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, June 13, 2012

Fixed Gear Classic

Fixed Gear Classic at the National Sports Center Velodrome in Blaine, MN was my first big track event of the year.   I was planning to compete in the women's endurance omnium, which is an overall prize for the following races:   the tempo, 2 points races, a miss-n-out, an endurance wheel race, and a scratch race.  Each has their own rules and strategy for winning.  I also entered the Keirin, which is part of the sprint events, just because. The event took place Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

I was excited.  I'm on a cool track team this year, George Garner Cyclery Track Team and I just got an awesome new track bike--after riding the same bike for 12 years!!
My brand new Tiemeyer Custom Signature Track Bike

 I'd ridden the bike once at Northbrook and immediately could tell that it fit me so much better!  I couldn't wait to see what it would feel like on a 250 meter track.  The competition would not be easy;  I would be competing against Cari Higgins, who made the long list for the 2012 Olympics and other competitors from all over the country.

The first race, the tempo, was a 12 lap race where only the first two riders across the line on every single lap get points.  If there's a tie, the finish is determined by the placing on the final lap.

I was nervous!  The race started and the pace felt fine, but when it came time to sprint, I somehow never found myself in good position.  After a couple laps of this I saw an opening and took it.  The picture below captures that moment!

Attacking in the Tempo Race
Photo by Lisa Lardy

I got a gap and took the points.  Jeff, Jason and Kevin were in between corner 1 and 2 and were yelling to keep going.  I did and took the next two laps!  So exciting.  When the field caught me, I was trashed but I had gotten enough points to keep second place!  I was thrilled.

The second race of the night was the first of two points races.  60 laps, with sprints for points every ten laps.  The winner being whoever ends up with the most points.  Again I found myself not very comfortable moving around in the pack.  I had changed my gear and felt pretty good with my spin and the pace, but still nervous when it came time to position for a sprint.  I was planning to wait it out and attack solo again in the second half of the race.   Unfortunately I never got the chance.  About 25 laps in we caught a woman who was briefly off the front.  She didn't realize how fast we were coming and swung up track and collided with another rider.  The two slid down track into my path.  I had nowhere to go but directly into them at about 26mph.  I haven't seen the footage but I heard it was a spectacular crash that involved flying through the air and a flip.  I was knocked out for a minute or two, had a little bit of road rash, but the main injury was a badly sprained ankle. I'd heard about the splinters you get when you crash on a wood track and thought I'd escaped until I got home and discovered them in the shower.    The poor woman I ran over was fine, but her bike was totaled.  She and the other woman had some road rash but were fine and able to continue the competition.  Except for my saddle and one small scratch, my bike came out of it unscathed.  My ankle proved to be the worst of it.  This accident could have been so much worse - I really am very lucky.  Crashing doesn't exactly make me less nervous, but from all accounts there was nothing I could have done to avoid it.  I was mostly disappointed to lose the experience of finishing the event, and given my excellent result in the first event I was optimistic for a good overall placing.  Double bummed.   Now I need to recover from this and figure out how to get through the rest of the season.  Lucky for me I know some good doctors at Hinsdale Orthopaedics and with their counsel I hope to salvage something.

It was cool to watch Garner teammates Jeff, Jason and Kevin compete, and really notable was watching Jeff and Jason work together in the Sprint Wheelrace to get Jeff the win!

Crashing sucks but the community on the track is the most loving there is.  If you have to do it, you will be taken care of.  So many thanks to all the people who helped me.  Emma Bast took my bike to her shop and had the mechanics assess it and put on a new seat, and even brought it back to the track for me.  Former teammate and current friend Elena Dorr was right there, and thanks to all the other competitors and friends who lent me a hand. And many thanks to my parents who without their help taking care of my children I could not do any of this ~and when push comes to shove and I need someone to take me to the hospital at 11 pm on a Thursday night, were there for me.  Thanks so much!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lake Bluff and Glecoe Criteriums USA Crits & NCC

Friday night was the Lake Bluff Criterium which was on the USA Crits series and Saturday was the Glencoe Grand Prix which is part of the National Criterium Calendar.  This meant national level competition in my hometown!

The Promoters of these races pulled out all the stops and each event was completely first class!  In both cases the whole town was involved, there were street vendors and music festivals.  This was the first year for Lake Bluff, and the 6th year for Glencoe.  I've done Glencoe all 6 years and each year it has gotten bigger and better.  Really fun at Glencoe they made trading cards for the racers, passed them out to all the spectators so all the kids were running around asking for autographs.  I was given a welcoming hug by the promoter Jon Knouse at sign in, and interviewed over the loud speaker in front of the huge crowd by Kenny Labbe.

Ever since they announced this weekend I have been targeting these races and looking forward to them with much anticipation.  Unfortunately things were not going well leading into the weekend.  I'd been sick for 3 weeks with some kind of nasty lung thing and not riding in hopes of getting better.  This did not predict good things, especially after my miserable attempt at racing the weekend before, with much easier competition.  I was not optimistic, but I was determined to do the best I could.

Friday, warming up for Lake Bluff on the power tap confirmed that I was feeling MUCH better!!  Did I dare get my hopes up?  The course was very narrow with several very tight corners.  The only wide part of the course was the start/finish stretch.  I knew the start was crucial.
photo credit Ali Engin
At the start of Lake Bluff.  Next to me is my buddy Leah from Psimet, and next to her is Cari Higgins from Exergy, who made the long list for the 2012 Olympic Track team. 
I was nervous!

When the gun went off I was thrilled to get a great start!  When I hit the first twisty section in great position I knew things were going to be ok!  I so happy I yelled "F Yeah!"  Sometimes I crack myself up in races.  I settled in and rode the best I could.  I saw the break go but could not respond.  It was taking all I had just to ride around. I didn't go into the last lap in great position and I got pinched into the barricades and had to come to a complete stop.  That  really messed up my momentum, costing me some spots.   Had I been able to be in better position that would have been avoided.  I finished 19th, in the money, and while this was not the result I was hoping for this weekend I knew I did the best I could and was thrilled!

Lake Bluff really threw a great race with a street party and bands playing!  After the race my George Garner Cyclery Track team was all there and we met up for a nice dinner.  It was great to be social!

The next day at Glencoe, I was a little tired from Friday's effort.  Not having ridden that long or that hard in a while took it out of me.  My lungs hurt, but I was determined.  The entire Spidermonkey team was out in full force, at the 312 tent as well as various locations all over the course.  So many other friends  were out there cheering as well--I heard you every lap- thank you!  This course is a long course with a couple of technical down hill corners and a longish slight uphill section.  In addition to being a National Criterium Calendar race, it was also our Illinois State Criterium Championships.  Since I was the 2011 winner I got a call up.  A call up is such a wonderful thing.   I got an awesome start and was in perfect position going into the downhill corner section and it set the tone for the whole race for me.  No break got away today and I was able to stay with the front group.  I found out afterwards that half of the field we started with was dropped!
photo credit Ali Engin
the race was pretty much just fast

By the second half of the race I was getting tired.  I rolled in at 18th place and again while this was definitely NOT the result I was going for at Glencoe, in light of how I'd been feeling lately it was definitely the best I could have done that day.  I am optimistic that I'm on my way out of illness and look forward to some better results for the rest of the summer.  Staying healthy is part of bike racing, and unfortunately sickness does happen.
me & Sidney hanging out after the race.  Sidney was injured and unable to walk :)

I knew I wasn't the top Illinois finisher, but they decided to award a State Championship jersey to each category.  Since I was the first Illinois Cat 1 finisher, I ended up with the Jersey and I was tickled to win it!