Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Our new bikes came in this week. THEY ARE AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!! Specialized has once again out done themselves in designing amazing and wonderful women's bikes.

Helen and I went to Bear Creek Bikes last night and Shane was GREAT in helping us get some of the bikes built. Thanks a ton.

My new Ruby Pro SRAM weighs in at a "hefty" 15.4 pounds.... I have no excuses if I can't go uphill. That bike ROCKS. My Era is still being built (I'm changing out some components) so I should be able to pick her up in a week. Helen determined that she (my Era) looks like a dark chocolate candy dessert. Yum.

It is pouring outside today so tomorrow will be the virgin ride on the new Ruby. I can't wait.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Busy week with friends and racing...

Okay, I have been slacking a bit in my updates but I have an excuse. We've had our friend Margaret in town from NY and we've been busy riding and racing. I love to entertain and I've been completely caught up with it. So, what have we been doing??? WINNING RACES!!!

Two weekends ago we went to Columbia TN for the two cross races that they were putting on. It was brutally cold on Saturday and we bundled Helen up in everything she owns to keep her warm while racing. It worked, she raced really well in her first ever cyclocross race (on her old mountain bike!!) and took third. To top it off she got the full "cross experience" by pushing herself so hard that I thought we were going to revisit lunch and one point. My warm-up for the race was riding next to the course and cheering for Helen. Apparently she was good luck. I rode extremely well and won my race, making a number of the boys work to stay away from "the girl". I'm not going to lie, I do like that...

Sunday Helen had school work to attend to but instead we got Star out there with us. It was another exciting race with the ladies all trading places the whole race. Star eventually ended up third after closing her eyes on the last lap and riding a bit off course. Hnmmmmm... I guess we need to work on that!!! Great race girl.

I again rode really well. They started us with the Masters Men and the Category 3 men and I rode myself into 4th overall in the race. I won the women's Category 1/2/3 race. I think I have found my sport. I LOVE cyclocross!!!

The weather last week was a bit challenging. We tease Margaret that whenever she comes to visit she seems to bring winter with her. It was cold, wet and we even got some snow. Well, a little snow has never stopped this Wisconsin girl before.... we rode anyway. All was going well until we got on top of the mountain, rode through the gravel section (did I mention that my road rides are sometimes a bit of an "adventure"??) and suddenly we came around a corner and the road was COVERED with snow. I started laughing hysterically.... I once again apparently was wearing my "bad idea jeans". This is becoming a trend for 2009. We walked through the snow and the rest of the ride was great. AND we had a good story to tell....

The rest of last week was spent training and getting the final course design for the Chattanooga Cyclocross event this past weekend. I'll post the report on that separately.

Thanks for reading...

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I hate the cold. That is why I no longer live in Wisconsin. Okay that and the lack of mountains but I digress...

Today it was 19 degrees when Star and I got on our bikes. No one else joined us. We rode for 3 hours and I still cannot feel my face. Is that bad??

Winter sucks. I am ready for spring.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Team Training Camp

We had our first team weekend of 2009 this past weekend. In true Vantaggio/Specialized fashion, we braved miserable weather conditions and had a great time. Everyone made it except Tanya (we missed you!!!); she was off interviewing for PA schools and taking a much needed family vacation.

Saturday morning we converged in Chattanooga at Shannon's for a weekend of "girl time" and riding. Of course we arrived at the same time as the rain did. After a short discussion we decided that we are tough and were going to get wet. The other option was the trainers in the garage and it wasn't THAT cold so we decided to head outside. Our friend Dave was our team support for the day; he had a car full of food and dry clothing so how bad could it be?? Mark had other commitments so we were lucky that Dave was a good sport and helped out. HE WAS AWESOME!!! Thanks a ton.

One of the big advantages of doing the camp in Chattanooga at Shannon's was the hot tub. We made great use of it. I think Helen was either on the bike, in front of the fire or in the hot tub all weekend long. Helen, we are all glad that you didn't freeze to death...

Dave also grilled chicken for us for dinner and we had a birthday cake for Shannon. Saturday night was a fun night. Lots of "girl bonding" and talk of new bikes and warmer days to race in....

Sunday we woke up to dry COLD cloudy conditions. It was supposed to warm up so we dressed accordingly and headed towards the mountain for some climbing. The weather men here SUCK!!!! It never got any warmer (in fact, I think it dropped a couple of degrees) and we NEVER saw the sun. After the descent down the mountain we were so cold we stopped at the Soddy Daisy municipal park to all huddle in the HEATED bathrooms. Yes, Mark came inside and took pictures of the entire team huddled around the mini heater in the bathroom. From that point on it was an "every woman for herself" type time trial back to the house for that hot tub. It was just too cold and we were DONE. It was time to shorten the ride a bit (we'd planned 4 hours) and keep from getting hypothermic. Fortunately, everyone survived. WHEW!!! That was COLD.

I will say that Helen impressed all of us with her ability to tough it out in the wet and cold (those south Florida girls are sometimes soft, not her!!!) and with her determination to climb and finish Sunday's ride. Helen is our developmental rider with a mountain bike background; this weekend was her introduction to the road bike. Not only did she ride in some of the worst conditions possible for road riding, she did a killer mountain climb on Sunday and FINISHED the 2.5 hour ride with the group instead of in the support car. Her only comment (once she thawed out) was "this road bike thing is way more fun than I expected..." Spoken like a true mountain biker!! Watch out for that girl this season, she's going to be one tough little mountain bike racer.

It was a great weekend and I think this year we have an even better team than last year.... I wasn't sure that was possible but somehow we keep outdoing ourselves. Our next team weekend is in NC in February with Scott, one of our sponsors. It should be a great time and we can't wait.

I will get pictures posted ASAP from the weekend.

Thanks for reading...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Cross Racing in my "Bad Idea Jeans"

On the Starting line. Notice me on the front row and Mark way in back...

Four days into 2009 and I have already put on the "bad idea jeans". That didn't take long....

Racing with a boy out of the horrible ditch.
The 2008/2009 TN Cross Calendar runs through February of 2009. In order to win the series, one has to score points in 10 races. As of January I had done 5. This being said, the competitive nature in me has once again come out and I am off to find 5 more cross races in the next 2 months. We have 2 in Chattanooga in a few weeks so it should be a fairly easy task.

Seriously, who taught that girl how to run??!!
Sunday was a race in Columbia, TN at Chickasaw Trace Park. Chickasaw and I have a long history; I've raced mountain bikes there for 12 years and done my share of cross races over there also. In fact, that is where I got the scar on my chin from a particularly uncoordinated day on the cross bike. It only took 9 stitches to put me back together. ANYWAY, I digress, back to my bad idea jeans...

And the "bad idea jeans"event...

Mark, Dave, Foye, Rachel (as our cheering section) and I headed out Sunday morning to give it a go. After approximately 15 pee stops on the 2 hour drive we arrived. Mark and Foye both decided that they were going to double up and race two races. I, not to be outdone by the boys (especially my husband...), decided that I would also race two races. The problem with this is that the second race(s) that I normally would enter would be either the Masters Men or the Category 3 men. Both of those races were at the same time as my women's race. hmmmm... BAD IDEA JEANS, HERE I COME!!! I think I'll race the Pro/1/2 Men's race. 1 hour of PAIN with really fast boys that are going to kick my butt AFTER I have already raced my 45 minute race. Will someone PLEASE tell me why I thought that was something I should do???!!

The ditch was not fun.

So my first race, the women's 1/2/3 race, went well. I won convincingly and raced well against the boys that were racing at the same time. Then I had 15 minutes to "recover" before starting the Pro men's race. They said "go" and it was ugly. Dave got on the front and drilled it, gaping me before we were even off the pavement. The only thought I could muster was "This is going to be a LONG hour". I struggled off the back, all the while seeing Foye up ahead (he also raced the previous race). Lucky for me, He sat up at the beginning of the third lap and we rode the rest of the race together, trying to think of all the situations that could be worse than what we were currently experiencing. We came up with a very short list. We got lapped with 3 to go, rode my last two laps (much to Foye's dismay... he was ready to stop...) and got in a heck of a good training day. Will I do it again??? Possibly. The point was training and I definitely got a good tempo ride in. I got my butt handed to me but those boys should have beat me. I didn't expect to beat any of them, I just wished that it wouldn't have hurt so much!!!

Mark really NOT getting the bike into that ditch!!

I am sure that this is one of many occasions this season that I will don the "dumb pants" as Mark likes to call them. At least life is never dull.

He has way better form than I do running.
Thanks for reading...

Snake TT #1

We started racing for 2009 January 3rd. The Snake TT series is the first Saturday of January, February and March, with the winner being determined after the final event. You can race any or all three weekends and your fastest time is scored. Emily, Shannon and Catherine headed down to Dalton, Ga to check out the event. I had to work, I was bummed until race morning when I woke up to fog, drizzle and 40 degree temperatures. It was going to be a cold muddy day.

Despite the trying conditions, the girls did great. Emily turned the fastest time in the Women's 30 and under; we'll see if it holds up for two more weekends but she's off to a great 2009!!! Shannon rode to second in the Women's 30 and up category. Great job Shannon, there were some really tough girls there. Catherine opted for the 17 mile event and managed to get lost but had a great time and cheered for everyone else as they finished the longer event. Hopefully next month will go better... Way to stay positive!!!

It sounds like we are off to an awesome 2009. Way to go ladies!!! I'll be at the next one with you....

Friday, January 2, 2009

Winter travels....

I was reminded over Christmas once again just how fortunate we are to live where we do.

As has become the tradition, Mark and I did the "tour of the upper Mid-West" for the holidays. This "tour" involves a stop in Wisconsin at my family's and then a quick jaunt (can you detect the sarcasm?) to Michigan. The weather was HORRIBLE this year. It was so bad that we decided at the last minute to take the gas guzzling truck instead of the car. Three times the control in in the snow for twice the price!!! It ended up being the luckiest decision that we've made in a long time.... more on that later.

The journey started about half a day late. Between working and packing and squeezing in that last ride before the self imposed week off, it took a while to get going. We beat the ice storms but not the wind. Illinois had some of the strongest winds we have ever experienced. Gusts were easily 50+mph and steady from the north at 35mph. Let me tell you, gas mileage was downright dismal but we made it.

Day 1: -9 degrees, I think I'll go run. Bad idea. Lasted 15 minutes and I am sore and FROZEN.

Day 2-4: Around 20 degrees. Running is better but still a bad idea. I am a cyclist. This fact was made painfully evident by my running abilities.

Day 5-7: I have given up on running. Mostly due to my inability to walk because of sore muscles.

We had a wonderful time both in Michigan and Wisconsin with out families. I miss them a ton but do NOT miss winter. Not even a little. I did like the white Christmas (we got 12 inches in WI).

The Drive Home:

Now for the part about the good luck in spending a small fortune in gas. We got hit in Ohio on the drive home. It was in a construction zone with heavy stop and go traffic. We were car #3 of 6 in the pile up. The car behind us and the car in front of us were both totalled. We have dented bumpers. It is good to be the biggest car. We will definitely buy another Xterra some day. I love my truck. We would not have been so unscathed in the car. And we would probably be car shopping right now....