Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Erica takes 2 for 2 -- Two second places at Giro del Cielo and Tour of Syracuse!

Congratulations to Erica Adelberg, who took second place in the Cat3 field at the Giro del Cielo on May 15-16 and another second place at the Tour of Syracuse, May 22-23.

Here's what she had to say about the criterium at the Tour of Syracuse, where she won the sprinter's green jersey:

Crit: Very fast race, not all that hard to hold on and not overly technical, but still a challenge in discipline and focus, and the fastest crit I've been in from a mph perspective, which was both invigorating and a little terrifying. The other Raddies put in some good attacks, as did a few riders from other teams, but pace was too high and wind was too strong for anything to stick. As for me, I really focused on trying to figure out where the best position to sprint from was as there were some s-turns and curbs in the final approach, and was happy and surprised that I got it figured out for the intermediate points and the finishing sprints. Crit must have been somewhat hard though because my HR maxed at 186 at some point, which is the highest I've seen so far this year. In any case, coming across the line first out of the 3s earned me a really cool green jersey to be worn in the road race on Sunday, along with a nice trophy and a little cash.

And here's Erica's report on the road race at the Giro del Cielo:

Road race in on a pretty rolling 5.5 mile loop, 6 laps for the cat 3s. A few non-omnium riders joined us today too to bring our numbers up to around 15 again. I was still in 2nd place for the omnium, 3 points behind the woman with whom I'd tied for the 2nd for the TT. Basically all I had to do to stay in second was to stay on my bike and place fairly well in the road race. But I wanted more! Getting my first 1st would be my ultimate goal.
On the line they announced that there would be one points prime, 3 deep, worth 10-6-3 towards the omnium. So it turns out that it's not just the finish we'll have to worry about. My idea was to get on Deborah's wheel and come around her at the line like I had in the crit. But I'd lost focus and miss her jump, and end up getting 3rd for the prime as Kristin Lotito comes around me for 2nd. This improved my 2nd place odds by a few points, but now I was even further out of 1st...
Those of us who sprinted have a little gap at this point, but it's into a downhill and we don't organize and the top contenders are all in it anyway, so we all slow up. Except for one rider who is not competing for the omnium. I can't tell you what happened there because I was so focused on Betty and Deborah I honestly didn't even see her go up the road, but she must have jumped around the corner and got a good gap on us rather quickly. There is some discussion about chasing her down, but the three of us have no inclination to help, and I guess no one else was motivated either so off she went. We never saw her again.
Anyway, we just continued to roll around, race felt mostly like everyone was just waiting for the final sprint. As we're going up one of the steeper climbs on the 4th lap, Betty puts in a pretty good acceleration. I find I'm in too light of a gear to respond properly, so I shift up but my bike reacts violently under the pressure of the chain movement and literally bucks me right off. I could never be a rodeo rider. So as I hit the ground, I'm like, "Holy crap, I actually managed to lose my podium," I was so mad at myself! But no one crashed into me luckily, so I picked myself up as quickly as I could, straightened my brakes, got back on the bike and just hammered. I could still see the front group despite the fact that Betty was apparently trying to take advantage of my misfortune by attacking even harder. But adrenaline is a good thing for bike racing, and within a mile or so I was able to clamber back on, picking up 5-6 stragglers along the way (still haven't figured out if they were dropped because of the time lost getting around me when I was sprawled on the ground or if Betty's group had legitimately escaped them, probably a combo...given how much they thanked me afterwards for towing them back up).
Anyway, so it comes down the the finishing sprint after all. In response to how the prime sprint went down, I decided not to fight Kristin for Deborah's wheel, as I could use all the help I could get in order to get to the line, since it tends to be a long sprint, and Kristin clearly wants that position. But Kristin went early, which I thought could work out, so I stuck on her wheel. Alas, Kristin had totally mistimed the sprint, and sat up long before the line, I came around her at that point, but with Deborah, Kristin, and Pan Pan all on my wheel, so instead I ended up giving them all a nice leadout to the line, as I sprinted for 4th in the field sprint, 5th in the race, but....yes, at least a 2nd place podium for the Omnium! I will be happy with that for what turned out to be a fun and challenging weekend!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Curse of Colt's Neck

Erica's race report from the May 3rd Tour of Colt's Neck: 19 miles (3.8 mile course, five laps).

So every time I do this race, something bizarre happens at the end. This year was no exception...
Actually bizarro world started out early yesterday, with every cross-street in Manhattan reportedly being closed down at 6th Ave for the 5-borough bike ride. We can't even get rolling enclosures for most of our races, and they get to shut down Gotham city? Okay, so 32000 of them vs 32 or so racers, but still...

We were expecting a nice, warm, small race in which we could practice some of our team tactics on unsuspecting New Jerseyites. 17 were pre-registered, minus Dara, so we expected 16 on the line, take or leave a couple, including just a couple of other CRCA regulars (Deb K and Colleen C). But as the start time neared, more and more familiar faces started floating by, Alejandra, AMM, Fabienne, Stacey Jensen, Kristin Lotito, etc....basically any who could and would hope to dominate the field in a sprint finish. So it was a much more packed and stacked field than we had expected, and was destined to come to a sprint at the end. Ann Marie sat at the front most of the race, cementing the field any time anyone had the gall to try to break away (which mostly was just Ashley, myself, Alejandra, and Gabby).

I believe the field was a little sketchy at the back all along, but I did my best not to be back there as I prefer not to deal with riders going backwards around the corners and on the one steep hill each lap, although I have to say that from my perspective there was less swarming and dying there than in the past, might have been my better positioning there than in the past, or might have been that we dropped some of the riders notorious for that early on. In any case, a final moment of sketchiness came as riders jockeyed for wheels just before going up the hill for the 5th (and kind of final) time, as it's all going for the finish after that. Didn't see what happened but all of a sudden the entire field in back of me seemed to fly sideways off the road. I think in reality it was only a few riders, but one of them was Fabienne, who ended up having to get 14 stitches in her leg and hip, speedy recover to Fabienne.

So it was going to be a smaller group heading into the final sprint, but as we came around the final corner, we were thrown into neutral by a downed cat 4 woman who had crashed in their finish on the previous lap. Some riders in our field diligently slowed down, being told we'd still be able to sprint up the final roller after the crash to the finish, others moved up to gain advantage (including, I suspect, some of those who had been caught behind our field's crash a couple of minutes before), and still others gave up the thought of sprinting altogether. At that point it was a bit of chaos as we began to sprint the final 200m or so to the finish. I was on Stacey Jensen's wheel, which was right where I wanted to be, as both her acceleration and her ability to maneuver through a field to the win is, in my mind anyway, legendary. I figured I could at least try to get 2nd to her 1st. But given the line she was taking I was sure she was going to be boxed in by Betty Tyrell, so I hesitated for a split second, only to hear her yell out "Betty, Move!!," and in a flash, without missing a beat, she sprinted forward to take the win, with me, both dumbfounded and impressed, and nowhere near her wheel anymore, rolling in for 8th, with Ashley just behind me for 9th.

So we thought that was it. But the insane and totally unreasonable USAC official, the same one who very unfairly relegated me last year from 4th to 10th, muddled over the rather unfortunate finish to our race, and after about 45 minutes, called us all back to the finish line (at least those who hadn't gone home to their families by then), and declared a do-over. Not a final lap, just a final mile or so. Most of us had cooled down, finished off our water, and on an 85 degree day, were not really in the mood to replay the most hardest and dangerous part of the race. So they agreed to limit it to the top 21 for the replay, and back we went, to restart our finish just in front of where the downed riders from our field were still being treated for injuries. I was still trying to find out from Colleen which hospital Fabienne was going to be taken to in order to communicate it to Colleen's husband David when everyone else lined up...so of course I was no where near Stacey's wheel when we started off again. Anyway, long story short rolled in for 8th once again, with Ashley just behind me for 9th (and yes, Stacey won again...)

Long race report for a short race, but you can't make this stuff up, thought you might all enjoy a peek at the twilight zone that is NJ racing at it's best.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

CRCA Race -- March 27, 2010

Cecelia Pleva took 1st place in the CRCA women's race on Saturday, March 27, 2010. Congratulations, Cecelia!

Here is her report of the race:

When I got to Central Park that morning, I was more confident with myself and especially the team from our Wednesday practice with our coach, Nina Strika. I really felt that with defined roles in a lead out, it would help us execute a winning finish more efficiently. I was eager to try out certain elements we went over in practice during a real race situation. Since it was cold and it was only 4 laps, I decided to liven things up a little early instead of waiting after the first lap. As we went up Harlem Hill, I was a bit shaky since weaker, less experienced riders were holding me up and I got boxed in the middle. Also, I noticed there was a lot more braking in the field which made things a bit choppy. I attacked over the West Side rollers close to the reservoir since a) i needed to warm up b) it was effective in practice and c) I discovered it was a good spot for me. I think Donna counter-attacked after I got caught which was good because I don't have any real endurance right now and I was getting tired. I did notice Donna was turning her head around and looking behind her. I was thinking "Don't do that!" If you turn around and look it makes everyone know you aren't that committed to the attack/break and you may be giving up. I was thinking that Donna is strong enough that it was entirely possible she could stay away if no one bridged up. I don't really remember what happened in between, details escape me on who did what.

The next thing I remember was Gabby attacked and I went after her and just stayed on her wheel. I didn't see the point of going around her since I wasn't going to let her go and she would do all the work since I was tired. Before I knew it, Corrine, me, Gabby, Renee and Laura Lee bridged up and we were in a 5-woman break. I'm like, "How did this happen?" Corrine started joking about how funny it would be if this break stuck. I surveyed the group and knew of course this was the most unlikely break situation, since the experience level combined wasn't very deep. I knew I had the most experience and if I screwed this up I would never forgive myself. So then I decided, that I would win this one. We worked the last two laps in a pace line with Gabby coaching us. I was too tired to coach anyone. The Velocity girls were both really strong and had a few surges in the last lap. Corrine talked the entire time and I was dying. I feared the Velocity girl, Renee, would try to break off on her own but I knew I couldn't let her go no matter what.

The girls revved up their engines just before the boat house and I remained calm and basically sat on their wheels up Cat's Paw hill. Then the drag race started, 3 across, and they were surging early so I just got on Renee's wheel and simply went around her in the final sprint (just like practice). Then I won! Nuts! Believe me, if anyone is capable of ruining a good thing, it's me. I couldn't believe that I actually won. Yes, some other strong contenders weren't there, and I'm chalking it up as a lucky fluke, but it goes to show you that any break is possible and you never know what will stick. A proud day for Radical-Media's first team race!

P.S. I have some major training to do...

We also got news this week about a former teammate of our, Evelyn Stevens, who is now racing professionally with HTC-Columbia. She took first place in the finale of the Redlands race. Her spectacular finish was profiled in VeloNews, where we are now accustomed to reading about her cycling endeavors. Amazing, Evie!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Season Opener: Bethel, CT

Ashley, Maria, Donna

Three of our riders participated in the season's first out-of-town race in Bethel, Connecticut: Ashley Prine, Maria Quiroga, and Donna McMahon, who placed 5th, 10th, and 3rd, respectively.

Donna McMahon's race report:

The race started out easily for the first couple of laps and then there were some attacks. Maria, Ashley, and I did some attacking and counter attacking. We made sure that certain very strong riders did not get away! With about 6 laps to go, I attacked on the hill but did not get away. Maria did a lot of work on or near the front throughout the race and for the last 2 laps or so I stayed on her wheel for a lead out. At the finish, a little after the hill started, I sprinted up the hill. Two Metro riders were already a little ahead but I pushed hard to get third. Ashley got 5th and after doing a lot of work and leading me out (thank you!) Maria stayed strong for 10th! We were way outnumbered and still did great!

I definitely felt the most comfortable I have so far while riding in the middle of the pack as opposed to on one of the sides or on the front! I believe I saved some energy EXCEPT for my silly mistake when I thought one of the laps was a prime! I pushed pretty hard for part of that lap and then up the hill. (When we crossed the line just before that lap, I heard a whistle! I know in CRCA races there are whistles blown all the time by the marshals and I am used to it! But yesterday that was the first time I heard the whistle in the race and it was the timing of it.....at the beginning of the next lap!) I have not done many races yet where they offer primes but I still should have known better! I still had the rest of the race to recover and feel stronger again but I do apologize for the mistake!

This is my new favorite criterium course! For those who have not done it yet, it is about a .9 mile loop (22 laps) that is well paved (only minor dangers were a manhole after the first turn that was a little lower than the pavement and the gratings on the sides (they put wooden boards over them to make them safer). Overall a fast, safe, and FUN course with the one little hill at the end of each lap!

It is a great start to the season for us and I know we will improve with each race. We worked smoothly and I know we will get better and better. I want Radical Media to be known as "The team who owns the Podium"! :-) Now I am going to go learn the difference between a whistle and a bell! :-)

~ Donna

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The first day of spring

There's something to like about every season in New York City, but for the cyclist, spring just may be our favorite time of year. There's nothing so freeing, after a long winter spent cooped up in a closet-sized apartment, than to jump on the bike and take off, out of Manhattan, across the George W. bridge, over to the hinterlands of Bergen and Rockland Counties. This is exactly what I did today, while my teammates Maria, Ashley, and Donna were competing in Bethel, CT. I was a bit jet-lagged and my legs felt none too fresh, but I saw the first purple crocuses and daffodowndillies, and the day was sweet. I was reminded of the things that drew me to cycling in the first place: seeing the bright sky over the city when I cross the GW bridge on my way home; putting on sunscreen for the first time this year; the feel of my heart in my chest and the cool air in my lungs.

This has been a particularly long and cold winter in New York, and we have been spending more time than we'd like indoors on our trainers, or cross-training. It turns out that we are, besides cyclists, also runners, swimmers, skiiers, and weight-lifters. Donna continued her triathlon training over the winter; Dara skiied in Minnesota and biked in Cali; Maria went to the other land downunder and trained out of Auckland all winter; Erica rode her bike in Thailand; and I skiied, nordic-style, whenever and wherever I could. But we'll all ready to get on our bikes now, and spring seems made for the cyclist in New York.
~Emily Maynard

The view from the George Washington Bridge.