For the 2017 San Dimas race Illi, Liz, and I (Diane) made the trip down to Southern California for a weekend of racing. This was my fourth year at the race and I had seen improvements every year with my fitness, comfort in the pack, and how to position myself during the road race. This year my fitness wasn’t great, so I was just hoping I could make it through the weekend without race-ending mechanicals like I had the previous 3 years. For Liz and Illi, this was their second year at the race; both were looking forward to fast and aggressive racing. As a bonus we got to re-connect with the race organizers that we had gotten to know in previous years; thanks again Bill and Annette McCusker for welcoming Folsom Bike Women back to San Dimas! A lot of these pictures were taken by Annette – thank you for sharing them with us!
The race starts on Friday with a 4 mile uphill time trial. Liz and Illi were both eager to test their fitness, and improve from the times the previous year. I was just trying to pace myself, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to match my previous performance. I was the last rider to start, and the time trial was as hard as expected. I passed the two riders ahead of me on the way up, so I knew it couldn’t have been that bad. I did show the effort on the way up:
The time trial finished with Liz in 22nd, Illi in 12th, and I surprised myself with 4th place. Krista Doebel-Hickok (Cylance) set the fastest time and had over 1 minute lead over 2nd and 3rd place. I was about 18 seconds back from 2nd and 3rd, and 5 seconds ahead of 5th. We spent the afternoon spinning around the road race course, and having a great time.
The San Dimas road race is 8 laps of a ~7 mile circuit. It is like a crit in that positioning is so important at nearly every point during the race. The main feature is a short, steep climb called Hecklers Hill that summits about 3 miles from the finish line.
Liz unfortunately got caught in a crash early on during a fast descent that broke her collar bone. We are hoping for a very speedy recovery for her!
The race stayed together for the most part, with any attacks quickly chased down by the yellow jersey. A lot of the pack’s focus was on sprint points since GC and QOM points were fairly wrapped up by the yellow jersey. About half way through the race, there was a separation on Hecklers hill that left me, Illi, the yellow jersey, and a couple of other riders in a promising move. Even though we were all working together, we were caught by the pack. A similar separation happened with just over two laps to go, but again it was brought back by a motivated pack. Illi was outstanding throughout the race, always in great position and being aggressive on the front.
Heading into the final climb, the pack was reduced and stayed together into the final sprint. Heading into the final, no one was motivated to make it fast and sacrifice her chances. Illi ended up on the front and led out the pack to the finish line. I was in good position, and I contested the group sprint for possibly my first time. I again surprised myself by passing girls near the finish line and crossing it in fourth; Illi finished in 12th place; and the yellow jersey took another stage win.
After the finish, we quickly found Liz at first aid, stopped for chocolate, and brought her to the ER.
Heading into the crit, Illi and I were ready to make it aggressive and have fun. We had planned to stay calm to see how things were up until the first points sprint at 20 minutes in, but neither of us stuck to that plan. Illi go onto the front on the first lap and began her attacks – they were often marked by the yellow jersey, but that didn’t deter her. I countered one of her attacks before the fast downhill section and managed to get off the front. I was chased down after a couple of laps, but I did manage to get a time bonus to put a bit more cushion between me and 5th place. Illi kept being aggressive and managed to take some primes as well. The race finished in a fast bunch sprint with Illi taking an impressive 6th place.
In the end, Illi finished 10th in GC and the top ranked junior rider. I held onto my 4th place in GC, my best finish at San Dimas to date.
First, sorry that it has taken so long to get this race report up, things have been hectic with the start of race season aligning with job interview season. Me, Senders, Liz, and Illi came out for the Folsom Winter Classic crit for a kick off to 2017 – Judy, Fanny and Erin also showed up to cheer from the sidelines. We were all feeling fast in our new Jakroo speedsuits, which worked out well with the field waiting for Folsom to be the aggressors. Let than 10 minutes in, after some attacks and chase downs, two riders dangled very close off the front. I powered up to them and expected to be marked right away, but no one followed and I went right past them. With that separation, I didn’t like the idea of going solo for the next 40 minutes, so I put my head down and hoped I would catch the field before the race ended.
After 25 long minutes, I made it back to the field. The Folsom ladies that had been marking attacks, were eager to start attacking and having fun again. Even though they were always closely marked, Illi and Senders still managed to snag a couple more primes. When we got to the last lap, I found out designated sprinter, Liz and led her out to the last corner. She sprinted away and was the first one to cross the line, while Illi nearly caught her for third place.
With that, we started the season out with a sweep of the podium!
Thank you of course to the volunteers and Sierra Nevada for putting on a great season opener.
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.
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.
I think the Pescadero Road Race is my favourite race on the NCNCA race calendar, it is a long, hard race with everything: lots of climbing, technical descents, beautiful views, long windy stretches, moderate temperatures, its attributes go on. Needless to say, I was excited to be racing Pescadero with my awesome teammates. At the start line, Folsom Bike with 4 riders and Mike’s Bikes with 6 were the best represented teams at the race.
Racing really started after the first Stage Road climbs, Judy and Mel started the race aggression with a fast pace and some attacking. I was relaxing at the back of the pack, and realized that there was a field split with some very strong people up the road; but, me and Sara, as well as Amy Cameron and her Mike’s Bikes teammates in the back. It was still so early in the race that I was pretty sure we didn’t need to worry and burn matches, they would eventually come back. Amy’s teammates and Sara kept the pace in our little group, and then up the Haskin’s climb Grace (Stanford), Amy, and I paced us up the climb to catch the front group.
The next big move came from Mel at the first crest on Stage Road climb, she got a gap over the top and then increased it down the technical descent. She stayed away until nearly the top of Haskin’s climb and then came down the other side with the goup. The chasing by Mike’s Bikes and climbing had left Amy isolated from her teammates – but I was lucky enough to still have 2!
Heading back to the Stage Climbs for the final time, Mel tirelessly attacked and forced others to jump and burn matches. Going into the base of the climb, she said she might not make it over with us, before she attacked again. Sara countered her move and got a bit of a gap with Sara Enders. They held their gap over the Stage Climbs while Amy led the chase to them. Then, even after her warning, right before we turned onto 84, Mel attacked again – she just would not tire!
A big move came on 84 instigated by Joanna Dahl (JL Velo) that Sara Bird and Sara Enders jumped on. They got about a minute up the road, and forced Clarice Sayle (Jakroo), Amy Cameron, and Megan Ruble to chase. Mel and I conferred and decided that this was a good move for us, Sara was likely sitting on, and I was confident that after all the work my teammates had done for me, I could bridge to the move on the climb. The last thing I asked Mel to do was attack in the feed zone uphill right before turning onto the final climb. With that incredible last effort Amy, me, and Clarice were the only ones left going into the final climb with the lead group 40 seconds up the road.
Once the climb started, I knew what I had to do: my teammates had worked so hard over 75 miles to tire everyone else out and keep me astoundingly fresh so I put my head down and took off up the climb, a quick look back and I didn’t see Amy or Clarice behind me. I caught Joanna up the road and continued until I saw the Saras; I relaxed for a second and thought what I should do here. I tried to think of a way to hang with them and set Sara Bird up to win, but with Sara Ender’s kick (and my lack of kick) I was worried it could go wrong. I decided to just keep it as safe as possible with only 1.5km of climbing left and went past them to the finish line. It was great to see Sara Bird come across in second, who said that when I went past she got her second wind to fight for finish with Sara Enders.
I don’t think I have ever felt so confident going into the finish of a race. Mel and Sara absolutely turned themselves inside out to set me up for the finish!
The Memorial Day weekend has gone the same way for me the last two years: race Folsom Crit on Saturday, wake up very early on Sunday to exhaust myself at Mount Hamilton, and this year was no different. Sara and I met up at Mount Ham very early, and the first thing she said to me was “did you see who is registered”? I had seen, the former Japanese national champion Eri Yonamine would be racing with us. This changed our game plan to just try and stay with her as long as possible.
At this point I should make a side note: our house was recently gifted a very large geologic fault map of California which has informed this race report.
Any hope we had that the race would be a little relaxed before Eri started attacking us quickly dissipated as we rolled across the Crossley Fault, which which is a less recently active extension of the very important Hayward Fault, and where the race organizers placed the start line. Eri went to the front and pedalled at what I’m sure was a relaxed pace for her. I think I might have stayed on her wheel for 8 minutes; every time I gave a desperate look back there were fewer girls until it was just me and Joanie Celso. At some point I lost concentration and looked up to see a fork in the road, instead of following Eri’s wheel like I should have, I went the direction that made sense to my already tired mind. It was the wrong direction and all my fault (not the type of fault I like), the three of us paused a second and Joanie and I turned around, but by the time we got going again Eri was not waiting. Joanie and I worked together up the rest of the climb which included crossing the inactive Mission Fault, I was going on the small chance that we might catch her after the climb in the valley. But, by the time Joanie and I crossed the Calaveras Fault (also known to Mt Ham racers as the QOM) the time gap was 10 freaking minutes! That would be a big feat to catch her.
The descent down the back side is fun and fast, when I finished and looked behind me Joanie was no where in sight behind me, it turned out that Sara’s group caught her part way down the descent. The last two years in the race, I had done very poorly at the finish, so I figured my best chance for second (and a small chance for catching Eri) was to go it alone through the valley, and that was what I did for the next 40 miles. If I had known at the time that the valley road follows the Greenville Fault, I would have appreciated the distraction. I did get a little distraction at the second feed zone where they told me the leader was 4 minutes ahead. Whether or not that was true, it was enough to keep me going on the small chance I could catch Eri. Finally, after many generous cold feed zone bottle (thank you!) and countless Gu gels, I intersected the Las Positas fault and finished the race. The pack behind was led in by Sara who let the other ladies contest the sprint where Clarice took third.
After the exhausting race, Sara, Clarice, Sara Enders and I got to roll back through Livermore and cross the Calaveras fault and Hayward fault again over 40 miles back to the car to make it a very long and fun day.
What went down at Wente Road Race? A whole lot of team work with Sara, Mel, and Judy.
Over 20 women started the race with JL Velo well represented by 6 riders, and Team Mike’s Bikes having 5 ladies. The race was four laps with a new finish at the top of a short climb in a cross-wind section.e
During the first two laps, there was a lot of attacking by Sara and Mel to keep the other riders on their toes. Judy and I just got to sit calmly and be amazed at how Sara and Mel did not cease attacking. Right before the main climb on lap 3, Mel attacked and got away with Molly Van Howling (JL Velo), they stayed away for whole lap leaving other riders to chase, primarily Sara Enders (Rio Strada). Before the final time up the climb Clarice Sayle (Jakroo), and Amy Cameron (Team Mike’s Bikes) came to the front to reel Mel and Molly in. With Mel and Molly still off the front, Sara Enders attacked the group on the climb and brought them close with a small group on her wheel. I followed her attack and right before they were caught, I attacked and got away from the group.
Once I was away, I struggled to find rhythm on the undulating and windy course. But, it was still enough to stay away until the finish. A groupetto sprinted it out for the remaining positions with Joanna (JL Velo) in second, Sara Enders in third, Clarice in fourth and Amy in fifth.
It was again great to greet the other ladies at the finish with news that a win was the outcome of all their work. As a bonus, we all got to go home with celebratory Wente wine!
I raced Sea Otter for the first time two years ago; it was my first “big” road race. When I finished I was relieved to have survived, and surprised with my top-ten result – it turns out the attritive course and long finishing climb suite me. However, after several high-stress weeks at work and a couple of colds, I wasn’t sure how strong I was going to be this year.
This year, the turn out was much smaller than my first time with 13 ladies lining up to start. Folsom Bike / Trek was represented by me, Melanie, and Sara. For the first three laps Melanie and Sara started unleashing their attacks and covering moves. While their attacks were brought back, I could tell they were starting to wear on the other ladies. As we rolled along and went up climbs, I noted how labored the breathing was around me. I was surprised at how good I was feeling, maybe it was several mixed berry Gu’s that were kicking in. The pack stayed together until the third lap when Katie Giles counter attacked one of Melanie’s attacks and got off the front. A half lap later when we came around to the steep climb at the beginning of lap 4, Beth Hernandez took to the front up the climb and split the group into two.
From this point on I was in a group of about 7 chasing Katie. Melanie and Sara were in the group behind; two teammates behind gave me the excuse to sit in with two teammates behind while everyone else chased Katie down. I started thinking about the finish and how I could win the race. After the hill climb at San Dimas, I was confident that I could win on the finishing climb. So I decided to conserve for the finish and attack close to the finish.
Katie was caught with one lap to go, and for the final lap we rode temp until turning off to the finish. Once we hit the climb, I followed the group’s pace until 1km to go when I went to the front and rode as hard as I could until I looked back and didn’t see anyone on my wheel. Beth Newell came across in second, and Anne Usher in third.
It was so exciting to wait for Mel and Sara to finish and let them know that I had delivered the win after all their work!
Winning When the Odds Are Not in Your Favor
By Dani Haulmann
This weekend Diane kept the Folsom Bike/Trek victorious momentum alive with an overall win at Madera Stage Race. Despite the horrid El nino-inspired forecast, Diane and I trekked down to the central valley for the infamous (or un-famous) Madera Stage Race.
After looking at the start list, we knew the odds of us winning this race were worse than the odds of winning big on a gas station lotto scratch ticket. JL Velo comprised the vast majority of the field, in that we were the ONLY non-JL Velo racers.
At the start of the crit, they combined our small field with the cat 3 women, which also consisted almost purely of JL Velo riders. Because this was a stage race, and we were only playing the “overall time game” our goal for the crit was to not let anyone gain time on Diane. The race boiled down to a simple pattern where a JL Velo rider would attack, we would follow. Then a different JL Velo rider would attack, and we would follow. In the last couple laps, a JL Velo rider attacked, finally creating a split. Diane went with the move, allowing her to finish a few seconds on some fast JL-timetrialists. In between the crit and time trial, we waited spent the rainy afternoon in Starbucks drinking tea and playing with puppies.
Later that afternoon, we had a 10-mile flat time trial. It was windy. It was raining. Making the perfect storm for Diane to crush. Or at least I though it was until 10 minutes before the start, Diane realized that her shifting cable was frayed and about to snap. Again, not the best odds but the cable managed to hold out for the TT. On top of that, she won the time trial, placing her in first, 22 seconds above second place.
After it poured rain all night, we were pleasantly surprised to start the final stage under blue skies. Just a 70-mile hilly road race on tarnish roads and a pack of JL Velo riders stood between Diane and her GC victory. One lap into the four-lap race, JL started an endless stream of ferocious attacks. Because the top three finishers got time bonuses, we could not risk anyone going up the road without Diane. After an aggressive sprint workout, we sat up at the end of the lap for the feed zone, all still together. As we started the third lap Diane and I fueled up for another round of attacks. When we hit the long tail-wind section JL Velo began launching attacks, and I noticed that I suddenly was out of power. I pulled to the back of the group, wondering if covering the last lap of attacks took a toll on me. Shortly after I realized I had a flat tire. Feeling horribly about leaving Diane alone with a pack of JL Velo riders, she was faced with the worst odds of winning.
How could one rider possibly cover non-stop attacks, alone, for 2 more laps? Most people would eventually give up, and let a rider go up the road. Fortunately, Diane is not people, and not only covered every attack, but managed to sprint for the finish, taking first place in the road race, and in the overall GC.
Just one weekend after the BP Folsom Criterium, we had another victory to defend at the Snelling Road Race: last year Judy had a perfectly timed sprint to take the win at Snelling. We had a nearly full squad with Judy, Claire, Aliya, Sara, Melanie, and myself out to race. JL Velo, Mike’s Bikes, Jakroo were also well represented. The infamous Snelling wind was not blowing this year, just a slight breeze and clear sky as we set out for 5 laps of the 11.7 mile course.
The early parts of the race saw a lot of attacking by JL Velo, which were marked by Mel, Sara, and Aliya. Some of these breaks looked promising, however they were often brought back quicly as other teams and riders tried to get up to the move. The Folsom ladies did a great job of marking moves, throwing in attacks and keeping the pace high throughout. Just like last weekend, it felt like we had been racing together for years.
At about the half-way point in the race, Judy got into a break with Marissa Axel (JL Velo) that was able to get some distance. No one came forward to bring it back until 1.5 laps to go when Jane Despas came to the front. Once they were brought back, Judy and I checked in with each other, she said that Mel and I should try attacking in the tailwind section after the rollers on El Cerritos road. This was coming up quickly, so as the pack climbed up the first roller, I got to the front and pedalled hard. Amy Cameron (Mike’s Bikes) attacked hard and I jumped on it. Coming to the top of the rollers Amy, Joanna (JL Velo), and I had a bit of a gap with Clarice Sayle (Jakroo) coming up too. I was on the front through the tailwind, and when I came around the corner onto bumpy Figmond Ave there was no one behind me.
After this, I put down my head and started time-trialling down the bumpy Figmond Ave. As I made my way through the course, any time I quickly looked back there was no sight of the chasers. Behind me Joanna, Amy, and Clarice were chasing with Lindsay Meyers (Tibco) trying to bridge up to the three chasers.
The finishing stretch came as a relief. However, my mood was damped by an ambulance on the left treating riders in the Women’s 3 category that had gone down hard – best wishes that everyone heals quickly and is out racing again soon. With this accident, the finish became too chaotic to have a pack sprint. A few minutes after my finish, the three chasers came up to sprint for second. However, their sprint was quelled by officials and volunteers telling them to slow down for the crash. Since there was no proper finish for them, all three were given a tie for second place. Lindsay was also able to cross the finish line in 5th place. However, the pack was neutralized at about 3 kilometers to go, and told their finish would be moved to the 1 kilometer to go mark which is along the narrow, bumpy Figmond road. Even with the chaotic and bumpy finish, Aliya and Mel were able to sprint for 9th and 10th. Ivy Wang (Mike’s Bikes) took the pack sprint.