Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lindsey Wilson


I was a mix of excited and terrified on the way to the crit on Sunday. On one hand I had heard from everyone how much fun crits were. On the other hand John provided the insight of ,"...everyone in Ds will most likely crash and suffer horrific injuries."

John is happy.
   While there was some joking involved there, the message still went through that this could be potentially dangerous. My nerves settled a bit as we took our warm up laps and rolled up to the line to get our talking to from the race officials. After listening to their mini-lecture we were off and racing. It didn't take long for some of the D riders to lose control as one guy went off the course in the very first turn. We settled into our groove quickly though.

Jane in the ladies B/C crit.
   After 3-4 laps we started lapping some of the dropped riders that would get pulled from the race. Everything was going well until a Notre Dame rider lost concentration for a few seconds and ended up slamming off the pavement and off into the grass. I still don't know how he managed to crash in the middle of the pack and not take out anyone with him, but we definitely got lucky there. As the 1 lap to go sign came up I was feeling good and sitting in 3rd right on the wheel of the guy in front of me. Everything was going well until we hit the backstretch into the slight headwind and the guy in front got tired and sat up.

John in the B crit, also getting boxed in.
   In hindsight I should have reacted better and much quicker, but I didn't and quickly had riders passing me on both sides. I couldn't find a way to get out and ended up losing a bunch of spots. I eventually was able to grab a new wheel, but it was too late and I was too far back. As we made the final turn and headed towards the finish line I tried to sprint back up towards the front, but it was too much too late and I crossed the line in 13th out of around 60.
Clay starting the TTT.
  I was happy with the finish considering it was my 2nd race and first crit and learned a good lesson in final lap strategy in the process. It definitely left me hungry to train harder and get some more race experience.
Don't ride at the back.

  The Lindsey Wilson (LW) road race marked my first ever Collegiate C race with the University of Michigan.    The C race was a total of 25 miles, constituting 1 lap of the LW course, which included a very steep climb at the end of each lap about 1000 meters from the finish.  At race start, the weather was absolutely perfect with a brisk headwind but nothing too troubling.  
The TTT weather was a little troubling.
  There were a three additional riders from the University of Michigan racing in the C group with me (Zach, Danny, Kevin), which gave me some confidence going in that we might be able to send a group of riders off of the front.  However, by the beginning of the first climb, Danny got jammed in the peloton and broke three spokes on the rim of his front wheel, and another rider slipped off the back due to the fast pace of the lead group.  With only two riders remaining, myself and Zach thought it best just to sit in with the lead group and save our legs for the three remaining climbs in the race.  
Marian girls racing with neon booties and saddle bags.
  The remainder of the race ended up being uneventful except for a few minor shoulder bumps from accelerations out of the turns.  Zach and I were able to hold our place in the lead group approaching the final climb, where we both knew the field would start to splinter, giving us a chance to accelerate up the climb for a shot at a possible podium. 
Filming from the top of the truck.
 About half way up the climb, my legs felt pretty fresh so I felt like I could at least finish in the top ten if not better, however, shortly after this, my chain began to separate at one of the links, causing my bike to miss every other pedal stroke due to gear skipping on the cassette.  This really took the wind out of my sails and made the climb really challenging towards the final 100 meters, but somehow I was able to hold my position and finished in 10th.
It's nice to finish that climb.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Notre Damn

Jared (Crit):

Today was my first real day of racing in C's. The road race the day prior I dropped out of halfway through after bonking and deciding to save my legs for a race much more manageable in duration, considering my very limited mileage recently. Turns and handling were pretty good minus a few squirrels frolicking in the pack. Alex from UIC fell on a turn but wasn't hurt or run over; I don't know how the fall happened. 
Jared looking strong with 1 lap to go in the crit.
The wind was pretty nasty out on the long stretch headed to the final two turns. It was a really heavy sidewind, and I should have thought about that more, since leading would probably be A-ok to do at that point because of the sideways nature. Instead, I led on the earlier part of the final lap, into the wind, and by the time we were on that long stretch, I was boxed out. We finished in a huge pack sprint and I got an estimated 14th place.

This crit had more than 4 corners.

Zack (Road Race):

Photo evidence of Zack on the start line.
It was a nippy morning down in South Bend during the Men’s C Road Race. However, the sun was shining and was looking to be a great day for racing. The course was three laps of a double loop about 15 miles long that was mostly flat with some early and late rollers but a few straight sections that gave a nice tail-wind. Sitting on the line, I remember J-Grace telling me that he wanted no photographic evidence of me coming off the back and finishing separately from the field. 

Trying to pull back a break in the RR.
As the race started, I sat off the back. Not the position I wanted to be in as too much energy is expended with having to accelerate after the caterpillar effect. Luckily, within the first half mile, the pace car and most of the field – sans Notre Dame and TTT riders -- took an early right turn that took them off the course. Taking advantage of this, I could get up to the front where it was mostly Notre Dame, some Michigan State, and myself sitting at the front waiting for the field to catch up (after the false turn it was neutralized).

Jared at the front again.
There I sat as a loyal 3rd wheel – never doing any of the work, never dropping back into the mayhem that is the middle of the field. A Notre Dame guy, taking a page out of the Tommy Peng playbook, shot off the front. There was a slight hesitation from the field to chase after him which resulted in a very weak acceleration – not enough to really do anything. Two riders from Notre Dame then took over the effort at the front and blocked for their rider down their road. Exquisite teamwork.  Shouts were heard, especially from Michigan State and UIC, to get the Notre Dame riders off the front and some riders attacked to bring the speed up but Notre Dame would eventually get back up there after a brief effort. This repeated itself over the entire first lap as the lone rider off the front was able to gain about 45 seconds on the field. Despite passing a D-rider, which made absolutely no sense considering that they started after us, the first lap was a nice group ride.

From the T. Peng playbook.  This attack didn't work out.
The beginning of the second lap looked to be as boring as the first lap until there was a huge attack during a particularly nasty crosswind. I lost my spot as 3rd wheel during this attack and was just holding onto the field during the 27 MPH attack (keep in mind we had been averaging about 21 before this point). I said to myself “No photographic evidence,” and from there, it was no longer difficult to catch back on and hold onto the field. The attack lasted for about 4 minutes on the 2 mile stretch of cross winds. We dropped quite a few people from the field at this point but the size of the pack must have been in the low 30s – a tight race still.

Zack looking good in the field (and not at the back!).
At this point, the Notre Dame-r that was off the front had only about a 5” lead and you could see he was putting everything he could into keeping that small slice of time.  Then, as we were approaching a bumpy section of the course, an attack by two Wisconsin riders ended the Dame-r’s yellow jersey aspirations and he dropped like a rock through the field. Near the end of the attack, a lone D-racer was found straggling along. He insisted to use the middle of the road rather than pull over, effectively pissing off the entire field and prompting vulgarity. After this attack, the rest of the lap was once again a nice little group ride through the country side of Indiana.

Jared wears these sunglasses because his future's so bright.
Not too much happened on the beginning or the middle of the third lap, but you could tell there was a lot of tension in the field. Riders were getting squirrelly. Trash talking briefly erupted. The pace slowly rose to a steady 25 MPH. With about 15 minutes to go, two attackers come when we make the corner towards a ‘hilly section.’ One was an Illinois Tech while the other a Lindsay Wilson. The Illinois Tech guy was a self-proclaimed amazing Tri-Athlete, so it wasn’t too surprising when he got dropped as soon as the field caught him about 4 minutes later. At this point, I’m sitting in a good position – probably about 6th or 7th wheel. As we make our way through the last of the hilly section, a wild D-rider appears! This time, he politely pulls to the side but the wheel I’m following decides to take an awkward line forcing me to adjust. I adjust accordingly and all is fine for 2 seconds until that same wheel then decides to get into my new line and brake – and then there I go, into the back with only a few miles remaining and very little chance to move up through the field of about 30.

This attack didn't work either.
The final stretch of road into the finish is a long straight away, about 2 miles maybe, with a slight downhill at the beginning. This made for a fast approach into the sprint where the yellow line rule was no longer in effect. Knowing that if I don’t make an early sprint and take advantage of the yellow line IMMEDIEATLY, I could be completely out of contention. My friend from Wisconsin decides to take a very early sprint – probably about 1 kilometer out and before the yellow line rule is over. This prompts the field to start moving. With about 600 meters to go, there is a flurry of early sprints but no one seems to be separating from the field. Then, at about 400 meters to go, I make my move off the back as soon as the yellow line is gone. I had to spin my little compact crank as fast as I could to get through the field – and I did just that. There was no more giant field in front of me, no squirrelly riders, and no self-proclaimed super tri-athlete – just a few riders all within an arm’s reach. Despite the leader only being half a second off the front and taking 17th, it was a good race and a good end to collegiate road racing for the year.  For next year, I will keep in mind “No photographic evidence.”
Oh yeah.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Hani "HaHa" Habra

Hello fellow cyclists, cycling fans, and just about everyone else!

Whether you call it Purdue or Purdon’t, you gotta love’em for putting two uphill finishes in one weekend. Even if you don’t, I due!
Hani is excited about racing.
On Saturday we all got soaked to our bones in the Road Race and we devised interesting ways to get rid of the water, including pouring rice into our shoes! Well Sunday was a different day altogether: 80 degrees and sunny. Like last year, the wind on certain parts of the course was ferocious. Despite recovering from an illness, I felt very upbeat.

Brad on the climb.
The race neutralized for a mile or two before getting started. As always, the first few miles are always tense, what with the infamous tendencies of the D field. The hill would fix the problem, but create others: while some went out the back door, a group of seven went off the front. I remember screaming, “NO! GET THEM!!!” but alas, the hill was not long enough for me to get them, so instead I settled into the peloton.
Kevin's got a new bike.
 The three laps, ~14-15 miles, would follow a routine for which we’d agonizingly trek through the headwind as a pack, sweep through the downhill, and then accelerate or decelerate before the hill. Tactics for me were simple: stay in or behind the pack in the wind/ flat sections, be at the front (or close) at the downhill, descend as rapidly as possible (watching people fly by), and reserve energy while climbing (sort of…)
Kevin's drafting!!
 Apart from the one MSU rider who somehow managed to escape, everything fell perfectly into place. One rider made a massive move that successfully caught most of the seven-man break. I nearly lost the pack (and a top 10 finish) at some points on the final lap, but after managing to catch back on, the final sprint up the hill was a piece of cake. Unlike some uphill sprints, nobody was there to outsprint me in the end.
Zack's showing off the new kit.
Getting 2nd was a huge surprise considering I’ve never gotten a top-10 finish in a road race, never mind top-3. And so, I end on a personal note: I’d like to thank everyone, friends, family, and teammates, who supported and encouraged me throughout this season. I kid you not: none of this would’ve been possible without you.
Notice Hani's the only one who didn't collapse at the finish.
 Hope to have many more fun adventures with you guys. Until then: Happy Happy Trails!!!


I feel that it is only appropriate to first introduce myself as I have only met a few team members so far.  My name is Kaitlyn and my athletic background is in running and cross- country skiing but I have recently picked up cycling dealing with injuries.  My only racing experience was the Cherry Roubaix road race in August.  However, after a few rides and encouragement with Jane this spring, I found myself traveling to Purdue for my collegiate cycling debut.
Looking at the weather report for West Lafayette, it was inevitable that the weather was not going to be in our favor but it was questionable just how wet and windy it would be. The rain held off for the 10-mile team time trial on Saturday morning.  This featured a men’s C team of Zach, Kevin, and Brad and (drumroll please) a women’s B team of Jane and I.  There was one other women’s B team that we caught within 2 miles and so we decided to not hammer it and to save ourselves for the road race.  It was still a lot of fun to race and watch the teams coming the opposite way on the out and back course.  The guys ended up 3rd and Jane and I won.  Impressively, the Marian women’s A team beat all the guys teams, confirming that they not only look extremely intimidating, but actually are freaky fast.
Sinead Miller catches Brad on the climb. Damn straight those girls are intimidating.
 The road race included a great hill with one estimation of an 10% grade (I have my doubts but it was really steep) and the finish line located conveniently at the top. I was significantly nervous, heightened by the course marshal describing how dangerous the course was due to traffic and a windy downhill.  And on cue, the rain started as soon as we rolled out. The women’s B race took off slowly and nobody wanted to pull.  The first time up the hill broke up the field and left a breakaway of Jane, an OSU rider, and me.  
... and freaky fast.
A couple Purdue girls bridged and the breakaway of five lasted the first two laps in the pouring rain.  Up the hill with two laps to go, I dropped the others and decided to go for it.  I soon had a decent lead was realizing that I still had 14 miles to hold them off solo.  I decided to not think about that and just focus on catching men’s D shrapnel. 
Luckily Zack wasn't part of the shrapnel.
At the finish line of the third lap, they told me that I was done and the race was over.  I thought they had counted wrong and didn’t want to stop, but found that they had shortened our race by a lap due to weather but I was off the front when they told the racers the previous lap.   Yes! My bold move was actually well timed.  So glad I didn’t have to time trail another soggy lap.  Jane took 4th and we quickly rode back to change before we froze.
Thanks so much to Sarah for giving us a place to stay.
 After we returned to the parking lot and attempted to change, we realized how many crashes there were due to the rain and somewhat technical course.  Thankfully, all our riders returned in one piece- victory in itself. 
            Sunday’s conditions were the on the other end of the extreme weather spectrum.  Very warm and windy- about 25mph with gusts over 30.  And it was Indiana, so of course the circuit race was through wide-open farmland. This made the 4 mile loop basically consist of a fast downhill, windy uphill and sustained wind tunnel- fun stuff.  Our race inevitably went out slow but Jane got it rolling at the end of the first lap to mix things up.  I was tired and couldn’t respond to anything and missed the breakaway but thought they would come back. Unfortunately, I realized that the OSU girl from the road race and a strong Marian rider that didn’t race Saturday were out front and odds were slim at catching them.  Jane and I worked together to try but the gap wasn’t closing.  With one lap to go it looked like it would be a race for 3rd but I decided to give it one more try.  I put my head down and battled the wind solo; the whole time wishing I hadn’t missed it because there was no way I could catch them in the wind.  However, by some miracle I did, about 2 miles from the end.  By then I was figuring that bridging was a victory in itself because I was too dead to be able to sprint up the hill.  But, why not try? I took off a little too early before the hill and the Marion rider was on my wheel.  We hit the hill and I thought I had them until she came from behind and edged me at the line for the win. 
Sometimes racing bikes can make you tired.
 Overall a successful and exciting weekend of collegiate cycling with the weather conditions making it more epic.  I had so much fun and it was great to get to know the team and race with teammates representing the block M. Unfortunately this is my first and last weekend of collegiate cycling this season but I’m really excited for the road season this summer.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Last weekend Jane, Jared, Kevin and I headed out to Indy and the Major Taylor Velodrome for the Marian University Midwest Cycling Classic.  This race featured open USAC races in addition to the collegiate races so we all got to race twice, which makes the day literally twice as fun.
Jared was in good position all day.
In the Women's Pro/1/2/3/4 Jane put in such a good fight that even 40x National Champ (yes she's won Forty National ChampionshipsCoryn Rivera and Cyclocross National Champ Kaitlin Antonneau couldn't drop her and she rolled in 10th.  (Kaitlin Antonneau has her own webpage too, but at the time I'm writing this it appears to have been hacked and I don't want to infect anyone's computer with malware; google it at your own risk).

Jane rocking the B race.
I, on the other hand, had my ass handed to me by David Williams of the Competitive Cyclist Pro Team, Chad "Snake Champ" Burdzilauskas and Chris "Fuckin' Rocket Scientist" Uberti.  The dustbuster Bissell team fielded a big squad too, but didn't control the race as much as I expected.

This is the tricky corner at the bottom of the hill.
Jared was riding in good position near the front in both the Collegiate D and Cat 5 races, but both times he was crashed out in the last lap.  Luckily he didn't get hurt and will be in the hunt for some podium finishes in the C races at Notre Dame.

Jared before the 5 race.  Notice the fatter guys.
Now that I think about it, those crashes might have been the result of bad karma from when he took someone else out at Lindenwood.  I guess that's just how you learn to take care of yourself in the field.

Fighting for a wheel.
Kevin had a strong C race and finished in the pack despite tailgunning for the whole half an hour so he decided to take a nap in the car instead of doubling up.

Move up Kevin!!

The collegiate A race has some crazy shit go down.  Unfortunately there was a bad crash which resulted in a couple broken bones, but there was also some entertaining stuff: kids riding in the grass, Nick Grigsby (Lindsey Wilson) throwing up mid race after chasing down a break, and Matt Brandt (Lindenwood) rolled his tubular in the sprint and somehow kept his bike up while sliding on the carbon rim.
The A field was pretty big with 50 riders.
In the Women's B race Jane put in an solid sprint to get 4th place, the team's highest result for the weekend.
The Indiana girl got 3rd.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Home Weekend Part 2

Here's some more tales from the home race weekend courtesy of Marleigh and Colin.  I know Collin's post is ridiculously long, but it's worth the time. Also all of the good pictures here were taken by Marcus Thompson of Purdue.  He takes great photos at pretty much every race weekend and you can see them on his facebook here.  He's also participating in Bike and Build, which is a really cool group that organizes trips where people ride bikes across the country and help build affordable housing. If you like his photos please think about donating something to support his Bike and Build trip here.

Marleigh says:

Howdy folks! Marleigh here, the cycling teams’ token triathlete,

Well, after much protesting I was finally convinced that it was time to do my first cycling race.  Be very afraid. The convincing was mostly a group effort, spearheaded by a few members of the team (special thanks to John Gracely, Jane Gregg, Adam Kaye, and David Pfeiffer). And so, a triathlete branches in to the world of road racing.
This is a guide on how NOT to pin numbers.  Pin the number on the jersey before you put the jersey on.
I already knew there was a big difference between road races and triathlons, but I was unaware of the amount of strategy that was involved in road races, until everyone had a piece of advice for me. My favorites include “stay off the front, but in the lead on the dirt”, “sit farther back in the saddle on the dirt so you don’t sink your front wheel”, and “sprint to the finish…but not before those mail boxes over there”.  Hmm..ok, got it.
Hayley and Marleigh are soooo fucking excited.
So obviously the race starts, and I take the front. Triathletes for the win. Realizing that I probably do not want to stay at the front (apparently that’s what cyclists do?), despite the fact that we’re averaging slower than I typically would in a training ride, I backed off. Throughout the race a group of six of us broke away. Cycling terms…I’m learning... By the end I had learned a few of the other girls’ names, where they went to school, what they were studying, and what they had for breakfast, (ok, I might be exaggerating now.) Chatty group.

The ladies spend too much time talking.
Finally, after TWO WHOLE LAPS (sarcasm) the mailboxes were in sight (YES!), and the race started (wait…what?). And I took third in the sprint to the finish. Success.
Marleigh sprints for 3rd... in the saddle, on the hoods.

High points of the day..

1. I didn’t crash my bike.
2.  I didn’t crash anyone else’s’ bike.
3. Finished top three. So what if it was womens’ Bs?
4.  Didn’t freeze to death
5.  Danced to Call Me Maybe in the parking lot with Hayley and Clay
6. I didn’t crash my bike.

In sum. Success. Triathletes can ride bikes in groups! …on occasion.

Collin says:

I race for pain. I want to lock myself and everyone else in the hurt locker. There's no point in racing if you don't suffer. Imagine my dismay, then, when the C race began with a group going to the front, blocking the road, and soft pedaling at 17mph. If I'd wanted to go on a joy ride, I'd have slapped on a helmet mirror and fluorescent jacket and joined the AABTS squirrels as they plod along HRD.
Eric crawls into the hurt box and shuts off the lights.

When we made the first turn, a gap finally opened up on the left, and I shot to the front and turned the recovery ride into an actual race. Andrew quickly joined me, and we pulled hard around the corner onto the first dirt section. We kept pulling. When one of us came off the front, we'd drift back only to end up second or third wheel again because the rest of the field refused to pull. At some point, Andrew leaned over and said, "What the hell is this? Let's just TT this shit to the end." Indeed. This pattern repeated itself for the whole race. Andrew, Clay, a hairy-legged dude in a blue t-shirt, and I pulled. If Illinois or worse, Notre Damn, hit the front. BAM! Slowdown. Notre Damn only pulled at the start of the third lap, then they went back to sitting on wheels and plotting.

Hani can't stop and certainly won't stop.
On the last dirt section, Clay, Hairy-Legs, and I laid down the hammer and managed to shed a good deal of the field. When we hit pavement again, I heard Notre Damn plotting behind us. I peaked over my shoulder and saw a couple of them sitting there, clearly up to something. I mentioned to Hairy-Legs that Notre Damn was coming, and we agreed to follow each other onto their wheel.

John shows everyone how it's done on the dirt.
Well, they came, but there were three, not two. The dorky glasses dude, who I hadn't seen since the first lap had reappeared. I ended up on third wheel in the Notre Damn train. The first rider peeled off, and I stayed there. Then Dorky Glasses Dude sprinted around me. I tried to stand up and follow him, but my legs shouted: "YOU SHALL NOT SHALL PASS!" and I didn't. I ended up sitting up and rolling across the line fifth.

Notre Damn.  And yes winning does sometimes feel like this.
After the race, I threw my bike down (sort of) and laid on the ground. Magic floating dots were pulsating in my vision in rhythm with my heartbeat. This was a portent of the madness to come.
The B field rolls through the dirt section.
After 20 or 30 minutes, I got back on my bike and started riding back to Ann Arbor. I could've just taken M-52 back, had a nice 65 mile spin down and called it a day, but I hate that road. I decided to explore and just keep heading south on whatever road I found.
Unlike Collin, the ladies like to have fun on occasion.
Most of the route was nice, except when I thought I was five miles south of where I actually was and ended up in Okemos, flatted on railroad tracks, and dented my rear wheel. Oh well.

I made it to Dexter, 78 miles later, before my legs blew up, and I couldn't get my heartrate about 120bpm anymore. When I pulled up to my front door, I took my sunglasses off and thought, "Damn it's foggy." Then I looked inside my apartment, and it was still foggy. Shit. Turns out I broke my eyes. For an hour or two, everything had a white haze over it. My eyes were stop-sign red. I looked very much like I was dying. I was wandering through downtown that night, and many people just openly gawked at my horridness. I felt like a leper.
Nice cornering in the crit.
After the adventures of the previous day, I was reticent about the crit, as I'd blown my legs completely. Thankfully ice baths are somewhat miraculous (thanks for the tip Marleigh!), and I didn't feel horrible.
Jane in the B crit.
The script for the crit was the same as the road race. No one wanted to pull. People really enjoyed 0.5 lap attacks. They'd shoot off toward the top of the incline, fly downhill, then situp at the bottom. We did 16 laps and I shut down at least 5 or 6 of these dumb attacks. No one wanted to lead a sustained attack. I didn't have the juice for it sadly.
Pure class.
Coming into the final two laps, I was sitting toward the front after chasing down Notre Damn's team attack they tried with all four riders going to the front. Coming up the incline, I suddenly found myself spinning out my gears like a circus clown. Somehow my chain had slipped into the little ring. I shot out the back like a sack of lard. Numb hands didn't help my cause and it took about 20 seconds to get back into the big ring. By that time, with the race coming to a close, I was done. I chased hard but couldn't get back on.

Turns out Andrew just ended up fourth without realizing the race was even ending. Big ups!

Lesson learned: People don't like to pull because they want to win, not suffer. Such people are dumb.
Well some people don't have problems with suffering.