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, September 24, 2013

TD Bank Boston Mayor's Cup Sept 21, 2013

The race course

I've wanted to do this race since it started 5 years ago.  It's got equal prize money for the men and women which is huge!  I'd never been to Boston, the course is smack dab in the middle of downtown, and it just sounded fun.   It's expensive for me to get there but the main thing  that always held me back was that it's so late in the season and to tell the truth I'm usually burnt out and ready to be done.  This year I was feeling pretty fresh and even though I haven't felt completely on top of my game all year, I decided to pull the trigger and go. Dana Kotler, a XXX rider from Chicago had just moved to Boston for her Sports Medicine Fellowship at Harvard,  offered a place to crash for the weekend.  I'd had a pretty poor showing at Gateway Cup over Labor Day weekend and didn't want to end my season with that.

The trip could not have been easier.  It was beautiful sunny weather, and everything went really well.  Dana was super awesome and even though originally I thought she would have to work, she ended up being able to hang out the whole time and even race in the 3/4 race on Saturday.

On the bridge going back to Cambridge

The race was the final race of the year in our National Criterium Calendar (NCC), and all the usual suspects were there.  Our current NCC Champion Erica Allar, Laura Van Gilder, the Schneider sisters, Amy Cutler, to name a few.  They all had at least one teammate there to help, and the Colovita Team had a full squad of riders.  When the race started I felt great!  It was such a relief.  They were calling tons of primes and I went early for a three place prime.  I led it out from the backside to get third to Erica and LVG.  In my head I went "cha-ching there's my airline bike fee". Of course I had a lot more costs to cover so I considered going for another one but I knew I really only had one more big effort left so I saved it for the end.  In the end I moved up as best I could but it wasn't early enough.  I stayed with the front group and was passing people until the line, but my effort was a bit late and I only managed 17th place.  It was still a nice chunk of money and while I wouldn't say I was "happy" with 17th, I felt it was respectable.  The podium, predictably, was Erica, LVG and Sam.

After the race we got some dinner and walked around Harvard Square.  The next day we went for brunch and met up with Dana's friend Erich, mechanic at the Hub bike shop, who had just returned from Interbike the day before.  He ended up giving us a full biking tour of the city, which was cool for Dana too since she'd only been living there since July.

I had a great time and was really glad I went.  Another season in the books!  Looking forward to some beautiful fall rides, and of course PWP!!!!

Dana & Erich
Following Erich down Boylston St. where the Boston Marathon Finishes

Lucinda helped me both pack and reassemble my bike.  She's getting to be a pretty good mechanic!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ABR 4 Person Team Time Trial

Daphne, Lauren, me and Stacy on the top step

I love the ABR 4 person Team Time Trial.  I have a great memory of racing this race as a cat 4, on a team with a couple cat 1's.  To this day, it might be the hardest I've ever ridden!

The event is so great because you take turns pulling with a maximum of 4, but minimum of 3 riders, and covering the distance between point A and point B as fast as you can.  You have to finish with 3 riders, so if you start with 3, you must finish with 3, but if you start with 4, one rider can drop out if they are unable to keep up.  The first year I did it we only had 3, so everyone's time counted.  I rode so much harder because I didn't want to let down my teammates than if it had been just me by myself.

I had planned to race with my track teammate Stacy Mosora, and former PWP participant Daphne Karagianis.  Spidermonkey teammate Sarah was to be our 4th person, but she was sidelined with an injury.  At the track the Thursday before my Spidermonkey teammate (and PWP participant) Lauren Wissman offered to fill in.  She's had a fantastic year and had just gotten her cat 3 upgrade that day.

I'm hoping Lauren will write a few more details about her season, but wow has she come a long way from that person who showed up at PWP last winter with down tube shifters and no clipless pedals.  Daphne and Stacy and I were full of advice on what to do when/if you get dropped.....but holy cow Lauren took awesome hard pulls until the very end.  I had known about her cat 3 road upgrade, and I'd seen her race the men's 3/4 madison race at the track, but she forgot to mention that she'd raced and WON a 'cross race the day before!  Super talented, it's going to be cool to see how far she goes!

We had a great time and ended up winning the thing.  We all took strong even pulls and paced ourselves really well.  I really do love this event!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gateway Cup, St. Louis, MO Labor Day Weekend

View from the St. Louis Arch

I love Gateway Cup! It's a series of 4 crits in St. Louis over labor day weekend which marks the end or very close to the end of our road racing season. It's not NCC, but there's good prize money and usually attracts a decent field. It's always great racing and tons of fun. I've been doing these races since 2001, and back then it was my first experience placing in a women's 1/2/3 field. I heard the announcer say today that the series has been going on for 22 years!

My teammate Sarah was out for the series, so I had planned to come down with my husband Jason and the kids, but didn't want to pull them out of school on Friday since they just started. So as per usual I was scrambling in the days before trying to get it worked out. After a last minute plea on Facebook, I ended up getting a ride down from XXX racer Erik Didriksen and his family. (thank you!!!)

Jason and kids planed to drive down on Saturday, and would go to the City Museum on Sunday, and after the race on Monday we planned on hitting the arch on the way out of town.

Thursday night was the Elaine Nekritz State Championship Scratch race at Northbrook Velodrome. This is the biggest race for women all year and if you win you get your name on a cool trophy, and it's a lot of fun. Normally I wouldn't race the track the night before heading to a four crit series, but I couldn't skip this one, and I'm glad I didn't!

Elaine Nekritz Scratch Race Podium

Friday: Tour de Lafayette

I arrived at my friend/host Marsha's house around 1 and got to rest up a bit before riding over to the race. It was an easy ride over and it helped loosen up my legs which were pretty tight from the night before. I was slightly nervous about how I would feel. The Friday race goes all day but our race started at 8:15 pm, so in the dark, with the pro men following at 9:15. They bring in big lights to illuminate portions of the course, but other parts are only lit by streetlights and quite dark. The shadows are pretty scary, and add quite an exciting dimension to the race. When the race started, I felt great! Get--a-Grip Cycles, had hooked me up with some Zipp race wheels, and they were awesome! They handled really well and added a degree of confidence. I was riding quite comfortably, but there seemed to be quite a lot of sketchiness in the field. Almost immediately there was a crash which I was caught behind. In the pit, I saw some blood on the other riders. I was fine, and wanted to keep it that way! After jumping back in, it was more of the same. The dark and the shadows made it very difficult to sense where other riders were and where they were going. At one to go I was in great position. I hit the back stretch in about 4th wheel, and then a rider ahead of me had a shifting issue. She kept it together and did not go down or take anyone out but it scared me just enough to pause and get swarmed when I should have just accelerated around it. That was the defining moment. I rode hard on the finishing stretch and finished 18th. Payout went to 25 so I was ok with that, though definitely a bit disappointed. I hadn't slept much this week so I was looking forward to getting some good rest and feeling better Saturday!

Saturday: Tour de Frances Park

Two years ago at this race on the final lap I crashed and lost a tooth. It was already a fake tooth to begin with so it wasn't quite as bad as it sounds. Today was HOT. So hot. It was hot last month during the Prairie State Series and I felt great! So I was actually looking forward to it. Although waking up today with what I could no longer deny was a migraine did not bode well for a good race. I'd had a headache since Friday but had been trying ignore it. I do get migraines and on a scale of 1 to 10 this was about a 2, but it was definitely a migraine. Going into the race, my legs felt great but my head was pretty bad, and the heat did not help things. The race was a long rectangle around a park. There was a slight uphill on the start finish side and a long slight downhill on the backside. The race was fairly animated with several attacks, and I did not really do any chasing or attacking. I just tried to maintain good position and get through it. When a two rider break got away, I sat in while the field let them dangle for a while and caught them at about 3 to go. A perfectly timed counter by the Primal team stuck and got a solo rider away. On the back stretch at 2 to go another rider attacked and seemed to get a gap. I'd planned to go early, so at 1 to go on the top of the hill I went to the front and led it out. I figured I'd be ok with being in the wind on the downhill. When we turned the second to last corner we had caught one of the riders and I was staying with the surges, and in good position. But after the final corner I quickly realized I'd used up too much energy and had nothing left for the sprint. Riders went whizzing by me and I finished in 20th place. I crossed the line and then collapsed in someone's front yard. The nice family who's yard it was poured ice water on me and I believe they may have saved my life!! I wasn't particularly happy with this race but I did the best I could and any race that I finish with all my teeth is a good race.

Sunday: Giro della Montagne

Day 3 of Gateway Cup, day 3 of migraine. It wasn't the worst migraine I'd ever had, but it was there. And I still wasn't sleeping more than a couple hours/night. Woke up this morning to the dull ache, and knew that it wasn't going to go away. I tried everything I could but really the only thing that helps is riding it out until it's done. I've raced with a low level migraine before, and know that it can be done, but it's not fun. The heat really made it worse. I thought I'd be ok today since it was just a tad cooler than yesterday. The Giro della Montagne or "the Hill" as the race is referred to, is called that because it is in the Italian neighborhood called the Hill. Very fun race, all the houses surrounding the course have parties and there is quite a crowd. There is a slight actual hill in the course, but it's not really much to make an impact. The course is another long rectangle with short sides, and the finish is on the slight downhill side. I've done well here in the past and love the fun rowdy crowd. The race started and I felt ok.... until I didn't. I wasn't actually dropped, but at about 7 laps to go, I just didn't want to be there any more so I pulled out. I think it was the right decision as I felt noticeably better ever since and I still had one more day to try for a result!

Monday: Benton Park Classic

The Benton Park Classic is one of my all time favorite courses. It's a very long course with one long straight uphill side. There's a bunch of short stretches with awesome twisty corners leading to a nice downhill section which brings you to the final two corners. When taken extremely fast you have a ton of momentum for the finish line which is midway on the uphill stretch.

I'm not really a fan of the uphill but I LOVE fast corners!!! I can get a lot of speed---even when I was in second position in the field I would find myself having to brake if I didn't want to go around.

Last year I ended up on the podium just by leading it out through the corners. Given how crappy I'd felt all weekend I wasn't sure how things were going to go, but I actually slept well the night before and woke up headache free! I still had the related neck ache feeling but it was definitely over and I knew I'd be 100% in a day or two. I went into the race committed to doing my best.

The race started and I felt fine. I loved leading through the corners and hated anytime I was not in front and couldn't fly through them. About mid race they called a $200 prime. I decided my chances were better at getting that than making it through to the podium so I went for it. I got to the front before the corner sections and took them just as fast as I could. After the first one I saw that I had a gap, and that it was growing with each corner. I pedaled hard on the downhill and flew through the final two corners. I heard later that I had a decent gap but I wanted to be sure so I still sprinted as hard as I could for the line. A bit too hard in retrospect as I had nothing left when the field went by. I had known that was a possibility but since I wasn't in contention for the overall and $200 would pay for a large chunk of my expenses for the weekend I think it was the right move for the day.

Not the greatest weekend of racing that I've ever had but even with a migraine I had a fantastic time in St. Louis.  I've raced in St. Louis lots of times, but this was the first time I came down without a car, and rode to the races. What an easy, lovely city to get around in!

I guess I'll just have to come back to the Gateway Cup!!
Riding to the races