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Team Kenda: Nature Valley Grand Prix Will Be a Quest to Remember

May 28, 2010

So there we were, two girls driving down the open road, windows rolled down, music blaring, and a race playing in our heads.  My husband Aaron once told me that two women driving was a dangerous situation. I beg to differ….it’s a pretty awesome adventure when there are women involved.  Anna Barnesfield (Ladies First Racing Team) and I were headed to the Wilmington Grand Prix and Kelly Cup in Wilmington, DE and Baltimore, MD. Anna (riding for Ladies First) was racing both days. I was only racing the Kelly Cup on Sunday since I didn’t make the Wilmington roster in time. It was a relief to be driving on the open road after a very stressful day at the office.  With all the stress left behind in Norwood, I was ready for some Mid-Atlantic criterium action. As the radio blared, my mind flashed to an e-mail I received a few weeks back, after returning home from the Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayetteville, AR.

The e-mail was from my team manager Paul, “Dear Mel, It was really a treat to meet you this past weekend. I want to let you know that I am putting you on the Nature Valley Grand Prix roster. Please advise me if you cannot make it. Cheers, Paul.” I read the e-mail, twice, and screamed with glee in my tiny office. My co-workers were curious as to all the commotion. I called my husband Aaron.  “I’m in!  Paul let me in!” I didn’t have the time off from work yet, but I knew my boss would want me to pursue this. With the Nature Valley Grand Prix being a top priority, I was making every effort to get to the top races, to help prepare for the upcoming stage race in Minnesota.

Back on the road to Wilmington, Anna and I stopped for a room in New Jersey. The reservation was for the Extended Stay America.  We pulled up, attempted to check in, and the lady behind the counter looked into her system, “Ma’am, I do not have a reservation for you two. Are you sure it’s this hotel? There’s another one across the street.  The sign on the hotel across the street read “Office.”  We threw our bags back into the car and drove across the road in the industrial lot.  Sure enough, the building had a sign on the front that read “Office.”  There was no sign of a hotel, or even a motel, anywhere. “That’s weird,” Anna said, “you’d think there would be some sign that said ‘hotel’ or something.”  We checked in, and, though the missing sign made it appear to be a little sketchy, the room had a fridge, stove, and even peace and quiet for a good night’s rest. It was perfect for a bike racer. The next morning we left with good time for Anna to warm up and check out the course in Wilmington.

Wilmington was a city stricken with hunger.  Many people pushed around carts with their belongings.  Trash littered the ground as a gust of wind blew through the streets.  A parade of locals marched through the downtown course; high school marchers, girl scouts, a family on vintage bicycles, and the food bank, all in an effort to raise awareness and get support for the hungry. Afterwards, bikes flooded the course and the pro women were the first to go.  Deep down, I felt a little envy as I wanted to be in the race so badly, yet there I stood: a spectator.

Despite my dismay, I did find advantages of watching the race from a new perspective.  The course was technical and fast with many turns and a few short climbs.  Immediately the field stretched out from the high speed and soon a break formed with 5 women.  I watched every move the riders made at as many angles of the course as possible.  Who attacked, when, and what did they look like when they made their move?  Were they aggressive, or passive? Facial expressions? Where were their teammates, and who were the dominant riders?  Everything I absorbed so I could use for when I’d race against them…in the Nature Valley Grand Prix. I couldn’t afford not to, as the top ranking NRC teams were racing.

My Kenda teammates were very aggressive, especially Silke Wunderwald, who worked hard at the front, and Anna McLoon, who made a courageous move with three laps to go in an attempt to bridge up to the lead group.  She didn’t quite make it, but still she finished eighth in the race.

After the race, Anna Barnesfield (Ladies First Racing Team) and I met up with another racer named Amy McGuire (Wheelworks Racing) and drove to Baltimore to stay the night. Our hotel again gave us something to laugh about and great stories to share! I was excited to finally get some usage out of my legs.

We got to the course on Sunday, early again.  Since the Kelly Cup was no longer an NRC event, some of the top ranking NRC teams had left town, but a few ladies stayed for the race, including Kasey Manderfield (Vanderkitten Racing) and Laura Van Guilder (Mellow Mushroom Racing) . The course was very loopy, without any real corners, so the field stayed together for the most part.  The first few laps were a little slow but once a prime bell rang, it brought on the intensity. I stayed near the front but would get pushed back on every now and then.

On Lap 10 there was a prime and I planned my attack perfectly, grabbing two other wheels in front of me and riding them until just 50 meters from the line, I attacked and sprinted with all my might.  I looked at the line, just two feet away and thought for sure I had the prime, but in one instant, Laura Van Guilder (Mellow Mushroom Racing), the sprinting legend, blew right past me, putting me right in my place. I laughed under my breath and, at same time, jumped to grab Laura’s wheel as she escaped up the road.  I ended up pulling the pack with me, but as the pace had increased, girls were falling off the back.  Laura had attacked again and broke away up the road but the group caught her. The last lap came up on me unexpectedly as I thought for sure there were still two-laps to go.  “One lap to go….one lap to go!”  The bell was ringing wildly!  I had to move up but everyone was moving up too.  The pace was so fast and I was a little terrified on the turns, but I knew that I had to stay on the wheels. I didn’t move up far enough in time when the sprint broke loose, leading to my 26th-place finish.

We cooled down, packed the car, and even brought a Kiwi rider, Emma Petersen (7thgroove/RE:FORM Body Clinic), with us.  She needed a place to stay before the Tour of Somerville and I remember being in her shoes when I was in Europe. I had no room in my tiny apartment, but Anna, being good hearted, opened her apartment up to a fellow rider and the perfect stranger.  “Good Karma will come back to you,” I said to Anna.  “Someone will help you out down the road, too.”  We drove off, getting stuck in traffic in DE, and finally, after agonizing hours of stop-and-go traffic on the interstate, we made it through NJ, NY, and finally home on I-95.  The gas light came on and we pulled off three separate times for gas. The first exit did not have a gas station, the second exit had a gas station that was recently razed, with just a big gaping hole remaining. The third and final try was our charm, as we fueled up and finally got home.

I fell asleep still thinking about my race and how I couldn’t wait for another chance to race against the greatest American riders and another chance to ride with the team. My drive to Baltimore was very long for a 60 minute race, but was something I couldn’t afford not to do as Nature Valley Grand Prix would be hosting the top NRC teams and riders.  I could not afford to miss an opportunity of racing against the most experienced riders such as Laura van Guilder. Without pushing my physical and mental limits, they would just leave me in the dust come mid-June. It’s only a few weeks now and that Nature Valley Grand Prix will not just be an event I think and dream about, but will be something that I do…something I will remember. Until then, I will be on the road with more experiences, adventures and pushing myself even harder.

About the author

photo courtesy of Paul Forsythe

Melissa Ross is a full-time graphic designer and marketer for a small company in Norwood, MA.  She grew up in Gillette, WY and graduated from the University of Wyoming with a Bachelor of Arts in 2008.  She met her husband on the UW (University of Wyoming) cycling team. In 2008, Melissa spent the summer in Europe racing for French and Dutch teams and also spent a month in the spring with the US National team’s development program. In her spare time, Melissa loves to bike, cook, and write. For 2010, Melissa is racing for Team Kenda.

About Team Kenda Women’s Cycling

Team Kenda began in 1999 as Team Ameritech with nine riders who excelled at bicycle racing.  Over the years, the team has steadily grown in size and now boasts NRC Elite and Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and West Regional Teams. The team competes in the United States focusing on the National Race Calendar (NRC).  (http://www.teamkenda.com)

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Ask the TRIA Orthopaedic Surgeon

May 27, 2010

Cycling is a relatively low-impact sport. When joints ache, identifying the cause is crucial to staying on the bike and out on the road or trail. Ankles can be an issue, especially if there are underlying issues leading to ankle pain.

For the answer, we asked asked Dr. Fernando Pena, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon with the TRIA Orthopaedic Center, whose specialties include foot and ankle issues, reconstruction, and sports medicine.

The ankle is a very forgiving joint. Ankles are most sensitive to weight bearing activities, and mainly to impact or pounding activities.

Even though some cycling activity may take place standing on the pedals and getting up from the saddle, the forces that cross the ankle joint are not comparable to the forces we put on our ankles when we run across the street (nine times body weight in the case of running).

Ankle pain while riding is likely related to the shoe-toe clip relationship. The two most likely scenarios are from having some intraarticular (inside the joint) pathology (cartilage damage, internal scar tissue and so forth), or from having some sort of malalignment (bowed knees or “X” knees) within the kinetic chain of the lower extremities, and this can include the way your feet are clipped into the pedals, the height of the seat, the tendency to turn in your knees while pedaling in an effort to improve aerodynamics, and so forth.

The only “simple” ankle pain that can be improved is the inside (or medial) ankle pain that is more pronounced when riding hard. That pain likely will come from a tendon struggling to maintain the inside arch of the foot in a proper alignment (the posterior tibial tendon).  Therefore an arch support, either custom made or off the shelf, will have a beneficial impact on inside ankle pain. It is unlikely that pain like this would turn into a catastrophic outcome.  But if left untreated the tendon may become more and more inflamed to the point where riding and even walking are severely painful.

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Fiber One Collegiate All-Stars: Different Riders, One Goal

May 26, 2010

John Barron is a Minneapolis native with a racing and coaching background. Since catching the cycling bug from his brother in 1986, Barron has raced, coached and managed amateur and professional cycling teams, in addition to traveling with the United States Junior National Team across the pond to Belgium. At the Nature Valley Grand Prix, Barron has managed men’s and woman’s professional teams and, most recently, the Fiber One Collegiate All-Stars. This composite team, hand-picked by Barron himself, is privy to free race entry, a travel stipend, host housing, a team manager, mechanic, soigneur and massage therapist. Over the last 3 years, the team has done very well, and 10 All-Star riders have earned professional cycling contracts. In addition to managing the Fiber One team, Barron also raises the visibility and excitement level for the team, producing trading cards of each racer to hand out to children and adults alike at each race venue. After the stage, fans crowd around the Fiber One tent to get the racer’s autographs. Here’s what John has to say about managing the Fiber One Collegiate All-Star team:

May 7, 2010 is when everything began for the Fiber One Collegiate All-Stars.

The USA Cycling Collegiate National Championships started on this day and the podium for the individual omniums in both Division 1 (larger schools, or schools offering scholarships in cycling) and Division 2 was determined the next day. This year, the top several women in both divisions had already been taken by pro teams so they weren’t eligible for my team. While I would have loved to build my team with these elite women, it’s best that the pro teams are discovering the talent that collegiate cycling is delivering to the peloton. I offered spots on the team to the best-finishing available women at Nationals and here they are:

Jennifer Purcell – Midwestern State University

Elle Anderson – Dartmouth College

Rita Klofta – DePauw University

Flora Duffy – University of Colorado – Boulder

Leia Tyrrell – Oregon State University

Kimberley Turner – Seattle Pacific University

One of our biggest challenges as a team is to form a cohesive group in only a few days. Most of the other teams that we will be competing against have spent a lot of time together, so small issues have been ironed-out. With the Fiber One Collegiate All-Stars, the team mechanic will be seeing every team bike for the first time only days before competition begins. These machines will wear a variety of components and will be in a wide range of “fitness for use!”  A team that’s been racing together for months or years would have each bike perfectly dialed-in by the mechanic by the time the Nature Valley Grand Prix rolls around.

Our soigneur will have to accommodate 6 different guts, each with its own tolerance and preference for on-the-bike drink mix and post-race drink mix. This will take him extra time each day that could be otherwise spent on other preparations. Other teams usually have everyone on the same mix. Not only is this easier, but it reduces/eliminates the risk of the wrong rider getting the wrong bottle at feed zones and when hand-ups are done in the caravan.

Our massage therapist will have to learn each team member’s aches and pains as soon as they arrive in the Twin Cities on Monday June 14. He doesn’t have the benefit of knowing each rider’s musculature and needs well ahead of time.

Despite the apparent advantage that other teams have over us in the examples above, my team will have a level of enthusiasm and energy that few teams can match.

In the past 3 years, 18 Collegiate All-Stars have competed in the Nature Valley Grand Prix.  10 of these women have landed spots on professional cycling teams. I have no doubt that members of this year’s team will do the same next year!

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Women Selected to 2010 Fiber One Collegiate All-Stars Roster

May 25, 2010

Composite Team of Top Female Collegiate Cyclists Will Race in Nature Valley Grand Prix

Minneapolis (May 24, 2010) – USA Cycling and the organizers of the Nature Valley Grand Prix announced today the selection of the fourth annual Fiber One Collegiate Women’s All-Stars team. The All-Stars include six female collegiate riders chosen to compete against professional cycling teams in the Nature Valley Grand Prix, June 16-20.

The team was selected at the 2010 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships, held May 7-9, in Madison, Wis. Selection of this year’s team was based on the final overall standings (omnium). Riders on the Fiber One Collegiate All-Stars Team represent different collegiate teams who are not members of a professional or elite amateur team already registered to attend the Nature Valley Grand Prix.

The 2010 Fiber One Collegiate All-Stars include:
Jennifer Purcell – Midwestern State University
Elle Anderson – Dartmouth College
Rita Klofta – DePauw University
Flora Duffy – University of Colorado-Boulder
Leia Tyrrell – Oregon State University
Kimberley Turner – Seattle Pacific University

Seattle Pacific’s Kimberley Turner said it was her goal to place well enough at collegiate nationals to earn a spot on the Fiber One Collegiate All Star Team.

“As a full-time student, it’s definitely hard to balance academics and training,” Turner said, “but it’s amazing to see all the hard work paying off. I am so excited to have the opportunity to race with some of the top women in North America.”

Leia Tyrrell of Oregon State University said an article about the Fiber One Composite Team piqued her interest.

“It is such an amazing opportunity for a student, who may not otherwise have the resources to go to such a big race,” Tyrrell said. “I am ecstatic that I got a spot on the team.”

“We’re always on the lookout for rising stars,” said Team TIBCO/To the Top Director Linda Jackson. “We pay particular attention to the Fiber One Collegiate All Stars team at the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Devon Haskell and Amanda Miller came to my team from that program, but virtually every team in the women’s peloton includes alumni from the Fiber One Collegiate All Stars.”

Several alumni of the Collegiate All Star Team are racing for professional cycling teams, including: Erica Allar (Penn State) & Carla Swart (Lees-McRae College), Team Vera Bradley; Devon Haskell (University of Chicago) & Amanda Miller (Colorado State), Team TIBCO/To the Top and Kristin McGrath (Fort Lewis College) & Sinead Miller (Marian College), Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12.

Along with the honor of selection to the team, each all-star cyclist receives free entry into the 2010 Nature Valley Grand Prix plus host housing, a support staff comprised of a team manager, mechanic and soigneur, an operating budget, clothing and a travel stipend.

About the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival
The Nature Valley Bicycle Festival is one of the nation’s top celebrations for the bicycle culture, with tens of thousands of cycling enthusiasts, pro athletes and avid recreational riders converging on Minnesota each June. Its professional racing event, the Nature Valley Grand Prix began as a one-day criterium in Saint Paul in 1999.  Its schedule and prestige have grown steadily until now, in its 12th year, it is ranked at the top of the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar. The 2010 Nature Valley Grand Prix schedule includes a unique mix of three criteriums (short circuit races), two road races and a time trial as the stages of the race move from downtown Saint Paul, to Cannon Falls, to Minneapolis, to Menomonie, Wisconsin and finally culminates in Stillwater. The Nature Valley Bicycle Festival is a volunteer run event, with all proceeds donated to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, the festival’s benefiting charity. For more information visit www.naturevalleybicyclefestival.com

About USA Cycling
Recognized by the United States Olympic Committee and the Union Cycliste Internationale, USA Cycling is the official governing body for all disciplines of competitive cycling in the United States, including road, track, mountain bike, BMX and cyclocross. As a membership-based organization, USA Cycling comprises 66,500+ licensees; 2,200 clubs and teams; and 34 local associations. The national governing body sanctions 2,650 competitive and non-competitive events throughout the U.S. each year and is responsible for the identification, development, and support of American cyclists. To learn more about USA Cycling, visit www.usacycling.org.

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Ask the TRIA Orthopaedic Surgeon

May 20, 2010

Sometimes it’s inevitable: on a longer ride, or on colder days, our hands can begin to feel tingly or numb. In the case of weather, it might be improperly covered digits, but when the numbness occurs on a more frequent basis, it could be something more. Whether it be bike equipment or your cycling gloves, numbness shouldn’t occur in any way, shape or form when you’re riding your bike.

In this edition of “Ask the TRIA Orthopaedic Surgeon,” we got our answer from Deb Bohn, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in elbow, hand & wrist, pediatric upper extremity, and shoulder fractures. Here’s what she had to say about hand numbness during cycling:

Prolonged gripping, or pressure on the palms, can cause numbness in the fingers. This is due to compression of the median nerve, whose job is to give feeling to the thumb, index, long and half of the ring fingers.  As long as the numbness goes away within a few minutes of letting go of the handlebars, these symptoms are merely an annoyance rather than worrisome.

Some strategies for coping with these symptoms include altering the position of your hands on the handlebars, switching the hand that squeezes the brake, letting your arm hang at your side for a few seconds, using a more relaxed grip on the handlebars, keeping your wrists straight rather than bent way back, or wearing gloves that have pads on the outsides of the palm to keep pressure off the center of the palms.

For more information about Dr. Bohn, as well as the other doctors at TRIA, go to their website and look around: http://tria.com/

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Anna McLoon: There’s No Place Like Home

May 19, 2010

It’s funny, isn’t it, how much you realize you love a place when you move away?  I grew up in Roseville, Minnesota, and even though I have spent the better part of the last 10 years in Cambridge, Massachusetts, first for college and then for graduate school, I love Minnesota more now than I ever did during high school.  I think that’s the reason why the Nature Valley Grand Prix is one of my favorite races in the year; it gives me a chance to combine two things I love: racing my bicycle, and going home. This will be my third year racing the Nature Valley Grand Prix (this year I’ll be racing for Team Kenda), and I can’t wait to introduce my home to my new teammates.

The day before the race starts, we’ll go for a ride to loosen up our legs from traveling, and perhaps it will be a good chance to show off the tree sculptures in the state fairgrounds and to wind our way past the conservatory and lake in Como Park.  Or perhaps later in the week we’ll ride through Roseville’s Central Park and Lake Josephine as we get our blood flowing before the Minneapolis criterium.  Or maybe on the way back from the final race in Stillwater, we’ll stop at the Dairy Queen in North St. Paul, and will give our greetings to the giant snowman.  In short, I can’t wait to introduce some of my favorite places to my teammates who may have never visited the “land of 10,000 lakes.”

At the same time, I love the opportunity to convince my family and friends in Minnesota that bike racing is super fun.  The past two years, I swear half the people at some of the stages were cheering for me: high school friends, teachers, old teammates, friend’s parents.  My mom had never seen me race my bike until the St. Paul criterium last year, and although it makes her nervous (I can see how watching your daughter lean into a 90 degree turn at 25 miles an hour with more than 100 other cyclists might make a mother nervous), she thought it was fun to watch!  I didn’t start racing bicycles until I started graduate school almost four years ago, so it’s been a great opportunity to introduce my “new” sport to friends who’ve never watched a bike race before.

Of course, there are plenty of other reasons to love the race. The courses are fun and challenging, giving me a chance to test my training and to see what I can do on the bike.  It’s a great opportunity to check in with my coach, Fiona Lockhart, who lives in Minneapolis.  Like most cyclists, I mostly communicate with her via phone and e-mail, so it’s nice for her to actually watch the races and for us to talk without the barrier of the computer or telephone.  But probably most of all, I love to go home to the best state in the country.  I can’t wait to race again in front of my family and friends.  If you come to the races and hear the person next to you shouting “Go Anna” at the passing rider dressed in green, join in.  I’m excited because I think this year’s race will be, not just a Minnesotan “pretty good” but, as I’ve learned to say out here in Massachusetts, I think this year’s race will be “wicked awesome.”

About the author

Anna McLoon is a PhD candidate at Harvard University, in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences PhD program.  She grew up in Roseville, MN, graduating from the Roseville Area High School in 2000.  In her spare time, she races bicycles, and will spend 2010 racing for Team Kenda.

About Team Kenda Women’s Cycling

Team Kenda began in 1999 as Team Ameritech with nine riders who excelled at bicycle racing.  Over the years, the team has steadily grown in size and now boasts NRC Elite and Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and West Regional Teams. The team competes in the United States focusing on the National Race Calendar.  (http://www.teamkenda.com)

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Jeremy Fliss: Joe Martin Wrap-Up

May 18, 2010

Jeremy Fliss is a St. Paul-based soigneur for the WEBCOR Professional Cycling team. He has provided us with yet another blog about another stage race. This time, it was Joe Martin in Arkansas.

We left Silver City almost immediately following the race finale and made our way to Fayetteville, AR by way of Albuquerque to send our director home and to see Canadian rider Joelle Numainville off to Pan Am Championships. Aside from being stopped by Oklahoma highway patrol for a burnt out headlight, the 750 miles went by without a hitch.

However, the following day I went out for a spin with the riders who intended on riding for ~1.5 hours, and I wanted to add another 30 minutes or so. Which turned into another 3.5 hours only after a kind landscaper returned me to our host house. I definitely need to get the internal compass checked. So after a good work out, all of the riders got quick massages, or “rubs,” to flush out their legs after a day and a half in the car and a short bike ride. Wednesday, was another relatively laid back day with another easy ride. I did NOT stray from the others and returned home safely. Dave, the mechanic, and I spent the evening preparing bikes and supplies for Joe Martin’s Thursday individual time trial at Devil’s Den State Park.

Arriving two hours before our first rider sets forth, essentially a drag race up hill for 9-10 minutes, we set up stationary trainers, chairs and supplies in a campground. As the riders warm up, Dave makes sure the bikes are running smoothly, as I make sure the riders get what they need as they ride the trainers. When all was said and done, Webcor’s Katheryn Mattis stood on top of the results by a fraction of a second over Vera Bradley Foundation’s Alison Powers.

Day two was a point-to-point race finishing with an uphill sprint in downtown Fayetteville. Conditions were reminiscent of day two at [Tour of the] Gila, and the riders faced a fierce headwind for the last 30 or so miles while ascending. The wind held the field together as they came through the feed zone, all the way to the finish, where a bunch sprint was won by the Colavita/Baci team. The overall standings shuffled Katheryn Mattis and Alison Powers into reverse order by a handful of seconds.

On the third day, the weather looked as though it could open up and rain at any time, but once again held off. The day’s course was a lollipop, or out on one road to a smaller circuit, do two laps and then head back on the same road taken out of town. Again, the field was not motivated and the pace stayed civil, allowing another bunch sprint. There was no major shake up of the standings, everyone stayed upright and a major showdown was scheduled for the crit finale the following day.

After all of the riders visited the massage table, we headed out with our awesome host mom and some other riders to celebrate my birthday at the Flying Burrito, a Fayetteville institution. If you are ever in that area and feeling invincible, order the MOAB (mother of all burritos).

Sunday morning started with more promises of rain, wind and cold temperatures. Two out of three is not bad, and everyone stayed dry. After some modifications to the course over previous years to accommodate a simultaneous event, the riders struck out on 60 minutes around the 12 corner course. Even for professional and elite cyclists, it’s a lot of corners. Early crashes splintered the field and the selection was made from which the day’s winner would emerge. With 2 laps to go, the Vera Bradley team was on the attack.  When the riders emerged, charging for the finish line, Vera Bradley rider Alex Rhodes was pulling away from Katheryn Mattis, who was trying to put a gap between herself and Alison Powers. In the end, Rhodes won handily and Mattis didn’t gain enough time to overtake Powers for first place overall. I’d have to say that I haven’t seen a much greater display of determination and guts in a long time. Well done to everyone involved. You did your best and that is all we can ask.

OK…time to pack and drive. For me, that is home for a few weeks before the big race in Philly. The mechanic is headed out east, most riders flying home. Katheryn Mattis is off to the Tour de l’Aude, and Joelle will return from Pan Ams after winning a silver medal in the road race, just behind Shelly Evans Olds of Peanut Butter and Co. 2012.

After roughly 3000 miles of driving, I need to sleep now.

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Ask the TRIA Orthopaedic Surgeon

May 14, 2010

Depending on the stability of our joints, and the ligaments and cartilage enveloping said joints, noises might occur during a variety of exercises. Relatively impact-free, cycling can elicit some clicking or popping in the knee joints when harder efforts (read: gears) are performed, as well as when the knees are fully extended in the pedal stroke when standing up and out of the saddle to climb or bridge a gap. The real question is: should we be worried about that sound or sensation?

For the answer, we asked asked Dr. Fernando Pena, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon with the TRIA Orthopaedic Center, whose specialties include foot and ankle issues, reconstruction, and sports medicine. Here’s what he thinks about the uncommon sounds and feelings of harder efforts or climbing out of the saddle:

For the most part, clicks, clonks and pops of any joint, as long as they are pain free, should not be a reason for concern. If the noises are associated with some pain or locking, then you should be evaluated by a physician or physical therapist. When it comes to the knee, you could have a torn meniscus (internal cartilage of the joint) that is getting caught or pinched when you bend the knee.  The definitive solution/answer to a problem like this would be to have an arthroscopic (small incisions and looking inside the joint with a little camera and instruments) intervention of the knee.

The only painful noises not to be concerned about are the ones coming from the front of the knee under the kneecap. Cycling, by design, is one of the healthiest sports for the knee cap joint. Appropriate seat height adjustment is critical to help eliminate knee noises and mild discomfort of the front of the knee.

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Four More Added To Nature Valley Pro Ride Rosters; Next Qualifier This Weekend

May 12, 2010

Minneapolis (May 12, 2010) — The rosters of the Nature Valley Pro Ride men’s and women’s teams are more than halfway filled, with another two riders to be selected this weekend.

Sunday’s Bear Mountain Spring Classic in Harriman State Park in New York will be contested on a challenging 21-mile loop that includes a climb of more than two miles, with some parts reaching a 12 percent grade. This climb is likely to be the decisive factor in the race. The Pro-I-II men race 80 miles while the women’s qualifying race is 50 miles. The event is promoted by the Century Road Club Association, one of the oldest bicycle racing clubs in the nation.

“The Bear Mountain Spring Classic is one of the most challenging one-day races in the Nature Valley Pro Ride Series,” Nature Valley Grand Prix Executive Director David LaPorte said. ”The qualifiers from this race will be well-prepared for the new Menomonie Road Race, which will put even the best climbers to the test.”

Four qualifiers from the past two Nature Valley Pro Ride events have been added to the roster of each composite team for the 2010 Nature Valley Grand Prix. The 12th annual edition of the premier stage race on the 2010 USA Cycling National Racing Calendar will be held in East Central Minnesota and Western Wisconsin, June 16-20.

Qualifying from the Barrio Logan Grand Prix/San Luis Rey Road Race omnium May 1-2 are Brandon Gritters
(Williams Cycling presented by SC VELO) of Mission Viejo, Calif., and Emily Kachorek
(Wells Fargo Racing Team) of Sacramento, Calif. Kachorek is the wife of former pro Pete Knudsen, a Minnesota native who placed third at the Stillwater Criterium in the 2003 edition of the Nature Valley Grand Prix.

Qualifying from the Cherry Blossom Cycling Classic April 23-25 in Oregon were Sue Butler (River City Bicycles) of Portland, Ore., and Gabe Varela (San Diego Bicycle Club) of Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. Butler has previously represented the United States at the cyclocross world championships in 2008 and 2009.

Previous women’s qualifiers for the Nature Valley Pro Ride are Kristen Meshberg of Lyons, Ill., and Monroe, Ga., resident Nancy Jones. Previous men’s qualifiers are Zach Garrett of Sumter, S.C. and Lawrence, Kan., resident Joseph Schmalz of the Mercy Cycling Team.

The final Nature Valley Pro Ride event is the Mt. Hamilton Classic Road Race/Memorial Day Criterium, May 30-31, in California.

Nature Valley Pro Riders who are invited to compete in the Nature Valley Grand Prix earn free entry to the race, generous travel stipends, team clothing, housing, ground transportation, and staff support for their composite teams. They also receive pro-level recognition before, during and after the events, including pre-race call-ups and participation in promotional and media appearances.

For more information, visit www.NatureValleyProRide.com.

About the Nature Valley Grand Prix


The Nature Valley Grand Prix, which takes place in Eastern Minnesota and Western Wisconsin, is the premier stage race on the 2010 USA Cycling National Racing Calendar. The 2010 race will include stops in Saint Paul, Cannon Falls, Minneapolis, Menomonie, and Stillwater. The Nature Valley Grand Prix is a volunteer-run event, with all proceeds donated to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, the festival’s benefiting charity. More information can be found at: www.NatureValleyGrandPrix.com.

About Nature Valley


Nature Valley, the brand that created the granola bar category in 1975, brings variety to healthy, active consumers looking for wholesome and great-tasting snacks. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Nature Valley is part of General Mills, a leading global manufacturer and marketer of consumer foods products. For more information, visit www.NatureValley.com.

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Abbott Takes Individual Lead In Women’s Prestige Cycling Series

May 11, 2010

Minneapolis – Mara Abbott of Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12 is the new leader of the Women’s Prestige Cycling Series after the second of four events on the 2010 schedule.

Abbott tops the individual standings over Alison Powers (Team Vera Bradley Foundation) on the strength of her overall win at the recent SRAM Tour of the Gila. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, who won the Redlands Bicycle Classic to initially take the Series lead, is third.

“The SRAM Tour of the Gila was an epic race,” Abbott said. “Mother Nature threw all sorts of conditions at us, but my team protected me throughout the race and we came out on top. The team work was A+ and its the only way to win a race like that.”

Snowflakes fell at the SRAM Tour of the Gila as Mara Abbott was recognized as the new leader of the Women’s Prestige Cycling Series (photo courtesy www.gilawilderness.com).

Abbott also leads the Best Young Rider (Under 26) classification and her Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12 team is tops in the team category. Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12 Manager Nicola Cranmer said she is happy to see her team at the top of the standings for the Women’s Prestige Series.

“We have  a very well rounded team that can battle in all terrain,” Cranmer said. “The riders are very much looking forward to the Nature Valley Grand Prix. SRAM Tour of the Gila was one of the most challenging races I have witnessed. (Director) Kristin Armstrong had not seen winds like that in her 10 years of racing. Kudos to all the teams that endured the adversity. It’s a great race to include in the series.”

INDIVIDUAL CLASSIFICATION
1. Mara Abbott, Peanut Butter & Co.TWENTY12 – 319.
2. Alison Powers, Team Vera Bradley Foundation – 253.
3. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, HTC-Columbia – 220.
4. Katharine Carroll, Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12 – 175.
5. Robin Farina, Team Vera Bradley Foundation – 165.

BEST YOUNG RIDER (UNDER 26) CLASSIFICATION
1. Mara Abbott, Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12 – 440.
2. Rebecca Much, TIBCO/To the Top Pro Cycling Team – 231.
3. Chloe Forsman, Specialized D4W/Bicycle Haus, 220.
4. Melanie Meyers, Specialized D4W/Bicycle Haus, 209.
5. Alison Starnes, TIBCO/To the Top Pro Cycling Team – 198.

In the Sprint competition, Carmen Small (Colavita/Baci presented by Cooking Light), won that classification at the SRAM Tour of the Gila to overtake Teutenberg, who did not compete in the race. Coryn Rivera (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12) is third.

SPRINT CLASSIFICATION
1. Carmen Small, Colavita/Baci p/b Cooking Light – 252.
2. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, HTC-Columbia – 220.
3. Coryn Rivera, Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12 – 165.
4. Shelley Evans, Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12 – 165.
5. Andrea Dvorak, Colavita/Baci p/b Cooking Light – 132.

In the team standings, Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty 12 has widened its lead considerably over Team Vera Bradley Foundation, which won the team classification at Redlands. Colavita/Baci presented by Cooking Light is third.

TEAM CLASSIFICATION
1. Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12 – 873.
2. Team Vera Bradley Foundation – 654.
3. Colavita/Baci p/b Cooking Light – 475.
4. HTC-Columbia – 369.
5. Webcor Builders – 326.

The Women’s Prestige Cycling Series is the only national bicycle racing series solely showcasing the country’s top female cycling talent in four events across the country.  The third event is the Nature Valley Grand Prix (June 16-20), followed by the Cascade Cycling Classic (July 20-25).

For more information about the Women’s Prestige Cycling Series, visit the official website, www.WomenCyclists.com

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