Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Some Photos from our Training Camp

Okay, sorry for the delay in the posting of these... winter holiday travel and "computer probelms" have slowed me down a bit. Mark and I are in the great white north visiting family right now... these pictures really make me miss home and my teammates!! Bill took 300 pictures so I will try and post more over the next couple of weeks.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Team Training Camp

Whew. I am tired. We had what could only be described as the best team weekend EVER this weekend. And never let it be said that we don't know how to throw a party. We threw the Christmas party of the season... I'm quite sure people will be talking about it until next year. More on that later...

So we started out the weekend at my house with Mark's famous pancakes. For those of you who have never had them, they are a MUST for any big ride day. With the weather threatening rain, we headed out quickly for our excursion into the hills and mountains of Northern Hamilton County. We did a ride that is best described as "parts unknown" and like all good rides, it involved a few dogs (thanks a ton to Mark in the follow car for the "horn action") and a dirt road. It was a good thing the rain held off until after we were past the dirt. Bill Parsons, our "team photographer", braved another day of hanging out of the back of a support vehicle driven by Mark-the-mad-man-Fasczewski to get some great shots of us. I'll post those up as soon as I get the final cut. Everyone rode strong and we lucked out on the weather. It started raining just as we pulled back into the house 5 hours later. After a quick burrito we all parted ways to go get cleaned up for the "evening festivities".

THE PARTY: Okay, we all decided as a team that we needed to do something to say "thank you" to all our sponsors, friends and family that have helped support or crazy cycling habit this year. Without them, we would not be as successfully as we are. Paula had the killer idea that we should throw a holiday party. PERFECT. Shannon volunteered her house and we all brought food. After a few "beverages" we even had our very own dance club in the downstairs complete with a strobe light. There was much dancing by everyone and we had 40+ people attend. All our guests seemed to really enjoy themselves as was proven by the LATE night. Hey, don't we have a ride planned tomorrow!!??? UGH. Did I mention we had a "kissing bandit" at the party? I'll leave it up to you to decide which Vantaggio/Specialized lady took that title for the night. I also will have photos from the party as soon as I get them off of Gina's camera.

Sunday morning was a bit slower than we had planned. It was COLD and damp outside and everyone was feeling the effects of the party. We started the morning with a long but necessary team meeting over bagels. We found out some really cool stuff like WE ARE RIDING SPECIALIZED BIKES AGAIN FOR 2008!!!!!! This made every one's weekend. We have loved our bikes so much this year and were really hoping that we'd have the opportunity to ride them again in 2008. Much of our morning was spent pouring over bike catalogs and trying out each other's bikes. We are going to go with more of the women's specific products for 2008 and we cannot wait.

After the meeting we loaded up the cars and headed toward Raccoon Mountain for some mountain bike riding. WOW IS IT COLD. Okay, for those of you who live in the great white north (hi mom and dad) it would have been a heat wave, but for us, it was by far the coldest day of the year. 34 degrees with 25 mph winds and snow flurries. Wow, makes a bunch of tired girls want to ride. We toughed it out for about an hour and a half and decided to call it a day and head to Lupis for pizza. YUM. My favorite.

Unbeknownst to me, my AWESOME teammates surprised me with a birthday cake and a gift certificate to my favorite shopping experience, Rock Creek Outfitters. I LOVE YOU GUYS. We all pigged out on chocolate cakes and went home with full bellies and a great weekend of memories.

The only thing that could have made the weekend better was if Catherine could have been there too. She was moving into her new house this weekend and could not sneak away. We missed you!!!

Thanks to everyone for reading and for all of your support. Look for those photos to be posted soon.

Finishing out the MSG Cross series in style!!!

I am FINALLY getting the hang of this cross thing. I guess even an old dog will learn a new trick every once in a while!!

We showed up to Johnson City last weekend and it was 45 degrees and spitting rain. FINALLY real cross conditions. Being the mountain biker that I am, I live for cross races that require the roadies to "handle" their bikes. I have not had too much luck with that this season, it has been a lot of dry, fast stuff out there. The slick, off camber conditions made me do a secret little "happy dance" when we got there.

The girls that race the MSG series are what I call "real" cross racers (as opposed to a wanna-be-I'll-use-it-as-training-in-the-MTB-off-season cross racer that I am...) and they were all using the race as their tune up for Nationals the next weekend. Yikes. This could be UGLY. I was pleasantly surprised with myself. I was smooth over the barriers and kicked some butt up the run up. I even passed some of the men in those areas. I NEVER pass anyone in barriers. Hmmm. Maybe I am getting better at this. I ended up third, my best result at the MSG races this year, and had a blast. The mud helped me, it was nothing compared to what I do on the mountain bike.

Now I take a little break from the cross thing for a few weeks. Things start up again in January and I am excited. Next up is the team training camp and I cannot wait to spend a weekend riding with the girls. We are also planning a killer party to thank everyone who has helped us throughout the season.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Chattanooga CX Racing

Sorry I have been a bit lax in publishing as of late. I got really sick for about two weeks (I even missed my FAVORITE trip of the year....Pisgah over Thanksgiving), it's been a struggle catching back up to life.

Once I determined that I was going to live to race another day, I started looking for an event. Lucky for me I did not have to look far. Scenic City Velo (our team's club affiliation) was hosting a cyclocross race right here in Chattanooga. GREAT!!! I am almost well (only a slight fever and congestion...) let's do it.

Shannon and I lined up in the category 1/2/3 women's field, myself still a bit weak and Shannon never really having raced cross before, with no expectations and ready to have fun. It was just like fun only different. OUCH. I was still sick, not too bad, just enough to not be fast. I finished second and Shannon took third. We were not graceful, we got in good laughs at ourselves, and have great stories to tell.

Thanks to SCV for a great race. Once again the club has gone above and beyond to put on a quality event. I can't wait for the next one!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Team Training Camp

We had our first team training camp this past weekend. WOW. We have an awesome team for 2008. Lots of talent and a whole bunch of super cool chicks. We are all so excited for next year. Everyone made it to at least part of the weekend with the highlight being 7 Vantaggio ladies and probably 20 guys pedaling out of Chattanooga right through downtown on Saturday morning. We accidentally bumped into the SCV group ride and combined forces for the first 40 minutes. FUN.

Look for pictures and all kinds of fun for our big team weekend next month.

Swank 65

The annual Swank 65 mountain bike race was the second weekend of November in Pisgah National Forest, NC. Not only is Pisgah my favorite riding anywhere around (it's gnarly, technical and steep... what more can you ask for??!!) this "race" is almost a right of passage in the Southeast. It is a 65k (42 mile) mountain bike race over the mountain of North Carolina. It is an all day affair.

Shannon, Paula and I decided that this was the year to conquer Swank. We are all doing our off season base miles right now so what better to get in a long day on the bike but 42 miles of mountain biking. I was doubly crazy and decided to get a warm-up the day before by doing a 'cross race. More on that later....

Swank started this year Le Mans style. There is nothing quite like watching a pack of mountain bikers RUN to their bikes. It wasn't just a short run either... we ran close to a half mile before we got on the bikes. I think that was the most painful part of the entire day. Paula and I were close together at the start and there was a lot of walking up the first climb with such a large pack of riders. After we got back on the bikes I settled into a pace and for the next three hours I rode with a friend of mine Sam whom I hadn't seen in a long time. Her and I motivated each other and the company made the time go by very quickly. Near the second SAG area we were told we were the 4th and 5th woman. Wow, we were just riding and chatting... maybe it was time to start racing a little. Shortly after that we got to THE descent; Farlow Gap. Farlow is one of the things that Swank is known for. It's gnarly, slippery and steep; marginally rideable at best. In fact, there are parts of it that are not rideable by anyone. My goal was to see what I could do. After riding past a bunch of guys walking their bikes (yes, I do love that) I ended up doing some walking of my own. In the process I passed the girl that was in 3rd and somehow lost Sam. Okay, I am now in third, the "training ride" has just turned back into a race. I pushed a decent tempo pace for the last 12 miles and finished 3rd. Paula had an impressive ride and brought home second place, about 8 minutes ahead of me. Shannon had a blast and finished a respectable 9th.

What a great day!! We had a blast and will definitely be back for more next year.

As a side note. I took 4th the day before at a very competitive cyclocross race in Bristol, TN. I also learned that 'cross racing is not a good warm-up for epic mountain bike racing. I am SLOWLY getting better at the 'cross thing (I actually had someone tell me I looked good out there) but I am still SLOW through the barriers. My legs were tired and SORE for the first 2.5 hours of Swank but what a great weekend. A special thanks to Cara and Andy for the use of their house Saturday night.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Jamie ROCKS at Collegiate Nationals!!!

Young Jamie went to Collegiate Nationals this past weekend and showed the world once again why she is a "rider to watch" for the future. Jamie we are SO proud to have you on our team.

This article from Cycling says it all:

“The USA Cycling U23 cross country mountain bike national champion, Chole Forsman (Tucson, Ariz./University of Arizona) was the heavy favourite entering the slightly-delayed 11:30 a.m. start of the three-lap division I women's cross country race. The Luna Chix professional rider did not disappoint, gaining speed as the race went on and riding to her second national championship win in as many years. Forsman was however faced with a pair of strong challengers in Colorado State University's Amanda Miller (Fort Collins, Colo.) and the University of Tenneseee-Chattanooga's Jamie Dinkins (Powell, Tenn.). Just behind Forsman, Miller and Dinkins gave the crowd the day's most exciting finish. Dinkins was able to ride past the running Miller on the final descent, but the CSU junior overtook Dinkins on the home stretch to earn the silver.
"She rode the downhill and I walked it because it was really muddy and I did not want to crash and take myself out of the race," explained Miller who was a last minute entry into the competition. "I am so thankful I was able to make it here. Collegiate cycling is great! It is so nice to have other women teammates to ride with and for."
Hometown favourite Carla Swart of Lees-McRae College (Buford, Ga.) and Teal Stetson-Lee of Durango, Colorado's Fort Lewis College finished fourth and fifth out of the 44 Division I women's entries. “

Sunday, October 28, 2007

12 Hours of the Hill of Truth

Even though the season ended a month and a half ago, the last race of the year for our team is the 12 hour race at Haw Ridge. We don't really have any race fitness left but it is such a fun event that we go and give it our best. In fact, at times it seems to be a big Halloween party that sort of has a bike race going on in the background. We LOVE this race.

This year was going to prove to be a BIG one. The weather was great (after a little rain scare early in the week...) and we had 2 Vantaggio teams signed up along with a couple of men's teams from Chattanooga and a solo rider. In fact, we got there early Friday and set up what could only be described as a Chattanooga "compound". There were tents, more tents, a pop-up camper, a fire pit, pumpkins, banners and of course a pinata (Sponge Bob, thanks Mark). We handily monopolized an entire corner of the field. Thanks Mark for all the planning and set up, we all really appreciated it, even if we did call you "camp dictator" all weekend...

The race ran from 11am to "last rider out" at 11pm, effectively making it a 13+ hour race. I was the first rider out for our team and Lisa was the first rider out for the other Vantaggio squad. At the firing of the cannon (yes, I said cannon...big LOUD cannon...) we were off. OUCH. I am NOT in race shape. Th first lap really hurt. A lot. Both teams rode consistent laps and the team I was on (myself, Shannon, Paula, and Emily) took the lead and never looked back.

We did have a scare a dusk; I was doing double laps and headed out with my lights on, knowing I would be finishing my second one on the dark. After lap one I headed out for a second lap and as got into it about 10 minutes I decided it was time for the lights. Hey, where are my lights? Why is it not turning on? Uh oh. This is BAD. I decided I had about 30 minutes until it was BLACK outside and there was about 40 minutes left in my lap. Okay, let's pedal like a mad woman and see what happens. I rode possessed until I was bouncing off the trees (yes, that hurts) and then I found a really nice woman that let me follow her the rest of the way out. Yikes. That was not the easiest thing I have ever done. I only lost about 5-6 minutes that lap from what my lap time should have been. I was LUCKY. We very easily could have lost the race right there.

On the other Vantaggio squad, (Star, Lisa, Gina and a friend of theirs Kim), things were a bit more exciting. On Star's first lap she had a jammed chain and lost a lot of time fixing it. Her second lap she took a wrong turn and went down a really fun descent that was NOT ON THE COURSE.... it was apparently a long hike back up. Gina had been sick all week (not just sort of sick...really "throwing up" type sick) but decided to tough it out anyway. She had a few issues with some of the trees ( I believe one grabbed her bike at one point and stole it) but even sick she did great!! They had a really good time and Star and Gina get the award for the longest night lap. they went out on the last lap together (for moral support) and 1:45 later they rolled back in laughing.

Both of our men's teams did really awesome. Mark "camp dictator" and company won the sport division. Time to upgrade guys. Next year the Open category has your name all over it.

The other team (our college boys...) got second in the open category. ( Just think how fast you guys would have been if you weren't drinking beer at 11am....) They took the whole "Halloween party" thing to a whole new level and started early. Amazingly, when they started to do well they switched from beer to Gatorade and turned back into bike racers. Ah, youth.

Paul, our solo rider, stuck it out for 11 laps and finished 5th. AWESOME job. That's 99 miles.

The Vantaggio ladies ROCKED. My team won. 14 laps in 12 hours 45 minutes. The other squad finished 4th with 10 laps in 12 hours 15 minutes. GREAT JOB GIRLS. We had a ton of fun and I am already planning for next year.

Bill was there and took a few pictures before he decided that hanging out was more fun than hiking through the woods, so look for some photos in the near future.

Thanks for a really fun weekend everyone. It is one I will remember for a long, long time.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Krystal Chicks Dirt Days

This weekend we took some time to "give back" to cycling and it was SO MUCH FUN!!!

There is a newly formed women's team in Chattanooga called the Krystal Chicks run by my friend Kelly Bishop. Her goal is to introduce women to the sport of cycling, especially mountain biking, and possibly get them out racing. As the big kick off for the team, Kelly held a women's only "dirt day" at Raccoon Mountain and asked if we could help out with instructing. We gladly agreed.

Paula spent the morning with the intermediate/advanced riders doing an on the trail ride/clinic. She did a wonderful job and they all almost missed lunch because they were having so much fun.

Lisa and I worked with the beginners mastering the basics and had a great time. We spent some time in the field learning skills and then took them to the trail for a test run. Everyone did so awesome.

In the afternoon Paula taught a class on trail side maintenance and helped empower an entire group of women. They now no longer have to rely on "boys" to get themselves out of the woods if the bike breaks.

After Paula was finished, I talked for a while on nutrition, both on and off the bike. the girls asked lots of questions and we learned a ton about how to best use our nutrition to maximize our performance.

Thanks to Kelly for asking us to particiapte in such an incredible day. There were 40 women in attendance and it was a great experience. We can't wait to do it again!!!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Cross racing is here...

The first cyclocross race of the year was this past weekend in Nashville. Now let me start by saying I am NOT a 'cross racer. I originally got my cross bike to mix up the training and hit some gravel roads on my road routes. Unfortunately for my husband (who gets dragged on many "Kym adventures") I am a competitive person and have decided that I am also going to race my pretty new Specialized S-Works Tricross (AWESOME bike....). He really is a good sport about things. Thanks Mark.

We headed to Nashville with photographer Bill and Jordan Humble (local junior road racing phenom) to try our legs at racing. Having ridden my new bike once since I got it, and having not really practiced any mounts or dismounts since last year, it was going to prove to be a challenging day. Mark and Jordan raced first and had a great time. It was a fun, dry, fast course. I raced hard, it was UGLY...I need some more practice at that "getting back on" thing, and I took second. Not bad for the first race of the season.
Great job to Jordan and Mark. you guys made it a fun trip. and special thanks to Bill for the pictures... you make us all look really fast!
Oh, and my new bike ROCKS!!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Turtle Karma

In the SE United States, turtles are everywhere; especially on the roads. The "good karma" thing to do is to stop one's bike/car and move said turtle to the other side of the road. For as long as I have been riding bikes we have been "saving" turtles. We actually have started a tally of "turtle points" to keep track of our good karma. I know, cyclists are a weird breed, but the turtles thank us.

This past week Mark and I went camping at our favorite place on this planet, Pisgah National Forest in NC. Think all day mountain bike rides on trails that are as good as it gets. On the way there Mark unavoidably "clipped" a turtle on the interstate. We were in heavy traffic and he swerved the best he could but it was not enough. We were worried. Hitting a turtle is really BAD turtle karma. Uh oh. Little did we know how quickly it would come back on Mark.

Our first ride out we made it 40 minutes and karma got him. BEE STING!! Ouch. it was a big wasp too. After a painful ride back and a good dose of benadryl we figured that karma had gotten him back for the turtle. Nope. It was just getting warmed up. Two days later he got into not one but TWO nests of yellow jackets for a total of five more stings. That must have been one important turtle because karma was really getting him. Of course it didn't help that I was first on the trail and kept stirring up the yellow jackets in time for him to feel the wrath.

The moral of the story: don't hit turtles. Or maybe just don't be the second guy on the trail.

Specialized Demo Day

Saturday was "demo day" here in Chattanooga. Wiley from Specialized Bikes was here with the demo trailer and the whole team went out to support the event and ride some kick butt bikes. The favorite bike of the day was the women's specific road bike "Ruby". Lisa and Star are in LOVE. I think our team road bikes next year have been chosen. Gina fell in love with full suspension in the form of the "Epic" and Paula was drooling over the "Stumpjumper 29er" hardtail mountain bike. It was a great day for us to really get to know all the bikes Specialized makes, not just the ones we've been racing all year. And what better excuse to spend all day out on bikes!!

Thanks to Wiley for a great day. He was AWESOME.... next time I'll get a picture of that trailer on the NARROW road over the dam.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Team Time Trial and Criterium

We did it!!! We lived through the Team TT and even looked darn good while doing it. Star, Lisa, Gina and I took second by four seconds (OUCH!!) but in the end, we accomplished all of our goals and had a great weekend.

It was COLD when we got to the race at 7:30am on Sunday... I guess fall arrived sometime in the middle of the night Saturday, the car said 48 degrees. We shivered through a warm up (which included a 15 minute "huddle" in the bathroom for warmth) and rolled up to the line with a plan. I think we were all nervous but excited With 15 seconds until they said "go" Lisa dropped her chain!!! Talk about nerves... we got it on with a couple of seconds to spare and we were off. The goal was to work together flawlessly and ride a smooth race... winning would be a bonus. We rode a great was a success on all counts. The only HUGE bummer was that we took second by four seconds. FOUR SECONDS!!!

After a long lunch we suited up for a second time that day for the crit. The course was really SKETCHY and we were all a bit nervous and tired. Once they said "go" we were too focused to worry about it. It was fast and our legs were TIRED. Gina and I worked hard early and dropped the majority of the field. After a hard fought battle at the finish line I took second and Gina was third. I made an unfortunate call on where to start my sprint... a little too late. I ran out of real estate but 2nd and 3rd is still not all bad. The girl that won didn't do the time trial that morning so she was fresh and it showed. Lisa and Star got 8th and 9th, great job guys!!! Crit racing is an art that they are both still learning so it was a huge success.

All in all it was a great weekend. We learned a ton about racing together as a TEAM and what each of our riding styles bring to things. It was an awesome way to get a jump on 2008 and we had a blast doing it.

Gina, what category are you again???

Thanks for reading....

Monday, September 17, 2007

What we REALLY do on race weekend....

I was going through more photos today, now that race season is over and I am home a little more, and I found this one from Vermont at the National Championships.
As you can see, when we are left to our own defenses anything can happen. In the spirit of being good athletes, we are HUGE fans of the "ice bath" (yes, it is as miserable as it sounds, but it is SO good for recovery) and while traveling we sometimes have to get creative. The condo we stayed at up there had a really scenic ICE COLD mountain stream running behind it. With winter clothing and bathing suits on we headed out there every afternoon for our "recovery time". Yes, we got some mighty strange looks and eventually decided that we did in fact look a bit silly and should document it on film.
From left: Kym, Shannon, Margaret (we miss you...) and Jamie. Love those tan lines!!!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Team TT Practice

This weekend we have a Team Time Trial in Knoxville. I figured this would be a GREAT team building experience for our newly added road team. With this being said, the weekend is fast approaching and we needed to get out and practice together. Wednesday was the day and it was a perfect day for it.

Star, Gina, Lisa and I met up and rolled out up over Suck Creek Mountain and into the valley for some rolling to flat riding. Mark got to drive the support vehicle and fill the team director role, radios and all. It was so much easier to get us dialed in with someone else talking us through the good and bad of what we were doing. After about an hour and a half in Sequatchie Valley we were really impressed with ourselves. We were moving along as one and it was a BLAST!! Sunday is going to be really fun...and if we are lucky, we'll have good results too.

The added treat of the whole day was Bill Parsons, our "team photographer", taking time out of his busy day to hang out of the back of the car to shoot the whole thing. We have an entire disc of great pictures of our success. And Mark only tried to dump him out the hatch a couple of times....

Monday, September 10, 2007

Lock 4

The season is officially over but I cannot seem to stop racing. For the first time since I started down this career path, I am not ready for a break. On the contrary, I am LOOKING for more. Not that I really have any race fitness right now, but I am still loving getting out there, much to the dismay of the poor soul that I keep convincing to go with me, namely my wonderfully understanding husband.

The TBRA calendar has a couple of late season races still left and I am THERE! Mark's response was "alright, if we have to". So, we loaded up the car and headed to Gallatin, TN to the Lock 4 mountain bike race. This trail is always really fun and fast; a virtual roller coaster through the trees. As we got closer to the race, Mark looks at me and says "does that look like rain?" RAIN?? No, couldn't be...we haven't had rain in MONTHS. This has been the driest summer in something like 75 years. In fact, we had just pulled all of our rain gear out of our bags and put it away. Yes, it was rain. It started as we pulled into the park and was pouring by the time Mark started. Hmmmm, I think I'll wait in the car until my race. (That went over well...) Judging from the appearance of the racers, it was going to be a muddy day. I hate what mud does to my bike but I am good at riding in it so I was almost excited about it. Mark was not. He suffered through and had a decent day but was none too happy about it.

About 30 minutes before my start, the skies parted and the rain went away. They said "go" and it was muddy for the first lap but after that it ended up being dry and fast. I had a long week of training in my legs (I am already doing base for next year) so I started hard but backed off quickly to a nice tempo pace and had a blast. And to top it off, I WON. With weekends like this it is hard to hang up the race numbers for the winter.

Thanks for reading...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

2008 Team Announcement

We are excited to announce that the official 2008 Vantaggio/Specialized team roster has been finalized. For next year we are adding a regional road team to help accent our already dominant pro mountain bike squad.

Pro Mountain Bike Team:

Kimberly Flynn, Chattanooga, TN
Paula Burks, Red Bank, TN
Shannon Mathis Morrison, Chattanooga, TN
Jamie Dinkins, Powell, TN
Emily Parker, Knoxville, TN (developmental rider)

Regional Road Team:

Gina Tolbert, Cleveland, TN
Star Affolter, Ooltewah, TN
Catherine Peacock, Athens, GA
Lisa Thompson, Chattanooga, TN

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Couple of Photos from Booker T...

Okay, here are a few shots from the Booker T race this past weekend.

Kym having way too much fun while sporting the Tennessee State Champion Jersey...

Gina looking really intense (she swears it's a look of shear terror...).

Shannon looking really HOT.

Photos by Eric Grau

Monday, August 20, 2007

Booker T Washington State Park MTB race, Chattanooga

It's HOT. The season has been long and we are all a bit tired. With all that being said, our local supporting club, Scenic City Velo, was hosting a mountain bike race this weekend at one of our state parks. Shannon, Gina and I were planning to go out and represent for the team. Jamie is still out West and Paula kicked butt the day before at the Fools Gold 50 in GA. (check out her race report)

In spite of my dread of the heat (we've been hitting record highs all week...not ideal temperatures for bike racing), I was excited to race in front of the hometown crowd. It's funny, I rarely get nervous about races; I've learned over the years that there is always "another race" and "everyone has good days and bad days" so the nerves are usually just not there. Don't get me wrong, I race to win; but I love racing my bike so regardless, I am doing what I love. I couldn't even sleep the night before the race. What is wrong with me?? I think I am nervous!! Why??!! I haven't raced a mountain bike in front of a hometown crowd in a number of years and I WANTED to win. Really. These are the people that hear of our travels and help support us, I wanted to give back.

The start time got pushed back by an hour so I was warmed up and cooled down again by the time we went. It was a pavement climb for the start and my legs were not happy. Hmmm... I'll just make them go. I was third up the pavement and quickly took the lead before we dove into the trail. EVERYONE was cheering for Shannon and I. I put my head down and went harder. Wow it's HOT. I looked back after the first 5 minutes and there was NOBODY behind me. Good sign.... pedal harder. By the second lap I was passing some of the men that had started in front of us. I KNOW this trail and it was really helping. Two hours and four minutes later a rolled across the finish line victorious. I WON! Not only did I win, I won by 14 minutes. Shannon took 3rd after her asthma gave her some fits for two of her four laps. She dug hard on the last lap and really showed why she's a pro. It's tough to finish a miserable race when you are feeling poorly. Good job Shannon.

As a special treat, Gina lined up on the dirt in a Vantaggio/Specialized team kit. It took some convincing ("But I am a road racer, I'll embarrass you guys... I can't wear the team jersey on the mountain bike...") we got her into the team kit and on the starting line of the sport race. She was riding in a CLOSE second place all day. Near the end of the race her chain dropped behind her cassette and she lost a few minutes and one place while fixing it. Third place is still not too shabby for our roadie's dirt debut in the team kit. Great job Gina, it was fun to have you out there.

Thanks to SCV for putting on a great race. The volunteers they had and the support we got was unrivaled this year. You guys are great! Even with the heat it will be remembered as one of my favorite events this year.

Thanks for reading...

Fools Gold 50 Dahlonega GA

Race report by Paula Burks

The Fools Gold 50/100 is the first 100 mile race in GA. Set in the mountains of north Georgia near Dahlonega it promised to be fun and challenging in its inaugural year. With the race course being set up as a 50 mile loop of mixed jeep roads, double track and single track and 8000 plus feet of climbing I knew I was in for a long day. Due to my lack of preparation and will power I decided to opt for the 50 mile race. This was the right choice for sure especially after talking with those who set up the course. They were predicting 5-6 hours in the saddle for the “fast” riders.

The 50 mile race started at 7 am with about 100 participants ( mostly men with a handful of female riders). The first 15 miles of the race were on a jeep road with a long steady climb followed by a treacherous descent with water bars rattling your teeth and arms. After that the race combined sweet single track sections with heavily used equestrian / bike double track interspersed with short gravel road connectors. There were bobsled style descents with granny gear grunts as well as several spirit lifting creek crossings. The aid stations were fairly well stocked and the volunteers were friendly and encouraging.

The winner of the open men did it in 5:01 and I made just under the 6 hour mark at 5:57 to take the open women’s category.

Hats off to the 100 milers who were still riding when I left with a predicted time of around 10 hours for the open men and 10:45 for the women. You guys are sick!
All in all it was a very challenging event and should prove to be one for next year’s calendar (just maybe not in the middle of August).

Editor's Note: Paula you ROCK!! We are so proud of you...Congrats!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Welcome Emily to the 2008 team!!!

One of the biggest goals of our team is to help develop young female talent. With that in mind, I'd like to welcome Emily Parker to our 2008 team. She will be racing with us as a developmental rider next year. Emily spent the 2007 season DOMINATING the SERC series in the sport women's field. This fact is even more impressive considering Emily is 15 years old. She had no junior women's competition so she opted to race against the adults. For 2008 she'll be racing in the senior expert women's field and we know she'll continue to let her talents shine!! To top it all off, Emily is really fun chick and we all love hanging out with her (even if it does make me feel a tad bit old...).

Welcome, it is going to be a fun year!!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Short Track and the "Journey" Home

For the past two years, due mostly to my own obsessive nature, I am "mom" and travel planner for the team. Yes, it is also part of the team manager's job but sometimes it gets tiring. When Jamie and I first started talking about the trip to Snowmass, she volunteered to get us a ride between Denver and Aspen. Jamie has friends and relatives in the greater Denver area and I decided that it was time for me to let loose a bit and go with the "Jamie plan". So when we land in Denver, Jamie starts talking about how much fun she is going to have hiking, biking and riding in Aspen after the race is over next week....

"Um Jamie, How am I getting back to the airport??"

She looks at me with a confused stare and says "You have a shuttle right??"

"Yes, from the hotel next to the airport in DENVER."

"Huh. Well we weren't going to go back to Denver...."

After giving my wonderful teammate all kinds of grief all weekend, (to her credit, she offered to change her plans once she realized the mistake she had made and worked tirelessly to find me a ride), I begged a ride off of some of our friends, Rob and Philicia Marion, from NC. They were awesome to give a stranded bike racer a ride, the only hitch is that Rob was on the final podiums for the weekend so by the time we packed up (they were driving back to the Southeast) it was LATE. I'm going on four hours of sleep but I am home. And Jamie will NOT be planning my travel anytime soon....


Ouch. That pretty much sums it up. It was a long course; over three minutes per lap instead of the usual one and a half to two. It went straight up for about three minutes and down for 20 seconds. I really just wanted to cry after seeing the course but since there is no crying in bike racing, I lined up and hoped for the best.

There was a huge crash right at the start. I got around it but Jamie got caught up in it. Fortunately, she wasn't hurt, just slowed down. I did my best to breath and not pass out up the first climb.... Jamie came FLYING past me. Wow, I hope she can hold that. I started to pick people off as they started blowing up and I was having a decent race!!! At altitude!! Uh oh, I am now catching Jamie. I think she just learned a painful lesson about altitude racing. We eventually both got pulled. I finished 31st and she was around 38th. It was a great way to end the weekend. Not either of our best performances, but we held our own even without being able to breath.

A special thanks to Josh for the hospitality and ride to Snowmass and to Rob and Philicia for the ride back to Denver!!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hello from Snowmass

Jamie and I are in Colorado right now at the National Series finals in Snowmass. Let me just start by pointing out that we live at sea level. There is no oxygen here. At all. On the bright side of things, the trails are phenomenal!! Some of the best we've raced all year. So what if the course starts with an hour long climb that goes up above 10,000ft....

We raced the XC today and it was epic. My theory going in was this: "If I am not going to be fast I am definitely going to have fun". I had a blast!! Definitely not the best result of my season but this sea-level-asthmatic from TN never has her best race of the year at altitude anyway. I started and finished with a smile ( okay, there were a couple of sections in the middle where it slipped to a mere grin...). Jamie dug hard and did her best against the altitude and a really strong women's field. She did great. We are all so proud of the accomplishments she's had this season. She finished the national series ranked 4th in the U23 women's category.

It's 9pm and I need to get some sleep before the short track tomorrow. Look for more updates, along with the ins and outs of letting Jamie plan ANY logistics for travel, in the near future.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Latest fun

I hope you are all doing well… Another couple of great weekends of racing have passed. We raced the NORBA National weekend at Sugar Mountain, NC and this past weekend we raced the State Championship road race in TN.

Sugar was another muddy mess. We drove through storms to get there and the roads were still soaked when we pulled in for the pre-ride. UGH. The course was a version of the old AMBC race course that I used to love to race so I was excited about being back there. The descent was different than in the past…even more technical and really muddy and slick. Oh well, let’s just hold on a hope for the best. The pro cross country was fast and tough… I struggled a bit in the beginning but descended really well and took back a number of places before the finish. Jamie tore it up and was the 3rd U23 woman in the field, Paula was not too far behind. We took 28th (Jamie), 31st (Paula) and 41st (me). Shannon lined up for what proved to be a DOMINATING performance in the expert women’s field… she won convincingly. With that win under her belt she has now OFFICIALLY upgraded to a pro. Congrats to Shannon!! Jamie and I raced the Short Track on Sunday and held our own on a really steep course.

This past weekend it was time to head out on the road bikes. We have not raced as much on the road this season as in the past due to mountain bike scheduling conflicts so we are all anxious for the fall road season to get going. The TN state championship road race (as well as a TT and Crit…not state championships) was this weekend. For 2008 we are adding 3 girls to focus on the road and one of them, Gina, made this her debut weekend with the team. Shannon, Gina and I lined up against a 20 woman field to race for the state champion jersey. It was a hard fought battle and it was HOT. Record highs this weekend and while we were out there it was 99 and HUMID. The heat got Shannon about half way through the race and she sat up. Unfortunately, she then took two wrong turns, saved a turtle, found a dollar and bummed a coke off of a stranger. You have got to love that girl!!! She crossed the finish line (eventually…) smiling; after all, she did save a turtle. Gina and I ended up in the winning break of five riders and it came down to a sprint…. I WON!!!! I am the 2007 TN state road race champion. Not bad for a mountain biker. Gina took 4th. Shannon and I opted out of the time trial but Gina took 4th there as well.

The next day was a miserable crit. For some reason, every time I seem to pick a road race weekend it is the same parking lot crit in Nashville (they run this course about 5 times a year…). Think newly paved BLACK parking lot, record highs (101 officially…the car read 108) and racing at 11:15am. Shannon left for a week in Cost Rica on Sunday morning so Gina and I were left to carry the torch. We wired us on the race radios with Mark on the other end telling us what to do and we had a plan. There was one really strong girl that we noticed at the road race that was in visiting from California… she was the main threat. The plan was for me to keep attacking until I got away and for Gina to stick to Kelly’s (the CA girl) wheel; forcing her to chase me and pull Gina up. After about 1 ½ laps in, I attacked expecting the games to begin. No one went after me. Hmmm… I am now out front, alone with 36 minutes left in a HOT parking lot crit. This MIGHT have been a bad move. I kept pedaling. 10 minutes in, this is alright…. I can do this. Kelly is now charging hard and Gina is sitting on her wheel. I have 28 seconds on them. 15 minutes in, this is starting to hurt…I can still do this…. The gap is down to 20 seconds. 20 minute in, okay, this where the short track ends… I am not sure if I have 20 more minutes in me…keep pedaling. 15 seconds on them. 30 minutes in, THERE IS NO WAY I CAN DO THIS FOR 10 MORE MINUTES!!!! The gap is now at 10 seconds and I am dying right here in this stupid parking lot. 35 minutes in, tunnel vision….I am going to puke. Keep pedaling. 6 seconds. 2 laps to go….the gap is 5 seconds…. I can’t see, I can’t pedal, I am now using my ENTIRE body to propel the bike forward… 1 lap to go… I no longer remember what a bicycle is, what my name is or where I live. I am quite sure I am going to puke. Sprint to the line… I WON!!!! Gina out sprinted Kelly for second. Our plan worked beautifully. Gina took second overall for the weekend (I did not do the time trial so I was not scored in the Omnium). I did have to be helped off the bike at the finish line.

Jamie went to NC to race the NRC crit. She is a very new, yet extremely talented rider. The Jamie quote of the weekend was: “There were all the big pro teams there…it was really fast!!!” Jamie, what did you think a NRC crit was going to bring out??? She did great and lasted until 2 laps to go before being pulled. Not bad for her debut at the NRC level.

Now it's time to head out to Snowmass in Aspen, CO, for the NORBA National Series finals. Racing that high up is going to hurt, but it is a beautful place to race. I'll give you an update from there...

Thanks for everyone's support!!