Snelling is one of those classic races that not only unofficially marks the start of the racing season, but has a special place in the memory of almost every cyclist in the NCNCA. Everyone has a story from Snelling. Like that one year someone put rubber ducks in all the puddles after it rained, or that other time when a tiny, territorial, terrier almost chased the peloton off the road. There was the time when one female rider escaped off the front in the first few miles of the race – and everyone forgot about her – and that year when it was discovered that some upset person had dumped a box of tacks in the road, resulting in flats for all.
I was reminded of all this as the group sat chatting at the startline for the 2017 edition of the women’s P12 race at Snelling. With JL Velo 10 riders strong and several noteworthy singles, including Clarice Sayle (Jakroo) and Megan Ruble (Specialized p/b Musclemilk), our squad of 5 – Sara Bird (aka Birdie), Sara Enders, Illi, Liz and I – knew we needed to make this race tough out of the gate and hopefully form a break with at least two of our riders in it.
As soon as we were released from neutral, Birdie and Sara started laying down attacks in rapid succession. Throughout the first half of the race we pushed the pace, trading attacks with Amanda Siegle (Jakroo), however each time we were pulled back by the numerous members of the JL Velo squad. In particular, the strong winds made it difficult to stay away and even when we managed to get our ideal composition in the break (at least two riders), riders from other teams would refuse to work (even if they had equal numbers of representation) and eventually it would get pulled back. I always liken it to a card game – each new break is a new hand you have to play and although it doesn’t always work out, you can reshuffle the deck and try again.
Nevertheless, by the last lap we had whittled a formidable-sized field down to a handful of riders – including 3 JL Velos (Marissa, Sandra, Emily), Clarice and Megan. Our entire squad of 5 was still riding strong, so we continued to attack with the goal of making Claire, Megan and Marissa (three riders we knew were riding strong) do as much work as possible.
The lead-up to the Snelling finish line is a long, straight, bumpy road, then a 90 degree right hand turn to a final set of double rollers. Position into the right hand turn is critical. Ideally you want to be sitting within the top 5 wheels (although not at the front) to still have enough draft protection up and over the first roller, but not so far back that you can’t kick and pass the remaining people by the second hill. On the bumpy lead-up Liz mounted an impressive attack, forcing Claire to chase hard into the right hand turn. Illi was sitting 3rd wheel and I was sitting 5th as we sprinted into the first hill. I knew I wanted to reach the base of the 2nd hill first (it’s much more difficult to pass people on a hill), so I forced my way to the front and was beginning my second kick when I saw Sandra from JL Velo come flying up my right hand side. She hit the base of the second hill first and I launched after her. I made up a good amount of ground, but not quite enough and she rolled over the line about half a bike length ahead of me. Claire finished 3rd with Illi close behind in 4th. Sandra had used the leadout of her remaining teammate to sneak up the right hand side, unbeknownst to the rest of the field.
There are always things you wish you could have done differently in a race – but at the end of the day I’m incredibly proud of my teammates and their selfless work. We are a different team than last year, so tactically we have a lot to learn, but the one thing that remains the same is our culture of active racing and sacrifice for the good of the team. On a personal level, I’ve always dreamed of being on the podium in this classic race and I’m happy to see that all my hard work in the off-season paid off. Cheers to many more races to come my friends!
Who’s ready for a bonus round? We’re not saying that we don’t believe her, but this next very special individual seems to have a knack for keeping us in constant suspense by saying every race is going to be her last. Now in “semi-retirement,” Judy Wexler is one speedy sprint ninja.
Judy Wexler started racing in 2005, representing Tufts University in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference. She’s since raced in New England, the DC Metro Area, the Pacific Northwest, and the NCNCA. Judy is mostly retired for the 2017 season, as she’s focused on finishing her PhD in evolutionary genetics and entomology at UC Davis. However, you may still see her reppin’ the Folsom pink and black in her favorite discipline — the criterium! Highlights of her career include basically the entire 2014 season, which saw her snag 2nd place at collegiate crit nationals, 4th place in the collegiate nationals road race and 3rd in the omnium in addition to 4th place at the Sea Otter circuit race. Her favorite NCNCA victories include Snelling in 2015 and winning the crowd prime at the 2014 Davis 4th of July crit.
Say what you want Judy, but we know you are going to ride your bike just as much during your “semi-retirement” and crush every “occasional” race you enter. Folsom Bike would not be the same without you!
To say this little lady is #PROUDTORIDELIKEAGIRL is an understatement. Rounding out the squad and returning for her second season with the Folsom Bike team is Melanie Wong. In her own words…
“Hi there – my name is Melanie and I am a jack-of-all-trades that is one part cycling fiend, one part tech professional and one part crazy cat lover. After growing up as a competitive gymnast, swimmer and diver, I found cycling five years ago and haven’t looked back since. I love the game behind team strategy and to me there is nothing more fun than “playing bikes.” In the other half of my life I am a project manager at LinkedIn where – very much like cycling – I organize software teams to collaborate, communicate and get shit done. I believe that athletes make the best employees and enjoy how one passion feeds the other. My spirit animal is my black kitty, named Chirpcat, who prefers to make ‘chirrup’ noises rather than ‘meow’. I have no idea why. Much like her mom, she is very agile, sometimes finicky and loves to curl up and be warm. I always wear tall, hot pink socks with my kit so if you see a short, long-haired girl rolling around with obnoxiously bright socks, come say hello.”
An energetic and devoted teammate, Melanie completes our fantastic roster of talented ladies. See you at the races!
It’s been a little rainy outside, but we’ve got another rider announcement to help brighten your day. Liz’s positive, can-do attitude and hard work ethic makes us smile, even in the gloomiest of circumstances.
Liz is an all-arounder who will be starting her third season of bike racing this year. She’s a recent PhD graduate who found bike racing in grad school. Liz has always loved endurance sports of all kinds. She raced track and cross country for four years in high school and has been cross country and alpine skiing with her active family since she was small. She feels exceptionally fortunate to have stumbled upon the recreational biking and bike racing communities in Norcal. When not on her bike, she loves cooking, art, reading, and spending time with her husband, Blaise.
Thanks for being our ray of sunshine Liz! Looking forward to 2017.
We’re back in action after a little hiatus that involved lots of cookies, gifts and champagne. So without further ado, we are pleased to introduce Ms. Fanny Bourdais de Charbonnière to the Folsom Bike family.
Fanny grew up in France playing tennis, skiing and horseback riding before focusing 200% on her studies and career. After graduating from HEC in Paris, she was hired by an investment bank in New York where she survived 10 years before moving to Sacramento last year to work in the private markets arm of CalPERS (infrastructure, energy and real estate investments). She bought her first road bike 4 years ago to get back in shape and “train for a triathlon” but quickly realized she would not make it out of the water alive and instead jumped head first into bike racing while barely knowing how to clip in. Waking up at 4am to race in Central Park, endless off-the-bike winters and 28h work days were getting old so she did not hesitate when she got an offer to move to the best coast and had a blast during her first Western racing season in 2016. She is very excited to join the Folsom Bike Women’s racing team and to work for such a great squad in 2017.
We’re excited to have you join us Fanny! Looking forward to a great season.
It’s Wednesday and, although we know you’re a little panicked by the fact that you haven’t started your holiday shopping yet, there’s no time like the present for a very special roster announcement. Diane Moug has been a pillar of the Folsom Bike Women’s squad for as long as we can remember and has shown Northern California again and again that she is a force to be reckoned with.
Diane has been on the Folsom Bike Women’s team for pretty much her whole cycling career, and is excited to be back for a fifth season with some very fast ladies. She started cycling when she moved to Davis from Vancouver, BC in 2012; since then has never taken the warm, (relatively) dry winters in California for granted. This winter and spring she will be focused not only on cycling, but also finishing her PhD in Civil Engineering at UC Davis. Her research is improving the tests that predict ground and building foundation strength loss during earthquakes – if you are still interested, she explains it here. Diane’s perfect bike ride is very long and hilly, filled with conversations about the Great British Bake Off and NPR, and followed by coffee and chocolate.
Talented, humble, gracious and wicked smart, Diane is truly a class act. We are so excited to have you back for 2017!
The 2017 season welcomes so many fresh faces to the squad! Sara Enders, affectionately nicknamed “Senders,” is one chick with some serious firepower. Whether pounding up steep hills or taking the sprint to the line, this girl can do it all – and then some.
Sara grew up in Massachusetts, where she eschewed sports until she was 11 because she “didn’t like competition.” Some switch got flipped around that age, though, and she traded dance classes for lots of team sports, including weird East Coast things like lacrosse, eventually focusing on soccer and playing through college on Yale’s club team. Sara has always had a bike and liked going fast on it, so when she came to UC Davis for grad school her head was turned by the very sexy, national championship-winning Aggie cycling team. She was too cheap/poor to spring for a race bike for many years, but finally got a nudge when she found she couldn’t follow her then-boyfriend (now husband) up a big hill in Portland on her inherited 1962 Raleigh. The problem was not the bike, but crit gearing and a front derailleur that had probably been broken, unnoticed for years in Davis–but all’s well that ends well. 6 months later Sara was cruising around at Collegiate Nationals (and dropping Bob on hills xoxo).
Off the bike, Sara is an Environmental Scientist with a B.S. in Geology, an M.E.Sc. in Water Science, Policy, & Management, and a Ph.D. in Soil Science & Biogeochemistry. Her work has ranged from transboundary watershed management in Central America to supporting the EPA’s drinking water program activities, to reconstructing past climate change from organic compounds in soil. She is living in Sacramento and looking for work. You should hire her!!!!
Welcome to the Folsom Bike family Sara!
We took a little break to ride our bikes over the weekend, but we’re back this Monday morning to rollout another “young gun” on our 2017 roster.
Aliya has been an enthusiast of two-wheeled adventures from the age of 12. Since then, she has traveled all over California, the country, and the world -most significantly to Euroland this spring with the U.S National team. The ladies of Folsom Bike had always been encouraging of Aliya as a junior, so joining the team last year was particularly special. Currently, she is plugging away through college, majoring in journalism. Other enjoyments include a long list of activities/interests that can be classified into four areas (to be succinct): the great outdoors, books, food, and The Lord of the Rings.
Thanks for being an amazing teammate Aliya! We are looking forward to racing with you again in 2017.
To 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).
Illi 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!
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.
Sara (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.