Monday, March 16, 2009

VK's Melodie Metzger Takes 2nd at Tri-Flow Menlo Park Grand Prix!!

Photo: Kurt Harvey

VK's Melodie Metzger, Charlotte Hart, and Mary Maroon came out in force for the Tri-Flow Menlo Park Grand Prix on March 8th!  With the help of her super awesome kitten teammates, Melodie took second to Tibco's Brooke Miller. 

Below is race recap from VK's Charlotte Hart:

Considering I'm coming back from pulling my groin (long ski story) Menlo was a much better race for me than Merco.  The pace was fast -- Sugar CRM was really aggressive launching attacks and of course Tibco was countering and covering everything.  I tried to stay up front and go with moves, and at one point with Mel on the front I jumped to chase two girls off the front.  A few laps later on the backside of the course I did the same for her and got in a nice block allowing her to open a big gap before the pack woke up.  All in all, for only a three person team we were doing a good job of being defensive!


With three to go I moved up and passed Mel -- who I think grabbed my wheel and followed.  But tunnel vision during racing always surprises me.  Anyhow I was able to take Brooke Miller's wheel with 3 to go.  I was ultra surprised!  Then the elbows for her wheel in the corners started flying and I remember thinking, why are girls jabbing me?  Oh, duh I'm on the WHEEL to have.  Initially I knew Brooke would be plan B (insider's knowledge ha) and that they would try to get one of their riders in a break.  However, since it was going to be a bunch sprint, plan A was to lead Brooke out.  So I was in great position as the laps wound down.  With one to go, Sugar CRM attacked forcing Brooke to chase.  I followed in pursuit but the gap she opened was as big as the Atlantic Ocean.  I bridged and then burned.  The effort gassed me.  But considering I've been training lightly it was no surprise.  What was good is that the rest of the riders came across with me and I'm sure that helped Mel stay in perfect position to light the sprint up.

Below is a pic of Vk's Mary Maroon working the field!

Photo: Kurt Harvey

Photo: Kurt Harvey

Next up for Vanderkitten Racing?  Redlands Classic!  Come out and support the super fast ladies of Vanderkitten Racing!!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Vanderkitten Racing Kicks Off 2009 Season!

Photo: Kurt Harvey

Vanderkitten Racing kicked off their 2009 season on February 15th, during the Tour of California Women's Criterium!  

Photo: Kurt Harvey

Below is race recap from VK's super fast Jenn Wilson:

The season has started!  Though I thought I would be more prepared here it is and I am excited.  Like last year, our first NRC race of the season was the Women’s Criterium at the Tour of California in Santa RosaCA.  Lucky for me, my good friend and partner in crime, Jenn X is guest riding with Vanderkitten for this race so we drove up to Berkeley together on Friday morning.  We left at 7am and made the customary stop at Starbucks in Valencia and off we went.  The grapevine was open and the mountains looked beautiful with the snow on them.  The iPod was hooked up and we were rockin’.  We arrived in Berkeley at 1pm and promptly got dressed and went on a ride with some of the other VKs, Liz and Leigh.  It was great to see them as I had not seen them since Vegas in September.  We attempted to get an easy ride in to loosen the legs but the rain came and we jetted back to our hotel.  We were treated in the evening to a team dinner at Dave and Jennie’s house which was magnificent. Thanks again for a great evening! 


The next day we all drove to San Jose to do a local criterium to get the legs open for the BIG race the next day.  Even though it was a local race, most all of the big teams were there doing the same as us.  It was a course with quite a few turns and the wind was picking up.  VK did a great job of making sure we were in nearly every move off the front and we were working well together.  It was great to be back in the mix.  Our “guest” rider Jenn X got a prime during the race.  I got myself in 3 moves off the front but nothing stuck.  Even though the sun was out we did experience a bit of rain which caused a crash; only a prelude to what we would endure on Sunday.  I was feeling pretty good for my first race back with the “big” girls.  With 2 laps to go I made a bad choice and took the wheel of some girls cookin’ up the inside to a turn which I had taken the inside of nearly every time during the race and found it to be the fast.  However, this time was different and we got pinched and I had to ebrake.  I spent the last lap fighting for position.  Ugh! I bungled the sprint!  The important thing was that I rode at the front and was able to position myself into moves.

The VK gang went out to dinner that night at the Pyramid Brewery where I enjoyed a yummy Kobe beef burger.  It was great to be hanging with the gang again. After dinner it was back to the hotel to rest up and gear up for what was going to be a very rainy day if the weather channel was correct.

Typical Jenn X

Guess what? We awoke to gray skies and rain.  We packed up the van and headed north for Santa Rosa. After a quick stroll through the vendors it was down to business. We had wonderful help from Emma and other Vanderkitten’s and it was great to be surrounded by so many well wishers.  I got a good warm up in and somehow found myself rushing at the end trying to figure out where the time went.  It turns out they were starting the race 10 minutes early, strange.  And, of course as our race start came so did the rain in a torrential down pour. Because the race started early and we were unaware of this, we all started the race at the back of the pack. Not the best place to be when you have heavy hitters like Ina Teutenberg and National Champion Brooke Miller in the peloton.

Myself and Jenn X "racin" TOC 2009 photo courtesy Larry Rosa

The pace was pretty fast from the start though we were careful through the turns due to the rain.  To add to the “fun” there were tons of bot dots on the course which you had to navigate even while turning.  It took a little bit of time to get to the front of the race since I started way in the back.  The only good news about starting at the back was that when Versus showed the seconds of coverage there was my butt.  Hot!  Within 12minutes there was a break from the pack.  I was sitting on the opposite side of the peloton pretty boxed in when it happened.  Twelve riders went free and I did a quick check, all the heads of state were still in the peloton: Ina, Gina, Tina, Brooke and LVG.  There was a lot more time in the race and I thought for sure they would be brought back.  Jenn X decided not to wait around for that and launched herself off the front.  I was on her wheel and made the decision to sit up and let her go.  In hindsight, it would have been nice to have 2 VKs in the

break to help each other.  After killing herself she eventually bridged to the break, now they were 13.  I stayed up at the front to monitor and block as best I could should anyone decide to take the leap.  There were mini attacks and LVG was anxious to try and break free.  I was on them all figuring if anyone was going to bridge they were taking me with them.  The race organization started to give pack primes and after I realized that the break was going to stay away I decided to go for one.  Lucky or unlucky for me the one I went for also appeared to be on Ina’s check list and I got second behind her.  Bummer, but not bad considering she is such an animal.  Next on the list was to prepare for the finish.  Even though we were not sprinting for the win I knew it would be an all out sprint for the finish considering who I was with.  The rain continued to come down heavy and it seemed to be getting colder.

How do I get so dirty? photo courtesy Dave Verrecchia

I really took to heart Jeff “Hoppy” Hopkins words of advice and was able to stay on Tina’s wheel through the last couple of laps and only started to lose it when Ina who was in front of her lit it up entering turn 4 and exploded away from all of us.  I was pretty gassed at this point having done so much work to stay at the front and suffered during the sprint.  It was so cold outside and I could not feel my fingers having no clue what lever I was hitting to select my gear.  Jenn X did a great job in the break and finished 11th.  I held my own in the sprint and got 10th in the field for a 23rd finish overall.  At least now I have more confidence in being able to hang with the top sprinters to the line.

Are we having fun yet? photo courtesy Kurt Harvey

Jenn and I went to the Russian River Brewery after the race to try and finish my gift card that I won last year in a prime. We did not do much damage because we were driving home.  After a coffee at Peet’s (my favorite) it was back to the van for the long drive home.  The iPod was roaring and the caffeine flowin’.

At least we didn't super size!

Vanderkitten Racing's next big NRC race will be the Redland's Bicycle Classic March 26th-29th.  Come out and support the hottest team in women's cycling!