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

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Memorial Day Iowa Races

I've done these races a bunch of times and it's pretty much a love/hate weekend for me.  The three races are:

Saturday-Snake Alley, Burlington, IA

Sunday-Melon City, Muscatine, IA

Monday-Quad Cities Criterium, Rock Island, IL

After much debate, Jason and the kids decided to join me and Sarah and her husband Eric for the weekend.  We got to stay with Eric's lovely sister and her husband and their two kids in Muscatine.  My kids had tons of fun playing and Sidney even received his first marriage proposal from Analise.  (He declined).  My only regret is that we didn't get a picture of all of them together, but here is a video  featuring Analise competing at the quad cities crit.  Jason and Eric brought their bikes and got some great training in.  It made for an awesome weekend and I'm so glad it turned out the way it did.

While we were warming up for Snake Alley Jason found a music store and bought the kids a ukelele.  Sidney actually made a couple bucks busking! 

Snake alley is a gritty technical race with a cobblestone climb and a fast twisty descent.  It doesn't cater to my strengths as a rider at all (the uphill is the hate part)  but I always like the idea of just digging deeper than I ever have and tapping into some kind of pain that only the endurance athlete can appreciate.  (the love part)  Plus the downhill is really fun.  For the first time ever I did not pre-reg, so I was freaked out by the woman at registration who gave me the number 61 and told me that we had that many riders in our field!  Turns out we had actually only had about 30.   It had poured rain the whole way there, but somehow magically cleared up about an hour before our start and our race was completely dry.  The start of the race is very important as it goes from a wide 4 lane road into the cobblestone switchback "snake" that the whole field has to jam itself into.  So if you get stuck behind someone slow, you are in trouble--if you lose momentum you fall over.  It's not really a race where teamwork comes into play, so Sarah and I were just going to wing it.  I wasn't ready when they started the race, and I was the last one from the line.  Not good.  Sarah took off never to be seen by me again.  Going up the first time, I felt a familiar twang in my right quad.   At the track the thursday before, the twang happened during the first race.  Not so bad when it was happening but when I got of the bike it hurt so bad I cried!  I worked through it but still.... scary.  I knew that this wasn't going to be the year that I have my elusive "snake alley breakthrough" ride, so instead of killing myself to get 17th place and possibly tear a quad, I sort of just rode along at a hard (you cannot go up that hill easy) but manageable pace.  I found a couple people to ride with who would drop me on the uphill but I would catch on the downhill and we finished the race together. I ended up in 24th place.  Not great, but in my book any finish of snake alley is worth celebrating.  Sarah finished very well--in the money!

Sarah and I going up the Snake:

Melon City.  Before this year I could honestly say I hated this race.  The only reason I ever do it is because I'm stuck out there in between Snake Alley and Quad Cities.  Even if I'm in great form, I've never felt good in this race.  It's a wide course through a park that has a sweeping descent into a speed bump where you catch air, and then a "looks easy but actually is very hard" uphill, ending in a hairpin turn which puts you into the start finish stretch.  Something clicked this year.  I felt pretty good the whole race and actually did some racing.  IS Corp had about 8 riders and controlled the race.  The road was wet and it rained on us a bit but I felt great over the speedbump -first time ever! I didn't like the thought of fighting through a field sprint in the wet pavement so at about 5 to go I took a flyer.  I was solo for about 2.5 laps, and just ran out of gas too soon.  As soon as IS Corp closed the gap, there was Sarah with a counter attack!  It was awesome.   I had left everything I had out there so that was the race for me.  I was bummed to not get a result, but very happy to have felt good and to have tried something, even if it was unsuccessful.  And I may have to adjust my "hate" status of this race. Who knew?  Sarah did not feel great on the speed bump, and said she felt how I usually felt on this course.
Jason and the kids were hanging out in the beautiful park while we were racing, even if they did get a bit wet.  

Monday is Quad Cities, and I have loved this race ever since I won it as a cat 4.  It's pancake flat with 8 corners, and it's really suited to my strengths as a rider.  The race is 48 years old, and the Quad Cities Bicycle club does a great job running the race and the town makes a really big deal out of it.  If you win it, they treat you like royalty.  I was sick last year, and did not have a great race, so I was really looking forward to racing it healthy this year.  Also, due to the canceling of the Western Michigan Stage Race, they had added the Quad Cities Criterium as the midwest's qualifier for the Nature Valley Pro Chase.  This is a very cool program where they put together riders from qualifying events across the country and form a fully sponsored composite team for the Nature Valley Grand Prix Stage race in Minnesota.  This was a goal of Sarah's and all we needed to do was make sure she finished ahead of the other riders competing for this.  My number one goal of the race was to help make sure this happened for Sarah, and if I could win the race in the process, well, that would be cool too.

Turned out I felt great!  IS Corp again had about 8 strong riders and they did a great job of controlling things.  I went with most of their attacks, hoping to get one to stick, but they would shut it down if I was there.  A couple times they countered and I wasn't able to go, but nothing stuck until about 5 to go.  IS Corp went with another rider in tow, and they dangled off the front for a couple laps.  At 2 to go I decided it was looking like it was going to stick, so I made the move to bridge up.  I jumped hard, on the back stretch, got a gap, and was on my way to the 2 riders.  All was going well until I hit the corner and before I could even do my signature freakout yell, I hit the ground hard.  To me, nothing seemed amiss and I had no idea why I went down.  It made sense when Sarah told me later that she thought I hit the man hole cover.  The road was wet and that was it, I slid out.  I had some nasty road rash, but mostly I was just mad--I wanted that win!  Luckily I'd had enough of a gap that the field could react in time and nobody else went down.  What I did do was cause a disruption in the field so that the two riders were able to just maintain their gap and finish 1/2.  I was bitterly disappointed, but.... "that's bike racing".  My own disappointment was overshadowed by the fact that SARAH GOT THE PRO CHASE!!!!  It was a great experience when I did it a couple years back and I know she's going to have a fabulous time.  I'm really excited for her!!!  

Here's me nursing my road rash before taking that first painful shower.  Not the podium picture I was hoping for.  I do still love this race, and I will continue to call it my favorite.  I guess I'll just have to come back next year!

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