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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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Life as a Pro Rider

May 29, 2009

Nikki Butterfield is our next professional rider to contribute to the NVGP blog. She currently rides for the Webcor Professional Cycling Team and is getting ready for the Nature Valley Grand Prix in a few short weeks. She was nice enough to tell us how her season has shaped up thus far. Enjoy!

Well, I was asked by the race organizers of the Nature Valley Grand Prix to write about “what it is like to be a pro rider”…. there are two things that come to mind immediately. #1 is that you have to like riding your bike, but a close #2 is you have to love to travel. My last few months have looked a little like this:

January – Australia: Jayco Bay Cycling Classic (5 days of criteriums), Australian National Championships, Track Camp in Adelaide

February- Australia: Track Nationals (4 events), packed up our apartment in Australia, 2 exams for my Masters degree;

March – USA (California)
: for my first ever Webcor Team Training Camp, Redlands Cycling Classic (5 day stage race) and then into Boulder Colorado, my base for 2009, looked for places to live, found one! Lots of administration…..

April:
Flew from Denver to San Diego for the Dana Point GP in San Diego (won for the first time in 12 months….I seem to have a habit of always being there but not winning!)- 11 hour drive- Tour of Gila (5 days) in New Mexico- 16 hours over 2 days driving- Joe Martin Tour in Arkansas (4 days)- flew Fayetteville-Chicago-NYC-Bermuda

May - ‘down time’ in Bermuda (where my husband is from), 2 papers and a mid-term exam for my Masters, 2 weeks of power hills (short and sharp) and motor pacing to prepare for Montreal World Cup and Nature Valley;

June - en route right now from Bermuda-NYC-Montreal, World Cup Saturday, Sunday off, 4 day tour, back to Bermuda for the weekend for a family wedding (the rest of my team will go to Philly), then straight back on the plane to Minnesota for Nature Valley!!

After Nature Valley I then have five straight weeks in Boulder, where I will do one of my ‘key training blocks’ for the latter part of the season.

Late July sees the Tour of Cascade and, beyond that, the “agenda” is up in air with the new Australian National Coach (Martin Barras) next week. The World Championships Course this year looks great, so I am looking forward to laying down some solid planning and starting on my path towards my major goals later in the year. I love hard, hilly, 1-day races so I am keen to get the World Cups started! My preparation leading into the Worlds last year was a lot of training (mostly hills and motor pacing) and not that much racing relative to what a lot of other pros do…. it will be interesting to see what Martin has in mind for me.

The North American season is more about 4-6 day tours which I have targeted more single stages or helping out my team-mates so the “shift” in focus is something I am looking forward to. All the racing over here is new to me, so each race is a surprise. The girls say Nature Valley should suit me, so we will see if my legs are up to the task. It will be Kristin Armstrong’s last North American race, so I am sure she will have her mind set on a good performance. Kristin loves to race hard, so it will be an exciting race to follow.

Until next time, Nikki. :)

www.nikkibutterfield.com
Twitter: NikButterfield

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Much Ado About Cycling

May 26, 2009

Rebecca Much is not your average professional cyclist. Cutting her cycling teeth in a non-cycling mecca like Chicago, Rebecca was able to drum up enough interest (and results) to catch the eye of the Webcor Builders Women’s Professional Cycling Team.

Now in her second year with Webcor, Rebecca has been called upon to contribute a few blog entries prior to and during the Nature Valley Grand Prix, a race that she holds near and dear to her heart. Let’s take a little trip inside Rebecca’s head to see why she likes the NVGP so much, shall we?

Everyone has their own reasons for liking one race over another, but the Nature Valley Grand Prix will always hold a special place for me because it is the best stage race in the Midwest. I grew up on the mean streets of Chicago about 9 hours south of Minneapolis, so as a Midwest native, NVGP has always had an unmatchable allure. Since 2004, I have raced at NVGP four times, experiencing the race’s evolution into greatness. The courses seem to get harder every year at Mankato and Stillwater, which includes a cool dirt section leading into Cannon Falls, along with downtown crits, and a brutally straight forward time trial that brings out the best in every racer. The evolution of the NVGP has the time trial as the initial stage, and then follows that up with stage two, in Downtown St. Paul. The St. Paul crit, after the morning race of truth, will already have the general classification (GC) in the works, something that is rarely seen.

I am also excited for the NVGP because it will be the third stop on the Women’s Prestige Series, where I am currently leading the Best Young Rider competition. I’m determined to win the Best Young Rider in Minnesota this round as well! My team will be arriving to Minneapolis in good spirits after the completing a run-up of races in Montreal and Philadelphia prior to June 10th. None of our riders are from Minnesota, with four of us being from the United States, along with two Canadians and two Australians rounding out the roster. On the flip side, our beloved soigneur lives in Minneapolis, so we can consider Nature Valley a “hometown” race for him.

Life gets interesting when you’re on the road all the time but, in reality, it’s the reason why cycling holds so much appeal. Week after week, I sit on airplanes going here or there; it can become mind boggling at times, but it teaches you to learn a lot about yourself quite quickly. I am 23 years old now, and have been on the road racing like this pretty much since I was 18. I am from Chicago and that is where my mom, pa, grandpa, sister, dog, cat, coach, and hometown friends live so I try to go back when I can, especially in the fall when I have some downtime. I try to build time into the following season but that time is short! This fall, I set a record, as I was home for three months straight! Once I need to ride more, I make my home in Tucson, Arizona.

Throughout the season, I go home when I can but usually find myself here and there wasting days between races in New Mexico or Arkansas, or in places like Boulder, CO where I’m spending a couple quality weeks between race blocks (that is where I am as I type this sentence). Ah, the life! Sometimes it gets hard to keep the story straight as I forget where I have been or where I am going. The most comforting way to deal with the constant change is to just be happy where I am at the moment…coupled with a lot of music. No matter what, my favorite songs are always the same no matter where I am.

On that note, it is time to become productive with my day as I can only sit around writing sweet nothings and drinking coffee for so long…

See ya at the races soon!

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Come Meet The Team!

May 9, 2009

On Monday, June 8th, the Webcor Builders Women’s Professional Cycling Team will be holding a “Ladies Night” question and answer session at Brickyard Bikes on the penultimate day before the Nature Valley Grand Prix kicks off. From June 10th to the 14th, you can see Webcor and many other professional and amateur cycling teams race throughout central Minnesota, while taking in the sights and sounds of all the goings-on around the course and start/finish lines.

Currently ranked second overall in the NRC rankings, Webcor also has four riders in the top fifteen individual rankings, as well. Webcor is made up of eight strong women riders, whose race results include state champions, continental champions, elite national champions, and two 2008 Olympians. The team is directed by Karen Brems, who, in her cycling career, has won a world time trial championship, a USPRO road race championship, was an Olympian in 2000, and the pursuit masters champion in 2008.

Look for Webcor to be a dominant force come June 10th, when the Nature Valley Grand Prix kicks off with the St. Paul Riverfront Time Trial. This will be a no-frills slug fest, with riders flying up and down Lilydale Road in this individual race against the clock and back by popular demand is the finish on top of the Ohio Street hill.

For more information about the Nature Valley Grand Prix, feel free to visit the Minnesota Bike Festival website at www.minnbikefestival.com. Keep checking back here for more updates on the race, the riders, the teams, and the results!

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