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Roster Rollout: Illi Gardner

19To say that we’re impressed with this next recruit is an understatement. After guest riding with Folsom Bike last year at Cascade, Illi Gardner went on to wow us at Winters Road Race, where she won the 2016 NCNA Junior Road Champion title (not to mention 3rd overall).

illigardner2017Illi is a senior at Gunn High School. She began cycling through triathlons and is entering her second season of road and first full season of track. Outside of sports she enjoys graphic design, VFX, going to concerts and eating chocolate.

Whether on the road or at the track, we know Illi has a bright future ahead of her!

Roster Rollout: Sara Bird

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Hi there! We’re back to introduce you to yet another member of the 2017 women’s squad. We are incredibly lucky to have Sara Bird returning for another year of spins and grins.

sarabird2017Sara (aka Birdie) joined the Folsom Bike team last season and has been racing on the road for four years. She got her Ph.D. in Microbiology from Stanford University, where she found a second home on the Stanford Cycling team. Currently, when not on the bike, Birdie is a scientist, working on her postdoc at Sandia National Laboratories. Her work focuses on virus-host interactions and using cutting-edge gene editing tools like CRISPR to identify novel targets for antiviral therapeutics. When not biking or working in the lab, Birdie can be found hanging out in Los Altos with her other half Jonathan and their two Boston Terriers, Gus and Hank.

We love you Birdie! Looking forward to another amazing season.

 

Roster Rollout: Welcome Amy Cameron

amycameron2017Okay, okay – we know you haven’t put up your Christmas tree yet, but we’re incredibly excited for the 2017 season to start so for the next few weeks we’ll be introducing you to the ladies of the Folsom Bike 2017 Elite squad. First up, Miss Amy Cameron. We’ve been huge fans of Amy for a long time with her climbing prowess as well as her fun, quirky, can-do attitude. In her own words…

“This first. I’ve loved lycra for as long as I can remember, and would live in a skinsuit if it were socially acceptable. I drink weird wines from obscure regions and have a long list of foods I can’t eat. I wish I could text with my dog. Clean sheets and fried eggs on toast (GF only, thanks) top my list of favorite non-bike things. I have degrees in political science and international relations, with a focus on genocidal regimes, but I’m now Sr Marketing Manager at Wine.com, where I do creative direction and email strategy. If I had to watch just one show for the rest of my life it would be The West Wing. Running was my first love, but bikes are faster and fast is…fast. Fun fact: I can write 10 letters on each side of a grain of rice. I still wonder how all of this happened, and often blame thank my parents profusely.”

Welcome to the Folsom Bike family Amy!

Folsom Bike Trek Women’s Elite Team Announces 2017 Roster

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The Folsom Bike/Trek elite women’s cycling team is excited to announce its roster for the 2017-2018 season.  New to the team are riders Amy Cameron, Liz Otto Hamel and Sara Enders, whose consistent results in 2016 marked them as standouts in the NorCal peloton. They will be joined by up-and-coming talent, Fanny Bourdais de Charbonniere and 2016 NCNCA Junior Road Champion, Illi Gardner. Returning riders include Aliya Trificante, Sara Bird, Melanie Wong and Diane Moug. With a focus on strong teamwork, tactics and – of course – fun, the team hopes to capitalize on its broad range of talents for 2017.

In 2016, led by powerhouse Diane Moug, the Folsom Bike Trek women’s squad the reached the podium 33 times,18 of which were on the top step. First place finishes included many California classics such as Snelling, Sea Otter, Wente, Pescadero, and Nevada City. The season was capped off with a win for Diane at the Winters road race, claiming the NorCal District Road Championship for the second year in a row.

We cannot thank our sponsors enough for all their support throughout the season, including Folsom Bike, Folsom Grind, Trek Bicycles, Bontrager, Jakroo Custom Designs, GU Energy Labs, AthletiCamps, Raley’s, Oakley and Hoo Ha Ride Glide. To get updates and learn more about the team throughout the season visit our blog at www.folsombike.com or follow us on Instagram @folsombikewomen.

2017-2018 Folsom Bike Trek Roster:

  • Sara Bird
  • Fanny Bourdais de Charbonniere
  • Amy Cameron
  • Illi Gardner
  • Liz Otto Hamel
  • Aliya Traficante
  • Melanie Wong
  • Sara Enders
  • Diane Moug

Winters Road Race Report by Diane

At Winter’s Road Race I get race on the roads and climbs that I often train on. But, despite it being a home race and it being the district championships, I was feeling end-of-season complacency. That changed after talking with Mel in the morning and she said “we deserve to win this” and I had to agree.

The course has three loops that start with a straight windy section, then transitions to rollers and the main 5 mile Cantelow climb that also rolls but finished with a steep 0.5 mile section before a technical descent. Then a twisting, false flat downhill that runs about 10 miles to the finish.

The first lap was uneventful until the Cantelow climb where Illi Gardner (San Jose Bike Club) took to the front and rode super strong up the climb. This shed many of the girls and by the time we finished the descent there were about 10 racers left. The pack rotated until the flat head wind section on lap two when Tiina Aardemae (JL Velo) attacked and Mel bridged up to her. The pair gained distance as everyone else took time to get organized before bringing them back on the rollers. Heading into Cantelow climb, Mel attacked again and stayed away until the top of the climb forcing others others to set pace up the climb.

Strong attacks came throughout lap 3 from Molly Van Howling (JL Velo), which given her time trial prowness, we were sure to mark. At the very bottom of Cantelow, Mel attacked again (she is tireless!), when that was chased down, I counter attacked and brought Illi, Hanna Muegge, and Megan Ruble along. We worked together up the rest of the climb to get distance on the racers behind us. Then on the final steep pitch, I attacked and was by myself over the top.  Given how often I do the Cantelow descent, I knew I could get even more time on the descent. At the bottom I put my head down and hoped that there would be enough disorganization that I could keep the gap even with the fast road. The plan worked, and I came across the finish on my own. Hannah won the field sprint, and Illi came in third.

This race was a great way to finish the season. On top of her motivational words before the race, Mel did so much selfless work and attacking to perfectly set me up on the final climb – it was incredible and I was thrilled that our plan brought us the win.

Leesville/Lodoga Road Race by Aliya

Deciding to race Leesville was a last minute decision. I had just made it up to Tahoe for some altitude training and wanted to stay in one place, but my friend offered to pay the gas to get there -so I thought why the heck not. So began the typical race day, waking up well before dawn, eating oatmeal on the go, making the 2 ½ hour drive to some small, random town –all for the glory of winning a coveted Velo Promo t-shirt and partaking in the post-race watermelon feast (seriously, who would pass up the opportunity of feasting on watermelon?!).

The race began very tame; there was about 15 miles of straight, flat road before any terrain change. It was then that things began to heat up, literally and figuratively. As we began to climb, the sun beat down on us and the asphalt, resulting in a distinct feeling of being baked in an oven. I went to the front and began to set a hard pace up the climb. One by one riders popped off until it was down to Tiina Aardamae (JL Velo) and myself. This was still somewhat early in the race, and the rest of it basically came down to us trading pulls. The last hour of the race seemed to go on forever, and we did not have a count down until we reached the 1 km mark. At that, point it boiled down to being patient and waiting for the sprint. Currently, I have been facing difficulties with timing my sprint, but this day it came naturally. I began sprinting when it felt right (I know, super broad way of describing it), I attacked hard, and kept it up until I crossed the line in first. Afterwards, I happily ate my weight in watermelon while trading war stories with the ladies.

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Martinez Classic by Aliya

Martinez Classic is a new race on the NCNCA calendar. With 8 corners and a little bump of a hill, it made for fun and aggressive racing. I was flying solo for this race, and the goal was to look for breakaway opportunities. I found most of these opportunities after primes when the field would let a couple riders go up the road and duke it out for the chance to win a free breakfast at a local cafe, a free sandwich at another local restaurant, wine, and IRC tires! I attempted to go for those free meals, but was always just short, so stuck with countering after the primes to open up gaps. After the first prime, a substantial gap opened with me and a few others, but it lacked the motivation to keep up the pace.

I spent most of the first half of the race attacking, counter attacking, or covering attacks. At some point I had the sudden realization that I could not maintain that for the entire duration of the race, if Judy were around she would have told me to chill out way before this point! I did chill out -much later on, and resorted to something that is very difficult for me, being patient. A solo attack would go up the road of either Mikes Bikes or JL Velo, I would sit top three wheel and wait for members of the opposing team to chase down the single rider up the road. This provided me a much needed break, and in the remaining laps I attempted a couple more efforts to get away.

The peloton was all together starting the final lap. I was sitting second wheel to Emily Matheu (JL Velo) who was laying down the hammer. This was all good except I knew with the final sprint being very long that 2nd wheel was not ideal, Emily would pull through the turn, pull off, then it would be me on the front with a block and half to go until the finish. I was trying to figure out a work around when, on the second to last corner, there was a crash behind me. After that, everything happened really fast, and just how I predicted. Emily pulled off after the final corner and I had a long way to go until the finish line. I began sprinting way to early and when I began to die off, Mary Ellen Ash (JL Velo) sprinted around me and I crossed the line 2nd. Still lots to learn on timing my sprint, but happy to represent my wonderful team on the podium!

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Burlingame Report by Judy, June 2016

Burlingame is one of my favorite NCNCA crits — the race is always well organized, the course is in a cute downtown area, and it’s extremly technical. So even though I’m not in peak fitness, I couldn’t turn down the chance to race. Plus, it was 100 degrees in Davis on Sunday, so 80 on the Peninsula sounded pretty good to me.

Folsom had a good turnout, with Sara, Melanie, Aliya, and me. I took the hole shot after the gun went off and did what I love to do in crits — rail the first lap to make everything hurt for the unfortunate souls who’ve had a poor start. But after 1.5 laps, my body reminded me that I’ve been putting in 6-8 hour training weeks (instead of the usual 13), so I eased off a bit. A couple laps in, Melanie got a small gap with Clarice Sayle (Jakaroo), but Mel unfortunately slid out in the 180 degree turn. Thankfully, she was fine and rejoined from the pit on the next lap. Sara, Mel and I kept putting in attacks with JL Velo but everyone was alert, and nothing stuck until Sara spent 2 laps off the front. Things started to look up for us — Sara was on off the front, we forced Clarice and JL Velo to chase…but then the race was neutralized to allow an amublance on course. Julie Cushen (Mike’s Bikes) unfortunately had a pretty bad crash. We are sending our best wishes out for Julie’s speedy recovery! When the race got going again, everyone was a little rusty having spent 10 minutes on the side lines. Aliya was a champ and sat on the front riding tempo for 5 laps, making the race was organized and safe. With 1 lap to go, Sara, Clarice, Joanna Dahl (JL Velo), Marissa Axell (JL Velo) and I were all at the front. Sara and Joanna did their best to make things fast, and I admit I totally messed up by coming into the last corner in 4th wheel. I’ve won field sprints at Burlingame before, so I should know that the short distance from the final corner to the finish line means you need to be 1st or 2nd out of that last corner. But I just messed that up, and had to sprint for 3rd in the end. Oh well. It was still a fun day out at the races with my girls!

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Nevada City Classic & Calaveras Time Trial Race Report by Diane

How does one choose between Nevada City Classic and the Calaveras Time Trial? Nevada City is ridiculously fun racing and a great environment, but time trial practice would be so worthwhile. Well for Sunday I decided not to choose; there was just enough time to time trial the 10 mile course in Sunol, hop in my car and make it to Nevada City in time. Plus, by doing both races I could connect with all most of my teammates.

Sara went to Calaveras to practice her Merckx time trial, and Mel rode down with her. Sara put in a killer Merckx time trial with 26:13, and won the women’s category. Despite the voice in my head saying “you still have to race Nevada City” I was happy with my time trial; it felt smooth and strong. My time was 23:36, which would have won the women’s category, but because I registered day-of I was only given a time and not ranked in a category.  Regardless, going through the motions of a time trial was great practice and certainly helped my confidence for events coming up. After the time trial, I had a few minutes to hand out a bunch of Gu, Folsom Bike socks and hats to Mel and Sara before quickly saying goodbye and heading out to Nevada City.

I made it to Nevada City with plenty of time to spin and catch up with Aliya. The atmosphere of the race is so great; people line the streets to cheer, hand out water, and just enjoy the day. The race started fast, Aliya got to the front and drove the pace over the first lap. The race is very technical and it is critical to stay near the front since you are either going up the long, steep climb, or screaming down the start/finish descent into two fast corners. Inevitably the race split and a group of 4 composed of me, Sara Enders (Rio Strada), Amy Cameron (Mike’s Bikes), and Hanna Muegge. After some attacks early in the race, we settled into a bit of a rhythm with everyone doing about equal work. As the race came down to the lap cards, I started to worry about the girls with me; Sara and Amy are such strong climbers and also have nice kicks to back it up; while Hanna has been on fire with her great sprint and I could see that she was conserving for the end.

Near the end of the climb on 4 laps to go, Sara Enders made a move to get up the road. Over the top on 3 laps to go Amy put in the move to bridge up to her. I stayed back with Hanna wanting her to put in some effort to bring them back. We kept the pair up the road within a safe distance and at heading into 2 laps to go we each put in a pull to chase them down. I didn’t want to bring Hanna up to Amy and Sara, so out of the bottom two corners I got a bit of space from Hanna and went for it to get up to the duo. I didn’t catch them until halfway up the climb on the last lap and I attacked right away. When I looked back over the top of the climb I didn’t see anyone on my wheel so I just kept going as hard as I could until I got to cross the finish line in first.

It was such a thrill to win on this course – I especially appreciated all the cheering throughout the race and the water shower at the top of the climb.

Tulsa Tough Recap June-2016 by Judy

I do silly things in long road races when things are dull. Last week at Pescadero road race, I came up to Melanie during the first 10 miles of the race, proclaimed my boredom, and told her I was going to get the peloton up to speed after which she should attack. We accomplished our mission, but I promptly got dropped from doing too much 10 miles later. A month ago at Berkeley Hills, on the last lap after it became clear Molly Van Howling would stay away for the victory, I came up to Melanie and told her we had to organize our trip out to Tulsa Tough in June. See? Silly things.
To be fair, going to Tulsa seemed a good idea at the time. I was craving big, fast crits, and I’d wanted for years to do the races in Tulsa. The event itself is a fantastic weekend of downtown crit racing with a classic Route 66 atmosphere. Fans (in numbers that far exceed any race in NorCal) come in droves to watch some of the top crit racing talent in the country. So clearly ­ with a naive, but gung­ho attitude ­ we had no choice but to saddle up and head west.
What I couldn’t have anticipated was that the following week my personal life would be upended and I would spend the three weeks before Tulsa barely training. In the end, I came to the races straight from 24 hours in LA and barely any time in the prior 5 days on the bike. Nonetheless, Tulsa Tough was a great time and we enjoyed many “Folsom Style” adventures including: sleeping 3hrs in the airport on couches before a 5AM flight, leaving luggage at the security checkpoint and then sprinting back from the gate to TSA, driving ­ and trying to park ­ a boat­sized Kia Sedona mini­van and and scrambling to locate a Trek dealer for parts thanks to Fedex’s not­so­gentle handling of Melanie’s bike just hours before we roll to the startline (we like to refer to this final situation as “channeling your dinner Diane” ­ who always seems to have to rebuild her entire bike the night before a race).

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Friday’s course was a flat, 8-­corner affair. All the corners were wide and sweeping; the speeds were fast, and I felt so lucky to finally be part of this giant party about which I’d heard so much over the years. It seems everyone in Tulsa is invested in this event. As we pinned numbers onto our jerseys, a spectator came over to ask where we’d travelled from, and whether this was our first time in Tulsa. I’d never before been to a race where the general public treats riders like celebrities! The courses were lined with screaming fans and music. I was so happy to be there, I didn’t even care that I slid out and crashed with 3 laps to go. While fast, the race didn’t hurt too much, and I found it relatively easy to move around throughout the race. With 6 laps to go, I moved up to 3rd wheel, but then started to doubt my place at the front of the race. I started to lose focus and then dumbly took myself out. My bike and I were thankfully fine and Melanie managed to finish safely with the pack.

Frank Lloyd Wright house just blocks from where we stayed!!

Frank Lloyd Wright house just blocks from where we stayed!!

So we’d survived the first night. And Saturday, it turns out, was an excellent chance to begin our appreciation of Tulsa’s amazing architecture. Unbeknownst to either Mel or me before this trip, the city features a number of buildings built in classic 1920s styling during the booming years of Oklahoma oil and gas. Not only is the downtown noteworthy for its building design, but many of the neighborhoods also have stunning, huge homes. Including one designed by Frank Lloyd Wright less than a mile from our host house! We were lucky to have JL Velo’s Marissa Axell as a tour guide during this trip. She was participating in her 5th year at Tulsa Tough. She shared the hospitality of her host family on Saturday night, where we enjoyed a delicious dinner with delightful company in an ornate mansion built around 1910. And oh yes ­­ there was a race before said dinner on Saturday. The course was L­-shaped, the weather hot, and the pace high. My lack of training started to catch up with me, and despite a great start and good vibes early on, by the second half of the race, I was just trying to survive. I focused on taking good lines, moving up with little energy, and ignored the pain in my body. Mel had a great finish, but I just exploded on the last lap.

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And then came Sunday ­­ the queen stage in this 3 day crit event! On Sunday at Tulsa Tough, racers get to tackle Cry Baby Hill, a short climb lined with Tour de France style spectators the peloton breaks through like Moses parting the Red Sea. On the hill, riders hear a wall of screaming, music, and vuvuzelas while the heat of hundreds of drunk party goers radiates off into the road. It’s magical. I was incredibly disappointed in myself to have an old quad injury flare up, because this is the kind of race that I live for. I’m especially disappointed because this injury presents itself when I don’t roll out or stretch enough. If I actually got regular massages, I’m sure it wouldn’t be an issue. But the tell tale signs started only five minutes into the race ­­ my left leg went numb, and a dull ache developed. Soon I was unable to deliver any power to the pedals, despite willing myself with every fiber of my being to do so. I had to give up, take a beer from a lovely spectator and watch Mel crush the rest of the race until she too could not continue the torture any longer.

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In the end, I’m glad I got to experience Tulsa Tough before hanging my wheels up. It was an experience we’ll never forget and Mel is already planning on returning next year for Cry Baby Hill part II. After this season, I’m done bike racing for a bit. I need to finish my PhD and get a move on my scientific career! There are very few things in my life for which I’ve felt such a deep, all consuming, internal motivation to pursue. Bike racing is one of those things. Biology research is another. For the past 11 years, so many of my life decisions ­­ where to live, what kind of science to pursue, where to go to graduate school ­­ were influenced by my desire to be part of a vibrant cycling community with time to race my bike. Cycling has taught me what can be accomplished when you work every day for years at something you absolutely love. But two years ago, I decided I didn’t love cycling enough to go pro, because something else in my life ­­ research ­­ was calling. I’m so looking forward to being able to focus on one passion now, and being able to see how far I can get when I work very hard, every day, for years on my science career.