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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

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Prairie State Series July 12-21



The Meshberg Family hanging out with our good friend Sarah Demerly, who came in from Michigan to race the series

SO so so excited to have a race series IN MY HOMETOWN.   Yes we have cool individual races in Chicago, and sometimes even two days in a row, but this is the first time I've had a whole series so close to home!

The series consisted of 7 races total, 6 crits and 1 road race.  The first 3 days were not NCC, and the last 4 were.  What does that mean?  NCC is our National Criterium Calendar  so they would be heavily attended and highly contested.  The first 3 days would be mostly local riders with maybe a couple of out of towners.  Hopefully this will change in the future when word gets out about how awesome this series is and we can have big fields for the whole thing.  But for this year we weren't expecting the huge fields until the NCC races.

I've been targeting this series  ever since I found out about it and I wanted to win the overall.  Given the weird year I've been having I really did not know what to expect going into it.  My focus was to do the best I could and treat each day individually.  Sarah had committed to coming to as many of the races as she could, so finally we'd get some racing together.

Kenosha
I love this race!  I've done this course many times when it was part of Superweek, and I love it.   My oldest friend lives and works very near to the course, so she always comes and watches, and we get to hang out afterwards, so a good time is always associated with this race.  Being the first race in the series and not NCC, we had a very small field.  Sarah was sidelined with the stomach flu so I went solo.  Our field consisted of a bunch of individual riders going against the Schneider sisters, local riders who ride for Tibco, one on the pro team, and one on the devo team.  After an early break of three which included 15 year old Skylar Schneider (who ended up winning) lapped the field, Vanderkitten attacked and no one chased.  Then I attacked and no one chased.  I finished off the front in 5th place.  Given the circumstances, I was ok with that.
Going against Sam Schneider for a Prime 
Crystal Lake
Same small field, though today I had my teammate Sarah.  The race started just fine but soon I started to struggle.  Turns out I had broken a spoke and my wheel had gone out of true and was smashing against my brake.  I never heard a popping noise so I had no idea what was happening.  I finally went to the pit because I just couldn't ride any more, I didn't think I would get a free lap, but I didn't know what else to do.  When they saw the shape of my wheel I was given the ok to be put back in the field.  Unfortunately while all this was going on a break had gotten away.  I tried to talk my way into being put back into the break, but since it had been established while I was out of commission, it was back to the field for me.  The first lap back in they called a prime.  I went for it, got it, and then was done.  I'm not sure how much energy I expended riding around for the first half of the race on a broken wheel, and I don't think going all out for a prime was the smartest move.  I was majorly bummed.  Sarah rode well in the field and finished strong.

Sharon RR
The drive to Sharon, which is just across the WI border very near Lake Geneva, was beautiful.  The course was flat and we were supposed to do 4 laps but was shortened to 3, for a total of about 33 miles.  It was very hot, and I felt pretty good.  Mostly local gals, we had a couple strong new to the series riders, including our National Criterium Champion Theresa Cliff-Ryan.  Sarah said later she was affected by the heat, but she rode well and I couldn't tell.  The race had a couple of attacks, but nothing stuck, and we entered the final 3k altogether.  I found myself in good position at 3k to go, and was planning on going for it, at the clearly marked 1k to go sign.   But then the follow moto ref pulled up next to me.  He had done this several times during the race and had actually mingled with the field during several corners and at one point caused a separation that had to be chased down.  I asked him to please give me some space, and he said no, and I let myself get distracted.  He made me very nervous and I had no idea what he was going to do so I slowed down.  He finally backed off at 500 meters.  Then when I finally sprinted I heard terrible crunching noises coming from my bike!  I finished 5th and Sarah was 6th. I was not happy with this result.  I did make an official complaint regarding the ref and as far as my bike, I had no idea what was going on.

Beverly (Chicago)
Very excited to race this course which has always been a part of the now defunct Superweek series in the past, but only for the men.  Thanks Prairie State for having women there for the first time ever.  This was the first of the NCC races, so there would be a bigger field with lots of strong teams there.  On the way to the race, my car thermometer said 100 degrees.  The hottest race of the year.   Warming up, whenever I put any pressure on the pedals, I heard the terrible noises coming from my bike.  So I went to Sram NRS and asked Jose to take a look.  Sure enough my wheel was trashed.  So he lent me a Sram wheel and I was good to go.  The course is in the beautiful south side Beverly neighborhood and we got to ride by gorgeous homes and beautiful streets.  Sarah's husband Eric grew up very near the course and family friends had a party on the course.  They cheered for us every lap. My friend (and PWP participant) Cathy was also racing and had a huge family contingent out cheering for her and I swear they cheered just as loudly for me too.  There were also tons of other friends and PWP participants scattered throughout the course.  It was really fun.  When we got into the race, I could tell that the heat was having an effect on people, but I felt great!  I was able to move around easily and go wherever I wanted. On the third lap I heard a crash, looked back and was so bummed to see it was Sarah.  She got back in the race but ended up dropping out due to the heat.   There were lots of primes in this race, including one donated by PWP's Jen Welch, who grew up on the course and is a big supporter of the race.  Thanks Jen!!  The course was super cool with a slight up hill and then two semi sharp, fast downhill corners into the finish.  I knew the winner needed to be first into the downhill.  At one to go I was in perfect position, about 4th wheel.   Kelly Fisher-Goodwin from Fearless Femme had gone for a late prime, gotten a gap and held it.  The field was content to race for second.  On the back stretch I attacked and got a gap.  I'm sure part of it was not having the strength, but I think mostly it was lack of guts but I chickened out and slowed so I got passed right before the first sharp downhill corner.  I'm not sure how many riders got in front of me before I was able to get in line, but I was still in good position when in the final corner the two riders ahead of me crashed!  I had to dramatically slow, but stayed upright and was able to finish in 14th place.  I was very happy with this result! Teresa Cliff-Ryan won the field sprint so the Fearless Femme team went 1-2.

Elmhurst
Another 100 degree day, I was nervous about bringing the kids, but this was the only option for the day.  My good friend and PWP participant Mary Roe had offered to watch them for me during the race.  This is not the first time Mary has hung out with the kids while I raced.  They have a lot of fun with her and there is usually ice cream involved.  Racing would simply not be possible without help like this.  So a great big thank you to Mary!  Sarah wasn't able to get to this race, so once again I was solo.  I wasn't going to be able to get new wheels before the end of the series so Sram let me use theirs for the rest of the series, which made the difference between racing or not racing so another big thank you to Sram.    I felt great the whole race where once again I could tell the heat was really getting to people.  It came down to a field sprint and I was a little hesitant to fight for position, (as I write this I'm sensing a theme here...) but I sprinted for 14th and felt good about it.  Laura Van Gilder won today.
My two kids hanging out with our good friends the Kittle's who live in Elmhurst and came out to watch the racing

Lake Bluff
After two positive races in a row with no mechanicals or weird issues, I was looking forward to Lake Bluff.  Sarah would be there, and I had raced this course last year and finished well.  I knew that it was a tough course.  It's a great break away course because it's very narrow with tight corners with the only  wide part being the very long start/finish stretch which was slightly uphill.  Every time through that long section felt like the finishing sprint to me, and I never felt like I was in good position.  Also a factor, after the last couple 100 degree races today it was a chilly 86. All those people who had been affected by the heat were feeling much better so I think that was a factor for me.  Not sure when it happened but I sadly found myself off the back.  Sarah was there too and we started taking hard pulls and after a couple of laps we actually caught back on. Sarah was able to stay connected but I was almost immediately dropped, and stayed dropped this time.  My only solace was that I wasn't the first to go and I finished 23rd on the day though it really didn't make me feel much better and I earned no points.  Erica Allar took the win out of a break of 6.

St. Charles
I was determined to end this series on a positive note.  The race was also our state championship race which meant that the title and a championship jersey would be awarded to the first rider from Illinois across the line.  It's always a fun thing to win, so I was going for it.  The course was 4 corners of wide open road.  The race seemed very slow, for which I was grateful.  There were a couple of attacks including a good one by Sarah.  I was in front and could block, and she held it for almost two laps.  When they caught her, it was on a prime lap, and she saw that I was near so after being solo for two laps she led me out for it!  Unfortunately Pepper Palace was on my wheel and it turned out to be a better lead out for her.  While I didn't get the prime,  it did establish a break of four. Unfortunately we did not have Pepper Palace's sprinter with us, so we weren't cohesive.  It got exciting for a moment when the race leaders bridged up, and we had our original four along with Theresa Cliff-Ryan, Erica Allar, and Laura Van Gilder.  But it didn't stick, and soon we were reabsorbed.  In the final lap I was in great position and got around the final corner with the leaders.  I was able to avoid some mayhem and I didn't stick around to find out, but I believe a rider may have gone down.  Due to the mayhem I didn't have a good wheel to the line but I sprinted and finished 10th!  Sarah finished right behind me in 12th, and I was the second Illinois rider to cross the line.  My former teammate Jessi Prinner finished ahead of me.  Jessi's still an Illinois resident and a great sprinter in her own right, but she's now a professional who rides in support of Erica Allar, the current NCC leader.  Erica won the race which meant Jessi had done her job for the day.  For the series I ended up 6th overall.  Not exactly the result I was hoping for though  I was very happy to end the series on a positive note, and that the series got great feedback and looks like it will be back next year bigger and better.
Illinois State Criterium Champion Podium l-r Me  and Jessi Prinner

Monday, July 15, 2013

Homewood Downtown Classic, July 7, 2013

This was a fun local race very near to my house.  Coming from racing National level events, it can be fun to jump in a local race and feel strong!  It can also be frustrating because nobody wants to work with you, so it usually ends up being a slow negative race with a big sprint at the end, unless you can go solo.  I got to race with my cat 4 teammates, and Chicago PWP participants,  Kelly Clarke and Lauren Wissman.  They had raced earlier in the day and jumped in the open race as well.  I was super impressed with their riding and it's really cool we have some up and comers on our team.

When the race started, it was immediately apparent that my cleat was loose.   I tried to ignore it because there was nothing I could do about it and luckily it stayed connected and wasn't anything other than an annoyance.

At one point, Lauren got off the front with Stacy Mosora, a great time trialist and my teammate on the track-- I was really hoping that their move would stick! It was chased down and I tried a few attacks, but nothing stuck.

I was able to snag most of the primes, but came up a couple inches short in the final sprint.  Bummer!  I did get to have some fun harassing the poor podium boy.  Everyone knows I just want equality in men's and women's cycling!


Up next:  Prairie State Series!!!

Tour of America's Dairyland (TOAD) June 20-30

TOAD was a 11 days this year, mostly crits with a few road races snuck in, and the first 4 days were on the National Criterium Calendar.  Sarah had been up at Nature Valley, so she wouldn't be racing.  Because I wanted to focus on the upcoming Prairie State Cycling Series, I only did 6 of the races.  The first 4 because they were NCC, and then the last two because they were on the weekend.

For the first part, the kids and I went up and stayed with our family in Gurnee, and the kids got to hang out with their cousins while I drove up to Wisconsin every day to race.  There were huge fields and big teams every day and the racing was fast!!  I felt decent, but every day there would be a big surge at 5 to go, and I would either be gapped, or so gassed from closing gaps of other riders getting gapped that I was not able to get near the sprint, but  I avoided all crashes and finished all the races.                          
                                                                                 at the line with Australian champion Kimberly Wells

not always on the back!! :)


After that we went home for the week and went back for the final two races, Downer Ave and East Tosa, both in Milwaukee.  Downer Ave is a really fun race, and there was a $1000 mid race prime for the women.  At this point most of the huge teams had left due to the races not being NCC.  Sam Schneider and Laura Van Gilder were very close in the overall.   This can be a good situation for someone who is not high in the standings to go off the front, so my plan was to attack after the prime and try to get a break going.  I knew Alison Tetrick of Exergy, was thinking the same thing.  She's a very strong time trialist and had shown up for the last couple races of the series, and won the day before.   She went a couple times during the race, and I was on it!  I really wasn't able to help much, so she shut it down each time.  When $1000 prime happened late in the race, she went for it, got it, and kept going!  On the next lap I attacked, got off the front, and chased for about 2 laps before I burned out at about 5 to go.  I was bummed, but felt good that I had gone in with a plan and tried to execute it.  

That night we stayed with my cousin Patti and her husband.  So fun!  We had a lovely time and the next day went to the beach.  Something I'd never really done in Milwaukee before.  The beaches there are absolutely lovely.  It was a bit cool for swimming, so we didn't bring the kids' suits, but that didn't seem to matter to them.  


The next and final day was in Wauwatosa.  This was a square course with a slight downhill and the uphill was on the s/f stretch.  The race felt fast, and I never could get into a groove.  Late in the race I was able to move up and go for a prime, didn't get it, and it burned enough matches to finish the last two laps otb, once again, with no $.   Not exactly how I wanted to end my TOAD experience.  But it was great to see old friends, and make new ones, and get to stay and hang out with great family! 

My arm is now totally healed, but I'm trying to keep the sun off of it in hopes of not getting a scar. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Glencoe Grand Prix June 1, 2013



I've said it before and I'll say it again:  Bike racing is hard.  This year has been tough for me as I feel like I'm in decent shape but just can't seem to get it together.  I haven't been able to find that momentum.  After my crash the previous week, my arm and side were still pretty raw going into Glencoe.   Glencoe is one of my favorite races, a huge race that is in my hometown, has promoters who have demonstrated support and interest in growing women's cycling, so sitting this one out was not an option.  

When I arrived at the race, the women 3/4 were starting so I got to watch some of it.  They did a couple laps when the course was neutralized due to a bad crash on the sharp downhill corner, and the rider needed an ambulance.  They restarted and a couple laps later they neutralized again for another bad crash.  After a long delay, they cancelled the race--the first time I've ever seen this happen.  

When it was time to start our race, there were still issues, so our start was delayed for almost an hour.  While we were waiting the sky looked more and more ominous and when we finally started racing, it started to rain, harder, then harder, and finally it was raining so hard, there was a small flash flood in the downhill corner and caused about a foot of standing water.  The rain was coming down so hard on my uncovered (duh) raw arm, and while I didn't think I felt scared, I found myself giving up and not hanging on and was welcomed into the Spidermonkey tent full of friends.  I got a finishing place of 34th out of about 60 riders. I was very disappointed.  After the race I was freezing, so I put on a coat, which promptly stuck to my raw arm and had to be peeled off.  I was not happy.   On the other hand, my teammate Sarah did really well and got in this picture which accurately depicts the conditions:



The two riders that went down in the 3/4 race were both friends of mine.  One was not seriously injured but the other friend, a PWP participant, was very seriously injured.  She is healing well though has a long road ahead of her.  

And to end on a positive note, here is my son Sidney cheering for some racers in an earlier race:
Pre photoshop


Post Photoshop.  Braveheart!


I guess my kids have gone to a few bike races in their lives. They've got that cheering thing down.