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.