Northstar Grand Prix

I’m not sure I realized how emotional this week would become. I wasn’t certain I was ready for the challenge, physically or mentally, but when placed in challenging situations we can either rise to the occasion, or falter. 

Alison Powers and I after the Uptown Crit. Photo by SnowyMountain Photography

Rise above. This week was about the small victories we find in ourselves, everyday. We don’t need to stand atop a podium to feel victorious {although Lily taking the best overall amateur jersey on the final day was so rad!!} but getting to our version of the finish line each day made for some amazing victories. 

Smiles in Minneapolis. Photo by SnowyMountain Photography
Not tailgunning. Photo by SnowyMountain Photography

And each of those victories would not have been possible without the amazing support from so many individuals. Selfless individuals who enabled us racers to focus on racing. Every other detail was taken care of. And for that, I have so many people to thank. 

CritAF. Photo by SnowyMountain Photography

I’ll eventually write a full race report, but between Tuesday’s rendezvous, Annie’s crash, Christine’s finger fiasco, Jenny’s back, and today’s monster climb, we’ve all become a lot closer. It’s like summer camp; I almost don’t want to go home! 

As for me, I learned a bit about my limits. This race pushed me physically and mentally this week, to the point of being almost broken. For as high as the highs were, I experienced some low lows. During the criteriums, I backed off when maybe I should’ve pushed harder. I found it difficult to “re-engage” after watching crash after crash. The road races pushed me past breaking points, recording new heart rate and power thresholds. They forced me to dig deeper, to a place I haven’t tapped in a long time. 

Finish of Stage 4 with Kevin and Bobby. Photo by SnowyMountain Photography.

There’s no crying in {baseball} cycling!

My Northstar experience is one I will never forget. For some, it’s just another blip on their calendar and training. For me, this has been so much more. I wasn’t even sure I’d make it to the end. And for that accomplishment, I’m proud. I ended up 16th amateur out of 35 starters, yet it wasn’t about the result, but the experience I gained as a racer through five days and six stages of racing with a professional peloton {79 total riders}. I never would’ve guessed I could make it at this level, back when I started racing bikes in 2010. I never expected to have the opportunity. 

Super supporters after the Uptown Crit. Photo by SnowyMountain Photography

Onto those Thank Yous:

Alison Powers: {Our Director Sportif} We are so lucky to have had you as a part of our squad this week! Your knowledge, experience, guidance, and encouragement was invaluable to my first professional stage race. Thank you. 

CWEC Volunteers: Cathy, Kevin, Liz and Bobby. You all have a special place in my heart. We obviously could not have done this without your hard work and preparation before and during this race. It’s unbelievable that all we had to do was race our bikes. {and eat delicious food!} Everyone of you has gone well above your duties to ensure we had the best opportunity to finish each day and wake up ready for the next. Thank you doesn’t even begin to cut it. 

Mor & Nathan {SnowyMountain Photography}: Could we be any luckier?! Having you guys as the best photographers out there to capture us is pretty amazing! Not only are your photos solid gold, but the help with our team camp, logistics, goodies, encouragement, and super support doesn’t go unnoticed. Mucho love to you both. 

My support crew: Kyle, Velosmith, my Family, Coach Joy, and my home team Burnham Racing – thank you for putting up with me and supporting me through this whole crazy world of bike racing. I know it isn’t easy to balance work/life/cycling and it’s because of the awesome love and support you show for me that I’m even able to ride at all. I know I wouldn’t have made it to the final stage without each of you. Thank you. 

My mamma and brother came to cheer!

Chicago Women’s Elite Cycling: Thank you for accepting me into the team. Without this program, I’m certain I would’ve never come across the chance to experience this race. Providing Chicagoland amateur women with the opportunity to race at a national level is something I’ll never take for granted. This program runs on volunteers and donations from the community. Become a member and help keep this program running {or riding!}. Thank you to those of you who’ve already donated or joined!

Screaming for Lauren! Photo by SnowyMountain Photography

My CWEC teammates: You all inspire me. You all build me up. You all encourage me to be a better rider, a better teammate and a better person. I can only hope I give you half of what you’ve given me. From our early meetings, to our every other Sunday winter motivation rides, to bonding at team camp and our first race together at Glencoe; we’ve grown as cyclist, as teammates, as friends. Christine, Lauren, Heather, Lily, Jenny, Annie, and Maria – you are badass women. I’m proud to be a part of your crew. 

I 💙CWEC. Photo by SnowyMountain Photography

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