. I was nipped at the line by ISCORP's sprinter, so I got 2nd place, but I was very pleased....I won $400, and a cool medal!!!
I know this is not nearly what racing with the Pros is like, but hey, it's fun, and lucrative, so what the heck. It's what I am doing right now. More school next weekend with the Pros.