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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, November 7, 2011

Pedaling With a Purpose info is HERE!

I am excited to announce the details for the 2011-2012 PWP session!

The program starts the weekend of December 3/4 and meets every week until March 24/25, with no classes being held the weekend of Christmas and New Years. The Oakbrook program is returning to our usual location at Oakbrook Racquet and Fitness Club. We meet on Sunday mornings and Thursday evenings. The brochure can be found here.

The Chicago location has changed. I'm thrilled to be partnering with Mox Multisport at 738 W. Randolph. We are going to be using the back half of the store entirely for PWP. They do have a limited number of trainers for us to use; if you'd like to use one be sure to register fast as they will be allotted to the first people who sign up. They are also welcoming us to store our bikes and trainers and will be providing discounts on merchandise and labor for the duration of the class. Another exciting addition is the Engine Building 101 class with Newt Cole. An 8 week, 1 hour class immediately following Saturday's PWP ride designed to create strength and power while improving mobility and flexibility with body weight movements and resistance bands.

e-mail me for a copy of the brochure.

I am really excited about my training this winter and hope you are too. I look forward to riding with you while we work toward achieving our goals!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Para Track Nationals

Kim and I doing our 3k Pursuit

A couple of years ago I'd heard that once you get past the fear of the velodrome you would become addicted. After the last couple training sessions at Blaine and CVC, I think I'm finally at that point and I think Kim feels the same way!!

We flew in on Thursday and went straight to the track, arriving exacty in time for a break in the racing where we were able to get onto the track, test it out, and get some openers in. We immediately loved it. The ADT Veledrome is really cool. The track is wood, 250 meters and has 45 degree banking. It is inside a huge stadium and on the ends of the infield are volleyball courts and weight lifting areas. Being so new, we had so much to learn, but it was great having Steve there to help us, along with the entire paralympic team and staff. One thing that's tough to figure out is exactly when you are going to go and timing your warmup. There's a morning session and an evening session and the events during the session are listed in order. Unless you are first you really have no idea of exactly when you are going to go. At the track, you see a lot of people warming up on their road bikes. In the interest of saving money we didn't bring our road bikes out to warm up on, so we rode the trainer together on the tandem for our warm up. On Friday our first Pursuit was in the morning session and the time for this one was going to be a qualifier for worlds, and a seeding for the finals in the evening.

Our timing for our warmup was a little off, we warmed up really early and then sat for a long time waiting to go. We were nervous. We were starting with an electronic holder for the first time and also that morning we'd had to cut the aero bars because they were too far forward to be UCI legal. So we went to the start with no practice in this new position, and no practice with an electronic holder. We'd practiced 3k efforts before but never done one in competition.

Our start out of the holder was just fine, but going into turn one the bike started wobbling and I had to come out of the aerobars. It was about a lap before I felt comfortable enough to go back into them. After we got our rhythm we felt ok and finished the race without further issue. Our time was 4:15 and we were a little disappointed with that.

The Pursuit is called the Pursuit because there are two competitors (or in our case two tandems) competing at the same time. They start on opposite sides of the track and when the gun goes off, they "pursue" each other. It's possible to catch your competitor, and if this happens in the finals they shoot the gun and you aren't given a final time. Since the evening session was the finals, and the time wasn't going to be a world's qualifier, if we got passed by our competitor the gun would be shot and the race would be over. We started the race so much better, relaxing into corner one, staying well within the lane, and gradually getting up to speed. Our following laps were substantially faster. We got caught about halfway through so we were disappointed not to be able to get a new (and better) time but we were thrilled with our improvement. We were chomping at the bit for our Kilo on Sunday, feeling more confident in our start and more confident all around.
It was a really great atmosphere there. This year Para Track Nationals was run simultaneously with Elite Track Nationals so there were lots of other Chicago folks there and our new friends that we met at Blaine when we were up there training a couple weeks ago, as well as people from all over that we knew just from the racing scene in general.
Joe Berenyi's gold medal Pursuit final

The most thrilling race to watch was Paralympian and fellow Chicagoan Joe Berenyi's Individual Pursuit final. After Joe's ride it was the general consensus of the entire stadium that it was the best pursuit win anyone had ever seen. It started out with Joe steadily losing ground to his competitor. It looked like Joe was going to be overtaken. But something changed and he started gaining ground. The crowd was going wild as he inched his way into the gold medal just before the finish. It brought down the house!

We had the next day off, and we headed over to the track during the break to get in some laps loosen up the legs and make sure our gear selection was right for Sunday's Kilo. After that we spent the rest of the day in Beverly Hills looking for movie stars.

On Sunday we felt like pros and warmed up much better. We had decided the day before to go with a different gear than originally planned and in hindsight we think we went to0 easy. The one Kilometer race started much better for us. We were relaxed and felt great. We gave it our all but were spinning like mad. In the end we got the silver medal by 3 milliseconds!!! That's a little closer than I care to come, but we were stoked. Unfortunately we could not wait for our podium picture as we had a flight to catch.

We were quite happy with our performance. It's exciting to be in that beginning phase where every time you go out you see a huge improvement. We still feel like we have a long way to go and are looking forward to continuing this journey.
Waging war on the Kilo
photo taken by Pat Benson


Video of part of our Pursuit

Monday, September 26, 2011

PWP's Don Hanke & Krystian Weglarz rock the fall fling!

ABD's fall fling, a 4 race points race spanning two weekends started last weekend. In addition to regular prize money for each category, they are offering a new $2000 cash prize team prize to the team that has the most points. Really neat and fun way to rally a team effort! What a great way to reward late season fitness.

Here's a report from two PWP participants, Krystian Weglarz (Flatlandia) and Don Hanke (Tower Racing).

From Don: News flash, Mr. Krystian Weglarz killed it in a field sprint to win the first race in the Fall Fling!!!! 1st Place!!!

Congrats on Saturday, you looked great. Perfect position behind one of the strongest guys. Couldn't tell from my angle (turn 4) but I knew you were close.

You're the MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Unfortunately in my race I got caught behind a crash which forced me to brake hard. Two years ago I would have tried to jump over him, but two years ago that sent me to the emergency room and into a shoulder sling. So I am glad to be safe and will be ready to kill it (in my category) next weekend.

From Krystian: Thanks. It was an epic race for me. Felt really good and rode smart. Sunday I rode the TT and got 3rd. I am still first overall.

Hoping for good things this coming weekend.

Way to go guys!! It was great to see you both and good luck with the rest of the series.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Para Track Nationals

This summer I was approached at Northbrook by Coach Steve Thordarson and asked if I would like to pilot a tandem at Para Track Nationals. One of Steve's athletes, Kim Borowicz, was a visually impaired rider looking for a pilot. I was thrilled to be asked and immediately excited about it. I didn't really have any idea what this would be about but luckily I have some great resources with ABD in Mike Ebert and Mike Farrell. They encouraged me to do this and have been helping me train for it. I also put in a quick call to my teammate Stacy Appelwick who held the Masters National Pursuit title and she gave me an overview on what is involved in the Pursuit. When I first met Kim we hit it off and went a couple of times to train at Northbrook.

Since the velodrome in LA is a 250 meter track, we figured we'd better get up to Blaine, MN and ride the National Sports Center Velodrome to practice, since it's the only 250 meter track within driving distance. It's also my teammate Elena Dorr's home track and she's been a great resource about all things track. We did that last weekend it it was a great confidence builder. Riding at the new 166 meter Chicago Velo Campus track on the South Side has also been incredibly confidence building for me. Suddenly a 250 meter track doesn't seem so intimidating.

It's been really cool learning about all of this with Kim. This year Para Track Nationals will be combined with Elite Track Nationals so we will all be in LA this weekend. Kim and I will be competing in two time trials: The 3K Pursuit, and the 1K. Both standing starts. The Pursuit is on Friday and the Kilo is on Sunday.

We have only been working together for a short time, but we've come a long way and we are both really excited. I'm honored to participate in such a cool event and I'm really grateful to Kim for the opportunity.
Bold
Kim and I training at Blaine

PWP John Cline Rider of the Year at Kenosha!

Congratulations to PWP Participant John Cline. John is one of PWP's most dedicated trackies.

Here are his results at the Kenosha Velodrome:

2011 Rider of the Year cat 4
2011 Rider of the Year cat 4/5 Masters
2011 Rider of the year Mini Main Event

Read more about his endeavors on his blog

Congrats on your fabulous year and your cat 3 upgrade!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Gateway Cup St. Louis, MO Sept 2-5

7 year olds are cute with missing teeth.

Gateway Cup is a 4 criterium series in St. louis held over labor day every year. It's at the end of the year and there is usually a good vibe to the races down there. The courses are great and there is usually good competition. Sarah and Elena decided not to go, Jeannie has gone back to New Zealand, Jessi is in Texas at College and Stacy is out for the rest of the year so I ended up traveling with my friend Leah and staying with Marsha, a woman I'd gotten hooked up with through host housing a couple years ago and now consider a friend. Marsha opened up her home, and shuttled me to and from most of the races since Leah and her teammate Katie were racing the 3/4 series and there were several hours between our races every day.

We had close to 40 riders in our field, not a lot, but there was quite a lot of talent there. Colovita, Primal Map My ride, and Vanderkitten all had full squads as well as some very strong smaller teams and individuals represented. Tibco, Melllow Mushroom and Revolution to name a few.

I really didn't know how I would feel and I was pleasantly surprised to find myself feeling pretty good! Friday nights's race under lights is a fun course with an electric feel to it and I had so much fun! I finished in the money and was happy with that.

Saturday right before our race there was a huge rainstorm and while it stopped before our race, a lot of debris was blown onto the road. The slight elevation change in the course suited me and I was really feeling good in the race. Colovita threw down attack after attack, but in the end we were all together as a field and halfway through the last lap I remember thinking, "I am in awesome position and I feel great!" In the next split second out of nowhere "Wham!" my bike slid out hard and my face hit the concrete. It was a total surprise. I was in the middle of a corner, but I wasn't touching my brakes and I don't remember anyone running into me. I think I must have hit some wet leaves and slid out. I didn't cry like I normally do but I could feel my front tooth hanging out of my mouth. Not a good feeling. I stayed calm and waited for the medical help to come, and assessed the rest of the damage. Nothing major, just some nice road rash on seemingly all sides of my body. Luckily one of the local firemen working the race had a dentist who agreed to see me at 7pm on a Saturday night. Marsha drove me over to meet the super nice guy at his office and he was able to take care of the tooth, which was a fake tooth anyway. But he told me I should wait until I got home to take care of it, so I was left to walk around without a tooth for the rest of the weekend. I contemplated going home but Jason told me to "embrace the freak show" and just finish out the series. What else was I going to do after all?

40 year olds are not cute with missing teeth.

I finished out the series on a positive note, finishing well on Sunday at a race called "The Hill" in 15th. Monday's race was a new course for me. It was long but with lots of technical turns. I knew that positioning would be key and for the first half of the race did great riding right near the front. Then for second I took a slight breather at the back and got into the bad area where gaps open up. I spent a couple laps closing gaps and then finally lost contact. I rode by myself for awhile until I was caught by a chase group and we finished the race riding hard together. Slightly bummed for that lapse in concentration.

On the whole it was a really fun weekend. I had a great time hanging out with Marsha and her friends, and Leah and Katie. For the most part I felt like my riding had taken a step forward. Losing a tooth in a crash has always been one of my worst fears, and it turns out it wasn't that bad.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Grand Cycling Classic NRC August 20-21

Monarch caterpillar that Jason and the kids found on a hike

Finally I got to head up to my teammate Sarah's neck of the woods for some racing. Sarah is from Michigan and always seems to have another 3 hours attached to any travel we do as she's always driving out of her way to come to Chicago so she can travel with us.

Jeannie, Sarah and I raced the NRC Grand Cycling Classic in Grand Rapids, MI on Sunday and the Gaslight criterium, a very nice, well attended local race on Sunday.

Sarah graciously invited me and Jason and the kids to stay with her boyfriend Robert Hughes, one of the sponsors of the Bissell Cycling Team, who just happens to have a lovely home within 15 minutes of both races. We arrived at the race venue during the men's race and it looked a bit dark. We parked in Robert's office garage and as we started to walk to registration, Sarah asked if I thought we should grab an umbrella. "Naw" I said......within 5 minutes it was sprinkling and we arrived on the course to see the first of the multiple crashes happening as the light sprinkling caused the oil to be lifted front he streets making a slippery mess and crash fest for the men. Soon the skies opened up and all hell broke loose! The wind came and knocked over the barricades and they had to stop the race with 6 laps to go. It went from being humid and hot to pretty darn cold. Sarah and I registered and then went back to Robert's office to stay dry and get warm clothing.

They restarted the men and gave them an additional 30 laps. Our race was scheduled directly after theirs and we ended up being delayed by only an hour. We were at the start finish in time to see the amazing sprint of Team Bissell's Eric Young come across the line for the win in the Pro Men's National Championship! At the start of our race it was not raining, but the streets were still damp, though not so slippery since it had rained hard enough to wash them clean, and there were a few puddles here and there.

Sarah, Jeannie and I went to the line. For me personally, I had no idea why to expect. I had gone off coffee the Tuesday before and had a terrible week training and a dismal night at the track the Thursday before. However once the race started I felt ok!! It was a small field and I had no trouble staying attached and moving around. At one point I found the front of the race and as we crossed the start finish they announced a prime so I turned it up a bit and was able to lead Jeannie out to snag $100. I didn't see Sarah for a bit and then there she was. I asked her if she was down a lap and she said no, that she'd had a mechanical. So exciting!! In the final lap I felt good but got nervous in a corner and allowed myself to get pinched and had to slam on the brakes and lose a ton of momentum. As a result I skated in at 20th place which stunk but actually I was quite happy with the race given the year I've had and especially the week. Jeannie finished in 9th and Sarah was right there in 23rd.

That night we headed back to Robert's house and got to help celebrate the Bissell team's win at a super fun party with the riders, staff, and friends of the Bissell Pro, Elite, and Amateur teams. What a fun experience!! Good times.

The next day we headed over to the lovely area of East Grand Rapids for the Gaslight crit located right on Reeds lake. There was a nice turnout for the women's race. Mainly due to a strong local presence plus a few of us leftover from the previous day's race. It was a fun race. Sarah and I raced for Jeannie, covering all the moves and throwing down some ourselves. I took a flyer for a lap and a half but was chased down. jeannie was 5th, I was 11th, and Sarah was 14th.

I really haven't spent much time in Michigan and it is such a lovely place. Props to Robert and Sarah fro putting up our entire family, and I can't wait to go back next year!!

Elk Grove Village Aug 5-7

Jessi starting the tt

Elk Grove Village has been a controversial race from the start with lost of disparity between the men and women's races, both in ranking and prize money. It's taken some time, but the promoter (the mayor of Elk Grove Village) seems to be interested in making some changes for the women. This year the women got 3 days of racing; a time trial on Friday, and crits on Saturday and Sunday combined as a timed stage race, and on with National Race Calendar points on the line. This meant that we'd have a top notch women's field right here in our back yard. With the disappearance of Downer's Grove, this is a big deal for the bike racing women of Chicago!

Going into the weekend I was cautiously optimistic feeling that I had gotten some fitness at Superweek. While the fields were small, we as a team had ridden hard. I thought Friday's time trial should be a good course for me being a short flat power course with a couple of tight turns. I gave it my all but still turned in a fairly poor time. Jessi was our best finisher, riding well and finishing in the money!

I had a great start in Saturday's crit. I was in awesome position for a few laps--good enough to get sworn at by Tibco--which I took as a compliment that I was right were I should be--but unfortunately I did not last very long. I was sad to see that with the exception of Jeannie, the rest of our team was not in the pack either. The general consensus was that we were tired.

The next day we rode almost the same course, the only difference being an extended stretch making the hairpin turn further out. Jeannie and I went to the line and the pace was much slower. I lasted longer, about half the race, but still ended up dnf. Jeannie finished well in 6th place.

As a side note, Stacy was saying over the weekend that she didn't feel well, and she did not start the race on Sunday. She was chalking it up to being tired and late season fatigue. We now know that she was suffering from some rather serious head injuries relating to previous crashes. She underwent treatment and is recovering well, but it was a serious scare, and the lesson learned is to take head injuries very seriously!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chicago Velo Campus

Last weekend I went down and rode the brand new Chicago Velo Campus Velodrome. It was really exciting (i.e. scary) but I just got the feeling that something super cool is happening in Chicago. My teammate Elena also went down and her excellent report and pictures do a great job summing up the experience.

From Elena:
I had heard various rumors about the track, called the "Chicago Velo Campus". Among them I heard that the track would never get completed, it is too narrow and steep to race on, it was started by some guy from Italy, the coach is a famous Australian rider recovering from knee surgery with nothing else to do, the track was far too banked to ride at any reasonable speeds....the rumors were too good. I had to go check it out for myself.

After a few twitter messages with "Chicago Velo Campus" they suggested I email Peter to go to the intro class. Concerned that this intro class, (similar to intro classes at other tracks), would mean 8 weeks of classes before I could race or ride it by myself, I explained my track experience in my email to Peter--I am a Cat 1, hold national titles, have spent most of my time at the well banked NSC Velodrome in MN, have ridden the track in Aigle, Switzerland at UCI (a well banked 200m track), etc. He replied back explaining that I still needed to attend what he called a "certification class", however it would only be one day, for 2 hours. So I set up a Friday appointment and got excited.

As a side note, velodromes come in a variety of sizes, materials and banking. A standard track is either 250 or 333 meters, with banking around 40-47 degrees, usually wood or concrete. The Northbrook track is unique in that it is much larger than your average track and much less banked. This is great for timed events (fewer corners means a faster time), as well as teaching new people, as you can ride the track relatively slowly. Northbrook is a great track with great people and programs, however for those of us who love the thrill of sprinting, flying events, and big banking, it leaves a bit to be desired.
I arrived at the track, conveniently located on my way home from work on the south side, at 8615 South Burley Avenue, at the site of what used to be a steel mill. As I rolled into the parking lot I noted a set up that wasn't too bad--storage containers, changing area, a small infield area, and some portable bathrooms. Rumor #1 not true--track is now completed. Walking into the infield I have to admit, as someone who has ridden 8 different tracks, I was still taken aback by the banking and smallness of the track. 166 meters with a 55 degree banking, it is quite intimidating. I was greeted by Emanuele Bianchi, an award-winning Italian designer, manufacturer and retailer of boutique pet products who also happens to be the President of Chicago Velo Campus. Rumor that it was started by an Italian dog lover--true. I watched his daughter, 9, and a few other juniors spin around the track looking very comfortable! He informed me that Peter was caught in traffic and would be there shortly.

I was joined by a few others, some there to ride, some there for the certification. Peter soon arrived, his accent a bit undetectable inquiring about track experience, complementing me for my pink bike, while giving me a hard time for having kevlar Keirin gloves saying "you're up first, with those gloves you better know how to ride a track." I hid my intimidation, Jumped up on the track and went at it, with Peter shooing directions in his accented voice "black Line! blue line! Rail!!!!!", reminding me of my days as a juiour in Minnesota, getting shouted at encouragingly by my Auzzie coach with a booming voice and our track director Bob Williams, carefully pushing us to our limits. I drove my bike hard into the corners, fighting the g-forces, sticking on the lines. Rumor that it is too banked and small to ride well--challenging yes, not possible, no. Heading back to the infield and talking to Peter, it was clear that this guy knows his stuff, however, rumor #2, the Auzzie with a hurt knee has yet to be confirmed.

We took turns practicing on the track, ending with a few flying laps and 200s, followed by some pace-line practice, and a match sprint. And with that, I was "certified". Oddly enough, in my tiny 84" gear, I did a quick flying 200 in 12.6. Not too shabby.
The track is also built with the bottom half of the track untreated plywood, while the top has a grit to it to make it sticky. thus you can actually ride the top of the track slower than the bottom half--quite unique! Although the wood is different than the dense Afzalia wood I am used to up in Minnesota, it was surprisingly quite smooth. Rumor that it is too banked to ride slow--also not true. You can safely ride the top between 16 and 18 mph, the bottom at 18-20mph.

Although I am convinced that the wood 250m NSC Velodrome in Minnesota is the best track I have ever ridden (and the best track in the US), this track is incredibly fun, and jokingly reminds me of a 250m track on steroids, or a track designed a s a bet between a cyclist and an architect. Everything is a little more compact, a little steeper, the transitions a little quicker, keeping the bike straight a little more difficult, yet pure joy to ride, giving the sense of a huge accomplishment, playing with the laws of gravity.

All in all it was a great experience and I am looking forward to going back for some more training, fun and exhilaration. If you would like to learn how to ride track, or are just curious about the niche sport (track cycling) of the niche sport (cycling), I highly recommend checking it out!
note: Peter, the track manager, is a former British National Team Sprinter from Manchester England. He's currently sidelined with an injury so we get to have him here in Chicago. He's extremely knowledgable and personable and is extremely helpful making everyone feel comfortable on the track.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hi there loyal blog readers!


pic from my crash in St. Louis

What a delinquent blogger I've been! I had some traumatic computer problems this summer that left me in the lurch until recently. I'm hoping to start updating and I'll be posting previous race reports-- not in any particular order.

What a weird season I've been having. For a while there I felt like I was crashing left and right and I have been struggling with fitness. On the positive side my new (ABD) team has been nothing but supportive and as a team we've had a pretty good year. My season is not over, I'm heading down to Gateway Cup in St. Louis this weekend and I'll be racing at para track nationals in Los Angeles as a pilot on a tandem for Kim Borowicz, a visually impaired rider. (I'll post more on that later). I feel much better right now than I normally do this time of year and I'm looking forward to finishing this season well!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Spring Prairie RR

Last Sunday I went up to race the Spring Prairie RR with my teammates Elena and Stacy. The course is a 6.5 mile loop in gorgeous rolling Wisconsin country, with one short but major climb at the end of the lap right before the start/finish. The race is the WI state Road Race Championships so we knew it would be hotly contested by IS Corp and Kenda, the strong WI teams.

Sure enough on the first lap IS Corp attacked. We wanted to get Stacy in a break but not quite yet, and I didn't want her to waste any energy chasing that down. So I and Kenda and a couple other individual riders chased it down.

I knew it was likely that I would have a tough time when I hit the hill. I didn't think I would be dropped on the first lap, but that's exactly what happened! Super bummed. But I put my head down and chased. A couple laps later, I could see the field! Super excited. I was able to catch back on and ride with the group for the last 2 laps.

I quickly was told that there were 4 riders off the front, 2 IS Corp, 1 Kenda, and our Stacy. This was good. Elena looked completely comfortable going up the hill and while I still struggled, I was able to catch back on every time.

Even though the podium was up the road, I still wanted to maximize ABD's placing in the race. I knew I'd get crushed on the final hill to the finish, so I figured I'd better do what I could for Elena. IS Corp still had several seasoned and competitive riders in the field; I knew they were going to try something too. There were several attacks from other riders on the final lap and I was able to chase them down so Elena could conserve. I told her to grab my wheel and I would deliver her to the base of the final climb. Trying to get the jump on IS Corp, I went early, but it turned out to be a bit too early, and I think I went a little too hard defeating the plan of delivering her fresh to the bottom of the hill. She still managed to get 3rd in the field sprint for 7th overall.

We heard later about Stacy's ride in the break, dealing with 2 IS corp teammates and a Kenda; all WI riders. She rode an excellent race and ended up third. Kenda won and IS Corp were second and fourth.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

ABD WINS!!!



I love Memorial day weekend. For the Midwest Bike Racer, Memorial Day means Snake Alley,Melon City and Quad Cities Criterium. The 3 races aren't a series, just 3 separate events. Though this year the results from all three were combined for a Nature Valley Pro Ride Qualifier. I qualified for last year's Nature Valley Pro Ride and it was an incredible experience. Another cool thing about this weekend was that they offered 3 races each day for the women. A cat 4, a 2/3 and a 1/2/3. So if you are a cat 2 or 3 woman, you have the option to race twice, and it's nice to have a chance to shine without all the cat 1's. Very unique and really neat opportunity.


The three races of the weekend are vastly different and there's something for everyone! For the women, the field consists of all the best regional riders, and there are usually a few national and international pros that show up. This year we had Amanda Miller from HTC, Coryn Rivera, Kaitlin Antonneau for Peanut Butter & CO 2012 and Sam Schneider from Tibco. And of course the ABD women's team! This was exciting because it was the first time all year that our entire team would be racing together!!


Unfortunately two Saturdays ago Jason decided to blow out his knee while "looking at squirrels" in the back yard. No I'm not making this up, it is the truth. Of course the 10 years of playing basketball might have contributed but it was the squirrels that did him in. Thank goodness we are so lucky to be friends with the folks at Hinsdale Orthopaedic. Not only are they cyclists themselves, but they are some of the best surgeons around and I felt completely comfortable entrusting Jason's care to them. They got him in quickly and knew right away that he would need surgery to repair the damage. He had it done the Friday before Memorial Day. I'm sure he would have been fine if I had taken off for the weekend, but he was in no shape to be taking care of kids, so I had to pull the plug on my plans. It was a bummer, but in the 5 years I've been racing since having kids I've never had to do this so I really can't complain.


Even though I really wanted to be out with the team, I felt very lucky to have a racing opportunity so close to home. The ABD master's series in Wooddale was great fun. I raced there on Saturday, took Sunday off, and planned to drive out to Quad Cities and join the team for the day on Monday.


So here's what I was able to piece together being stuck at home getting texts and emails of how the team was doing. Jessi was the only team member that had done Snake Alley before. For Sarah ,Stacy, Jeannie and Elena it was their first experience with it. I've done it a few times and though I know I probably won't ever win it, I just love how grueling it is. It is dubbed the hardest crit in the US!! It is a big deal just to finish that race. Elena broke her chain at the start but the rest of the team was able to race it and they did fantastic! Stacy ended up 11th, Jeannie 13th, Jessi 16th (after driving there straight from her High school graduation and having no warm up) . The podium was no surprise with Amanda Miller, Coryn Rivera and Kaitlin Antonneau finishing in that order.


Melon City was on Sunday and this is also a super hard race, that I have no fondness for :) It really hurts doing it the day after Snake Alley and it has a weird speed bump at the bottom of a down hill that really doesn't hurt anyone but still freaks me out. The finish is not a typical sprint but you go up a short hill, and then around a hairpin turn that makes you lose all momentum, and then you must find legs for the sprint. This race is for super strong riders. From what I heard awesome Kenda rider Ashley James escaped early and soloed for the win. The rest of the field was together at 4 laps to go when Stacy attacked. Only Amanda Miller and Coryn Rivera could go with her, and Amanda was able to take second, and Stacy held on for third. Sheer strength!!! Jessi almost took the field sprint but got nipped at the line by Sam Schneider. An extremely impressive finish in 6th. Jeannie raced in the 2/3 race earlier that day and took 4th.


On Monday I drove out for the race and received a very warm welcome from my loving team!! I was so bummed to have missed out on most of the weekend but their spirits were high even though they all told me how tired they were, they had raced all weekend and had even done the 2/3 race earlier that day (where Jeannie and Stacy got 9th and 11th). Quad Cities Criterium I think might be my favorite race of all time. Totally flat, wide corners, and fast! I won this race last year so I got to race in the #1. It was crazy windy and we hoped to get a break going with ABD in it. My teammates were committed to helping me out with whatever it took. Given my current fitness level, I was not so confident, but I was committed to giving it my all. From the gun Amanda Miller(worlds rider, just got 7th in the Tour of California women's time trial invitational) went ALL OUT. Coryn Rivera and I, along with Catherine Walberg from Kenda and maybe a few others were on it. I was maxed out immediately but we had a gap right away. I struggled for a few laps but just couldn't hang on. Kenda fell off and then I did. Unfortunately I was not able to recover in time and when the field came by strung out and chasing, I could not catch back on, hang out and recover. I rode until they pulled me, which stunk but on the bright side I got to see the incredible work of my teammates unfold. When the break I was in was caught, Jeannie was able to counter with two other riders. They got a sizable gap for some time and then when they were caught Stacy attacked solo and rode the last 15 laps by herself FOR THE WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jessi and Jeannie patrolled the front of the pack neutralizing any chase attempts. It was so cool.



In conclusion, I'm thankful for a lot of things; my nice husband and kids that need me to take care of them, good doctors who can fix us, the cool ABD club for putting on fun events close to home and supporting women's racing, and my AWESOME teammates that are so postive and fun.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tour De Grove--St. Louis

This was a tough weekend for the ABD Women's Team. We headed down to St. Louis for 3 crits. Only Saturday's was NRC (National Race Calendar) but most people stuck around for Friday and Sunday's races as well. Sarah starred in her own version of planes trains and automobiles. She hoped to save time by flying to St. Louis from Michigan but got stranded in Chicago all day on Friday missing the Friday night race. Elena and I drove down on Friday and Stacy was going to drive down on Saturday and meet us at the race. Friday was successful racing for Elena and I. It was cool, but dry. Elena got second in her race and I had my first field finish of the year!!




I'm kind of proud of this picture I took of Elena's finish from my phone. Not bad!


For the rest of the weekend it alternated between drizzling and pouring, was pretty cold and in general unpleasant. Saturday Elena slid out on a corner and thought she rolled her tubular but didn't so she did not get a free lap--ending her race just like that. In the 1/2 race, a fairly technical crit that looked sort of fun had it been dry, Stacy, Sarah and I felt alright. Immediately from the start Sarah's brake was rubbing, so that ended her race. I flatted early and the pit wheel I got was inflated to what felt like 200 psi. I immediately crashed out on the first corner. I cried like a baby but turned out to be just fine. I got back in and finished avoiding both the carnage on the final corner and the money to end up 22nd. Stacy rode like a rock star--it was exciting to see her off the front for a bit while I was in the pit getting my wheel changed--and she got the last money spot for 20th.


Sunday racing in the cold rain in yet another technical crit with downhill corners was appealing to none of us but we sucked it up, found some motivation and went to the line. Poor Elena crashed out of the winning 3 person break in the slick rainy downhill corner and dnf'd. She is fine, though road rashed. Stacy, Sarah and I stayed upright. Stacy finished with the field in 20th. Sarah and I finished otb in 40th and 23rd. To quote Sarah, "it was kind of like fun, but different." After the race we dropped Sarah off at the airport and Stacy gave me a ride back to Chicago. Elena had gotten done several hours before us so she had already headed home. Turns out Sarah's flight was delayed in St. Louis so she missed her connection in Chicago once again stranding her at O'Hare. Last I heard she'd gotten a ride home from some strangers and hopefully made her way back to Michigan.


Even in all that nastiness we still managed to have a lot of fun. If we can stay positive under these conditions, I think we can handle just about anything that comes our way. I saw a lot of improvement in my racing and we had a great time staying with my dear old friends Tim and Danielle and their two adorable boys. We even enjoyed a fun game of "Chipmunk comes alive in the house after being brought in 'dead' by the cat."

Speedweek!

Speedweek is a 7 day crit series spread over 9 days. It starts in Athens, GA with the famous Athens Twilight Crit that has over 30,000 spectators, and ends in Atlanta, GA with stops in South Carolina and North Carolina. I have done some of these races in the past and have always wanted to go back. For a crit rider, it doesn't get much better than this. All the best sprinters in the nation were here with full squads backing them up, as well as the individuals. Rouse, Tibco, Colovita, Primal Map My Ride, to name a few. The Southland is in it's full glory this time of year; sunny and 80 with no humidity every single day. Coming from the horrible 40 degree rain we'd been having around here, it was heavenly.

When I decided to do these races last year I was hoping to be fit and ready to race! Unfortunately given that I was off the bike all of February and much of March, Speedweek became a "race into shape" experience. Also, what better way to get to know your almost complete stranger teammate than going on a 10 day intimate road trip with them? Sarah and I were both a little nervous and figured we'd either be best friends at the end, or it would be very quiet on the way home.
Luckily for us we became best buds!! We both were kind of in the same boat in our results; Sarah who had been in good form, had suffered a pretty bad crash that put her off the bike for a while, so she was trying to get some form back too. Every day was much of the same. Fighting hard, lasting a little longer, and struggling to stay positive. We were so thankful to have the full support of the amazing ABD team behind us so we kept pushing forward and we saw improvement with every race. We both felt very lucky to have the opportunity to be there.


One of my favorite things about bike racing is calling up random friends and asking them for huge favors. My old friend Brian Coll who is a Chicago Cycling Legend, moved down to Atlanta with his lovely wife Diane a few years ago. He is a racer, cycling coach and personal trainer. He did everything from providing us with a lovely condo to stay in, chauffeuring us, making us breakfast, taking us on rides in the gorgeous countryside, as well as cheering for us and giving us motivational pep talks. Thanks so much Brian!! As always it was great to see you.


I'm kicking myself for not taking more pictures, but other fun stuff I got to do was stay with my cool cousin Melanie who lives in Charlotte, NC and have dinner with my old friend Susan who I have not seen in over 10 years since she moved to Columbia, SC. Sarah got to hear a lot of stories about "the old days" and catch up on who was doing what. :) But it was wonderful to see them and I was thankful for bike racing bringing me into their neck of the woods.


It was really neat to see Theresa Cliff-Ryan with full backing of her Colovita team dominate things. However, when Theresa left mid series to go compete in the Pan-Am games, Laura Van Gilder took over the series lead and won it racing as an individual. She is so cool!! Also of note, Tibco sprinter Sam Schneider was hit by a car and knocked unconscious in Athens before the first race of the series! She came out of it just fine and still managed to finish fourth overall. Simply amazing.


All in all not our best results, but we're hoping that it will pay off later in the season. So look out!

PWP Kara and Kathy do Vino Fondo

Kara and Kathy at Vino Fondo



Here's an update from Kara Chmielewski a fellow mom of two who holds down a full time job:


Hi Kristen,


Just wanted to say thanks for another great year of training! I rode in the Vino Fondo in Missouri this past weekend. I almost quit and was on the verge of tears several times, but I finished!!!! It was so hilly...so hilly...actually hills with names. I don't do hills with names. I do now. I did the Midi version - 84 miles. I need to be a better climber, guess I'll have to figure it out before next year. Although advertised as a "ride" not a "race" we had chips. That is my first experience in an actual timed ride. I was so nervous I wanted to puke until I crossed the finish line and then I just wanted a beer. How intimidated was I at the start?? VERY!!!!!! These are all serious rectreational riders and a few race teams. The route was a Tour of Missouri route - totally out of my league. I rode with Kathy Austin from PWP who now rides with me at CES and 3 guys I know from grad school. This was by far the most serious ride I've ever done and it just makes me want to do better next year. Overall, a very cool experience, only 20 women out of 140 or so riders.


-Kara



Great job Kara and Kathy!!! What a postivie experience! Sounds epic and hard.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Miami

I haven't really wanted to blog much about my poor winter of training. How many entries of "not feeling good" can a reader take? Also I didn't want to let the competition know my fitness is not up to par!! :) After my results at Hillsboro, the cat is out of the bag:( Not really sure what the cause was but this winter I seemed to catch every little sickness that was going around and I spent all of February and even much of March not training. It was very frustrating. However other than a nagging back issue I'm feeling great and now have had 3 solid weeks of good training. +========================================================= For spring break Jason and I took the kids out to Pennsylvania to my parents house and even though it wasn't the greatest weather, (40 and overcast) I was able to accomplish some great training in the mountains. ==========================================================Then because my husband Jason kicks ass at work, they rewarded him and 149 other employees with a trip to Miami Beach to stay at a fancy resort. He got to bring me as a guest! This is a big deal for us as normally "vacation" in our house involves some kind of bike racing or a trip to grandma's house. My wonderful parents (the reason I'm able to do any mid-week bike racing involving travel) took care of our kids while Jason and I were able to jet off to Miami. ===============================++++++++++++++++++++======= Originally I had planned to take the time off the bike and just enjoy a vacation. But things changed given where I'm at in my training and I really wanted to continue to build on my fitness. Since they flew us United, it was going to be super expensive to fly my bike, so I decided to try renting one. I was a little nervous how that would work out, never having done that before. It went great!! Thanks to a great tip from Elena I brought my power tap on the plane for no charge and was able to rent a nice road bike from a local shop. I got in three glorious days of riding on Key Biscayne and while I had a very nice aluminum bike, it was much heavier than my carbon fiber Trek Madone. It's nice to ride something a little less nice every once in a while just to make you appreciate how great you really have it! It was beautiful, sunny and warm every day and I even ran into a fellow bike racer I had met at superweek last year!! =+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ The last two days I was there I had to return the bike so I did a private yoga class out on the lawn and just hung out and "luxuriated".
Getting into the hang of Miami Beach resort life!


Now I'm back home and back to reality, but the break was great and I'm looking forward to racing at Leland this weekend, and doing the clinic with Greg Meeker on Sunday.



Hillsboro

Jessi and Stacy take home bricks and cold hard cash for their 2nd and 3rd overall placings!

=


Hillsboro is the first big regional race of the year for us Chicagoans. This year it served as a debut for my new team; Athlete's by Design (ABD). It was the first time we'd be together as an almost whole team--we are still missing Jeannie, who lives in New Zealand for much of the year and will be joining us shortly. But then we will be losing Jessi, as she would be leaving us the following Tuesday after the race for several weeks of racing in Europe, then home for a couple days, and then off to a tour in China.



We were all very excited to get to race together and we planned to stay overnight at a local farm b&b and get some riding in the next day. Our race was 58 miles consisting of two laps over a beautiful country road course with a couple of rollers thrown in, and one sort of kicker climb at the end of the lap heading into a cobblestone final circuit. After my non-existant winter of training I knew my fitness was not really there yet, but we knew Stacy and Jessi were feeling good after having spent a good part of the winter in Tuscon, AZ. Sarah and Elena were just going to test the legs, and I agreed sitting in and hanging on should be my plan.



This went out the window about 5 minutes into the race when Jessi threw out the first attack. It was countered by the heavily represented IS Corp team. Two of their riders got away, and although I'm sure it would have been fine if they had, I didn't want Jessi or Stacy to have to cover it. So I tried to bridge. Sarah had the same thought and we attacked simultaneously up the opposite sides of the road. We didn't successfully bridge but we did succeed in pulling the field back together. Unfortunately for me that effort did me in and I went off the back.



Since I'm in full on training mode right now I just rode the course as hard as I could and picked people off. I finished off the main field by quite a ways but around the middle of the results. It was terribly exciting to see Jessi and a Mercy Specialized rider off the front with a considerable gap on the field starting their second lap when I was finishing my first lap!! I didn't see anything else, but what I heard happened was that Jessi and the Mercy rider got away very shortly after I was dropped. They rode almost the whole course together. Stacy was then able to initiate a second break from the field, and she and two others rode together until the final hill when she was able to gap her breakmates to finish with a considerable lead for third. Elena finished in the field and Sarah and I finished a little ways back.



It was a bit of a bummer to get dropped but honestly it wasn't a surprise and having teammates who kick butt when I'm not up to it is great! Hopefully I'll be back on track before long.


Jessi and I hanging with Abe Lincoln the night before


We then spent a second night at the farmhouse, a cosy little house that had one bedroom, two couches, a "summer kitchen" that served as another bedroom, and a barn that had a converted hayloft set up as a bedroom. Jason and I took the barn. Since he is always trying to get me to camp I figured this was the closest I cared to get to that. It turned out to be quite pleasant, except that we were visited in the night by a stray beagle.


Jason and I's housemate


The next day we told the b&b owners and they took the dog in and we heard later they had found it a home.Team bonding around the campfire. From left: Sarah, Jessi ,Stacy, Kristen, Elena



With their race winnings, Jessi bought the makings for s'mores and Stacy bought some wine (for the over 21 crowd of course) and we celebrated around the campfire that night.


The next day we headed out to get in some miles and were treated to an even more beautiful day! The only problem I had was I started the day with arm warmers and did not apply sunscreen under them first. When the temperature soared to over 80, I ditched the armwarmers and fried my arms. Small price to pay for a gorgeous day of riding in the country. What a great start to what is sure to be a terrific season with a wonderful team!



Wednesday, March 30, 2011

John



Chicago PWP Participant John Cline is Mr. August in this year's TyK Caledar


The Thought You Knew Calendar features real Chicago cyclists and supports the Chicago Women's Health Center. TyK now features an 80's themed "gents" calendar of which John is Mr. August.


Here's an excerpt from the TyK website: "John crashed his first bike in an attempt to Evel Knieval off a jump and over a garbage can. That stunt may have landed him a trip to the hospital, but he was back on the bike for another attempt the next day. Now, as well as being a year round commuter and track racer, John throws himself just as hard into volunteering. He heads up Half Acre Cyclng's track team, works with Yojimbo's Track Cats and sits on the Northbrook Velodrome Track Committee. Somehow he also finds time to play in a couple of bands."


John has worked out with PWP for two winters now and has this to say about the program, "I have two podiums already and feel pretty good about my condition and it's only March. I can really seethis being kind of an institution for racers in Chicago."


Congrats John! I look forward to watching your results for the rest of the year!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Katie!

Chicago PWP participant Katie Tomarelli is Miss November in this year's TyK calendar. Buy one and support the Chicago Women's Health Center.

This photo of Katie is featured in Bike Fancy Blog!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A note from Mike

It's notes like this that keep me running this program every year:


Hi Kristen,


Today the weather was nice enough to get out and ride so I went for a ride on one of my regular local loops. This loop has a couple of climbs and one short but steep climb that always gets my attention. Though not a really hard climb, I always use this steep section as a milestone in my ride because it takes more effort than most to get up.


I'm riding along and I begin to get myself mentally ready for this effort when I realized I had passed over the climb a few minutes back! Thinking back, I flew up that climb without a thought and hardly noticed the others! That may say something about my mental health, but it definitely is a marked improvement in my riding ability. It is a small thing, but it is well known to me and it was such a dramatic difference that it made a real impression on me. I know this improvement is a direct result of attending PWP. Can't wait to compare my performances to some of the more challenging rides.


Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I'm very happy and just wanted to let you know.


Looking for other milestones,


Mike


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fixed Gear Classic Promo Video




Look for the PWP socks at 1:53

Congratulations Aaron!


Current framebuilder and Former PWP participant Aaron Dykstra wins again at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show last weekend in Austin, TX.


Last year Aaron won "Rookie of the year" and this year he won "best track bike". To learn more about Aaron and his 611 bikes, check out his website: sixelevenbicycleco.com


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Women's Road Racing Clinic Sunday April 17

I'm excited to be doing another Women's Racing Clinic with Greg Meeker for Half Acre Cycling! Registration is open now.

The clinic will be held in two parts. The first part will be a question and answer session about women's bike racing at Johnny Sprockets on Thursday, April 14. This will be a chance to sit down and ask all those questions that you've been wanting to know, a way to get to know other like minded women, and a really fun evening. This will be geared for beginners but everyone is welcome.

Beginners are also welcome at the second part of the clinic, on Sunday, April 17, but this will be also highly benenficial to ALL levels of cyclists. Greg Meeker is a cornering guru and was the first person who taught me how to corner years ago. He was a member of the US National Cycling team in 1974, 1975, and 1976. He has been coaching clubs and individual riders for over 30 years including seven ridiers who went on to become National Team Members. Greg went on to found Capital Velo Club, and all-women's team in Madison, WI. After a few years the team became free standing, but since then Greg has maintained a connection. He has provided his conerning clinic in Chicago several times over the years and I'm really excited to be working with him again, I can always use a brush up on my cornering! His technical experience combined with his down to earth communicating make for an awesome clinic.

Here are all the details--See you there!!!


Women’s Beginner & Intermediate Road Racing Clinic
Sunday, April 17th - 10 am - 2pm

Experienced racer Kristen Meshberg & coach Greg Meeker
will instruct in the classroom and on-the-bike!

10:00 am – 12:00pm: classroom instruction at Roosevelt University
430 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605

12:00 pm – 2:00 pm: on-the-bike instruction at Northerly Island.
Turn your classroom knowledge into experience!

Bring your bicycle & helmet, clothing to ride in, water & snacks if needed.

But that's not all!!

Join us Thursday, April 14th from 7 to 9 pm
for a pre-clinic Beginner Q & A Session
with experienced racer Kristen Meshberg
at Johnny Sprockets
3001 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657
This session is strongly recommended for newer and unlicensed riders

Register HERE

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

PWP ON tonight!



If you can safely get there, PWP is on tonight.

Monday, January 24, 2011

ABD Indoor Time Trial Season

It's been a while since I've written much. Winter is the time where I hunker down at PWP and get some awesome training in. Lately I've been feeling fantastic. Turning 40 last year kind of made me realize "I can do whatever I want!" and I have a new air of confidence about me. My training has been going great--I've been getting some awesome rides in and have upped my core workouts so now I'm able to do things I've never been able to do in my life! For one, I can now do the entire 3 minute plank excersise we do at PWP. (I've been trying to do this for 6 years!)

Yesterday was the first of ABD indoor tt series which includes 3 indoor and 1 outdoor time trial. Every year I've always enjoyed (and I use that term loosely) doing this series. You have to go in with the right attitude--it's the middle of winter, we're all training, who cares that everyone can see your time your watts and your weight, no your results at these don't necessarily translate into how you do on the road--but if you can put all of that into perspective, it's honestly just a really fun way to spice up your winter training. I'm not going to push myself that hard on my own, and it's fun to have a little motivation boost every so often. Yesterday I was talking to a couple of people who were new to the indoor tt and were asking me about how to do it. "It's kind of like torture" I told them, "if you feel like you're going to throw up and die, you're probably doing it about right. But you feel great when you're done."

Since I'm now part of the ABD family, I got to see some of the back stage planning and a first hand view of the well-oiled machine that is the ABD volunteers making this event run smoothly. Very impressive.

I didn't exactly have my best ride ever (I was sick with a cold-which was a bummer because I really have been feeling great lately!) but I did have fun watching some friends get new PR's. While I was there Mike Ebert got a text from Jessi and Stacy who had done well in a training crit that morning in Arizona where they are out training right now. Very Exciting!!!