Intelligensia Cup

It takes so much more than pinning a number on to be able to race for 10 days straight. Yet sometimes it’s just that easy. Pin the number, tie the shoes, buckle the helmet, toe the line. The 2017 Intelligensia Cup offered another mountainous challenge. Another intimidating slot on my calendar. And another experience to prove to myself that I belong and that I can do this. I can race my bike.

How many ice socks can one person use in a season?! pc SnowyMountain Photography
Each race this season has brought a new challenge. Glencoe was my first high level professional race experience and I was just happy to hang on. Northstar was my first professional stage race and biggest challenge I’ve faced on a bike in the biggest field. Crit Nats was an experience racing the best of the best. And Intelli was the longest / fastest / hardest (total TSS) race experience thus far.

I experienced so many highs and lows over these 10 days, as one would expect, but it’s impossible to prepare or fully understand. A week and a half later, and I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. My coach predicted 1000 TSS points over the 10 days, and I ended up with 1070. I had 1000 after the 5 days/6 stages of Northstar,  so I knew it was within me to be able to make it through, but Northstar had perfect prep and recovery in between races. Intelli was less than perfect. My training leading up to Intelli was going very well. I felt great at Crit Nats, and ready to get some work in during the two weeks leading up to Intelli. Unfortunately, life had other plans. I got sick and was on antibiotics for the week leading up to the first race of the series. Rest and drugs. My last hard pedal stroke was on July 6th, and Intelli started on the 14th. I knew I would have to dig deep, eat well, rest and recover as much as I could between each race. I also had to work half days, and drive myself to and from each race. Sleeping in my own bed was a small victory.

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Inspired and motivated by these women! {and Lauren’s face in the background!} pc SnowyMountain Photography
Highlights/lowlights and stats from the 10 days of #coffeecup 2017 {race duration, average speed, average heart rate, normalized power, average temperature}:

Beverly – 2 hours of driving to go 30 miles? Ugh. Got a good warmup in, but legs were very heavy. The course was technical, had a hill, and a long straightaway with a tailwind, so speeds were very high. A crash with 2.5 laps to go had me chasing for the field, and I was pulled with 1 to go. Positives? Met our guest rider and team director, Jen Sharp who was an amazing addition to the team for the series. {50min, 23.8mph, 188 HR, 189 NP, 65 temp}

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Jen! Me faking a smile on the start line, trying to push away the fogginess of the lingering sickness. pc SnowyMountain Photography
Glen Ellyn – Another long drive, and a very hot day. I was exhausted going into this race. Trying all the tricks with Coke, motivators, GU, Topical Edge rub, and ice socks. The course was an interesting loop around a lake, technical, with a few punchy little rises in the road. Made it to the front of the race once and SnowyMountain capture my favorite picture from the series. {70 min, 22.7mph, 192HR, 189NP, 81 temp}

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deep into a pain cave. pc SnowyMountain Photography
Willow Springs – The first road race of the series. Fellow CWEC teammie Lauren and I were released by CWEC to race for our respective “home teams” {Burnham Racing} in the 2/3 race as it’s the IL state road race championship. My legs decided to show up today as the sickness felt like it was finally leaving my body. We both worked hard to make the race fast and attacks started right from the gun. There was a QOM competition; each lap at the top of the hill points were awarded for the top 3. I told myself I wasn’t going to go for it, but on the first hill I found myself at the front, so I pushed it over the hill. Ended up winning the jersey after 3 more very hard efforts on the hill. As for the finish of the race, my legs didn’t have any more pep for the final lead in, and I rolled across the finish line in the back of the field. Only to later find out my seat post had slipped almost 2cm. No wonder my quads both seized. Frustrating. {1:45, 22.5mph, 168HR, 189NP, 69 temp}

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QOM jersey for Burnham! pc SnowyMountain Photography
South Chicago – Not sure how my legs would respond after all the work from the previous day. Another long drive through crazy traffic, and I was exhausted when I showed up. I decided I needed the caffeine, so I tried iced coffee for the first time. Had a Coke as well. And the race went splendidly. If you know me, you know that I “hate coffee.” Unfortunately, times have apparently changed. Intelligensia cold brew iced coffee = my new weakness! Worked in breaks, lead Christine out for a $200 prime, worked well together with teammates. We had a blast! Course was a 3 mile circuit with wide roads and long straights and was run with road race rules. {70 min, 24.7mph, 173HR, 184NP, 71 temp}

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strung out… leading out Christine for a $200 prime. pc SnowyMountain Photography
Elgin – The third road race in the series, and probably the most interesting course! 3.5 mile laps, with a ton of corners, but a flowing course. It had a pretty major hill, and again some QOM primes. The race was ridiculously fast, and the false flats after the hill were brutal. I had my best finishing place here, as we had a fun lead out attempt. Yes, coffee and coke were a part of the pre-race routine. {70min, 23.6mph, 179HR, 213NP, 81 degrees}

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West Dundee – Back to crit racing, but the hill thing remained constant and the heat/humidity started to increase. Shorter course with a similar hill, makes for less recovery and a much harder day! Was in survival mode all day long. I took the final corner before the uphill finish a little too hot, and my rear wheel came out from under me as I hit an uneven section of the road. As I was crashing, I was swearing at myself internally. Got up. Rode to the finish. Road rash on my hip, bent derailleur hanger, metal shaved off the derailleur {it’s lighter now} and I still need new bart tape and hoods. Heather went into beast mode during this race, grabbing a bunch of primes. {70min, 22.4mph, 175HR, 218NP, 80 degrees}

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Neutral pain face. When they put up the lap counter with 16 to go I about lost it. Haven’t we already done 16? pc SnowyMountain Photo
Niles – This race was the closest to my house, which was nice to have in the middle of the race series. By this point, I was so over driving. The course was a fast L shaped, 6 corner flat crit. Didn’t have any pop, and my hip was not feeling great after yesterday’s crash. When I’d have to push hard for an acceleration, my hip/low back wasn’t having it. Was almost gapped off multiple times, but managed to hang on for the finish. Not happy with my performance and probably should’ve taken a day off. {70min, 25.5mph, 176HR, 179NP, 76 degrees}

 

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Thankful for the support. Every day Kevin would head to the race early and setup team camp. All I had to do was get me and my bike to the race. Towels, bottles, ice socks, recovery – it was all taken care of. pc SnowyMountain Photo
Elmhurst – This course wins best local participation. There were so many block parties around the course, and with a later start time, made for a fun evening of racing. I had to drive through a midwestern thunderstorm / flash flood to get there, but somehow the storm missed the race course and we had a dry race. Another fast and furious day of racing, on a fairly straight forward course, with a bit of a chicane. Lauren managed to create a break, and it stuck! She got 4th place on the day, and was our best finish of the series! {60min, 25mph, 185HR, 195NP, 75 degrees}

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Late race {7pm} required clear lenses, yet still the biggest ice sock possible. It doesn’t get cold at night in the midwestern summers. pc SnowyMountain Photo
Lake Bluff – Kyle managed to sneak away from work for an hour to come watch me suffer for an hour. {The course is 5 min from his work.} When fresh legs join a peloton of racers with 8 days of racing in our legs, it makes for a painful day. This course is super narrow and with water in some of the corners and with the extra firepower, it was all I could do to stay attached. {60min, 24.2mph, 180HR, 190NP, 75 degrees}

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Long shadows, long days. pc SnowyMountain Photo
Goose Island – I couldn’t believe I’d finally made it to the last day. Beverly felt like it was months ago. Sickness had somehow left my body, I’d had success, I’d crashed, I’d ridden and raced over 300 miles in the last 9 days – what’s another 70 min? It reminded me of my swimming days – last one, fast one. There was a light at the end of the tunnel, and I knew I just had to lay it all out there. I was proud of myself, but also disappointed, and I didn’t want this last race to feel like all I could do was tailgun on the back of a professional field. I found myself moving around much better during this race. I was at the front, off the front, moving with teammates, and also trying to sit in. When that bell lap rang for the last time, I was still in race mode. When I crossed that final finish line, a sense of relief came over me. Glencoe was that of pride. Northstar was heavy emotion. Intelli Cup was that of gratitude and celebration.

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It’s hot. pc SnowyMountain Photography
Gratitude – Thankful for so many people who made this experience possible:

Velosmith: for allowing me to work half days during the series and for taking care of The Count {my Parlee}
Coach Joy: For the encouragement and belief that I can do it. For the plan this year to ensure I could.
Kyle: I’m sad you haven’t been able to be my #1 sherpa this season, but I’m thankful for the work you do for our family and our country. I can’t wait until you’re back to racing with me!
CWEC: I cannot say enough about the amazingness of this organization and how easy they make it for us racers to be able to race. The opportunities given to us, the support, the details put into getting us to the start line – the generosity is simply amazing.
CWEC Staff: Kevin and Cathy – you guys are total rockstars. The time and energy you give to this team and sport is truly appreciated. Mor and Nathan – you guys always make us look our best while doing what we love. The photos you take really show how much love you have for us, and the treats at the tent are the cherry on the top. Jen – It was so great to have you with us for this crazy event! Your knowledge, ability to read the race, your support and encouragement and your ability to move through the pack was incredibly valuable to our Intelli experience. Excited to race with you again at Gateway Cup! Brian Thornburg – I wouldn’t have made it through this series without the multiple meals you prepared for us this week. It was worth the extra drive time to not have to make dinner after every race!! Thank you for the hospitality.
Intelligensia Cup: Thanks for putting on such a production of races in the Chicagoland area! So Cal may seem like a cycling mecca, but I’m serious when I say that the cycling community here in Chicago is much better, on all fronts. Lily – I missed having you beat up on us in the races, but your media content was ridiculously amazing.

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willow springs post race chats with Lauren and Lily. pc SnowyMountain Photo
And to my teammates – each race you make me realize how lucky I am to be a part of this team. I am proud to fly the CWEC flag because of your selfless work to make us better racers as a collective. The journey we’ve been on this year hasn’t been the easiest or without setbacks. But we’ve definitely grown because of it. Because we all love to race our bikes.

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cheers! pc SnowyMountain Photo

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