Our ladies raced at Cat’s Hill this past weekend, and had a great result with Claire Morgan taking the ‘W’ in the Women’s 3 and Fiona Strouts taking 3rd in the Women’s 1/2 field! Also in the mix was Amy Chandos. Great job ladies!
We had a huge turnout for our team today, and it showed with great results! As told by Jack Arney:
Congratulations go to Marley Smith for placing third in a very tough battle at the rolling windy hills of Wente Vineyards! The report from Jack Arney:
Pro racers Flavia Oliviera and Ali Tetrick, along with our very own Marley Smith were in a break with a good minute on the peloton which included Folsom Bike/Cervelo Susannah Breen and Fiona Strouts. (Ed Note: It was Flavia and Ali together with Marley off the back for a while, but a mechanical put Ali with Marley and Flavia on her own.)
Read Marley’s report below:
The real production comes the day before an 8:25 am start time for a 66 mile road race in Livermore. Final check on bike, wheel selection and the all evening Friday night affair of packing food, water bottles for the feed zone and of course running check on clothing, matching hair bow and socks, and just the right shade of lip stick for a guaranteed grueling race at Wente Vineyards.
5am departure but a relaxing and yet entertaining drive with some Folsom Bike/VW/Raley’s teammates, one preparing to race, one doing the most important job of all, the feed zone!!!! Thank you Jack Arney, all fifteen of us including three female riders were given water bottles in the feed zone. I personally would have fallen off my bike up the climb on lap four from dehydration and lack of fuel. I was suffering!!!!
The women’s pro1/2 race was a small field of 20-25 riders, but not lacking in talent or strength. I was very excited to have our own Susanna Breen making her first appearance in a bike race in over a year due to a leg injury, and Fiona Strouts another team member always strong with positive energy and riding ability. Our plan was to race our bikes hard up the first climb to make the selection up the road, or sit in the chase group and camp out if or when the break was caught. I was primarily concerned with Alison Tetrick and Flavia on the line, they can climb, they can time trial, they can beat up on us good and I knew it. Noted! My goal was to stay close up the climb one, lap one! It’s where the selection is made every year.
Two Metromint riders for whatever reason decided to sit on the front the entire stretch of road to the base of the climb, they maintained a steady but comfortable pace all the way to the base of the climb and then it was go time. Riders re-positioned and the suffering began, first at a moderate tempo and then it ignited. Flavia attacked ¾ of the way up the climb, Tetrick jumped on her wheel, I quickly followed and we were off. I couldn’t get into a comfortable breathing zone or pace until things settled in half way into lap one. I spent the initial few miles trying to grasp the pace these girls were riding, I’ll admit I was also overwhelmed and feeling a little star struck that I had made a three rider selection with them, and finally, trying to determine how in the world I thought I could keep up with them for the remaining 60 miles. Gap time increasing, sections of the course more to my liking, easier climbs and flat road, thank goodness! And so it goes, struggling on some sections of the course, chasing back on, contributing to the work through the wind where I felt strong, dragging myself up and over the climb on Carol Lane. Thankful I was getting water bottles of the very best mixes in the feed-zone, motivated to secure a spot on the podium with two riders I know have me beat in both strength and experience, but I am a fighter. And so the story goes.
We were separated on the climb on lap four so once I crested the hill I knew I was on my own for the remainder of the race. No follow vehicle to give me any indication of the gap time to the chase group behind me, no motor vehicle in case I had a mechanical. The other two were up the road and my job at hand was to finish the bike race. So on I pedaled just like all the other laps, tired and beat from the wind but I could smell the podium and the opportunity to finally stand on it at this particular bike race. I had raced it the three years previous but never managed to make top three. My only fear was getting caught by the chase group but banking that Susanna and Fiona would be in it ready to counter attack if they caught me. Up the hill one final time and across the line, a few minutes behind first and second, several minutes ahead of the chase group. I felt as exhausted and relieved after as I had in years past at this race, but this time someone finally wanted to take my picture on those little wooden boxes, and I was a happy ‘Folsom Bike/Cervelo girl’.
Our very own Marley Smith places first in the Women’s 35+ road race at the Sea Otter Classic this past weekend! That is a very cool medal! Great work!
More photos from the day can be found here.
Read her race report below!
The Sea Otter Classic 2013
(Wmn Masters 35+, all cat)
I was excited to go to Sea Otter to do the masters road race. It’s the only option for me to race as a Cat 1 unless I participate in the four day stage race with the pro1/2 women. I love the course, I love the event, and sponsors are everywhere so it’s an opportunity to express feedback and appreciation in person. Also key, it’s in Monterey. The weather is typically amazing. If you’ve ever raced Sea Otter you know everything feels overwhelming when you are taking in the grandness of the Expo, registration alone is a building (not a fold up table) and the podium, it’s big and it’s loud. Let’s start there. When I arrived Friday night it was at the evening podium ceremony. It was exciting to see so many Folsom Bike Mountain Bike athletes walk up the steps to accept their Sea Otter honors. Huge talent, great day for Folsom Bike!
I’ll be perfectly honest, I was nervous to face some of the competition in the women’s masters field. In many cases it means more experienced riders, and in this case a few local girls working together who had already been on the podium for the circuit race. Combine that with a few in the field that had already won the event in previous years. Nerves aside, as our field was waiting for our start I looked over and noticed Craig Philips (Rep for Cervelo, Easton, Giro) on the sidelines snapping shots with his iPhone. I remember having the distinct thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have a great race and make Craig proud I’m on this Cervelo and rolling these Easton wheels”. Committed myself right then, shred the field!
9:40 start and we were rolling from the Laguna Seca race track, before we even departed the track we were delayed for a crash at the course in another race, more waiting. Bummer! 15 minutes of standing around, and we are headed over to the road race course. One of the great benefits to this course is that the neutral roll out is through the finish line and down the monster climb that ends up being the final two miles of the race, uphill coming the other direction. You get a sneak peak at the last section of the course you only climb once, thank goodness!
Race is on, first section of racing is up a few minutes and a little kicker of a climb, go with plan A; hit the gas from the base and don’t look back. One or two others had the same idea and I pulled bag slightly to see who was staying attached and who was already falling behind. The moment I knew it was time to attack was over the top of the climb. The other riders seemed content to sit up a minute and catch their breath before heading out to the windy rolly course. Not me, go time, I punched it full throttle. I was told later they said, “Let her go, she’ll blow up, it’s way too early”. Let me go they did. Was it early, yes! Were their moments I was concerned it was too early and they would get organized and chase me down, you bet. Did it hold me back, no way!
Head down, hit the pedals hard, settle in to a comfortable but aggressive pace. Just me and the motorcycle referee that long lonely Sea Otter race. Four laps around the course and on to the final section of the course. They opened the gate to turn a different direction than back onto the course, up the big finishing climb, I had passed the cat 3/4 womens field so I was the first female of the morning to be finishing. The climb felt long and the temperature had definately spiked, but I knew I was crossing the line for the win, so on I climbed, 7:45 ahead of second place when all was said and done. A great day at Sea Otter! The highlight of the day was meeting Mr.White, owner of Cervelo at the Focus booth and last but not least, cruising down 17 mile drive in the evening with friends once the weather had cooled, a must see in Monterey if you are in town for Sea Otter!
While I didn’t know it at the time, Topsport was probably one of the best things that could have happened to me. Now I may have walked away and sworn off racing for a full 30 days, but those that know me best know that there was no way that I wouldn’t line up to race the following weekend. Enter Chico.
Paskenta Hills Road Race
I was excited that the course had more rollers than I expected and the gravel held a particular interest to me. Throughout the race I found myself being more patient than usual, not feeling the propensity to chase. I knew I wanted to be towards the front heading into the gravel and started to move up around mile 35.
I hit the gravel third wheel with Kasea Hutchins setting a hard pace up the first hill and for quite some time there after. I saw an opportunity to go as there was a lull, put my head down and went. The gravel didn’t allow me to look back which was the best thing that could have happened since I have a propensity to look back. I rode the last mile of gravel the best I knew how and hoped I could get through it more cleanly than the pack.
As I turned onto smooth pavement, I knew I had 3.1 miles to go. Now admittedly at this point, I looked back and was shocked to find that the field was no where in sight. I was all in, put my head down again, and straddled the fine line of riding as hard as I could without blowing.
I could barely comprehend what the moto was saying as he yelled, “you’ve got 40 seconds!” I couldn’t believe it. I hit 1k and all I could think was time. As the road turned upwards, I didn’t think twice, got out of my saddle and kicked.
With the 10 second time bonus, I put 1 minute, 8 seconds on the field. It was the first win of my racing career, and the first time I got away.
Steve Harrison Memorial Chico Downtown Criterium
I had two objectives going into stage 2 – stay safe and don’t lose time. I was able to do both and took 4th place.
River Road Time Trial
If you saw my TT set-up you may be lead to believe that I’d simply have to be a strong time trialist, but don’t be fooled! I had a hard dose of reality the weekend before at Topsport and went into the final stage not expecting much.
Fortunately, I was Ann Stuart’s minute man. I knew she would have a strong TT, and she was about a minute off GC. I could only go out there and do what I could do, but at least I would know the moment GC was slipping away
I was fortunate enough to get in for a bike fit throughout the week. Despite being new to a TT bike, I was secretly hoping the fit would give me more power.
I picked a wheel combination I was comfortable with given the wind, pegged my heart rate and hoped for the best. The good news is that Ann didn’t catch me, but I knew Jenn Kruger would also put up a good TT and with her time bonuses from the morning criterium, she was within 40 seconds of me. I somehow managed to hold onto GC by 46 seconds.
This weekend was all about patience, and I owe a special thanks to Jack Arney for taking the time to talk me through the race, and Marley and Erin always for all of their positivity and support.
Marley Smith takes first place in the Women’s 1/2 field! Way to go! Read her report below:
Copperopolis-March 30, 2013
8:40AM start, Women’s Pro1-2 field, 20 riders
Having Judd VanSickle as our race director is amazing because he sends an email for pre-race ( team meeting via email as I like to call it), which always includes a great course description, riders to mark, important things to be aware of for race tactics and decision making. Judd’s race strategy is to the point and so helpful, down to the very detail of tire pressure best for the course. There are times in the race I think through parts of the email he sends and literally take action. Which is where today’s race all began!
First climb, lap one, road is horrible and moving up hill quickly, the pain has just begun. Pinnacle, Molly from Metromint and Beth Newell (NOW/Novartis for MS) setting tempo on the front. I’m drifting toward the back of the pack as I transition from warm up mode to ‘oh yeah we are racing’ and then remember Judd’s email, “Don’t sit on the front, sit three wheels back on the climb or you will get gapped and left behind”. Go time, I signal Fiona Strouts(FB/Cervelo) to move forward, she is second wheel behind Pinnacle, I’m third, pace lifts up and over the top and just like that 6 rider break is off and rolling out to the open course, whew good timing. We quickly organized and secured a 90 sec gap for the remainder of lap one. (Roads seemed worse than last year, their attempt to patch the worst of the pot holes made for black debris flying every direction, sticking to everything exposed from clothing).
Lap two, second time through the feed zone things are moving quickly and another gap is created on the hill, Fiona from FB and a Los Gatos rider are separated from us on the climb – two Pinnacle riders, Newell from NOW and myself head out and into the wind again. At this point my mind starts to play tricks and I’ve mentally sentenced myself to fourth place considering the three riders I’m left with. Something about that long climb on lap three gets into my head and my legs and I break down, this year it was my goal to hang on, so I decide when we get there on lap three I will do battle. The four of us organize and roll on, again thinking through Judd’s reminders, eat, drink, be smart. I say it over and over. Second climb, bumpy descent, end of lap two coming up. Game changer!
Some call Copperopolis a race of attrition (not sure if that is from the course or the crummy roads), I’ve always named it a case of good luck and fitness. If you have trained properly and your bike survives the beating of the road, you are likely to have a good day and decent finish. Not the case for Beth Newell, my predicted winner. She suffered a mechanical at the base of the descent headed to the finish line. Mixed decision to wait or let her chase on, we hesitate, even consider waiting so she can catch on. I know Beth, she’s handy, she’s fast, she’ll chase on. Race on. Down to three, now I’m outnumbered, two Pinnacles and myself and a chase group somewhere behind us with Molly from Metromint dragging anyone daring to hold her wheel. Starting to consider the odds and make a plan for lap 3.
Lap 3, my legs still feel ok, the two Pinnacles have had some yo-yo effect from the rollers but they are good climbers! I decide after the feed zone to let them set the pace and hang on for dear life. Half way up the climb I decide their tempo isn’t feeling like mine. . . and they aren’t looking or breathing as comfortable as I thought they should. So I start to accelerate! Two thirds up and one of the Pinnacle riders has dropped back, so I raised the pace again. Now it’s one on one, odds are improving! We’ve crested the hill, and I think, “now it’s my game”. Pedal hard, pedal fast, shake her off my wheel is all I’m telling myself – she wouldn’t help, wouldn’t talk, I’m starting to get a little angry:). Flat road ahead and little kickers, it’s time to go into my crazy mindset of pretending ‘it’s just another day on the Coffee Republic Ride and I’m hitting these English Colony rollers with all these crazy local boys’. I have another Judd moment, ‘attack the bazeezers out of her”!!!! Low and behold a few kickers and stretches of wind and I’m flying solo. Half a lap to go!
So the Copperopolis story goes! It’s time to put the head down and hold the best gear and pace I can over annoying pot holes and stretches of road I know I don’t have to see again until next year. The 1K sign never looked so good, the 200m even better than I remembered it. I will also confess I was overcome with emotion crossing the line(very unlike me) I felt the odds were stacked against me going in to the race. Considering the course, the strong field, a bad taste from past year’s experience with mechanicals and getting left on the climb. At the end of the day, I raced 63 miles like a beast covered in black specks of asphalt, and won a sweet gray Easter Bunny covered in fur. The irony, thank you Velo Promo!
Another final highlight was seeing Fiona come through in sixth place. She battled behind our group the remainder of lap two and three with the other rider from Los Gatos left behind the break and ended up out riding her to the finish and climbed to the end solo! Fiona was a fighter right to the end, very proud to call her teammate!
Kudos also go out to Fiona Strouts, who placed 1st amongst the category 2s, and 6th overall. Way to go!
Full results can be found here.
For whatever reason The Velo Promo Wards Ferry Road Race has never been on my list of road races for my early season race calendar. Maybe I skipped it thinking I should save my bullets for Copperopolis the following weekend? Maybe it was just a little gem of a road race I just didn’t know about, like a good little secret kept to only the climbers in the area? That all changed when some of the guys on the Folsom Bike race team clued me in as to how amazing the course actually is in the little town of Sonora, Ca. Thanks guys for encouraging me. You were right, It’s a great race!
So I’m thinking in my mind, great training for Copperoplolis, go check it out, just pedal hard and see what happens. So we made the early 5am drive past Copperopolis through the middle of nowhere and in to Sonora with early morning weather greeting us with a serious chill. I’m talking standing at the registration line almost made me turn back for home! I was freezing, wondering if I’ve made a serious mistake.
Race prep complete minus warm up, so I’ve made the decision that once we are on the course I thought it would be good to push the pace really hard up a few opening climbs and get warmed up. As we made our way up the first few kickers I was testing out the legs, trying a few accelerations, starting to defrost and made my way through the 1K climb to what would eventually be the finish line on lap 4, thinking in my mind, “wow I am really liking this course”, took a quick glance back to discover the pack had been shattered. It wasn’t more than 15 riders to begin with, but I could only spot two riders a ways back still making their way through the feed zone. Oops. Feed zone lap one and I’ve got a gap that looks promising, but it’s so early in the race, too early? Instead of panic I decide it’s that magic moment to decide to go full speed ahead and risk getting caught with tired legs or pull it back and enlist help that could eventually end up getting the best of me at the line. Decision made, Go time!
An amazing twelve mile loop of a mixed country terrain of punchy kickers to more gradual
stair steppy climbs mixed with fun sweeping descents that were neither technical or on bad roads, my kind of course,it is after all a good day! By lap two there are riders from mens fields everywhere along the course now that are chasing or being left behind the various fields. I plow ahead and stay focused on my steady hard effort. Final lap and I decide it’s head down all out to the finish. It’s amazing how focused you can get when you are alone in the race. You don’t have surges or inconsistent efforts from other riders in the pack attacking or controlling the pace. Without that I can focus on my energy level, fueling, hydrating and having little mental talks with myself about the need to be consistent and hold a steady hard pace. Right through lap four and up the finishing climb, which for only 200 meters somehow felt really long. Looking back I did love that course, and it is a secret I will share with other riders of all categories so the fields will be larger and more exciting next year. On to Copperopolis.
Congrats to Amy Chandos and Claire Morgan, who both competed in this past weekend’s Land Park Criterium and placed 5th and 6th, respectively! Great work ladies!