Ladera Ranch Grand Prix

The 3:20pm race start was a welcome change to the 7am start time from last week, however it meant that our San Diego contingent would all get stuck in traffic on the trip up to Orange County. Without any warmup and a quick pre-race meeting with Dominic of Incycle, Jenny, Trina, and Tammy lined up alongside me & Bea for the Ladera Ranch Grand Prix. We had a pretty good sized women’s field of 29 motivated ladies in the Women’s 1-2-3 race.

Despite having no warm-up, Jenny, Trina, and Tammy were very active during the beginning of the race. They all covered or initiated attacks during the first 10 minutes of the race.  Not too much later, I covered a move and found myself in a break. Jenny bridged shortly after and were 8 riders with 2 SC Velo, PC and Suzanne from Helen’s, Charity from SBW, Hannah from Strive, Melina from Primal, and Jessica Cerra from JLVelo/Focus.  We were later joined by Erin Gunn of Catalyst who bridged across. With the help fo the Helen’s and SC Velo teams controlling the main field, the break quickly gained time on the main field.

Since Jenny and I were together, I figured our best change for a team win would be for me to set her up. the goal was to get her in a good position and then lead her out, hopefully starting her sprint ahead of PC & Suzanne since both of them are good sprinters.  I made my way up to the front going into the final lap.

I led the field around turn 1 and heard the horrible sound of bikes hitting the ground. I stayed looking forward for a while, not wanting to cause further issues, but after there was silence for a few seconds, I peeked back and saw daylight. There was nobody close to me at the moment. I got my focus back, and concentrated on the final three sides of the course. By the last turn, I could start to see Melina in the distance, but knew I had the win locked up.  Melina Bernecker and Jessica Cerra rounded out the podium in second and third, respectively.  Trina also showed great form by taking the field sprint!

This win was with mixed emotions. I’m happy & proud to have delivered a win for my team and our sponsors; it’s been a long time coming! Of course, this is not the way that I’d like to win a race I hate to see my teammate and competitors hit the ground. I’m happy to say that nobody was badly injured and they will all be back racing in no time!

When it came down to it, I was in the right position and luck was on my side. Thanks so much to our sponsors who have believed in us all season: Incycle, SC Velo, Cannondale, JL Velo, iRT, GU, & Smith Optics!  Without their support, this all wouldn’t have been possible.

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Posted in Cycling, Road

CBR Cool n’ Fit Crit

When Trina, Tammy, Jenny, and I lined up at 7am with the master’s 55+/60+ for our first CBR race of the season, we thought they were going to race us all together & score separate. However, the officials told us that the women were going to start a minute after the men. Both races did a memorial lap in honor of Chris Cono (Who died after a crash in the previous CBR race, & proceeds were going to this race).

Attacks started quickly, mostly from Helen’s (also had four riders racing) and us. A few laps into the race, PC  from Helen’s attacked and I followed. The two of us had a gap and were working together to maintain it. After a few laps we were joined by my Teammate Trina, Suzanne from Helen’s and Amy from UCSD.  After a bit, Amy and Trina dropped off and it was just me, Suzanne and PC. After a little time as a trio, we were joined by Jenny and Hannah (Strive racing).

Eventually, Jenny and PC would drop off and were were left with me, Suzanne and Hannah. By the this final break was established, the men’s race was catching us. Throughout the remainder of the race, the three of us had to maneuver around the men’s field, to avoid drafting. We went back and forth a few times and ended up in front of their main field, behind a few breakaway riders.  Suzanne’s experience was extremely useful in helping us choose which lines to take, especially when we were consistently blocked by a full field of men

Suzanne & I were doing all of the work, as Hannah was struggling to pull through. I knew my only shot at a win was to make a move early, since Suzanne is an amazing sprinter. I tried once with one to go and again with 2 corners to go, but couldn’t shake Suzanne. When we reached final stretch, Hannah did not contest the sprint. Suzanne took 1st and I took second.

In the main field, Tammy drilled it in the last lap, keeping the pace fast for Trina and Jenny to go 1-2 in the field sprint for 4th and 5th!

This race was a great team effort and everyone contributed to our success of putting 3 riders in the top 5!   I couldn’t have done it without all of them!

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Posted in Cycling, Road

District Time Trials

Not much to say about the district ITT. I had a decent time, bettering last year’s time by over a minute. However, some seriously strong ladies were out and I missed the podium by one spot and about 30 seconds.

Holly and I did the Team Time Trial together. I have more TT experience than she does, so our goal was to use both our strengths to get the fastest time possible. We finished on the podium in second. Read Holly’s report here (It’s better than this one!): http://scvelowomen.com/2013/05/district-team-time-trial-holly-breck/

Posted in Cycling, Road

Chuck Pontius

I was the lone SC Velo rider in this race! The race was 1-4 so very mixed bag of abilities and bike handling.  Helen’s had a big team, but there were also strong solo and duo riders like Katie Donovan, Joy McCulloch, Julie Cutts/Alicia Silvera, etc.  I thought given the mixed field and the strong riders, a break might happen if the right Helen’s girl was in it, so I did jump on many moves that went. I also went for & won the first prem of the race (pink gloves!)

There were a few short-lived breakaway attempts but nothing survived more than a few laps.  The officials chose not to pull dropped riders since there was a wide range of abilities in the field, however that proved somewhat dangerous when  passing around turns. The race ended in a field sprint and I came in 8th.

Posted in Cycling, Road

San Luis Rey Road Race

The San Luis Rey road race is 73 miles long and we complete 5 laps of the same course. There is a single climb per lap that is at the end, heading towards the finish.  While multiple laps of the same course can be boring, I do like them as a reminder to eat and hydrate. I planned to eat GU after each lap and drink at least 1/2 bottle of GU brew per lap.

We knew there were a handful of incredibly strong riders in our field, and my job was to try to conserve energy until critical moments when they attacked the climbs.  Jenny would also try to do the same. Trina and Pam did an incredible job of keeping me protected and out of the wind.  Trina, Pam, and Jenny all made sure to have one of us represented in any move, even though most of them were short-lived. Trina made sure I had water, and even paced the first half of the climb on lap 3!

Photo: TRU Cycling

The climb on 4 is when the real racing began.  Jessica Cerra led the climb and set a hot pace. She was followed by Tracy Tilton and Julie Cutts. Behind them were Kirsten Darley, Hannah Swan, and then myself. Just as we could see the top of the climb, Jessica accelerated. I lost contact with Kirsten and Hannah by 10 seconds or so, and they were gone. I looked back and there was a large gap between me and the next rider. I kept on pushing, hoping to catch Hannah and Kirsten.

Part way through the fist half of lap 5, I was caught by the main field. We could still see Kirsten and Hannah up the road and I thought we’d have a good chance of catching them. I wasn’t sure if LaGrange would participate in the chase since Julie was up the road, but I thought they might want to catch the two riders and have a chance at 4th and 5th place (of course, not chase after that point).  At this point in the race, Pam, Jenny and I were in the main field and we had no riders up the road. The group was not chasing effectively, and Pam told me that if we didn’t start to work together, we needed to start attacking out of the field. I was still tired from my solo efforts and figured I’d like her and Jenny make the first go. As I took a pull at the front over a small rise, I looked back and had a little gap. After having just recently talked to Pam about attacking the field, I figured it’d be a good idea to keep going.

I was back in no man’s land for the rest of the race. I continued to see Hannah and Kirsten but didn’t have enough steam to close the gap on my own.  The motorcycle came up to me at the last turn and told me I had 45 seconds. I still had to go up the climb, and I knew there were some strong climbers in the main field still. I kept on the gas as much as I could and when mid-way up the climb he told me I still had 45 seconds I was feeling pretty good about my chances for holding on. I crossed the line solo in 6th place. Pam won the field sprint in 7th, and Jenny crossed in 9th.  While I wish I could have had a better finish for my team, I am so grateful for the communication and teamwork that we had and for our incredible sponsors that have been supporting us all season!

Posted in Cycling, Road

Redlands Bicycle Classic Time Trial

Redlands was my first NRC race and I didn’t know exactly what to expect. The race had been modified from previous years to include a real time trial instead of a prologue. The location was also changed from Redlands to Big Bear Lake.

The course was a (mostly) out and back on the north shore of the lake. The weather was great and the views gorgeous– much nicer than most of our dry and boring desert time trials.  I pre-rode the course with Emily Georgeson who was getting used to her borrowed time trial bike. It was quickly evident that the pre-ride was very worthwhile. There were quite a few twists and turns and having a little knowledge of the course proved to be helpful.

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Racing at altitude is challenging, because we’re not entirely sure how our bodies will react (if we are not used to it). I did my best to set a pace that I could sustain throughout the 8 mile time trial taking into account the terrain that was left and how I was feeling.

I knew from reading the race bible that there was a new jersey up for grabs this year– the Amateur Jersey (thanks to Joy McCulloch for pushing for it!), which was for the top cat 2 from a non-professional team. It was a goal of mine to get that jersey after the time trial. I didn’t expect it, but thought it was a possibility.  While chatting with my teammates after the time trial, I heard them announce my name over the speaker. I was incredibly excited and proud to represent my team and sponsors on the podium for Redlands!

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Posted in Cycling, Road

San Dimas Stage Race

Living in Pasadena, San Dimas is one of the most local races to me all season, yet despite two attempts (once in the 3/4 and once in the 1/2/3) I had yet to ever finish this race. The first time I attempted as a 3/4 (before the field was cut), I was dropped on the road race, and got lost on course, thus getting time cut for the crit. Last year, I managed to make it through the stormy road race, but got pulled less than half way into the crit.  This year, I really wanted to finish the race.

Our title sponsor, SC Velo promotes SDSR, and it is our goal to do them proud and represent in the pro women’s field!

SCVelo SDSR Team: Me (Becky), Bea, Holly, Jenny, Lisa, Pam

Stage 1: Time Trial

This hill climb time trial course was lengthened this year to 4.25 miles up Glendora Mountain Road.  Lisa came out on top for our team, with an strong ride in 30th place (we are competing against some of the best riders in the world!). The rest of us didn’t have stellar time trial results, but were more focused on the road race to come in stage 2 which is known to be extremely grueling.  While I was disappointed with my own performance in the time trial, my primary goals for this race involved stages 2 and 3.

Stage 2: Circuit Race

Staging for the circuit race (Photo – Vikki Appel)

While the circuit around Bonelli Park doesn’t have any long extended climbs, the QOM up Cannon is known to shatter the field. Between a QOM on the even laps and Sprint points on the odd laps (we do 8 laps in total), this race can get quite animated. During the first lap, there was an unfortunate crash that took down a number of riders, including 1st place (Mara Abbott) and 3rd place (Tayler Wiles). Luckily, all of SC Velo safely made it through. After the field realized that the race leader was gone, the big teams got together and decided to slow it down and get Mara back on (or at least find out more information on her state). I also noticed some local riders missing like Emily Georgeson (Helen’s) and figured they’d been involved in this crash as well.

Mara got back on with the help of her Exergy teammates, as did Tayler. This was before the first QOM, which is when the race really began.  The next few laps were pretty hard. It’s important to remember to eat & drink during a tough race like this. I went through 4 GUs, 2 bottles of GU Brew and 1 bottle of water (Thanks to support from friends & family in the feed zone!). I took it lap by lap and tried to recover between efforts. Jenny suffered a mechanical and had to pull out of the race. Holly & I remained in the main field and kept encouraging each other despite the difficulty. As we approached the final climb of the race, I knew fireworks were about to go off. I hung on as best I could, and finished the race just 20 seconds behind the leaders in 28th, and shortly behind Holly in 22rd. The race officials decided not to enforce the 5% time cut, so all riders that finished the day were eligible to race the crit.

After the race, we all had our GU brew recovery, since Sunday’s race would be another difficult one and we would need as fresh legs as possible!

Stage 3: Criterium

After getting through the road race, I really wanted to finish the crit. It was where I got pulled from the race last year. I find positioning to be my biggest challenge in the higher level races, and once I get to the back it can be challenging to move back up. I am lucky to have teammates like Bea and Pam who have done a lot of NRC (& European)  racing and are really incredible with navigating the field.

Holly, Lisa, and I (Photo – Vikki Appel)

Towards the beginning, I tried to make sure I was up with them, and felt pretty comfortable. As some riders began to drop, and I lost a few positions, I found myself farther back. There is less drafting and more of an elastic effect back there & I struggled.  Mid-race, I managed to move up a little bit and got more confortable only to drift back again with about five laps to go. Fortunately, I was able to put my head down and make it through the race, achieving my personal goal of finishing SDSR for the first time ever.  Our new Incycle Cannondale Evos performed amazingly well; Stiff for climbing and corner so smoothly. On a course with so many turns, it makes a huge difference!

Holly & Pam finished t he crit in 23rd and 24th. Lisa was 39th, and myself 42nd.
Holly & I finished 32nd and 33rd respectively in GC. Lisa was 37th and Pam 44th.

I’m so lucky to have found a great team this year that is supportive before, after and during races– both when things go well and when they don’t!  We’re extremely fortunate to have great sponsors that support us in our racing as well! 

Posted in Cycling, Road

Murrieta Time Trial

The forecast for the time trial called for rain, and I was hoping that it would be wrong. Most of the rain seemed to pass early and Friday morning was pretty sunny. The Murrieta time trial course is partially road, partially dirt, and I hadn’t ridden it before, so I pre-rode the dirt section in the morning.

As we were warming up for the time trial, it suddenly started to pour rain & hail. So much for the nice weather!  By the time we started, everybody was soaking wet. I had my time trial equipment so wanted to take advantage of the flat first half of the course. I pushed it pretty hard and then settled on the climb and just tried to ride as steady as possible.

After the race, I had no idea how I’d done. We just wanted to get out of our wet clothes and warm. When I got the email of the results I was surprised & happy to have taken second place. Congratulations to Emily of Helen’s for the Win and Joy for an extremely close third place. Everybody who showed up and raced that day was hardcore!

2013 Tour de Murrieta Women's Time Trial 

Posted in Cycling, Road

Merco – Merced Irrigation District Road Race – Becky Siegel

Jenny, Bea, Holly and I made the trip up to Merced to race the Merco Cycling Classic women’s stage race. This race has previously been an omnium for the women, and began with the time trial on Friday so none of us had raced the Thursday course before. The course is a 12.5 mile loop with one tough climb each lap. We raced 4.5 laps and did the climb 4 times. There were also QOM points up for grab so every climb was tough and the field was stacked with professional teams.

The race was pretty mellow up until the first major climb about 5 miles in. The tempo started ok, but ones we hit the 200M to go sign, the race for QOM points began. All four of us got popped towards the top of the first climb, but there plenty of people in chase groups and we all caught back on the main field for lap 2. The second lap was more of the same. Popped on the climb, chased back to the main field, with Jenny in my chase group.

Things got tough for me on lap 3. I wasn’t able to stay with the group or the first couple of chasers and ended up in no man’s land for a full lap solo. Caitlin Laroche from SPY GIANT was nearby and passed me going up the 4th climb. She was the only rider in site for most of the third lap.

Some breakaways from the men’s field began to pass, and then I realized one of the groups was actually women. This was bitersweet because it would have been nicer to ride the third lap with them rather than alone, but it meant lap 4 would be a bit easier.  I was happy to see Jenny again, and we rode in a chase group of about 12 riders for the remainder of the race.  Holly and Bea finished the stage a few minutes behind and we are all trying to rest and recover for the time trial tomorrow!

Posted in Cycling, Road

Valley of the Sun

Valley of the Sun is a three day stage race in Phoenix, AZ. The first day is a 14 mile flat time trial, the second day is a 62 mile road race, and the third day is a technical criterium.  

Time Trial

There’s not too much to say about the time trial except that I was able to put my JL Velo skinsuit to good use and finished the day in 8th place. For me, this performance that was neither stellar nor terrible. I felt like I could have and should have done better, but it is early in the season and this is a great race to flex my time trial muscles and get back into the swing of race season. I made sure to relax and have some GU recovery brew to keep me fresh for the road race Saturday!

Road Race

I first did Valley of the Sun in 2012, and an unfortunate crash in the men’s field meant that our race was cut in half. Because of this, I had yet to experience the full road race. With the longer distance and heat, I made sure to stay hydrated and fed with GU and GU brew. This year, we also faced much stronger winds which were a big factor in the race.

There isn’t a ton of climbing in this, only one short climb towards the end of each lap. The first hard effort took place on the climb at the end of lap 1 (of 4). A small group of 5 or 6 got up the road a bit, which included both the race leader (Ali Tetrick of Exergy) and the second place rider (Marti Shea of Destination Cycling). We had Molly Van Howling of Metromint with us who was sitting in third by just a fraction of a second, as well as her only teammate in the race, Lisa Mueller.

I knew that Molly had to make sure that gap was closed and it was clear that she and Lisa would do everything they could to make it happen. Since there were only the two of them, I pulled up next to Lisa and told her that if the two of them could get things organized, I’d rotate through and help them out. Without a ton of organization, we ended up catching the break about 2/3 of the way through the lap.

The next lap was the QOM, and there was another hard effort up the hill. There was a bit of separation again, but this was closed pretty quickly. The main remained together again for the remainder of the race up until the 3k to go sign which was the start of the climb.  My legs didn’t have it in my to stay with the leaders, and I rolled in 25 seconds behind in 10th place. There was some shuffling in GC (some riders moved ahead of me, others moved down), but I remained in 8th overall at the end of the day.

Criterium

The VOS crit is somewhat technical, as it is a figure 8 shape with both left and right hand turns. There is also some choppy pavement so you have to be alert at all times. There weren’t very many teams with numbers, only two teams with 4 or more riders. Because of this, there wasn’t a ton of action and moves being made. There were a few $50 cash primes which sped the race up a bit, and a few attacks which were chased down before there was any separation.

I didn’t see when the lap cards went up, but I did hear a $100 prime announced (actually a two place prime where the second place rider got a prize). I saw Molly starting to move up the side, and thinking she was going for it I jumped on her. Maybe I could at least get the prize! I couldn’t tell if she was going for it, and I went around her and went for it. I’m not sure if others didn’t hear the announcement, were conserving for the finish, if I was just too darn fast (yea, not that one), but I got it! As I went through the start/finish, I heard them announce that there were three laps to go.  I looked back and saw I had a gap so I thought I’d keep going and see what happened.

$100 prime- Nice consolation prize!

$100 prime- Nice consolation prize!

I was caught in a lap, and just tried to settle in the field as best I could for the finish. I started making my way up (also  at my friend who was racing the cat 3 race to jump on my wheel!), and when we got to the long finishing stretch didn’t have much of a kick, but finished with another 8th place. My friend took third in the cat 3 race which was an added bonus! Lisa Mueller of Metromint put out a stellar sprint and took second by less than a wheel, just behind Ali of Exergy.

The GC didn’t change after the crit. I finished in 8th overall and it was a fun weekend of racing in the sun!

Posted in Cycling, Road
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