Thursday, June 26, 2014

Keweenaw Chain Drive and Junior MTB Camp 2014 by Maddy Frank

Keweenaw Chain Drive Mountain Bike Race

With being at a camp for five days up in the UP in Houghton with amazing and wonderful coaches who taught us so many new strategies that I never even knew about, it was nice to finish the fun trip with an aggressive race representing the under-the-bridge RWT girls!

The start was definitely neat; we had a police car that escorted us across the extravagant bridge that connects Houghton and Hancock together with a nice view of colorful houses and people cheering us on after that. I liked that we had a four mile stretch of pavement that got my muscles warmed up for the race, while on the other hand, for example, the Canonsburg Ski Area hits you with a hill right at the start. The worst part of the race, I might say, was that brutal "cemetery hill" as we got closer and closer to real, dirty fun trails that we all love as mountain bikers (especially me with the mud). The hill was definitely challenging, and it got my heart rate up, too.

Further into the race, were some nice technical parts that I absolutely love which included slick bridges that were fun to go on, though I was a little apprehensive since I experienced a slight crash and a numb knee the day before when our coaches led us through a pre-ride of the course. It was pretty much Merrell, Luton, Hanson Hills, and Canonsburg (the rocky and root-y up hills) all together through into 16 miles of fun experience. The course had pretty much everything you could ever think of when it came to mountain biking trails.
My dad rode with me the entire way and pushed me on the hills even when I felt like puking and wanting to quit.  That’s one of the things that I love about mountain biking: it’s challenging and not many people enjoy doing it, but once you’re caught into the sport, you’re pretty much obsessed with it like I am and it’s just soooooooo fun.

One of my favorite parts of the race was when we entered the forest. I mean, we were surrounded by forest for the entire race, like on two-track and all that, but going into the forest was one of my favorite moments because there were lots of mud holes, which I enjoyed getting muddy by the way, roots, LOTS of rocks, and I’m not kidding, tight bridges, swoopy turns, and fun down hills at which I was going so fast I thought I was going to crash every time there was a down hill! My arms were vibrating a lot from going down rocky down hills, also, and I was laughing a lot.

After going up and down technical trails, one of the guys told me that the finish line was just around the corner, literally! My legs at this point felt like they were Jell-O and going to fall off. The pavement was really killing my legs, I could feel the burning sensation in my calves A TON! I could see people (AND FOOD!!!), so I sprinted as fast as I could to the finish, trying to pass this one guy, but didn’t end up passing him, but I didn’t care because I was covered in mud, hungry, and really wanting some food!

In conclusion, I enjoyed the race A LOT, and was glad to go to the mountain bike camp up in Houghton, and had an awesome experience doing the Chain drive race, and learning so much from the coaches!! Looking forward to going again next year with my friend and RWT girl Ellie!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Junior Mountain Bike Development Camp

Last week I went to Mountain Bike Camp at Michigan Tech in Houghton.  This was my first time going, but my brother Keegan had told me how cool the trails were around there.  My teammate Maddy & I roomed together in the dorms, and met lots of new people at camp.
First Day of Camp- Pic by Heather Frank

 Coaches Brian and Andrea 
A great thing about camp is that Brian, Andrea, Joe, and  the other coaches made it fun and challenging for us on the trails.  Sometimes we would stop and they would show us good lines to take, then we would get to try riding that part a few times.

There were lots of trails near camp.  We went to Copper Harbor and the bridges and hills were great.  The Tech Trails had lots of variety with pump tracks and downhills.  The trails were very fun and fast. On Friday we got to demo Trek bikes on the Tech Trails.  I tried the Remedy and had fun with it on the Flow trail. 
Group pic at Trek Demo

Start of Chain Drive- Pic by Dad

The last full day of camp we all raced the Keweenaw Chain Drive. It started in Houghton, crossed a bridge, then went on trails in Hancock. Some parts were really wet with big puddles.  The 16 mile race seemed to go by fast and I was happy with my finish. Check out more Chain Drive Pics.     

I'm looking forward to going back to camp next year.  Five days full of extravagent mountain biking on the best trails in Michigan. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

2013 Iceman- MYC Women 12-14

"One minute til go."  This was it.  I was getting ready to start my first full Iceman.  I was lined up ready to go.  I looked around and saw Summer, Hannah, and other girls that I race with, and also some people I didn't know.  I was cold and nervous. "Five seconds.......riders go!"

We took off and I decided to follow Summer since she is fast.  I stayed on her wheel the first couple of miles  so I wouldn't waste all my energy.  Another girl took off, but I didn't want to go to fast that early and use up all of my energy.

A mile or two into the two track we started catching some of the boys from the wave in front of us.  As we rode, we passed more of a variety of riders.  I wasn't cold anymore and was having fun.  I was looking forward to the singletrack, but there were lots of riders and they were going slow in those sections.  I wanted to pass but there wasn't an opportunity to get around them.  As soon as the trail opened up, I took off.

As I got closer to Williamsburg Road there were a lot of people cheering.  That was cool.  They even had an announcer.  I was happy to know I was over half way done and still felt good. The rest of the race went fast. Right after Anita's Hill I passed some teammates.  They cheered me on and I told them good job.  My favorite part was going through the campground towards the end.  There were lots of people and I knew I was almost done.

I finished in 2:47 and got third place.  After I crossed the finish line my mom came to tell me good job.  As we walked I thought I saw a box of donuts.  It turned out they were cookies, but that was okay because I was starving.  
This was a fun racing season.  I liked getting to see Claire at all of the road races and crits, and even a few off road stuff.  It was also nice seeing the Summer and other girls at mountain bike races. I'm looking forward to getting to see everyone back out at the races in the spring.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

West Branch Road Race & Hanson Hills CPS Challenge

I tried something new this weekend - racing two hilly races I'd never done before back to back both on and off road.  That's what this team is all about...Real Women "Trying" new things to see how far we can grow!

Friday evening Matt and I drove up North to give the West Branch Road Race a try.  Four CAT 3 women were signed up, all wonderful women and tough competitors.  My goal was to keep the pace high and crank on the hills whenever possible to attempt to tire out the slim field.  A most excellent surprise awaited me at the starting line after my warm-up, my teammate in pink, Lori Hotchkin!  Seeing her made me smile knowing I wouldn't be the only RWT out there on the hills.  The USA Cycling officials gave us the option to reduce our race to one lap, but we all voted for the full two laps.  Lap one moved along at a healthy clip.  All five racers worked together, and we averaged a pace nearing 22mph, (much faster than our combined CAT 1/2/3 race at Frankenmuth's flat course last week).  There was a little rain halfway through, but not enough to deter our race pace.  At the end of lap one, Marie Dershem from Team Priority Health, pulled ahead of me halfway up the steep climb.  I dug deep and worked hard for two miles to chase her down.  I did not want to get sucked back into the field or lose Marie with her time-trialing skill.  Once I caught her, we decided to work together and did so at a fast pace for the remainder of the race.  The wind picked up as the temperature warmed, and we struggled against a long stretch of hilly road in a fierce headwind.  Taking shorter pulls made it a bit easier and having someone to work with helped immensely.  Once we got to the base of the ending climb, we were side by side - an appropriate position considering how we worked together in the second lap.  Marie out-climbed me in that final hill, and I ended up in second place.  It felt great, though, to know how hard I'd worked to catch her and to enjoy the feeling of a fast and competitive race!   2800 feet of climbing and 44 miles raced.

Then...Matt and I drove over to Grayling where we relaxed and anticipated a mountain-biking adventure, Hanson Hills.  We awoke to cold temperatures right around 50 degrees with mist and drizzle in the air.  It felt more like November than June, so I just pretended to gear up for Iceman instead of Hanson Hills!  There was a combined Elite/Expert field of 7 women.  After a ten mile warm-up to try to loosen up my tired legs, I hit the start line.  Kati Krikke from Freewheeler was ready and raring to go, along with Rachel Decker from Hagerty and Chelsea Strate from Einstein.  Mentally I was excited to race - I loved the idea of riding this new trail and racing some tough ladies.  Katie took off on the long hill in the first lap, and though I hung on up the climb, Rachel passed me and I dropped to third.  Immediately I could feel the lethargy in my legs from racing West Branch the day before.  Chelsea sat on my wheel for the first lap.  My legs felt like dead-weights whenever I upped the power on climbs or straights, and I was questioning my choice to try racing these two events back to back.  My entire second lap was ridden alone.  During that lap I seriously thought about bailing on the race - being out of contention and out on my own created a mental challenge; it felt more like the third lap of Lumberjack 100 than the second lap of a quick 33 mile race!  Coming through the start/finish with one lap to go, I saw Jack Kunnen take a picture of me in my misery, and I told him I was ready to call it.  He looked me in the eye and said, "They aren't far ahead of you at all!  Go get 'em!  You have one more lap in you!"  So...I clipped in and took off.  Sure enough, I caught and passed one lady racer and saw Chelsea ahead of me through the woods.  My legs finally began to loosen up, and the third lap was the best yet!  I came through the finish chute and took fourth place.  I would love to do this race again when I'm not fighting leg fatigue from racing the day before.  The trail flowed smoothly and the climbs were fun!  I logged another 2400 feet of climbing.

It was a successful weekend insofar as I pushed myself to try something new by racing back to back road and MTB races.  75 miles of racing on the road and trails with 5200 feet of climbing among the company of fantastic competitors and teammates was well worth the challenge.  In the end, it's the people who make this fun - Jack's encouragement in my low moment of racing, the smile on my face upon seeing Lori at the start line, hearing teammate Laura Korienek cheering and enjoying the challenge of the race with Marie.  Real Women both DO and TRY!  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Das Tour de Frankenmuth- Juniors 10-14

 Friday evening we arrived in Frankenmuth. Me and my family drove through the new part of the course. On race day we woke up early for the race. When I was ready to go I rode my bike down to the start. I did a quick warm up then went to the start, where I met up with my sister and Claire. I watched as all of the other groups go off, while I moved closer and closer to the starting line.
Junior Start- picture courtesy of Rich Kipke

 As they started to count down I got nervous then the race was on. Everyone was rushing ahead I was trying to get in the front group but they were moving too fast for me. I started falling back it seemed like I was alone when a group of girls came up riding behind me. I got in the middle of the group. We were moving at a pretty fast rate trying to catch up to the other group. Near the middle of the race, my sister attacked off the front of the group.  Just then, the Pro/1/2 men passed us.  Our group sped up, caught Kiersen and she dropped off the back.  One girl kept attacking off the front and our group started breaking apart.  

Mid-Race picture by Cristin Robb

Near the finish, we caught up to two boys.   The closer we got to the finish, the faster we went.  Everyone was riding very close together and at times it felt chaotic.  As we turned the last corner, the Cat 3 men were starting to pass us.    I raced down the hill with the men’s group passing within inches of me.  I couldn’t tell where anyone in my group was.  When I reached the bottom of the hill I took off sprinting as fast as I could.  Claire came next to me right at the finish and we had no idea who won.  It was so close and I was exhausted! 
Proof I was exhausted by Mark Hotchkin
Claire and I talked about how crazy the race finished.  When I went to junior rollout I asked the official who won and she said it was me!!  I was filled with joy. 
Podium pic by Scott Kroske
It was a fun day of racing with the other juniors and cheering on teammates and my family.  Loved the race, Drumstick the Chicken, and the jug of root beer that we used to make root beer floats all weekend:-)
The jug of root beer I won!  Picture by Kroske

                 By: Ellie K.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Ada Time Trials (aka Ada TT)

Well I joined Real Women Tri this year to learn more about biking so that I could do a 70.3 triathlon... who would have guessed there are so many different types of events on a bike!! Gravel races, road races, mountain bike races, criteriums, triathlons and now time trials. (Sarah Mac will be putting on a clinic on cyclocross races soon, so another type of race to learn!!Watch for that!!)

Time trials are very similar to the bike racing portion of the triathlon. So if you are thinking of doing a triathlon or two, this is a good competition to do. I would suggest that the Ada Time Trials are the perfect place to learn. The organizers are laid back and excellent teachers. There are many athletes at all levels from the bike with baskets and regular pedals to those killer Tour De France guys with pointy space age helmets and solid (no spokes) noisy wheels!

Ada TT are every Monday night with registration starting at 5:30 and the racing starting at 6:30. You register and it is smart to let them know that you are new to time trialing, as they let you go out at the beginning. They give you a number and a time you will start. You warm up a bit and then go to the starting line. At the starting line you line up by number. Last week I was #2 so I was the 2nd racer to go. Tonight I was 14. (Fast racers go later, as they do not take as long and the race people do not have to wait for them as they are speedy!!)

The clock starts and the first racer lines up. At 30 seconds the 1st racer goes. Then the next biker wheels to the line. At the line you get race ready by clipping in and getting your pedals where you like. You should be in a medium gear. The time keeper gives you the 5,4,3,2,1 and go. There is a person holding you up as you are clipped in and at go, they give you a nice push. You are off and pedaling! This TT is 15 miles and is relatively flat. You pedal down Grand River Drive for 7.5 miles and you pedal back. Easy as pie!!!! Not!! You try to go at top speed the whole way. Of course fast people pass you on  your left. The only rule is you cannot draft, (similar to triathlons). When you get to the turn around you look for cars and cross the road and begin the journey back. At the finish line you yell out your number to the timer and they will adjust your time for the staggered start. (Your actual time will be a 5th graders story problem....excellent opportunities for family math!!)

Why do it?
1) The Ada Time Trials are every Monday (except Memorial Monday) throughout the summer. You pay one fee $25.00 (which is to join the Rapid Wheelman) and you get to race every Monday. So it is reasonable!

2) You get to see your improvement. The organizers keep all of your statistics on their website and you get to see how good you are getting. I hear there is even a prize at the end of the summer for most improved biker! And they do graphs on your improvements etc. Very Cool!

3) Each week you get points. Yes EVERYONE gets points. The slowest person (with baskets and regular pedals) who finishes with the slowest time gets 5 points. The next slowest (who removed their baskets from the previous week ;) gets 10 points, and the next slowest gets 15 etc all the way up to the fastest biker. So if you come out and give it a shot you get points. You could accumulate points while those very fast Tour de France people sit at home.... Hey you could pass them by if you pedal and they do not show!! Points collect through out the season. Prizes are given at the end of the season.

4) You can meet new biking people and support other PINK who are out there riding. You can see the speed of the pink when Sarah RAH! zooms by, and Angie with her very cool space age aero helmet zips past, and Sarah Mac in her Pink Skin Suit  pushes with an awesome time to the finish!! It is great fun.

5) You can get training miles in and have fun at the same time.

6) AND A VERY COOL THING: If you are planning to be in the GRTri (June 9th), this time trial course is on the GRTri route. So you can practice for the triathlon and race at the same time!! A Great Deal!!

Plan to get there early as the traffic in Ada is very slow. The website is:

I really hope that many of you come out and try this! I would love to see you all there! If I can do it, you all can certainly do it even better!

Go Pink!

Respectfully Submitted:

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Queens Day Crit

What a victory for PINK today at the Queens Day Criterium. It was massive PINK everywhere!

Cat 4 Ladies were very well represented:
Sara Merritt
Sarah (Mac) McIntrye
Donna Borgman
Heather Frank
Shellie Raisanen
Gail Ranville
Cheryl Havens was signed up but could not make it today... She was sorely missed!

Cat 4 ladies went off at 10:00 for an approximately 30 minute race. There were 19 in the field vieing and competing for prize money 6 places deep. Pink had one seasoned veteran, Sara Merritt, while the rest of us were entirely new to the sport of criteriuming (a new sport and a new word as well!) Yes luckily some of us had made it to the clinic the day before, but for the most part we were New Critters and learning as we went. The 8 corner course was a doozy, but we all got lots of experience and started to feel comfortable approaching the curves, getting the inner pedal up and leaning into it. We all survived marvelously well without a crash or incident to remark on. Sara Merritt finished in the lead pack, but just out of the money. We all were behind her, but no pink finished last. We all loved it and I dare say we are hooked!

Cat 1, 2, 3 ladies all raced together at 11:10. This field featured 12 competitive athletes with money going to the to the top 10 finishers. We had 6 competent, awesome, strong pink girls at the line including:
Jane VanHof (lovingly referred to as biker Jane)
Sarah Williams (familiar to many as Rah! not sure the exclamation point is attached but it should be)
Lori Hotchkin (known as the focused fighter on wheels... not really but she could be)
Heather Kubiak
Tammy Moran
Laura Korienek

This race was strategic with several in the field noting how many RWT women had entered the race!! With 6 riders we were in the majority and were called to take the lead. (After the race Lori confirmed she felt that the town had put on a great event and she wanted the Cat 1,2,3 women's race to show all of the spectators an exciting event, so she made a concerted effort to attack and pull and add excitement. If I may say so myself, it was a great race!!)  The RWT team got out and pulled and lead much of the time. Jane, Sarah and Lori pulled many of the laps. Lori was out there in the lead to win a prem as she dug down and attacked to hit the line first winning a mid-race prize. Nice job Lori! It was an exciting race and Pink had many money winners with Biker Jane on the podium winning not only money, but half of a wooden shoe trophy as well. Everyone did well and represented our Real Woman Team with awesome poise, composure, and  strength.

WE WERE FIERCE! (Thanks Brandy....)

The afternoon was spent reviewing the races, discussing strategy for the next crit and watching the Men race on. It should be noted that there were several Junior Real Women represented. Both Ellie and Kierson also won a wooden shoe! I hope that the excitement of Maddie, Kierson and Ellie's race (is that right????) will be captured by them in a separate blog. We love reading their re-caps!