Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Female friendly bib short talk continued...

I would have just posted on the comment section but i took too long that I figured it would not get read by those who posted on the topic.

Regarding the use of a funnel for peeing, I love the idea but i heard it doesn't work. A girlfriend of mine found out the hard way when she tried it out over the toilet with the door open to a living room full of friends. Well, it leaked everywhere and drenched her pants. Luckily she tried it out at her own home so she was able to change. But i could see how it would have been hysterical to pretend to leave the door open to the bathroom and have all your friends think maybe you have body parts other than the ones they may have thought you came equipped with OR have them think that somehow you were able to figure out the aiming dilemma.

Oh, and I have tried the "stretching the bib leg until it is no longer useful" approach. I was on a very cold, rainy ride with Coach Elmo and due to the inclement weather he allowed me only twenty seconds to get the job done. So i stretched the short leg enough to pee. It did work but now I have uneven bib legs. I guess i could designate them for use on long rides, cold rides or when i've had a lot of coffee.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Intern. Radquer Steinmaur Race in Switzerland continued...

After a very hectic weekend, I am just now catching up on my things-to-do list that includes some couch time. As i type this, i am watching a german cooking show. Although the food doesn't look too appealing, it's fun to watch them get riled up about their personal cooking preferences. OK, they just got back my attention on the food. They made a fudge brownie squared layered on top of each other with cream layers. I can easily make a tasty vegan version! But maybe i'll wait until after Koppenbergcross this Thursday since i must stay fairly skinny for the repeated climbing up the koppenberg.

OK, back to racing! After a warmup on the Belgian National Team (U-23/Jrs) course through the nearby Kortenberg woods, Jonas and I took off for an 8-hour drive to Switzerland in a borrowed van. Jonas' friend, David Van Ermen, lent us the van for the long haul since the official Team Vanderkitten van is still being constructed at the factory. David sells pre-owned cars in Zaventem near Brussels Airport but lent us his own personal van! It was much better than an official car rental; it had less than 4,000 km, didn't smell like skank and we pretty much knew where it had been (bike trips) before we hopped in! It was so huge it fit everything i needed, including a mattress for lying down.

We arrived in Steinmaur Saturday at 10pm and was greeted by our host housing family Trudi, her husband, three cats, and a much appreciated hot cup of tea (photo to right is of Trudi and her son Thomas working the prize table). I was thrilled that she keeps her house VERY WARM - a winter season bike racer's dream!

The next morning we headed 1km down the hill to collect the race number. As i was standing in line, a bunch of people were staring at us. I suppose people dressed head to toe in pink Vanderkittens speaking some random language - english/flemish combo can be a bizarre sight. But while all eyes were on us, I was fascinated by all the little boys! I still can't get enough of seeing young kids completely kitted out like the pros! The cute kid (in photo) who was standing behind us in line is a prime example of how well put together they are! He was all too excited to pose for the photo - love it! He's all ready to go pro, down to his innate ability to ham it up for the camera!

Standing at the start line reminded me of the first few foreign races I attended in Belgium. You recognize the formalities and rituals preceding the event but the details are a blur. Well, at this event, the details i missed were that even though the junior girls are getting a head start of what seemed like well over a minute, we were actually racing against them for prize money and the chance for a podium appearance! (I wonder how they decided the time gap that they'd award the juniors as a handicap.) Now i understand why the juniors I'd passed were desperately hanging onto my wheel - because we were actually racing against each other! haha! Now i feel foolish for allowing and even encouraging these gals to sit on my wheel as I'd pass them. (racing photos of me taken by

At the end of the race, there were quite a few fans who told me that they enjoyed cheering for me - too sweet! I, too, enjoyed hearing Vanderkitten and my name repeatedly pronounced in a German accent!

Oh, and I met a fellow American! Her name was Larsen - she races for Swiss Road team, Specialized Designs for Women. I thought that was really sweet of her to introduce herself! It's always fun to run into Americans when traveling outside the country. But when she first spoke, I would never have guessed she was from USA. So when she told me she was American, I jokingly responded that i could tell by her accent. Jonas laughed but she didn't find humor in it. Maybe she doesn't realize she completely lost her American accent.

Larsen reminded me of my former Prune teammate, Jennifer, who has also been living overseas (France) for the past ten years. Unlike Larsen, Jennifer lost all her english. She'd speak to me in what she thought was English but was rather French, just slow and loud. She was a great teammate, charming in a very quirky way and very kind to everyone - especially me!

Although i offically placed 3rd UCI Elite at the event, i have noticed that I am listed as 5th overall on various internet sites since they included two juniors who got a head start on our field. It is surely a pity that the internet site results are misleading, and that I missed out on standing on the podium but I am very glad that the UCI got the results correct. Those UCI points will help me to get better start positions at future races. And the missed podium appearance makes me even more hungry to repeat last Sunday's performance as soon as possible! Maybe at Koppenbergcross...

Immediately following the race, we went back to our host housing 1km down the road for a hot shower and a huge-ass bowl of walnut-pesto pasta with oven roasted broccoli and 10-grain bread. We had Cran-Lemon Twister ProBars with expresso for dessert.

Just as we returned to the course to watch the men, Jonathan Page rode by us. A moment later, as he passed a lapped rider on a pavement straightaway, the rider swerved into his rear wheel and crashed. Even though the lapped rider was clearly at fault, Jonathan did something that is very rare at the top level of racing, he slowed down to almost a full stop, waiting for the guy to get up to make sure he's OK. Luckily the rider was fine although his tubular rolled off the wheel. I'd say that is a small price to pay for making what could have been a detrimental error on the bike.

The drive back was a bit more painful than on the way there - especially after the post-race excitement wore off. For the first hour of the drive, we amused ourselves with speaking only in German. Considering we know about twenty words between us, we had to incorporate some english and flemish words but spoken with a German accent. Obviously he sounded much more authentic than I with my huge-ass American accent! Next we listened to the one CD we brought about five times. To extend its play time, I repeated one of the songs about twenty times straight. All words now memorized. I wonder what other people do to pass time on long drives. If you have any ideas for future trips, please let me know!! Maybe i'll bring more CD's.

Now all focus is on Koppenbergcross. What a spectacular event! The crowds are always thick and the atmosphere is incredibly festive. Last year, the racers all gave the crowd bonus entertainment by hitting the ground at least once during the race. During the womens event, the skies opened up and turned the course into a sloppy mess. By the mens race, the treacherous descent straight down the hill was practically unrideable. But when there's a number pinned on your back, it's amazing the feats you'll attempt. This year the course should be a bit more dry. But then again, it rained today and yesterday.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 29, 2007

3rd Place at Steinmaur UCI - Switzerland

I went for 1st place but landed in 3rd. Although i crossed the finish line knowing this, it was hard to tell because they raced us with the junior men and women. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but the kids all got a humongous headstart! Other than that, the race was absolutely fabulous! The organizers put on a really good show, great course and excellent crowds!

Since i have traveled a bit much over the past two days, I'm only posting a few photos today.

More photos and info tomorrow! I found quite a lot of photos on, by the way!

Thanks for all the good luck going into this race! I unleashed it all at the start line and held onto it until the finish.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Butt Cold in Belgium

Since I've been back here in Belgium a few people have asked me what the hell i was thinking to come back to Belgium from California. To rub it in, i just got an email from a friend back in NorCal telling me that it was over 85 degrees F (30 degrees C) a couple of days ago! We are suffering from steady days of 45 degrees F (8 degrees C) at best!

I had forgotten how it takes over twenty minutes more just to put clothes on for a ride. AND god forbid i opt for bibs. Inevitably i will have to pee just after zipping the ninth layer of clothing. Maybe it happens because i have bibs. I just don't remember this happening when i wear only shorts. If anyone reading this blog finds themselves with a few extra moments, can you please come up with a way for us gals to easily pee while wearing bibs?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Secret Weapon

I am now coming to realize that every single woman with whom i race has some sort of secret weapon, whether it be a training method, magic pill or energy drink, genetic prowess such as naturally high hematocrit or humongous lungs. Well, i just found my very own weapon. It was in the United Airlines Sky Mall magazine.
Whaddya think? It'll give me more time to get my writing gigs done, surf the internet, hang out on Oude Markt drinking Kasteel Bier and eating speculaas.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

First World Cup Complete!

Yippee!! Even more exciting is that there are still 22 races left! Not all world cups, though! But in Belgium, ALL races feel like world cups; often times 30-50,000 spectators will show up for local events.

Jonas and I pulled up to the race site in the mobilehome and got the best parking spot in the joint. We parked just inside the entranceway on the main road, alongside the USA Cycling van. Immediately we displayed the Vanderkitten head on the mobilehome and hung the other banner up on the gate that spans the walkway from entrance to race site. We were the ONLY ONES to hang a banner on the long row of fencing so ALL EYES were on VDK!

Sure, it was great to be able to have a mobilehome to hang the kitten head on, but it was even nicer to have a home on wheels at the race site. What a luxury! I could sit with my legs up, sleep on the way there, pee freely, easily change clothes in a warm open area, sit down for a bite to eat, and shower immediately afterwards. The only other times i've traveled to races in a mobilehome were with a full team which is not quite the same; we usually claim one tiny area of a bench and keep in that little area for most of the ride. There's no lying down, no real free peeing since it was commonly requested that we save it for toilet stops. And when you have six gals trying to change into skinsuits simultaneously, the once seemingly large mobilehome seems smaller than a Mini.

Within the first ten minutes of stepping out of the mobilehome, we handed out at least 100 of my trading cards. I even had people bargaining with me to get more than one! But more amusing than the high demand of my trading card was the fans' interest in snagging one of the highly coveted Mike Ahrens trading cards!!! Within the same ten minutes i had gone through every single card i had of his. Some people wanted to know more about him while others "knew" exactly who he was. Two spectators even got into an argument about who he was - one guy said he was a cyclo-cross pro from Germany while the other was certain he was a mountain bike pro from America. The irony is that the photo on the card is not even of him but of a California racer Isaias Job! haha! Anyway, his cards are now tucked away in trading card albums scattered throughout Belgium.

The first race of the season is always like a big reunion. The last time we have all seen each other was back in January at World Championships since most of the racers and fans only come out during cross season. If I had time and energy for a social life, i could see myself having a friendship with quite a few of these gals including Gabby Day (pictured with me at right), Suzanne Juranek (of Germany) and Suzie Godart (LUX national champ) and Lisbet deVocht who did her first and last cross race that day.

After a bit of meet-and-greet while avoiding the handshake at all costs to keep germ transfer to a minimum, I got on my training kit and hopped on the trainer. It was so cold that i wore every bit of Vanderkitten clothing, including the casual sweater! A bit later, liesbet swung by for some loops of the course. The lap was a lot of fun with berms, tight turns, stretches of pavement, the obligatory flyover, and stair runups, one of which delivered us just above a ditch that we'd have to ride into. The few times i didn't clip into my bike in time made the short downward trip quite the adventure!

All went well leading up to the start! Warmup was great! It was sooooo cool to have so many people cheering for me - even during warmup! I wonder if these people knew me from before or maybe it was the group of folks who grabbed a trading card earlier in the day. I even got a bunch of "Peanut" cheers. All those cheers help especially when i'm so far away from home.

At the start line, we were called up in country order. Katie Compton got 1st row callup since she is the #1 ranked USA woman. I got 2nd row callup at the 2nd ranked woman while Sarah Kerlin was 3rd callup. Two minutes after Serge collected our jackets, the gun sounded. My goal was to suffer for the first five minutes then settle into a rhythm. Easier said than done because within the first five seconds, a gal next to me couldn't clip into her pedals and swerved right into me, causing me to stop while everyone else passed. Then a few meters up, at the pavement u-turn leading into the non-passable bermed dirt section, I got pinned between two Italians and again had to stop short to avoid disaster.

A few moments later, while standing still at the base of the first tight berm with the back of the pack, waiting for the chaos of collided bikes and bodies to clear, we watched the front of the race pass in the opposite direction at 40kph - clear trails ahead! But, no, i was not discouraged. Instead i put my head down and spent the rest of the race passing gals, jumping from group to group, to finally finish in 22nd place - about 3 minutes behind 1st place and 2 minutes behind 3rd place. Daphny Van den Brand won, Katie placed 2nd, and Sarah placed 29th.

My result may not seem like much but i am very proud of my ride. I rode against the very best women in the World. AND given that the course does not favor riders who start in the back of the field (fast course with very few spots for passing), I was very optimistic about my fitness. My sensations were good and I rode strong even through the last lap. This was very exciting for me, especially considering this was only my second weekend of racing and i just showed up to Belgium a few days prior. Yippidy-friggin-do-dah!

Here is the velonews coverage of the event.

Now all focus is on this weekend's race - I'm going to win it! I have collected all my positive thoughts from yesterday's World Cup, put it in an airtight container, and will whip it out at the start line this sunday. Anyone who wants to add to the container, just post a comment to this blog letting me know the thoughts you'd like me to add. All donations are tax-deductible.

On a completely different topic, I came across a mention of me on I was their first UCI international Team rider to participate in their fantasy teams game. Their game is similar to the one that does but with the womens' pro teams. For anyone who follows womens racing, it can be a lot of fun to play! Of course my team consisted of me and a bunch of my friends.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 19, 2007

In the news - some of it shameless self promotion...

I just came across some quotes on by my favorite race promoter (Sorry Steve Litvin, you don't count because you're retired from organizing events) Myles Romanow discussing the disparity in prize money between men and women in cross races. He runs the Whitmore’s Landscaping Super Cross Cup and has ALWAYS made it a point to treat women like superheroes with the respect that they deserve while backing it up with equal prize money to that of men. AND both categories are always paid WELL ABOVE the UCI minimum payout requirement. According to UCI, the womens' payout should be $800 per race but Myles payed out $3230 per day. Thanks Myles!!!

Here's his quote: “The area we live in is pretty into minority rights,” says Romanow. “And quite frankly, I’ve always personally believed that Katie Compton and Lyne Bessette should be racing longer than a 15 year-old Belgian teenager. And they should be racing for the same prize money as men, or maybe one lap less than the boys and perhaps prorate the prize list accordingly. The point is, $800 for a field is bullshit. Even if a rider wins, her prize money may not even cover her airfare. And we’ve had women’s lib for 40 years? Come on! It’s just as bad in Europe. Christine Vardaros keeps telling me they are trying to give her cans of soup and clogs for winning races over there. Now I'm certainly not saying I deserve accolades and angels and cherubs playing songs for our race -- although we have been known to hire some pretty good punk bands. I like watching the women’s races. And I think some of the most compelling personalities in the sport right now are women. Katie Compton probably draws more people to more races than any other ‘cross racer in America, male or female. More importantly, my sponsors like watching the women race. They want to see the very best come to their town and they’re willing to pay for it.”

Here is a press release i found on a bunch of sites including and
U.S. Squad for UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup #1 Announced

Colorado Springs, Colo. (October 9, 2007)—USA Cycling announced today the seven athletes that will represent the United States at the upcoming UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Kalmthout, Belgium on October 21. Four men and three women were selected to the squad that will compete in the first of nine UCI Cyclo-cross World Cups this season.
Ryan Trebon (Ventura, Calif./Kona Yourkey), Jonathan Baker (Boulder, Colo./Vitamin Cottage) and Jonathan Page (Northfield, N.H./Sunweb Projob) will race for the men, while Katie Compton (Colorado Springs, Colo./Spike Shooter), Christine Vardaros (Mill Valley, Calif./Vanderkitten) and Sarah Kerlin (Capitola, Calif./Velo Bella-Kona) will compete in the elite women’s race. Ian Boswell (Bend, Ore./Hagens Berman) will be the lone American competing in the junior men's contest.
The second UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup is set to be contested on October 27 in the Czech Republic.
UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup #1
Kalmthout, Belgium
October 21, 2007
U.S. Team:
Elite Men
Ryan Trebon (Ventura, Calif.)
Jonathan Baker (Boulder, Colo.)
Jonathan Page (Northfield, N.H.)
Ian Boswell (Bend, Ore.)
Elite Women
Katie Compton (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Christine Vardaros (Mill Valley, Calif.)
Sarah Kerlin (Capitola, Calif.)

This press release about 2008 Vanderkitten Road Team was also picked up by a bunch of cycling sites such as and bicycle retailer:

New cat joins NRC circuit

Vanderkitten has announced it will expand its NRC involvement to a six-women elite team as well as developmental and regional support riders in 2008, following on from the single rider it fielded in 2007. Vanderkitten Racing, as the squad will be known, is currently laying plans that will see the company play a larger role within the NRC series after it fielded a single rider, Liz Hatch, in 2007.

"Our success in sponsoring Liz Hatch in 2007 has convinced us that Vanderkitten and cycling go hand in hand," said Venderkitten's Mark Zefeldt." Our focus next year will be the majority of the NRC calendar, and to that effect we have signed four immensely talented girls with another two athletes to be announced shortly."

In addition to the re-signing of Hatch, the team will field Atlanta's Leigh Valletti, Charlottesville's Mandy Lozano and Mill Valley's Christine Vardaros. The team is currently accepting resumes for the remaining two spots in its elite squad.

"Vanderkitten is thrilled to support these hard working, vibrant athletes and the sport of

women's cycling," said Vanderkitten's founder David Verrecchia. "We're all looking forward to the upcoming season with great anticipation. Vanderkitten's mission since its inception is to create a long-term relationship with cycling and raise the bar of sponsorships for women athletes.

"High profile athletes provide a tremendous marketing value to all parties associated with their image," he added. "Women influence both female and male purchasing decisions. Why, then, have women typically earned less than 10 percent of most pro male athletes salaries?"

The clothing company-backed squad its expected to announce more details about its 2008 plans over the coming months.

And lastly, i was interviewed by the Belgian vegetarian mag, Eva Magazine. They did an article on pro athletes on a plant-based diet that was published this month. The same magazine has also asked me to speak at their next vegetarian conference. Maybe this time i will remember to tape it so i can post it on the blog so you, too, can be subjected to my offbeat-ish sense of humor!

Tomorrow i pre-ride the Kalmthout World Cup course. I can't believe it's finally here! Pre-riding these courses is always like riding in a slow-motion movie clip. It feels like a movie scene because you spend an hour being passes by a collection of famous riders such as Sven Nys, Bart Wellens, Jonathan Page. And the relative speed in which they pass me makes me feel like i am at best riding in slow motion. I will try to update the blog tomorrow but chances are rather slim - we'll see...

Off I go. Thanks for reading!

First photos of the kit

The Vanderkitten kit looks even better in person! I put my bike in the background to give you an idea of what i'll look like riding it. I thought to pose sitting on top of my bike in a riding position but decided against it since most bike racers break bones from simple chores around the house like changing lightbulbs, etc. I'd hate to be a part of that statistic.
By the way, there is actually a kitten on the ass panel. I was too shy to lift my jersey to expose it.
Action photos soon.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Checked out BioRacer factory today

We drove around the little town of Tessenderlo for quite some time before finding the backroad which led to the BioRacer factory. Jonas and I were greeted with a cup of coffee - just what i needed following a long flight of little sleep - upon entering. Within two minutes, Franky was giving us the tour of the factory. They had been around for over 25 years and are currently serving the most teams of any clothing factory. Their specialty is small teams so i guess this would make sense.

I didn't realize that sublimation process to make the clothing entails painting paper, then laying cloth on the paper while subjecting it to super hot temperatures until the paint from the paper transfers to the cloth. But even cooler than that was to witness my actual skinsuit being sewn together - what timing.

Off to bed now. It's 9:38pm and i can no longer keep my eyes open. Slaapwel en tot morgen.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Killing time at the airport

I'm writing from Boston's Logan Airport. Flight takes off in 1 hour 43 minutes...and hopefully counting. We have already had one delay.

Coach Elmo is always giving me a hard time for incessantly claiming various lessons learned. A few minutes ago my lesson learned was that it would have been easier to be a fencer when checking in for a flight. There is now a VERY strictly enforced bag weight limit of 50 pounds. What I'd like to know is how to get a bike box under 50 pounds while only traveling with a bag limit of two checked bags?

There's a lot of equipment that comes with cycling! Now imagine traveling with TWO bikes. The box weighed in at 97 pounds. My two options: 1. pay $315.10 or 2. relocate 30 pounds from the bike box to a cardboard box that I can purchase for $10.50. That way i'd only have to pay $105 for the extra box and $50 for the overweight bike box. Total= $165.50 - just to ride a bike. It's almost as if they penalize you for trying to be healthy. OK, so maybe i'm being a little bit of a drama queen. It's ok. I got them back. My wheel box was well over the 50 pound limit - they forgot to weigh it! Neener-neener!

Tomorrow i get to pick up all my trick clothes from BioRacer. They make the nicest clothes for the typical cyclist's body - skinny arms, big quads. I know what you're thinking - yeah, i have the skinny arms BUT skinny legs too. Don't let my Olive Oyl (did i spell it correctly this time?) build deceive you. My jeans are normally too tight on the quads and too big in the waist - just like the rest of you cyclists! The most trick of all the BioRacer items are their new tights. They now have the full-side-zip tights that all the pros rip off at the start line. I've wanted these style tights even before i was a bike racer! AND to have them with pink plaid Vanderkittens all over them, well that's just clearly over the top. I normally don't get so excited about cycling clothes (yes, especially after spending the summer covered head to toe in prunes) but the VDK stuff is just flat out cool (ok, maybe i'm a little biased. but as many of you know i never claimed this about my last road kit!)

On a side note, I was forwarded a really fun video link made by a fellow racer named cTodd who documented the events of last weekend. After watching it, you'll feel like you were there. He was parked next to me and geWilli. And the last of the video is of my longtime friend Andrew, who took all the photos of me during the races, displaying his origami skills.

(photo to right is of two of the more colorful supporters at the race. )

Gotta get ready to hurry up and wait for the flight now. Next posting will be tomorrow (wednesday.) Hey, Big Bad Wolf, how's the weather?

Monday, October 15, 2007

2 down, 23 to go...

What a rude awakening...starting with the 3am wakeup last wednesday - only after 1.5 hrs What a rudeof sleep - so i could catch the 6am flight. Every time people bitch about trans-american jetlag I'm always the first person to call them on their BS. Well, my name is Peanut and I suffer from jetlag.

It was really obvious to me Geoff when i just couldn't normalize until noon each day. Maybe i should have had a dunkin donuts coffee like geoff did. Instead i opted for the fresh organic french pressed coffee that made at home for us. I still don't get why he'd get a dunkin donuts crap coffee after making three full LARGE thermoses full of thick rich tasty coffee.

On saturday, we got up at 6am for 7am departure so Geoff would make it to his race on time. I slept in the car the whole way there and continued to sleep straight through the start of his race! (by the way, geoff kicked ass for the first part of his race, holding solidly in 3rd to 5th place for a while until he crashed. His crash was so spectacular that he even got some airtime from the announcers! He went on to finish strong, passing a bunch of people who went by him while he was down.)

Upon awakening at 10:08, I quickly realized he was out there on the course so i flew out the car, camera in hand to get photo proof of his suffering. Just as i set up shop on a section of the course next to a group of kids, they started screaming "go dad." Wow, I surely wasn't awake enough to handle that high-pitched symphony so i changed locations and stood next to an 80 year old woman figuring she'd be quiet enough. Well, within five seconds, she whipped a cowbell out of her oversized wool coat and went wild. Third try was just past the start/finish line where the only guy in sight was a course marshall. Again, struck out - he started clapping for the guys as they rode through, but it wasn't any ordinary clap. He cupped his hands in such a way that the sound pierced my ears, seeming to get louder and louder with every smack. Back to the car.

The weekend of races were quite a shock. Every year, when i take a little time off between road and cross season, I forget just how painful racepace can be. If i wasn't awake from the cowbells, screaming kids and clap-from-hell, the virtual punch in the face i got when the whistle rang for Saturday's race surely did the job!

The race started off with my being the first called up to the line since i am currently 2nd highest USA woman on UCI international rankings. But it went downhill from there...for the first four seconds, I was in second position behind Lyne Bessette, canadian national champ and superhuman cyclist. But by the fifth second, I successfully pedaled backwards to about 20th position. My body just didn't want to go forward. I know this is what happens when you are racing your first event of the season against a bunch of gals who have already raced a handful of events, but nonetheless it is still humbling. Anyway, i spent the rest of the race chasing back to the front of the field, only managing 7th position. Lyne finished one minute ahead of 2nd place and i finished 30 seconds behind 2nd (2nd through 6th place gals worked well together on the roadie course to fend off the chasers.)

Sunday's race was even more of a shock. When your mind and body go through something as dramatic as a first race of the season, it has a bit of trouble recovering so i definitely felt a bit of fatigue during the next race. Again, within five seconds I aptly managed to pedal backwards to 20th position but this time only managed to work up to 10th (would have gotten 8th but lost 2 spots on the last lap - just didn't have it.)

Although i didn't win the races or come even close, I'm glad to have done them. Gloucester is one of the most picturesque courses in the world and is run so well that it is an honor just to be there! I also got to run into quite a few people whom i have not seen in a long time. My focus is really on the World Cup Circuit and National Championships so those races are behind me and I'm now getting ready for this weekend's World Cup Season opener in Kalmthout, Belgium. I leave here in Providence, RI tomorrow to arrive in Brussels Wednesday.

AND most of all, i was super thrilled to be there representing my new team, VANDERKITTEN!! I was easily the BEST DRESSED of ALL the racer! My Ahrens bike was a big hit too! I had swarms of folks stand around my bike lusting after it!! The funniest of all was this one 4 year-old kid who rode by on his tiny bike while staring at my pink kitten bike. He stared so hard that his bike came to a full stop when he smashed into a car parked next to our tent!

OK, gotta go. The sun is going down and my lighting system is not very good. More later. The next time i can update is on wednesday.

And if you want to check out more photos of me suffering, my friend Andrew whom i'd known for about 20 years took a bunch:

By the way, here are photos of:
the Coffee Depot in Warren, RI where I am connecting to the internet;
photo of the four of us at lunch - geoff, hannah, me and giulia;
photo of hannah's track/commuter bike

THANKS for reading and THANKS for all your support, emails, calls, positive thoughts, etc.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

First leg of trip complete!

I am typing you from The Coffee Depot in Warren, Rhode Island. I'd include photos but i forgot the cable to connect the camera to my computer. Photos will come later! It's a really cute coffee shop with real WIFI, not the kind that is somewhat free, only if you already subscribe to their wireless service.

My host housing is GeWilli . He and his family (erin and kids kailey and lindsay) are great! The kids keep me thoroughly entertained while Geoff and Erin have been making sure that my needs are met - feeding me incredibly tasty organic vegan meals, etc! I am so truly lucky - and full!

Leading up to this trip, the past few days have been so hectic with packing for Gloucester, MA (the gloucester link is to a video of the race) races, for Belgium, organizing sponsorship stuff, doing PR stuff (very , very part-time job), saying goodbye to friends, making deadline for writing gigs, doing a couple of email interviews, etc that i only finished packing at 1:30am wednesday morning - and that's with the ULTRA_MEGA SUPPORT of Don Juan, my friend who houses me while i'm in California. After a 1.5 hour nap, i was up at 3 to head off to the airport. It was at 11pm that night that i finished unpacking and got on the trainer for a few minutes to decompress from the trip. Ugh! Travel sucks. Just can't wait till the Star Trek - beam-me-up, scotty- days are here!

After sleeping for THIRTEEN HOURS, I got up, had my oatmeal (thanks GeWilli) and went out for my first training ride in Providence today - in the rain. It is so dark and dreary outside - good preparation for my trip to Belgium next week. I have a feeling i may not see the sun until March when i am in NYC for a week. Be strong, peanut, be strong. HAHAHA. Actually i'm pretty over it already. Once i made the decision to be a cyclo-cross racer, I quickly came to the realization that sunny weather and tanned skin are not part of the package.

Anyway, tomorrow is another day to relax, then my first race of the season is Saturday! I am quite nervous but excited! My goal is to do everything right - correct breakfast, correct warmup, get to start line early, etc. The result is not so important compared to doing everything right - considering it is my first race AND it's against a bunch of strong women who already have multiple races under their belt.

Oh, and i hear there is a vegan lunch party to be held tomorrow in my honor! Wow - that really is an honor! I'll take photos of all the folks AND of course the food that we eat.

OK, i gotta go home now before the "sun" goes away. I left some vanderkitten stickers behind in the coffee shop. I wonder where they will end up!

Monday, October 8, 2007


Yes, three days left here in The Bay Area! Again today we had an exquisite day - sunny, warm, and even the Blue Angels flying above us ! Doesn't get much better than that!

Next wednesday at 3:45am I am out the door to say goodbye to all my friends here as well as my kitty, Super Mega Duper, who has been staring at you from the blog. By the way, he has a new girlfriend. She almost looks just like him.

For the last few days i've been really appreciating my time here while looking forward to going back to Belgium for the cyclo-cross "world tour." To help in my transition, I got to spend yesterday with Johan who is visiting from Belgium and hear stories about his homeland. I even got to practice a few words in dutch like "Smakelijk" before our meals and "alstublieft" when i hand him something so I don't completely forget everything i learned in my last trips there.

Of all the challenging aspects of traveling back and forth between belgium and here (besides trying to figure out which clothes stay and which go) , I would say the most annoying is having to get back into a routine again. I know bike racers aren't supposed to be "creatures of habit" but i do admit i really love waking up in the same bed, to the same breakfast, to the same training roads, and even to the same fleet of bikes! Oh, on a side note regarding fleet of bikes, I rode the Ahrens Whole Shot at tempo on some seriously technical cyclo-cross terrain and it felt like an extension of me! I have never felt like a bike was more perfectly suited for cyclo-cross AND for my agressive riding style as my trusty chocolate brown & pink plaid Vanderkitten Ahrens mobile!

Tonight is bike accessory night. I will spend the next two hours in the garage going through every bike part and accessory i've accumulated over the past years in hopes of figuring out what to keep in the garage, what to give away, what to take and what to take with me. Fun.

Tomorrow is clothing night. Again, i have to go through every piece of clothing to determine what category above it falls in. My goal is to have all packing done by tuesday morning so i can sit back and relax the night before i fly. That's the goal, anyway! Time will tell...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

World Veggie Day was intersting...

World Vegetarian Day was an interesting experience! I rode my fixed gear from Mill Valley to San Francisco - masterfully navigated through the waves of cyclotourists over the golden gate bridge, smoothly headed up and over the Presidio, weaved in and out of the city streets, and entered Golden Gate park without a hitch.

Unfortunately i had no idea how get around the park so i circled around for longer than it took me to get there. Central Park in NYC was much easier - there's the one loop that runs through the park and that's it. After asking at least 27 people for directions - which is always a challenge when you are in a tourist-heavy location - I stumbled across a few granola-crunchies wearing tie-dyed oversized tees, peasant skirts and barely-there sandles. After lurking behind them for a few minutes, they led me directly to the Veggie Day Festival! Score!

Immediately upon arriving at my speakers table, I sat my water bottle and a few other things down. Within no more than three seconds, crazed event attendees grabbed all my personal crap and walked away! WTF!!!! After retrieving as much as i could, i got down to putting some probars (vegan energy bar sponsor of mine) along with a few other display items such as a vanderkitten (my sponsor who makes clothing for women who KICK ASS!) water bottle, VDK stickers, VDK tattoos, a full-size Beljum Budder (chamois cream) with a few mini samples, and my VDK camo tee that i planned to wear for my speech. Again, within three seconds, passerbys grabbed IT ALL!!! F_CK!!! Once again, i was off to get the tee and beljum budder, etc back. Luckily I found the tee but the full-size beljum budder and fistfulls of probars were gone. Unbelievable. I had this preconceived notion that vegetarians would have better manners than the meat-eating variety - I'm a dumbass.

After clearing off everything from the table but the VDK stickers and tattoos, my trading cards, beljum budder stickers, and ProBars (cut into sample-sized pieces), we were officially open for business.

I forgot how much effort it is to work a booth! Don, Art and I were cutting ProBars nonstop to keep up with the demanding public!

Probably the most interesting off all experiences at world veggie day was to see the "nutritional vegans" in the same room as the "animal rights vegans." Since i am an active part of both sides, I never really noticed that they don't really mingle. I don't know why i find that strange...

I may get around to writing more on world veggie day but first i must post photos of my BRAND NEW AHRENS PIMPMOBILE!! To come shortly...

Oh, and if you want to read about Flandria's very kind coverage of the event, here's her blog link.

The photo of the rear bike wheel contains my newest trading card - the VANDERKITTEN edition. It is on the wheel of one of my crazed fans. haha!