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, June 28, 2010

Peg and Diane's (and Sue's) Excellent Adventures

Here's what PWP Particpants Peg and Diane (and Sue B.) are up to this summer. This is from Peg Gramas:

"Diane and I went trekking in Peru on the Inca trail, which terminates at Machu Picchu. We were part of a group of 18 hikers that completed the hike. I am not sure of the distances, but we hiked for 4 days and crossed over several passes in the Andes mountains, including a mountain pass at 14,000 feelt! It was pretty cool. amazing scenery. Ancient ruins. Beautiful people. Here is a photo link.

Sue Butler and Diane and I will be bicycle touring in New York State from July 25-31. The ride is in the fingerlakes region and called the Bon Ton Roulet. It should be a challenge with the hills and keeping Diane and I out of the wineries.

I am training to run the Chicago Marathon. Earlier this year I created a mental "bucket list". Two things populate my list. #1 complete a marathon. #2 ride my bike from coast to coast. This year it will be the marathon because that is actually the bigger challenge for me and won't be easier for me as I age. It is now or never for that goal."

Have fun in New York (not that you guys are ever in danger of not having any!) and I'm sure that the marathon will be great. Keep us posted and thanks for checking in!

Friday, June 25, 2010

One more Nature Valley Pro Ride Post....

My Pro Ride Teammate Emily wrote this up on her post race wrap up and I love it!

"...my biggest accomplishment at Nature Valley was that I allowed myself to really enjoy the entire experience. While nervously awaiting the gunshot that would initiate the race, I would force myself to take a deep breath, pause and truly appreciate the moment. I was possibly the most fit I have ever been, I was racing against some of the best women in the world, and cheering crowds of people were lining the streets to watch ME race my bike!"

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nature Valley Pro Ride

Director: Michael Engleman
I wasn't really sure what to expect from my Nature Valley Pro Ride experience. How is a fully supported team run? How would we function as a team since it was safe to assume there would be a variety of abilities among us? What exactly does a team director do? I was really looking forward to getting to know some new people and finding out the answers to these questions.
As someone who ran my own team last year (as well as tried to ride) I can tell you it's a LOT more fun to be on the supported side of things! We had a team manager that coordinated all the logistics. We had a team director that handled all the race specific details, provided tactical advice and in general made sure we knew what to do. We had mechanics that made sure our bikes were running, provided spare equipment and did all the loading and unloading everyday. We also had drivers who coordinated when and where we needed to be and just told us what time they'd be picking us up. Not to mention all of the people who opened up their homes for us to stay, all the folks in marketing at Nature Valley who want to support such an event, and all of the local Nature Valley racing team that came out in full support.
I really got to know and like my teammates. What a cool bunch of gals. We are used to hanging out as individuals in our respective regions so it was interesting and refreshing to exchange ideas with them. In one conversation where we all pretty much agreed that we wished we had done better, the topic of intrinsic motivation came up and how important it is to keep the focus on your own goals, acknowledge how far you've come , and not focus on where you are compared to other people. That struck home with me when I was thinking about my own racing.
When you think about everything that goes into it, the actual racing seems like an afterthought, but here's how it went for me: I rode 3 seconds faster than last year in the tt using no aero equipment. I avoided multiple crashes and survived the St. Paul crit. I felt good in the Minneapolis crit and finished according to plan with no additional time on the field. In the Menominee road race I rode as hard as I could and finished within the time cut. I overcame some physical issues and wasn't really full strength the next day for Stillwater but I made it through that brutal course for a GC finish. I had an absolute blast being taken care of by everyone and Michael Engleman called me tough. I was proud of how everyone on the team rode and handled themselves. I made some friends for life and just want to say THANK YOU to everyone involved with this unique and cool program.

The view from the top of the hill at the Stillwater Criterium the final day of the Nature Valley Grand Prix:

The upclose and personal view of the hill at the Stillwater Criterium:
Thanks to my cousin LeAnne for the pics!
I also would be remiss if I did not mention and give a huge shout out to my entire family who were the reason I was able to do this. My mom who flew in to Minnesota to take care of my kids. My sister in law Andrea who provided bikes and helmets for all the kids so they could race in the St. Paul crit. My cousin Molly and family who hosted us first, and my Aunt Sue and Uncle Tim who hosted us later in the week. And thanks to all my other cousins, aunts & uncles who entertained, hosted and in general made sure my kids had fun while I was out racing my bike!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Minnesota Fixed Gear Classic

The Minnesota Fixed Gear Classic was the weekend before Nature Valley, and is sponsored and promoted by the same folks. Since I was going to be up there anyway I figured I'd go up a little early and give it a shot. I've never raced anything but local track racing before and it is something that I've been wanting to do for a while. The Nature Valley people were awesome and I got to wear the Nature Valley Pro Ride kit! They brought over boxes of granola bars and I was treated with Rock Star Status!

I was very intimidated having only raced a 250 meter track, or anywhere other than northbrook , once. 2 years ago I went up to Blaine in Minnesota and tried it out. I remember being absolutely terrified. The best way I can describe it is that it feels like a roller coaster. You have to keep your speed up so the centrifical force can keep you on the track. If you go too slow, you fall over and slide down--which I learned the hard way. Blaine is a wooden track made of special African wood and if you crash you end up with splinters.

The event was to take place on Friday night, all day Saturday and all day Sunday. On Friday during the day, they offered a clinic with Colby Pearce, a national champion and olympian. The morning was supposed to be a Madison clinic on the track. The Madison is a points race done with a partner. Only one partner is racing at a time, and while one partner is racing, the other is riding as slow as possible (remember you have to go fast enough to not fall over) around the top of the track. When it's time to switch, the resting rider slams down the track and the rider who is going out grabs their hand and slings them forward on their way out. Since it was pouring rain Friday morning, we ended up having the clinic inside.
Here's Colby demonstrating a Madison exchange with chairs. Not exactly the same as on the bike but for a beginner like me I think it was almost better to have some classroom time first.

The afternoon part of the clinic was on training for endurance events. Colby is the former National Track Endurance Coach, and I learned so much! There is talk of him coming to Chicago for a clinic and I'm really hoping that happens. There was just a lot of really basic stuff I didn't know and he patiently explained everything and didn't make me feel dumb for asking questions.

Regarding the actual event, I honestly did not know what to expect. I was told that there was a sprint omnium and an endurance omnium and I could race as many or as few races as I liked.

Since I didn't know what the events were I just signed up for everything. I think had I not been racing the Nature Valley Stage Race later in the week I probably would have raced everything just to try it out, but in the end I decided to race all the endurance events as well as the Kierin, the race where you start out following a motorcycle, which is a sprint event. Carrie Higgins, one of our country's best track racers raced all the events and won both the Sprint and the Endurance Omniums!

Here's the start of the women's Keirin final. You draw a number for a starting position and then you are started with a holder. You are started with a gun when the motorcycle comes around and you can ride anywhere you like as long as you don't pass the moto. They gradually go faster and faster until they pull off at two and a half laps to go and then it's an all out sprint to the finish.

It was fun hanging out with some other Chicago folks. Al Urbanski, Jason Garner, Jeff Whiteman and Franco all came up. Here's Jason and Jeff about to do an exchange in the "Madison Kilo" which is a time trial with exchanges.

They did awesome and missed winning first place by tenths of a second!
Jason ended up winning second in the Sprint Omnium!!

I did all right but for the most part I was trying to learn and figure things out. I knew I was a little nervous and didn't quite have the technical skills so I would have to get away if I wanted any points. It worked in the first points race and I ended up in fourth place and getting some press!
It was a grueling event and by the time we did our final 60 lap points race on Sunday I was exhausted. I tried to motivate myself by realizing that we were all in the same boat--everyone had been there all weekend and was tired.
All in all it was a fantastic experience. I met some great women from across the US. I learned so much , got some confidence and feel like I would definitely like to do more and get better at this!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Nature Valley Video

The staff at Nature Valley Pro Ride team sent us video cameras and asked us to make a video about our lives and how cycling fits in. Here's mine: Nature Valley Video

You can also view it on the Nature Valley Pro Ride Website

From PWP

I love getting emails like this from PWP Participants. This is from Paul-Brian McInerney:

Hey Kristen,

"It's Paul-Brian from PWaP. I just wanted to give you a brief update on my early race season. So far, so good. Just last weekend I rode/raced the HAC/NCC Gravel Metric Century--65 grueling miles of gravel farm roads through and around DeKalb. I'm embarrassed to say that 65 miles is the longest I've ever ridden a bike. I'm not embarrassed to say that I came in 10th out of 50 riders, finishing the ride in 3:40. In terms of my proper discipline, mountain biking, I haven't had too many opportunities to race. A couple of weeks ago I rode a race in Winona, IN. It's one I've done a couple of times before. Last year I came in 7th in my age group (which translated to 53rd overall in cat 2). This year, I came in 3rd in my age group (a bigger, more competitive age group at that, which translated to 17th Cat 2 overall). I'm racing again this coming weekend--a race I did terribly in last year. Lots of climbing. I'm looking forward to the race this year. I'll let you know how I do.Thanks again for your help and encouragement this winter.-PB"

Way to go PB Keep up the great work!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend is a big regional weekend for us in the Midwest. The three criteriums in Iowa are all very different and offer some of the best most unique crit racing in the United States!

This weekend was awesome fun. Jason decided to stay home with the kids and let me be a bike racer this weekend. I missed them terribly but had a blast with the folks I was traveling with. We had a group of 7 of us travelling together and stayed at Molly's parent's mansion on the hill overlooking the river in Davenport, IA. Our group consisted of teammates Molly, Kim and Leah, Jannette from Cuttin Crew, Mia from Triple X and Molly's husband Josh who gets mad props for travelling cheerfully with 6 ladies :). We were a great mix of people. Kim's gifts in the kitchen, Leah's mechanical skills and Molly and Josh's awesome hospitality made for a great time.

Snake Alley
I am aware that I am not physically built to do snake alley, but there's something appealing about doing something so challenging. I did surprisingly well there last year and have been training as many hills as is possible where I live, and I admit to having high hopes for the snake this year. When we raced, it was very hot-95 degrees, and I felt very affected by it. I got a great start and got the "hole shot" hitting the hill first but was immediately passed by, well, everyone. I did finish but got slower and slower every lap. I was very disappointed. Local star Amanda Miller who now rides for Tibco came back from international racing to reclaim the title. Lisa Vetterlein, the fellow mom who I had raced with at the Iowa City races earlier in the year was a dominating second, and Ashley James from Kenda rounded out the podium.
Even though I was not sure what to think about my performance, it was great being seeing some PWP folks doing great out there--Cathy Frampton from Project 5 on her first Snake Alley ride, and Jannette in her first Snake Alley ride in the women open both finished well. Mia and Kim, who were doing snake alley for the first time in the cat 4's had fantastic finishes.
This guy gets an A+ for his amazing attitude. Molly's husband Josh is a cat 4 who loves hills and was really looking forward to riding snake alley for the first time. At the line, his tire went flat, and could not get a new wheel in time to start the race. So devastating. All of us were impressed with how he handled the situation we were all pretty sure that we would not have been as good spirited in that situation.

Also worth a mention is Avi, from Cuttin Crew. Here he is at the start line on his first of THREE snake alley races on the day. A glutton for pain, he is a living legend :)
Melon City
The next day was the Melon City Crit. A unique crit on a path around park, with a sweeping descent finishing on a speed bump, heading to a slight uphill that doesn't seem like enough to hurt, but somehow does. At the top of the hill is a hairpin chicane that leads to the finish. I do not have good feelings towards this race and just did not have my head in the game today. It was another scorcher of a day and I ended up pulling out of the race 4 laps in. Mia and Kim raced hard in the cat 4 race, immediately in 6 person break. Jannette finished great in the main pack of the women open and was second in the women cat 3's! Leah lasted a couple laps longer than me, but pulled out as well. The race was won in style by Lisa Vetterlein who went solo fairly early and had a commanding lead, lapping everyone but the main pack.
Quad Cities
After Melon City I was having some nagging thoughts about what I was doing away from my family on memorial day weekend. I was having a good time with the folks I was with, and can't even tell you how appreciative I was about that, but I was still feeling a bit sorry for myself. I called my awesome husband and he told me to call my coach. I love my coach but I wasn't really sure what she could say that would make me all of a sudden start riding better... She called me that night and said exactly the right things to me. It was the most amazing pep talk. I was laughing and really pumped up after I got off the phone.
I got to the venue early because Molly, Jannette, and Leah were racing the women's 2/3 race early in the day. It rained just before their race turning their race into a crash fest. Molly was feeling fantastic and looking amazing at the front of the race but crashed!! She wasn't hurt but when she got back in and tried to ride, her derailleur was too bent :( Even though she's bruised and probably sore today, she was really happy with how she felt. I know she would have finished great had she been able to! Leah and Jannette thankfully stayed upright but got caught behind crash after crash. Leah really wanted a second chance to race but she is also a mom, and needed to get home right after her race. Kim raced next in her last race as a cat 4. Our little mountain goat on a flat course rode with an aggressive fierceness that was awesome to see!! She did fantastic and ended up 6th.
After sitting around for 6 hours, I was plenty nervous when our race started but Coach Christine told me if I was gonna stick around I should go for it. I went into that race ready for battle. At registration I basically hijacked the #1, since I knew Meredith Miller, last year's winner wasn't going to be there. :) Kenda had quite a few riders in the race and I was really hoping to get in a break with a couple of them. I was aggressive from the get go and attacked and bridged up to some promising situations. Nothing stuck and I tried a final solo attack at 4 to go but was caught. At 2 to go Kristin Wentworth from Kenda started the leadout. I was happy to be on her wheel but I was nervous because I didn't see any other Kenda around and knew she couldn't hold it for the entire two laps. Sure enough at 1 to go there was a swarm and I found myself boxed in at about 6th or 8th position. I pretty much bullied my way out (sorry Emily) but I went up the outside not really sure what I was going to do next. Right when I hit the front, in front of the Holiday Inn, Trish Black attacked hard. She got a gap and it took me until the 2nd to last corner to catch her wheel. Thankfully she went wide and I passed her on the inside line. I went as hard as I could and didn't look back. I really expected to be passed at the line but I was able to hold off the chasers! I can't even tell you how happy I was!!!! I have always wanted to win this race and it felt great! Thanks to everyone for their kind words and support. I really appreciate it.