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

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Final Podium, 1st Nicky Wangsgard, 2nd Kristen Meshberg, 3rd Sam Schneider
Jason and I started a major home improvement project the week before superweek. I figured I'd race a couple of the races that were close to home, and then "play it by ear" and be around the house the rest of the time to get things in order. Last couple years I've found myself a bit burnt out this time of year and haven't done that well at superweek. This year, I talked it over with my coach, and we decided a little break after Nature Valley would be in order. Turns out it was just the ticket! Mentally I was fresh and ready to go. Physically, I had pulled a muscle in my back at Nature Valley- I was sore and knew I wasn't at full power. The rest break really helped my back but I think I could have used about 3 more weeks to be totally healed up. I really didn't know what to expect heading into these races. My teammate Kim Gialdini, who has a four year old boy, was racing the women's 3/4 series and she had a similar attitude: We'd just see how it goes and if it works out for us to do any of the midweek races, we'd watch each other's kids.
The first day, in Geneva, IL I got second place!! A woman had gotten off the front and I won the field sprint! I was pretty excited. My back was very achy, and even though I was thrilled I still wasn't thinking about the series....
Over the weekend Nicole Freedman , former national road and crit champion, and Olympian in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, showed up to race. She's someone I'd always thought was super cool but never had the pleasure of meeting. We got to hang out a bit and it was really fun to race with her. In Monday's race at Richton Park I was particularly happy with how things went. I was very active and after two riders got off the front, a group of about 5 of us got off the front of the field and went hard enough to almost catch the two. We didn't and I got second to Nicole for fourth on the day. After that race I found myself in the yellow jersey!!!
Yellow Jersey after Richton Park! Lucinda on the podium with me. Second Karlee Gendron, Third Nicky Wangsgard
Getting the yellow jersey was a big deal for me. It went straight to my head and I got the superweek fever. The next day was Willow Springs, a beautiful course so close to my house but with a longish hill in it that because of my aching back I wasn't planning on doing. But getting the yellow jersey changed all that. This race was crazy slow. At the time I wasn't sure why, but I appreciated it--until I screwed up the sprint for the finish. I was in decent position but just didn't make the right split second decision and ended up 6th. Nicky Wangsgard won, and there went the yellow jersey, never to be worn again by me.
After making it through that race I started to entertain the idea of fighting for the overall. Turns out Nicole was heading back to Boston after that race and since she was taking off I asked her for some advice. I wasn't sure what to make of the tactics that were going on. She told me, "I think they want to win the overall" when I asked her why things were shaping up the way they were. I asked Nicole for some tips on "how to win this thing" She was awesome and told me it could be a bit of boring racing here and there, but to really try and race each race and just go for it.
Racing a points series is kind of like a stage race, but it's totally not a stage race. In a points series, you can pick and choose which races you want to do, and only your placings count. Lapping or gaining time on the field has no advantage. Placing consistently day after day is what matters. Superweek was 16 days for the women this year. This is more than double the number of consecutive races I'd ever done. My back was aching, but I bought a huge bottle of ibuprofen and started to make plans. Usually I plan my racing well in advance and have outside child care (usually my mom). Since I was winging it, things could have gone up or down. Turns out Kim was doing really well in her series and was deciding the same thing. Every day we planned out how we could work out child care, where the races were and who would drive and when. It worked out so well. There is NO WAY I would have been able to do this without Kim and she said the same thing for me. It was pretty cool and we felt like bad a$$ bike racing moms. The kids had a good time playing together too.
Here they are playing in Lake Geneva at Kim's friend's lake house. This day I raced first so Kim took the kids up to the lake house, and I met them there after my race so she could take off and do her race.
When the races moved up to Wisconsin, logistics got a little tougher and I had to call on the help of Auntie Reenie and Uncle Danny who graciously housed our entire family for a couple of days. My friend Ellen and her husband Dave who live in Racine, WI were also especially cool housing both Kim and I and all of our kids for multiple days.
By the middle of the series I was getting pretty tired, but I was hanging in there. I started marking people and would only care if someone in contention for the overall was off the front, and I could tell the other women were doing it too. None of us had teams so it made for a little negative racing at times. Finally during the second week my body just got used to racing every day. I felt fine in the races and was able to still be consistent and place mostly in the top ten. We saw new, fresh legs daily which included the New Zealand National Team, Erica Allar who was guest riding for Dolce Vita, Sam Schneider from Tibco, another New Zealander, Laura McCaughey, and a lot of other really good riders. Nicky Wangsgard rode very consistently and built up quite a lead. I learned a lot from watching her throughout the series. It became apparent I was racing for second, and while there were several riders that came close I was able to hang onto it. The second to last day in Humboldt Park, WI I sealed the deal and went into the last race with a 22 point lead so I could have skipped the final race had I felt like it.

pain face pretty much sums up a lot of the races. We got lucky with no rain, but it was HOT every single day!!

photo courtesy of Douglas Fox

Of course I didn't. The last race, Whitefish Bay was really fun. I decided to help out my buddy Jeannie Kuhajek who was in contention for the sprint points--not that she needed it-- but since I had nothing to lose I thought it would be fun to lead her out for the sprint laps. It was fun and I think I did a pretty good job! She ended up third in the sprints, and won the series top amateur jersey. I was tired from the lead outs, but still felt good on the last lap. When it came down to the final two corners, I was in decent position but when I got pinched I chickened out and sat up. After 15 days of fighting for position, I had nothing to lose and just sort of gave up. It's the one thing I regret (only a little) about Superweek this year.

I gotta say I've never had so much fun racing!! Racing day after day in the hot hot humid heat sometimes can make people very crabby. Not so! We raced well, were respectful, and just had a blast. I love racing my bike, and couldn't have a nicer bike than my BH Cristal. I've now been home for 4 days and my house, though still not totally in order is a lot better than it was. Thanks to Bob Marshall from ABD for doing such a terrific painting job. Thanks to the superweek folks for running a nice series. Last but not least, Congrats to Kim who ended up winning FIRST PLACE in the cat 3/4 series!!!! Her positive spirit really motivated me, and she totally earned her win. Way to go.

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