Bike racing is hard, but that's why we do it. The magic of sport comes from testing your body's physical limit, coupled with that pesky question of why you seek that challenge and suffering time and time again. We may not be able to answer the existential stuff, but we love the visceral feeling found in the experience. Special thanks to Ronit Bezalel, Jasmin Shah, and Matthew Gilson for capturing some of the best pain faces in Chicago cyclocross.
Simply put, we rode our bikes. It was a summer to rediscover why we love riding bicycles. The pain, the joy, and the freedom of an open road on two wheels.
Mountain tops, red rocks, and national parks in Utah; canyons, dirt climbs, and cruising around Silver Lake in Los Angeles; Flagstaff, Chapman Dr., and Lickskillet in Colorado; mountain bikes, beer, and grit in Michigan; and gravel, lots of gravel, in almost every corner of Illinois and Missouri. Oh yeah, and Dave raced some crits too.
The second race on the Chicago Cyclocross Cup was held in Hopkins Park in Dekalb, IL. The course at this venue was super fast, had lots of great flowing turns, and a flyover. A feature on the course that is very unique to cyclocross, It's an obstacle that has riders running up stairs and down a ramp and typically then the course then runs underneath later on during a lap.
Juan Carlos Gonzalez grabbed another victory in the Jr. 15-18 race. He now leads the series in points and gets to wear the leader's jersey. Pamela keeps improving her skills every week and keeps climbing in the overall. Based on the look on her face, we assure you she's having fun!
A bout of illness kept Lindsay Knight from defending her spot in the series overall. She wasn't able to finish the race, but kudos to her for lining up despite being sick. She'll be back this weekend at Dan Ryan Woods. In the Men's 1/2/3 race Mike Phillips and David Reyes had their hands full with KS Energy racer Joe Maloney from Madison, WI. Despite having to start on the last of 7 rows, Joe quickly made his way to the front of the race where a group of four distanced themselves from the rest of the race. Joe and David then broke away during the closing laps. The final trip up the stairs was where Joe made his last push to break away from David and managed to keep his gap to the line. Mike was nipped at the line for 4th place. Al Reyes fought hard and finished 27th. Matt Schweiker had a good comeback after being sick and finished 11th in the 62 man field.
Next up is the second stop on the CCC calendar is at Dan Ryan Woods Park in Chicago on Sunday! Thanks for the support!
Heritage Race Club Cyclocross Team Director
The Heritage Race Club Cyclocross Team has kept the momentum going since the opening of the cyclocross season. Up in Waterloo, WI at the Trek CXC Cup, 15 year old Juan Carlos Gonzalez won the Jr. 15-18 race. Also in Waterloo, Blackstone Youth Racing's Nayla Hale had the opportunity to attend a GIRLS ONLY cyclocross clinic led by U.S. national champion Katie Compton. This was a huge opportunity for Nayla to learn from the most decorated American cyclocross racer in history and one of the best racers in the world.
This past weekend was the Chicago Cyclocross Cup's first race at a new venue, Caldwell Woods Park. The first race of the series is always well attended and this year the number of racers reached nearly 800! The course was well received by everyone in attendance. It had a good mix of fast flowy turns, tight technical sections, and even a steep run up. A majority of the course was flat, so it has been described as a "power" course. Meaning, riders with big engines could take advantage of the flat wide open parts of the course. This leaves smaller, punchier racers that excel with elevation changes at a slight disadvantage.
Juan Carlos kept his podium streak going and placed second in the Jr. 15-18 race and his kid sister Pamela finished 23rd in the 9-14 race (side note, their new team issued Heritage Race Club jerseys are on order). Blackstone racers Eddie, Jaleel, and Nayla (fresh off improving her skills with Katie Compton) started their seasons as well.
In the Women's 1/2/3 race, Lindsay Knight rode a great race and fought from behind on a course that doesn't quite suit her strengths to finish 5th place. In the Men's 1/2/3 race Mike Phillips picked up where he left off and won from a select group of 4 that formed very early in the race. David Reyes came in in 4th place and his father Al overcame a lot of rider traffic and a couple crashes to finish in 27th out of a field of 70 riders!
Next up is the second stop on the CCC calendar at Hopkins Park in Dekalb, IL on Sunday. Also, please celebrate a belated birthday to Matt Schweiker! After a recent bout of illness he'll be back in action racing Saturday in Milwuakee, WI and Hopkins Park in Dekalb on Sunday.
Thanks for your support!
We've already started off the cyclocross season with a bang! The first race was the Relay CX held in Jackson Park. Collectively, Matt Schweiker, David Reyes, and Lindsay Knight swept 1st place across the Men’s 1/2/3s, CoEd, and Women’s Open categories.
This past weekend the team ventured up to Lake Geneva, WI for the second race of the Wisconsin Cyclocross Series. David Reyes lined up in the Pro/1/2 Men's race and came home with a win!
There have been two main developments in the Heritage Race Club structure this year. Starting this season, there will be two juniors racing in Heritage colors—Juan Carlos Gonzalez (15) and his little sister Pamela (11). After winning the overall title in the 10-14 year old category last year, Juan Carlos will be moving up to race with the 15-18 year olds. Pamela is a fierce little racer (and we don’t mean that pejoratively, she’s barely 80 pounds) in her own right, and will be starting her second season in the 10-14 year old juniors category. We’re incredibly excited to have them on board, and to see what these two kids do this season!
In other juniors racing news, Heritage Race Club has teamed up with Blackstone Bicycle Works Youth Racing. With the support of the Heritage Race Club sponsors, these kids will very soon be racing in their own team kits. Dulcius Design sat down with them in early August for a brainstorming design session and turned their kit ideas into a reality. Their new jerseys will be arriving by the end of September. Matt Schweiker and the SRAM crew have also been hosting cx practices for these kids every Thursday night for the past few weeks to go over handling techniques, race day prep, and general fun-time-having. It’s been really awesome for the Blackstone racers to get this attention and support, and Heritage will be running a feature on each Blackstone junior alongside our weekly race reports as the season progresses.
The next race on the calendar is the Trek CXC Cup in Waterloo, WI on September 20th and 21st. This is one of the premier cyclocross events held in the mid-west. Amateur races are held throughout the day followed by Pro Men and Pro Women races. Heritage will be represented in the Men’s 2/3, Masters, Juniors, and Men’s and Women’s Pro fields. The following weekend, the Chicago Cross Cup officially starts in Caldwell Park!
Heritage Race Club-Team Director
As I was getting ready for this trip, I couldn’t help but be both super excited and incredibly nervous. The women on the Rapha team (Julie Krasniak, Meredith Miller, Elizabeth ‘Bud’ Reeder, Abby Watson, and Cynthia Young) are wicked strong, and all of them had either raced a previous Prestige or just completed the Tour of California stages backwards. I, on the other hand, live in the Midwest—80-mile rides with 640 ft. elevation change, anyone??—and think I like ‘climbing.’ So yes…I felt strong going into the Prestige, but I’d also not climbed 11,000 ft. in a single day, and also have a well established habit of forgetting to eat/drink on long rides/races. Essentially, there were just a variety of ‘unknowns’ that were really only going to be found out come race day.
We all got into Oakland on Friday. The team was from all over the place—SoCal, Vancouver, Portland, Boulder, Chicago—and thankfully we arrived with enough prep time for bike assembly, a ride, and all-important accessories coordination. Polka dots, PDX, and pastel pro Oakelys upped our style game significantly. Gannon—one of our hosts—took us on a pre-ride of Diablo to double check our bikes and discuss the course route. It was 80 degrees, an amazingly beautiful setting, and it felt great to be back riding with these ladies. Later than evening, we all checked out the course route, discussed the anticipated challenge areas, and went over our plan for the race. The race goal was pretty simple, and we really came up with only three rules. First, everyone climb at your own pace. We decided it was best if no one had to break tempo, and we’d just meet at the top each time. Second, Cynthia called middle for the day. Third—and to quote Julie—“We go easy for the first 80 miles, and FAST for the rest.” Essentially, everyone wanted to have a good time and race as a team.
Our start on Saturday was more than a bit ridiculous. Not only in all the excitement of being on the line did we manage not to hear Jeremy say ‘GO!’ when our timer started, but our Garmins took a little while longer than anticipated to register the course map…so we made a wrong turn almost immediately out of the parking lot. After spending a few minutes working out those kinks on course, we were back on track and on our way. Yahoo for technology and a solid sense of humor on our team’s part! The first of the two major climbs was shorter than Diablo, but punchy and a bit steeper on average. The climbing felt great, and I gained a bit more confidence for the day due to the fact I reached the top right in the middle of our team’s distribution, AND we were collectively passing a whole lot of ladies.
When we got to Diablo the team strung out a bit more, but not so much that it was a detriment to the mood or to our pace for the rest of the day—after all the summit of Diablo was only mile 50 of 108. No one wanted to risk blowing up at this point. Though the climb was a long one, the elevation change was fairly even and keeping a steady cadence was key. Though it was obviously challenging, the only part of the climb that prompted a ‘For reals?!’ moment for me was the last 150 yards. That 20% shit was just brutal.
Though for me the climbing turned out to be a pleasant success on the day, the descending was most definitely not. On both the descents I was dead last on the team. For some ridiculous reason, my brain (along with my fingers on my brakes…) seizes up on descents. All I could picture the entire time was what would happen if I incorrectly judged a switchback and went plummeting over the side of the mountain. Despite this having NEVER, EVER happened to me—I could not shake the image. Yay for neuroses! That said, though I cannot descend quickly if my life were to depended on it, both Meredith and Abby rode with me on much of them. Meredith’s tips and Abby’s lines were MUCH appreciated. Thanks ladies!
The other highlight of the day came with the trail section. After 90 miles of highways and asphalt, the dirt was a fantastic change of pace and scenery. As anyone who knows me is aware, I love cx—but in all honesty, I did not foresee just how excited for dirt that I would be at this stage of the race. Rutted out, clay descents! Gravel! Trees and shade! It was amazing—and the trail section could have been made WAY longer, in my opinion. I think everyone on the team agreed that this section gave us that third or fourth wind needed to finish strong. We all crossed the finish line smiling, and ready for beer, espresso and FOOD (!!!).
The Rapha ladies ended up finishing 8th out of 20 teams—a result we were all really happy about. It was such an amazing group of women to ride with, and the team dynamic couldn’t have been better. I couldn’t imagine a more entertaining and strong collection of ladies with which to spend 8+hours over 108 miles and 11,000 feet of climb on a bike—the company truly made the experience. You’re all fantabulous.
Huge thanks to Rapha, The Athletic, Oakley, Trek Bikes, Skratch Labs, Continental Tires, and Giro for the all of the support! As well as to Nick Kova (@nickkova) for all the race day pics.
For additional photos from the race check out our Instagrams!
- Elizabeth Reeder – @ereederreadsanereader
- Julie Krasniak – @krasniakjulie
- Lindsay Knight – @lindsay_h_knight
- Meredith Miller – @mmcyclist
- Abby Watson – @abbylwatson
- Cynthia Young – @youngcynthia
Photo credits: Abby Watson, Meredith Miller, and Nick Kova.
Initially I had only been planning on racing Elites this past weekend, but at the last minute I decided to race the W30-34 as well—because hey, if you’re flying halfway across the country to race once…why not double up? So I flew into Denver on Thursday night ready and excited to race on Friday morning. Apparently Thursday had been warm in Boulder, melting the remaining snow and making for a mud fest of a race that really tore up the course. Unfortunately, it froze hard that evening. When I arrived at Valmont to do my pre-ride on Friday, the temps had turned the course’s muddy surface into rutted concrete. Riding on corduroy-like surfaces is not my strong suit, and to make matters trickier half the course was off camber and uneven to begin with! Oh, yes, and then the morning warmed up—meaning that the top of the ruts thawed and there was a slick coating of mud over everything. Technical indeed. I had a front row call-up for this race, but between the surface conditions, altitude, and running required (more on that in a bit…) I quickly dropped back and finished 16th (http://www.cxmagazine.com/wp-content/gallery/rebecca-gross-takes-win-in-masters-women-30-34-at-the-2014-national-cyclocross-championships-gallery-by-matt-lasala/lindsay-knight.jpg). Not exactly what I’d hoped for, but still a super fun and challenging experience.
By the time Sunday rolled around, the course had really dried out and gotten fast. The off camber sections were still going to be tricky, but at least the worry that a rut was going to catch my front wheel and throw me off my bike had been allayed. The course designers also switched up the lay out of the course a bit by incorporating part of the BMX track from the park and diverting a portion of the course into a deep ditch before the second set of stairs. The sides of the ditch were pretty steep and the exiting side had a lip on it as well, and even though I figured out how to ride it (after about four attempts in the pre-ride…) my main worry was that if I got caught behind someone who fell I’d have to physically climb out of this thing like a trench…needless to say, thank god for toe spikes.
I’ve got to say that it felt pretty damn awesome to line up with 115 ladies at the start of this race. The women’s field was the biggest in Nationals history, and was actually a larger than the men’s race. I started mid-pack and had a relatively decent start. I felt way more confident on the descent and the off camber sections of the course compared to Friday, but simply put, the run ups cooked me. As anyone who has ever seen me race knows, I am not a natural runner by any stretch of the imagination. Never have been, never will be—and I accept this. But unsurprisingly, adding 5,280 feet to this equation does not improve matters. Every time I got half way up the large set of stairs (the shorter Belgian steps posed less of a problem, but were still not what I would describe as ‘pleasant’) and looked up, I swear my legs just laughed at me. My head was screaming at me to ‘GO FASTER!!’ My legs and lungs were not of the same opinion. Having never trained or raced at altitude, this was a rather novel experience. And while I don’t think I’ll be jumping up and down with glee to go do tabatas at altitude anytime in the near future, I can definitely see and appreciate the huge difference that training a mile up makes for overall fitness. Those Colorado ladies are impressive racers. I ended up finishing 97th in Sunday’s race, which was a bit lower than I was hoping for, but the experience of riding with so many awesome women on an incredibly technical and fun course and getting to represent Heritage Race Club in Colorado made it a totally worthwhile and memorable way to end the season.To close, I wanted to send out a HUGE THANK YOU to the Chicago-area racing community. There’s definitely something about being away from your home courses that makes you appreciate the community of racers that you come from. Between lining up with incredibly strong and fierce ladies, Heidi Beck (Twin Six) and Alyssa Severn (Team Yacht Club), during staging; hearing tons of familiar voices cheering (Ellie Blick of Johnny Sprockets, Jessica Whiton and Bill Barnes of xXx, The Schafers of Verdigris-Village, just to name a few); or seeing all the great pics that our local photographers took (Amy Dykema from The Bonebell, Gavin and Nick and the rest of the Embrocation crew)—the whole experience of racing at Nationals was fantabulous. You guys are awesome and see you all next season!
Heritage Race Club