This blog documents the racing, training, & riding experiences of the participants of PWP

Pedaling with a Purpose

My name is Kristen Meshberg and I am a former category 1 bike racer. I competed nationally in both road and track. I am a USA Cycling Coach, and help individuals develop plans to achieve their goals. To survive the Chicago winter, I developed an indoor workout program called "Pedaling with a Purpose."

I now have various locations across the United States. To find out more about Pedaling with a Purpose or Coaching, email Kristen at: kmesh.pwp@gmail.com

Monday, April 26, 2010

Iowa City Road Race and Crit

Here's our "podium" from the crit. First and Third place (second was missing) but I love this picture becuase both Lisa and I have kids and they were all running around on the stage. during the awards presentation.

I so badly wanted to race the Southeast Crit Series this year. But it just didn't work out so I was looking for some racing this weekend and decided to go to Iowa City for a 50 mile Road Race on Saturday and a Criterium on Sunday. I've done these races in the past and they've been well attended good regional racing. We packed up the family and told the kids we were going on vacation to Iowa.

So disappointing to show up with only 11 women on the line! Even with the low turnout we had some really strong riders there. Sydney Brown, the winner of a spot on last year's Nature Valley Pro Ride Team was there. Sydney is not at full strength right now, recovering from an injury, but she really got me excited about Nature Valley telling me about her experience last year and how much fun I'm going to have. I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Also, Lisa Vetterlein, a name I remember from years past as being a crazy strong rider, but had never met, was just returning to competition after a four year break. There were also some other really strong women in the field so there was some good competition even if we didn't have big numbers.

The road race was 4 laps and a little over 50 miles. I accidentally got off the front and rode by myself for about 12 miles early on. They caught me and then a break of two go away with about one lap to go. I chased hard with another rider, but we never closed the gap and I ended up second in the field sprint for fourth.

The crit the next day is a pretty good test of skills and fitness. A scary fast downhill corner and a short hard climb with a twisty top half of the course. I was thrilled to feel great on that downhill corner this year! When the break went (the same two as the day before) I killed myself bridging up and it took almost a lap but I got on. I tried to recover but only lasted a couple of laps until I got dropped on the uphill. I rode as hard as I could for the rest of the race and was pleasantly surprised to finish in third place with a large gap behind me. That's a big deal for me and almost made up for the disappointment of getting dropped from the break. In all it was a great workout and I do like those races--only wish we had a bigger field.

The kids had a blast at the hotel pool and loved staying up late watching a movie (Ratatouille) in the hotel room. The organizer gave the kids water bottles for showing up and they thought that was terrific. Having a fun family time was great. Even though I was super bummed not to be in Georgia, it would have been a trade off not to have the family there and I did end up getting some good racing in!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Leland Kermesse

Photo Credit John Firak

It was with much trepidation that I started the Leland race. I am not a fan of gravel. While it was definitely a road race, it was an unusual road race because it boasted 3 serious gravel sections. By serious I mean there was one line of semi rideable gravel and the rest was sloshy and thick. I was told "if you ride too far into that it will be 200 watts harder" !?! I didn't race it last year because it conflicted with another race on my team's schedule and I was given a lot of crap for that so I felt like I had no choice, sucked it up and went to the line.
First of all let me say that I did not do much of anything to help with the race. But I know how much work my husband and the other guys put into it and was so pleased that it went off without a hitch. As a competitor I tried to be extra critical of everything and what I saw was the Flatlandia team and friends running a fantastic event and all the competitors having a great time. Super tough conditions made for super hard racing.
This was the first race of the year that all 4 of the Flatlandia women were racing together! Since only about 10 1/2/3 women showed up, they combined all the women's fields, which meant that we could all work together. So exciting for us. We knew the wind was going to be a huge factor and also the gravel. Since it was so difficult to pass on the long gravel sections if you got behind the wrong person (s) that could be the end of your race. I was so proud of our teamwork. We made a plan and we executed it! From the start we controlled the race and they got me to the gravel section in second position behind Jessica Hill, the '09 Chicago Cyclocross Series winner. It was a safe bet that she was going to kill it on the gravel and sure enough she took off on the first thick gravel section and I was terrified but forced myself to stay on her wheel. At the end of the gravel, there were 4 of us. Jessica, Tamara from XXX and Jannette from Cuttin Crew. We immediately started working together perfectly. The wind was brutal. With my teammates behind us blocking, our break's cohesiveness could not be matched and quickly established a huge gap. I was terrified every single time on the gravel but being with only three other riders made it so much less complicated. We also knew we needed each other to work through the wind. Jessica did the lion's share of the work in the gravel and still took strong pulls on the concrete. She showed no signs of fading until at the end of the 3rd lap she just disappeared. I still thought she might catch us in the gravel but I guess I underestimated the wind because she was out of sight fast. Tamara, Jannette and I were so thankful to be in a break! It was one of the best race experiences ever. We hit the turn for the finish and rode three up down the long finishing stretch. I came across first, with Jannette in second and Tamara in third. Just as soon as we could safely pull over we all hit the brakes and gave each other a big hug.
Leah got third in the field sprint, and Kim was second in the fours race! Molly flatted but luckily after she had done some good teamwork.
At first I was so glad it didn't rain, but after the race I rethought that because in the dry conditions I really inhaled quite a bit of dust!
Great job everyone and thank you for putting on such a great race.
Photo credit Steve Hansen

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hillsboro Roubaix

Hillsboro Roubaix is really our first big regional race of the season. It's still pretty close to the end of the Pedaling with a Purpose season so one of my favourite things about this race is to see everybody who's been working out with me all winter get out there and race. A filled women's cat 4 field and 47 women in the open. So Cool!! Kim was racing in one of her last cat 4 races before she upgrades, and Leah was riding with me in the open.
For the last two years this race has been a qualifier for the Nature Valley proride composite team. The top finishing cat 1 Man and 1/2Woman each earn a spot on an all expenses paid composite team for the Nature Valley Grand Prix Stage Race coming up in June in Minnesota. What a cool opportunity. Since I'm not currently on a supported team this year, I was really hoping to win this.
The race itself didn't go that well for any of us. Leah cramped in the second lap and was on the wrong end of a split. Although Kim had a great finish she was hoping to go out of the cat 4's with a win, and instead ended up 7th (out of 50!). I was feeling great and riding strong, but when a break of four went up the road, I didn't think it would stick. Instead of bridging my butt up there I tried to rally the troops to chase and had no takers. I ended up fourth in the field sprint for an eighth place finish overall. I was disappointed, but the weather was gorgeous and really, what a great day for a ride.
Turns out the 7 ahead of me for whatever reason took a pass on the pro ride, so I'm going to Nature Valley this year!!! Pretty excited to be on a fully supported team and get to just race.
Another cool thing about hillsboro this year is that since we were coming straight from PA we stayed at The Pheasant Valley bed and breakfast which was really an entire farm all to ourselves. The kids really enjoyed hiking and playing on the land, and John and Vicki White were the most gracious hosts.

PA Vacation

A lot of my family lives in Pennsylvania which just happens to be one of the best places in the country to ride. We took a week and spent it visiting our family and getting in some great rides. The weather, which is usually about what we have in Chicago this time of year was spectacular! We had close to 80 and sunny every single day!! Here's Jason getting ready to help with the milking on my brother's dairy farm.

The pink bike at the top of a climb--the pics really don't do it justice! Even though I have the exact same bike as last year, I got dialed in with a new postion at the Bike Shop that was noticeably better for climbing and descending.

Beautiful road quality!

We just happened to be riding by Cannondale so we asked a passer by take our picture.

We do love coffee!

I did get to spend some quality family time too. Here's a fancy girls tea party we had with hats and the good china.