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, May 17, 2010

Track Season!

photo credit Ed White
Northbrook Track Season opened last Thursday. I'm really excited about racing as much track as I can this year. I LOVE the track! It's deliciously scary, hard and always FUN!
It's a great place to practice race tactics. Every category gets three races per night, and women are allowed to race in the corresponding men's category (or one lower) so there's the opportunity for 6 races/night.

On Thursday, it was great to see some PWP women trying the track for the first time this year.

Women are welcome to just show up on Thursday nights. All you need is a track bike which you can borrow for free at Turin or Albertos. Men need to earn their cat 4 upgrade on Friday nights before racing on Thursdays. If you want to practice beforehand, there are clinics every Monday and Tuesday. Friday night is practice racing where you can ride a track bike and/or your road bike. That starts on June 4th.

If Thursdays don't work out there's lots of weekend stuff too. Check out the website for more info, and don't be afraid to just show up! It's a super friendly place and people love helping you get started.

Monsters of the Midway and Fox River Grove

Jessi, Stacy and I on the podim at FRG
Leah and Molly hanging out at FRG

On our way out to FRG we encountered some water on a trail so we had to get off and portage!

What an excellent and fun weekend of local racing! The women's scene here in Chicago is really getting big! Sat was the famous Monster's of the Midway race at University of Chicago. Long flat course but really hard (for me anyways) to gage the sprint correctly. We had yet another fun active race, and this time I had a teammate! After several breakaway attempts, Leah strung things out on the final laps and I ended up in second.

Sunday was Fox River Grove. I've never done this race, and didn't know it was in it's fifth year, I think it's been moved around a little on the calendar, but this weekend was perfect for this race. What a COOL race. It was a long course with a huge hill in it--perfect training for Snake Alley and Nature Valley. The course resembled the finishing circuits at the Road Races for Nature Valley so I decided to make it a full on training day. JRW, Molly and I rode the 50 miles to the venue, (thank you John for the gorgeous route!) and got there just in time for the race. They raced us with the 50 + men. Jessi Prinner fresh off some European racing, was immediately in a break off the front. I was doing allright the first three times up the hill, but then after that was struggling. The amazingly strong Stacy Applewick, in her second race of the day, caught me and I hung onto her wheel for dear life to the finish. She really made me ride a lot harder than I wanted to! In true suffer fest fashion I think everyone finished in groups of 1 or 2. Leah and Kim (also in her second race of the day) finished well. We were happy with our effort, but that was definitely the kind of race you are happy to be done with! What great training!

It was fantastic that both of these races were within riding distance of my house. If you're from out of town, this would be a great weekend to visit Chicago for some racing. Mark your calendars for next year!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


This is inspirational for anyone who does a sport.

A great read written by Kristin Armstrong--(as in used to be married to Lance, not the cyclist Kristin Armstrong)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Joe Martin

Here's me with some fellow lawbreakers, prisoners who get out of jail to help set up the race

I wasn't really planning on doing any stage racing this year but I won that pro ride spot at Nature Valley and I'm terribly excited about it! I'll finally get to see what it's like to be totally supported at a race! Wanting to be fit for that, I figured I should do something hard before hand. I had hoped to do Speedweek, but that didn't work out.

The weekend before I got a little sick. Maybe I should have just cancelled the trip; but by then my parents were already on their way to help with my kids. I didn't mention it to my coach that I wasn't feeling great because I know what she would have said.

Without going into too much detail, on the way down, about an hour from Fayetteville just on the Missouri side of the border, I ended up in a police station in handcuffs getting my mug shot taken and fingerprinted. I got to sit on a bench next to a guy being arrested for drugs who told me , "rehab is for quitters." Needless to say it's important not to ignore letters from the state regarding your drivers license. I had to pay to get my car towed off the highway, but they were all very nice and they let me go saying that what I did after I left was my business but I better not get pulled over again and maybe it was best if I just didn't come back to their county.

I pulled in to the hotel just as the manager's meeting was starting. As daunting as it is to show up entirely by yourself at an NRC stage race with no team or support, the organizers and everyone involved with the race really try to make you feel welcome. Even so, after the meeting I went up to my room, unloaded my stuff and took some time to decompress from the exciting events of the day. I was daunted by the logistics of the weekend. How was I going to get to all the starts of the races? The time trial was a 45 minute drive each way? One false move and I'd be back in the slammer.

The next day everything was brighter and once I got to the tt location safely I felt much more settled. I happened to run into a super nice guy who was hosting another individual rider from Canada and it was after he generously offered his house for me to stay he mentioned that the XXX Chicago folks were going to stay there too!! Kevin and his wife Pam, the Canadian rider, and all the XXX folks were terrific! We had a fabulous time together and I could not believe my good fortune running into them.

I wasn't feeling great, I never had a fever, but I was manufacturing an amazing amount of snot and coughing a nice deep productive cough. I'm not exactly a good stage racer to begin with, and in top form I'm hoping for field finishes, so my expectations were not high. Even though I gave it my best, my time trial was a full minute slower than the year before.
In Friday's 65 mile road race I lasted about halfway through and then found a nice group to ride in with, hoping to make the time cut. There's a lot of funny stuff that goes on off the back in a stage race, and today there were various degrees of cheating going on. Two riders drafting off a car passed the group I was with and we all jumped on. After going 30mph for a couple miles and shredding all of our group except me and the original two riders and getting no response when I asked a couple times, "isn't this cheating?" I dropped off. I rode by myself until other cars came by bringing two Bicycles of Tulsa riders up so we had a group of three who rolled in just barely making the time cut. When I checked the results I noticed that the two original drafters were given field finishes. I didn't really know what to make of that but I wasn't exactly innocent so I kept my mouth shut.

Saturday was another 70 mile road race. I was dropped on the second significant climb and resigned myself to finishing the race. I found a nice group of 5 to ride with. An Australian national rider, a Canadian rider, and the two Bicycles of Tulsa riders I had ridden with the day before. The Australian, Canadian and I were sharing the work evenly and the Tulsa riders were struggling, skipping pulls and falling off on the climbs. We waited for them so we could stay together and after a bit I asked if it would be ok if I stopped and took a "nature call", and the Australian and Canadian said they were going to drop out of the race so they would just keep going. The Tulsa riders said that was fine and would wait for me. But when I pulled over only one stopped with me. A little confusing, but I figured the other woman was just going to drop out of the race and didn't really care. While I was stopped on the side of the road we saw the Sram car come by towing a rider who had gotten a flat. The remaining Tulsa rider and I continued together but when we hit the turn around point, she told me she was going to turn in. I still had about 35 miles to go but was determined to finish and was in a seriously positive mood considering the circumstances. I had driven all that way, was in gorgeous rolling Arkansas country and was going to finish that race. I did finish, alone, and when I crossed the line I ran into the girl who I had waited for but didn't wait for me. She told me that the Sram car had pulled the girl that had flatted up to her and the two of them finished the race together. Turns out the two of them had made the time cut and I didn't. This derailed my "ray of sunshine" attitude and I had a few dark moments. Luckily I was able to come around. In reality, who really cares, I shouldn't have been off the back in the first place. I had been arrested in scary hillbilly country and survived, I did get to meet some super cool people, and ride my bike through some beautiful country. No I didn't get to race the crit but I was super happy to be able to get home (safely, without arrest) on Sunday in time to see the family on Mother's day. Gotta say I've never been so glad to get home safe and sound!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Circuit of Sauk Road Race & Vernon Hills Crit

This weekend Kim and I drove up three and a half hours to race the Circuit of Sauk Road Race in Baraboo, WI. I did this race last year and knew that there was going to be two 15 mile laps which included a pretty sweet climb on each lap. Last year I got dropped on the climb so I was eager to give it another go. I knew Kim would be fine on the climb so we got there ready to give it our best. We had a decent field of about 19 to start. At the top of the first climb there was 7 of us left. Two Kenda, two Planet Bike, two Flatlandia, and one IS Corp. At the top of the climb we hit some crazy cross/headwinds. Kenda took turns attacking us and Planet Bike turned up the speed. In between trying to chase down Kenda I looked back and noticed L'il Kim was literally blown off the back of the break! This crazy wind is really the one time in cycling that I appreciate having a little weight! So then we were 6. With the pace so high and the Kenda attacks, I was worried about conserving for the second climb. Turns out I was fine! Such a fantastic feeling, and not one I'm used to! Made it to the top of the climb and dropped another one of our break, so now we had 5. Near the end of the race, just when I let myself relax, and think "wow I made it" IS Corp did a beautiful attack. It was so impressive I took notes on "how to attack at the end of a race." Kenda went with her and Planet bike let a small gap open up and then they chased hard. Unfortunately I was in slow motion and couldn't catch on and rolled in fifth. After the race I was sort of taken aback. This was not my usual style of racing. Kind of weird, but I just tried to focus on the fact that I could hang with the climbers!! Yay!

Kim ended up riding in for 10th. Nice job! After the race we rode around for 30 or so more miles with Tamara Fraser. Such a lovely area to ride.

Next day was the local Illinois Cup Vernon Hills Criterium. We had a small field, but it was a great race! Very active, lots of attacking and good times! Normally I would rather stick a sharp stick in my eye than go solo, but I'm trying to work on my weaknesses and figure if I want to get better I've got to try! I was hoping to get away with another rider or two and I tried couple times with various riders, but nothing stuck. Finally late in the race they called a prime. A Project Five rider went for it and got a nice gap. Mack got nervous and chased her down bringing me along. We blew by and when I took a hard pull, I looked back and had a gap, so I just kept going and that was the race.

The other thing that made the race interesting was that early on in the race, for no reason, I got a bloody nose. Blood was spewing everywhere and I couldn't get it to stop. It was very embarrassing but I really did not want to let it to ruin my race. All I had in my bottles was heed, but I still tried to pour it all over myself which only resulted in a big sticky mess. Thank goodness Ed White was there to capture it all on film:) I'm convinced that the reason I ended up getting away was the other girls were just grossed out and didn't want to ride with me.

Earlier in the day I got to watch Jason, Ted and Jeff race the master's 30+. Nice job guys! There was a break of two off the front and Jeff ended up third in the sprint. Well done.