Glencoe Grand Prix 

Hello, it’s been a while! 2017 has been chock full of all things cycling, but I’ve been mostly silent with the blogging. I’ve been keeping up with my written training journal, uploads to Strava/TrainingPeaks and the occasional Instagram post. I haven’t felt inspired to write about the journey, and I’m not sure why!

I hired a coach in January. I made some lofty goals for the 2017 season and with the selection to race with the Chicago Women’s Elite team, I acquired some lofty challenges. I was very regimented with swimming through college, as well as Ironman training, but I’ve never given cycling a proper chance. I always did what I wanted to do, or rode with others who had plans/structure. I enjoyed the freedom, but knew if I wanted to race and compete at the next level I needed help.

{enter Joy} When I thought about hiring a coach only one really came to mind. I met Joy McCulloch racing crits in So Cal and have always looked up to her, admired her humbleness, her aggressive and safe racing style, and her friendliness. She owns Big Wheel Coaching and has been a big influence and mentor throughout my So Cal racing years. After our initial coaching conversation, I knew we would work well together.

{TRAIN!} Now it was up to me. The plan was laid out and I just had to execute. I knew consistency is key and is something I’ve lacked in the past. I used to look forward to one big day {great western loops?!} but would ignore the in between. Six days a week seemed like a big jump, but was doable if every day wasn’t an epic. I need routine, but I can’t get bored. I don’t want to dread workouts; I need to enjoy the process. Luckily, I had some amazing trips planned to break up the winter and flatland that is Chicago! San Diego {twice!}, Phoenix, Asheville for the CWEC training camp, and Maui!

{Race Prep} I toed the line a little bit in the early season to dust off the cobwebs so to speak. Training through these races, often riding after for more mileage. Finding a pre-race routine that worked for me, and refreshing my skills was important. The evening before Glencoe, CWEC put on a skills clinic with a couple women from Team Twenty20 regarding general race skills, and specifics to the Glencoe course. I found the evening to be incredibly helpful and I was feeling more than ready for Saturday’s race.

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signing in. photo: SnowyMountain Photography

{RACE DAY!} Glencoe is less than 5 miles from my house, and because of all the support and professional setup that CWEC has to offer, I was able to ride to the race! The tent was up on course under a tree for extra shade, trainers were out and ready, and water chilled! Kevin, Cathy, Mor & Nathan definitely made us feel like pros. We got our numbers, sat down for a team meeting and stated the objectives for the day. Hopped on the trainers for warmup {coach prescribed a structured warmup; and it worked!}. Before I knew it, we were lining up! Teammate Christine even got a call up! Kevin had panty hose filled with ice that he put under our jerseys, and I took a final sip and gave him my second bottle.

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team meeting. photo: SnowyMountain Photography

Glencoe Grand Prix is a 10 corner criterium, where the professional women race for 25 laps. It’s technical, and includes a “hill”. Energy conservation was my number one priority on the day. {Well, staying upright and riding safe is always a high priority.} I started with the goal to make it at least halfway. The race started off fast. I found myself in the front on the first lap {not in the plan!} but had fun taking the downhill and corners the way I wanted to ride! I moved my way backwards and the next few laps got a feel for the course. I tried to climb the hill in an easier gear with a higher cadence, mostly standing each lap. The rest of the course, I stayed in my drops and very low, hanging onto wheels as best as I could. Each lap, I kept giving myself deals, convincing myself I could make it to the next lap, the next 10 minutes, just get to an hour, make it to single digit laps, you can do it! Positive self talk was definitely involved. I was very cognizant of riders who looked like they were about to be gapped and made moves around so I wasn’t left behind the splits. I tried to carry as much speed into the uphill and find the wheel that would carry me through the false flat and back onto the main field.

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Lap 1 photo: SnowyMountain Photography

I had one bottle on my bike and definitely drank all of it. I had a gu tucked into the leg of my bibs and ate that 30 min into the race. The ice that Kevin gave me lasted about 40 minutes, and I loved every minute of it. It was HOT and I definitely was not acclimated to racing in heat.

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 Strung out. photo: SnowyMountain Photography

With 5 laps to go, it was clear that no team was going to work to bring back the two person break {CWEC’s founder, Daphne was in it! She now rides for Stan’s/Velo Classics}, the peloton switched gears, and I think with 4 to go, the pace chilled for a second! Maybe I was actually going to finish this thing! I was following Lauren’s wheel so hard, and my energy levels were basically depleted. I was trying to move up to help Christine, but my legs just weren’t responding. Maria was there for encouragement, and Lauren and I dug deep to cross that line.

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Pride. photo: SnowyMountain Photography

Pride. It’s something I don’t often feel for myself. I’m proud of my husband and his selfless service to this country. I’m proud of my parents and their incredible marriage {40 years this summer}, but me? I’ve found it difficult to feel pride since graduating college and retiring from swimming. My Ironman finishes are something I’m proud of. Because I worked hard to reach those finish lines. When I crossed the line at Glencoe, my heart smiled in a way it hasn’t in a while.

I’m feeling incredibly lucky to have found the Chicago cycling community. Kyle and I have now been here for a year, and it’s been an incredible introduction to all this area has to offer. Yes, we have cold winters, but seriously, the warm hearts of the community really make the scene amazing. From all the support from my home team, Burnham Racing, to the sponsors and race promoters, my amazing coworkers at Velosmith, and to my CWEC collective teammates and support staff… I’m beyond spoiled!

Tomorrow we are off to St. Paul, MN for the Northstar Grand Prix stage race! This is definitely the biggest race I’ve ever been a part of and I’ll make sure to jot down some thoughts along the way!

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TEAM! photo: SnowyMountain Photography

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