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TRIA Orthopaedic Center Your Cycling Blog

Crash Course

June 12, 2009

Kacey Manderfield, of the Lip Smacker Cycling Team, was so kind to write a report about her race in Cannon Falls yesterday. Enjoy!

It seems to be my luck that this particular course is just out to get me. Last year in 2008 I made it though what I remember as a more difficult race, as we had to fight wind across the fields unlike the calm air we experienced this year. However, after making it safely onto the final circuit last year and even making the lead break, I ended up surfing the pavement on my rear as a rider slid out in front of me leaving those behind her no where to go. This year the frustrations of poor bike handling skills continued and once again I’m left with no options.

The Cannon Falls race course in general is a fast one for a road race. There are no truly defining climbs and with a calm wind day like we experienced this year the chances of a break getting off and sticking were quite slim. This of course results in the majority of the pack staying together in a massive group, which also means it only takes one bad decision or move to take down numerous riders. As I recall there may have been a few small encounters early on in the race that caused havoc for some. In general holding a good position and staying away from the back can keep a rider out of harms way, but sometimes even those in the best positions somehow end up in a mess. If I had to name my strengths as a rider, I think one of the first things on my list would be positioning. I generally have a good idea of a smart place to be and I can generally get myself there and maintain my spot. Yet somehow this race has managed to result in pavement contact for me two years in a row.

This year we were only about 5K from the dirt section (my favorite part!) and entering the finishing circuits and I was in good position, getting ready to navigate my way to a good spot for entering the dirt. Before I got a chance to start advancing and with no warning at all a few girls in front of me just seemed to tangle and go straight for the pavement. I don’t crash often because I’m typically pretty good at avoiding such situations but there was no getting out of this one. In no time I was on the pavement and all I really remember was hearing my helmet scrape along the ground as I came to a stop tangled in the bikes and girls in front of me. I tried to tuck my head into my arms as I was curled up on the ground and prepared for what I knew was coming – a pummeling from all the riders behind me! Sure enough one after another, a wheel in the back and two or three strong hits to the back of my helmet. Then it all stopped and I just laid there on the bottom of a heap, waiting for bikes and bodies to clear off the top.

When I finally opened my eyes I was staring at the grayish black pavement less than an inch away from my face, my Rooly glasses lying next to my head were undamaged. Once I sensed that everyone has gotten of the top of me I started to move, a bit nervous about what I might discover, but lucky for me everything on my body seemed to be alright. By the time I was uncovered and on my feet our mechanic, Max, was right there and getting the chain back on my bike. The wheels were spinning and I jumped back on the bike as Max pushed me off to continue riding. I had felt the hits to my head but nothing was enough to cause any throbbing or ach there, and other than that I could tell my left forearm had taken a pretty good blow but I could still grip the bars and as I double checked there was no bone fracture pain! At this point it was clear the day’s race was over for me and anyone behind me, but I needed to finish so I was able to start the following day’s stage.

The finishing circuits brought more comic relief to the situation. Coming out of a corner I got out of the saddle just to stretch my legs and put some more pressure on the pedals when all of the sudden I heard a noise equivalent to splintering wood, simultaneously my left hand felt the breaking fibers of my carbon bars as they snapped at the bend. As it turns out the grinding of my carbon fiber bars against the pavement during the crash had compromised their integrity. At that point the drop of my bar remained in place only because of cables and bar tap. I was expecting to be pulled from the circuits as I was so far behind the main bunch but after being told I was suppose to complete all the laps I just sat on the tops of my bars, avoiding any pressure on the left hood, and rolled around the last few laps until the race was complete and I was assured the ability to start stage 3.

Although my bars and helmet need to be replaced and I was sure to have a few scrapes and bruises, it is all just part of the sport. It is always good to ride away from a crash and at the end of the day a bad day on the bike is still better than a bad day in a cubical!


Amanda Miller’s Stage One/Two Report

June 11, 2009

We’re lucky enough to have been given access to Amanda Miller’s website and race reports. Amanda races for Lipsmackers Professional Women’s Cycling team and was so kind to submit her thoughts from yesterday’s two stages. Enjoy!

This morning was the St. Paul Riverfront Time Trial. We woke up to moist air and damp pavement. It was raining here at our host house in Stillwater. Fortunately, it was dry at the course in St. Paul. It did start raining some before more start though. I was off at 8:40am. Ouch! I think I was the 20th rider to go. I hopped on the rollers around 7:50 and started my warm-up. I didn’t get a great warm-up in because I needed to pre-check my bike position, stop by the bathroom one last time, and change my wheels.

After a small issue airing up my front wheel, I headed back to the start. Rolled up to the check-in area and made it through. I stood there for a few minutes while they called a bunch of numbers, other than mine. Finally, they started calling my number. I had 15seconds on the ramp. Go figure, I couldn’t get clipped in. I was pretty frazzled at the start, but tried to gain composure as I started. I found my rhythm and went. The course was flat and fast going out. There were some tricky sections with lots of pot holes in the S-curve. I should have pre-ridden the turn around again, because I went way too fast into it. The barriers came a bit to quick and I had to come to almost a complete stop. I sprinted my way out of the turn around and got back into the rhythm.

I saw I was gaining on my 30 second person and tried to catch her. I closed the gap even more once we got to the hill, but never closed it completely. The hill was pretty brutal but went by fast. When I came across the line, they said I had the 4th best time of the day. Sweet! However, I knew this wouldn’t last. I was pretty early to go off and there were a lot of fast girls behind me. My time was 15:08 which was good enough for 25th place.

Kristin Armstrong rode a 13:48:55. Alison Powers road at 14:01:14 and Errine Willock rode a 14:36:95. My teammate Anne finished 4th with a time of 14:36 something. Our guest rider Jessica Phillips rode a 14:52 for 13th place. Our other guest rider Edwige Pitel rode a 15:07 for 23rd place. Toni rode a 15:43 for 51st place and Kacey rode a 16:10 for 76th place.

After a lazy afternoon of lounging around, we headed over to the crit course in downtown St. Paul. It was about a 30min drive from our host house. We left plenty early, mostly out of boredom. After a quick coffee break on the course, we sat down for the team meeting. The plan was to stay safe. This crit is notoriously known for being a crash fast, especially in wet conditions. Lucky for us, the sun was out and the course was dry. Either way, it was stage 2 and we didn’t want to get into trouble. The course was a square. The backside was a slight uphill, and the finish was a slight downhill. There were lots of man hole covers to manuever so it was a pretty technical course. The 2nd to last corner was pretty tight and you had to be careful not to be pushed into the fence.

Anne and I both got call ups. Anne was called up because she is the reigning Canadian National Time Trial champion. I got called up for being a 2008 Ryan Collegiate All Star alumni. Pretty sweet! 118 riders started the crit, so start position was very helpful. The gun went off and Kristin Armstrong strung things out. Webcor, Tibco, and Colavita did a good job at keeping the pace high. I worked on holding my position in the top 20 riders the entire race. The race was pretty uneventful. There were a few attempted attacks, but nothing stuck for more than a lap. The final laps came and there was never an organized lead out taking place. All of the LipSmacker team finished the race and made the time cut.

Today is the Cannon Falls road race. It’s a 70mile road race with 4 finishing circuits. We don’t start until 5:30, so it’s another lazy day up until then. Ah, the life of a bike racer :)


Hilary’s Road Home

Hilary Billington is a professional cyclist for Team Lip Smacker. Her path to and fro the NVGP has been rough, and now she’s headed back home. Read about it:

I am on an airplane now, heading home. This is not where I want to be. I want to be with the team, resting up before the crit tonight. But I’m doing the right thing, I keep telling myself this, through my tears of disappointment. Three weeks ago I was in urgent care. As I was hooked up to an IV, I realized that even though I did “everything right” to get better from my cold the week before, well some things you just can’t control. In a matter of hours, I went from going for an easy ride, but with good legs, to full blown Pneumonia with two-thirds of my left lung filled with fluid. So, off went Philly from my schedule. But, we were hopeful and my coach (Michael Engleman of the USWCDP) and I thought Nature Valley would still be a good possibility. As things progressed, and I kept getting healthier, things were looking better and better. I had 2 solid workouts, so we figured I was good to go. I knew I would not be 100%, but my team was super supportive and a new plane ticket was bought.

The problem is, I have 2 little germ factories at home that are named Shaw (7 years) and Carleton (5 years), and contrary to what Michael might recommend, I’m not giving them up for adoption! Four days ago Shaw brought home a cold that I thought I would avoid. Apparently my immune system was not up for the challenge.

The irony in all this is that today is the one year anniversary of the day that Michael (and the USWCDP) started helping me. One year ago Michael responded to the message from “me” asking for help. I was new to the sport, and I had no idea what I was doing. But my husband knew this, and knew that I needed some direction. He also knew that I would not listen to him, no matter how much research he did. So my husband crafted the email asking for help, sent it off, and Michael responded with – “Call me, we should talk”. Scott came home that night, and filled me in on the latest developments in my email account, with the caveat that if I was really mad at him, I just didn’t have to call Michael. So, Michael and I have had many a laugh about this over the past year – he claims false representation. My answer is always the same – I know a good lawyer (my husband).

You see, last year I was in a similar predicament, I got Pneumonia and being brand new to this level of racing, I did some stupid things. I got sick, took 2 days off, then pushed it, and kept pushing it, till 4 weeks later, my asthmatic lungs said enough, and pneumonia set in.

But this time I was smart, this time it was supposed to be different. This time I had Michael’s direction; direction I was listening to. Something that is not always so easy for me. So as frustrated as I am, I know that I did the right things. My Pneumonia cleared up this time. But my immune system couldn’t handle another hit so soon after, and the first germ I came into contact with made its home in my system.

So, with “the rug pulled out from under me”, I’ve had some time to reflect. I went into this year thinking I had no where to go but up. I thought, look at how far I’ve come in the last 2 years. Just think how far I can go in the next 2 years. But, as my team mate Anne Samplonius agreed, the mountain gets much steeper the closer you get to the top. But forward I move, because I’m not about to turn around now.