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!!