July 26, 2011

Bend, how I love you

I had a blast racing this past week at the Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend, Oregon. It was good from the moment we stepped off the plane. The cool mountain air was such a relief after the hot and stuffy Pennsylvania weather. It finally felt like I could take a full breath of cool air.

I went a week earlier with Lauren and Janel to cut down on travel time and costs. It was nice to ride and admire the scenery without a maxed out heart rate while going cross-eyed... that would come later in the week! We also had the opportunity to walk around town a bit and check out some of the much-loved Bend restaurants. Janel was very excited at the Mexican restaurant that they sold a dish that used a specific kind of fungus that grows on corn.. hmm the concept of eating corn fungus did not sound particularly appetizing, but my opinion changed upon trying it!

Every morning started with a massive bowl of peanut butter/banana oatmeal and a little Tour de France for inspiration for the day, though I’ll admit I usually fell back asleep and missed a lot of the live finishes..
Jon Devich- Prologue.. my road rash is healing well!

The first day of racing included a short prologue in the Old mill district of town. The time gaps were not too important since the race was so short and there were many stages to follow. Canadians ruled the podium in this stage with Tara Whitten in first, Clara Hughes in second and me taking the White best young rider jersey.
Jon Devich- Lava fields at the top of Mackenzie Pass

Big Springs Snow Park – Three Creeks Snow Park. The first 74-mile road stage was hard. There was a 20-mile climb up Mackenzie pass followed by a 10 km finishing climb, talk about brutal! The lava landscape at the top of Mackenzie pass takes your mind off the pain for at least a second. Riding got a little bit easier when I finally realized my back tire was going flat during the race..haha smart move. A simple mistake of forgetting to drink and eat enough didn’t help nearing the end of the race, so simple yet sooo important. Andrea Dvorak from my team demonstrated how strong of a climber she is by placing second on the stage!
 Bridging up to the break

Next stage was the 16-mile time trial, a simple out and back course, climbing on the way out and descending on the way back. Even though there are hardly any turns on the course, it is still hard at times to keep your bike going in a straight line with all the bumps and holes in the road! There was talk after the race of rallying racers to pool some money to repave the road.. haha. Janel rocked it and placed 5th.
Jon Devich- Gorgeous lake beside the course

Stage three wasn’t quite as brutal of a course as the first day, but still finished on a 10 km climb up Mt. Bachelor. Janel was our highest ranked rider at 5th going into the stage, so we did not really have anything to lose. With this in mind, everyone on the team traded off both initiating and following the continuous steam of attacks. Finally after the millionth attack something finally stayed away. I managed to bridge across to the break, and it eventually grew to 11, including 3 colavitas! We stayed away going into the final climb where a fast pace caused the group de deteriorate. Rushlee rode amazing and attacked at the end to win the stage for the team!
photo Jon Devich- Break with the chase not far behind..

Stage four was finally a flat, 50 minute crit in downtown Bend. The crowds were absolutely amazing, I think the whole town came out to watch. A break escaped later in the race including teammates Lauren and Kristin. Kristin drove the break enough to keep it away and Lauren used her sprinting skills to power to overtake the other riders at the line for the win!
My most favourite photo from the whole race!

Stage five included four laps of a challenging 16 mile course starting right at Summit high school in Bend. It was a rolling course with a steep 2 km climb. The climb tricks you into thinking its over halfway by flattening out, but then it just kicks up again. Before the race we basically decided as a team that we were going to try and win the race, or completely blow ourselves up trying. Janel was in 8th going into the stage, just over a minute back. We attacked a lot in the first two laps. Those efforts combined with the heat really had me thinking I would be dropped. Thankfully the pace got a little more manageable when a break finally got away which included Janel. The break shrunk to 4 riders, and then just Anne Samplonius and Janel were left at the end.

They ended up building up a 2-minute lead, Janel was second on the stage, but the time gap put her in the yellow jersey! Rushlee led the chase group in for 5th place and kept her lead in the White jersey, and Andrea collected enough points throughout the week to keep the snazzy polka dot jersey. I finished in 17th overall. The new time gap also put Colavita/Forno d’Asolo into first on the overall team standings! Seriously amazing, such a perfect example of what dedicated teamwork can accomplish.
Jon Devich- Colavita wins 3/4 jerseys!

We had to drive back to Portland to catch flights the next day, but the week just was not complete without some sort of celebration. The famous “Voodoo doughnuts” in Portland was a perfect destination! Only Janel, Kelly and I ended up going out, but it was worth it! Maple and Bacon is actually a delicious combination. Seriously try it. 

July 16, 2011

2011 Tour de Toona

Fireworks announced my arrival into Pennsylvania on July 4th..

The Colavita riders and staff would meet up in Altoona, PA for the famous Tour de Toona, making a return to the NRC racing calendar after a several year absence..

Stage 1 Time trial:

Five km + 18 corners + full aero get up= fast times! Janel 5th, me 8th, Lauren 14th, Rushlee 16th.. I wish all time trial courses were this interesting. 

Stage 2. Road race, 73 miles, Mountain top finish.

Racing was hot, hot, hot. Luckily a downpour of rain came along to cool things off. The race was aggressive going through the rolling terrain. So aggressive in fact that it was pretty hard to find a lull in the pace to grab bottles from the car. I remember Lauren handing a bottle off to me at the same time she accelerated to follow an attack.. superstar team-mate. The whole Colavita team set a hard tempo leading into the final 5 mile climb of the day up Blue Knob mountain. I lost contact with the front when attacks started going, but Janel and Rushlee climbed with the leaders until just before the finish. Canadian champ Veronique Fortin once again proved that she is a super climber and won the stage. Janel was top Colavita finisher in 11th.

Stage 3: Road race, 144 km (actually 155 km…)

The day’s stage included 3 significant climbs. We would climb up the other side of Blue Knob than in the previous stage, this side featuring a 2 km gravel section.. Our goal for the day was to move Janel up in GC. Unfortunately we were down two teammates as Kristin and Kelly went home sick. An early break went in the race with Lauren representing Colavita. Their gap grew to around 4 minutes, then suddenly it started jumping up.. 5, 6, 7, 8 minutes? But weren’t we going the same speed or faster? It all made sense when suddenly the motos were signaling for us to turn around.. wrong way! They decided to neutralize the break and the chase, and then restart both groups at the old time gap when we got back on course. 

Off we went again. But wait, we were directed the wrong way again! Once again we were neutralized and had to restart the race. A very strange race indeed. 

Luckily this was the last time we were neutralized and the racing continued in earnest. I couldn’t stick with the top climbers going up blue knob and rode the rest of the race with a smaller group and tried to make it back to the leaders. But this was the uninteresting part of the race, I only found out the exciting parts after reaching the finish. Lauren had taken the win and Janel finished third! Turns out Lauren and Anne Samplonius (Now) had made it over the climb with a gap and stayed away the whole race! Janel had also escaped the pack with Veronique Fortin on the second climb and outsprinted her to the line. A wicked day for Colavita/Forno d’Asolo on the hardest stage!

Stage 4: Criterium

Finally a flat-ish stage! The 8-cornered crit had a slight hill and then a very twisty section leading into the finish.  Janel was sitting in second, 1:15 back on GC after the previous days stage. Goal #1 was to move up in GC, goal #2 was the stage win. The whole team rode impressively from the start, controlling the whole race. Gaps started to open in the field as the pace increased and groups of riders were being dropped, including the yellow jersey. The team rode the front and drove the pace, steadily increasing the gap by 10 seconds a lap. I had an unfortunate incident with the pavement around this time …nothing too serious though, just a nice patch of road rash to deal with and one destroyed pair of shorts:(. I was back in the action by the next lap. The gap grew to the point where we lapped the yellow jersey, Janel just had to finish the race to win the overall! I was third wheel coming out of the final corner, finishing second in a close sprint with Laura Van Gilder (Now and Novartis).   

Thanks to the hard work of the riders and support staff, the Tour de Toona was an amazing race for  Colavita. Janel won the overall GC, we won team GC by over 7 minutes and had 3 podium finishes with all 4 riders in the top 15 in GC!

Final GC:
1st Janel
8th Rushlee
13th Lauren
15th Leah

Next up is the Cascade Classic in Bend, Oregon. Love the riding in Bend!

July 8, 2011


The Canadian National Championships took place two weeks ago in Burlington, Ontario (yes I’m very behind). Many of the athletes competing flew straight from Minneapolis after Nature Valley to Toronto.

First up was a 21 km time trial in the cute little town of Belfountaine. The course ended up being a lot hillier than I remembered while pre-riding.. funny how that is! After a minor panic before the start when my shifting mysteriously stopped working, the race went off with no other problems. I rode at max effort into the wind and up the rolling climbs. I finished in 16th overall (2nd U23). Clara Hughes put in an impressive effort and won the Canadian title.

Next up was the 104 km road race, 8 laps for the women, each lap climbing the dreaded “Rattle snake climb”. A1 km climb up the Niagara Escarpment, at times reaching inclines of 21%. It was obvious that this would be the strongest indicator of who had the best form. The women’s race began at 6 pm, which was a little bizarre. It was peak season for a local strawberry farm and they didn’t want the road closed during their business hours, which was understandable.
suffering on the climb
Small breaks went early in the race, but were brought back. The most significant move was by Moriah Macgregor (Juvederm) early in the race, and was only brought back at the bottom of the last climb, very impressive! Breaks in the chase group would happen every time up that climb, and fewer and fewer riders would make it back with every lap. I fought hard to stay in contact with the front group and made the final group of twenty riders on the last lap. I gave it my all the last time up and finished a respectable 8th place overall (2nd U23). I’m very proud of the result; it was awesome to hang in there on such a challenging finish! The race was won by super climber, Veronique Fortin (PK-Express).

Also worth mentioning is that the best part of this race was the descent! Apparently we hit speeds of +90 km/h, it sure felt like we were going fast!
criterium podium

Next day was the criterium in downtown Georgetown. I was the defending champ going in this year so I was looking forward to the race. The format was a little different than last year with it being a points race instead of a regular criterium. In a points race you sprint every 5 laps. The points go 4 deep (5, 3, 2, 1), and double points for the final sprint. The course was technical, with a twisty descent, leading into a steep climb, and then a narrow finishing straight. After some minor confusion about the format, the race began. I managed to win the first two points sprints to gain a lead right off the start. It was after this that Tibco started launching Tara Whitten off the front to force the group the chase. However, Heather (my Colavita team-mate) was able to help me cover attempted breakaways and keep the speed high into the sprint laps. Nearing the end, two riders broke away from the group. At this point in the race, I led Joelle Numainville (Tibco) by 6 points. The points for the finish were 10, 6, 4, 2.. I would have to beat her in the final sprint to keep the lead. Heather and I realized that it was good to have the girls stay off the front and take the higher points, as they posed no threat to the overall. I took the bunch sprint for third on the final lap and managed to defend my title for the second year!

I’m currently competing with Colavita in Altoona, PA at the Tour of Toona. A very cool race with equal prize money and distances with the men and women. Stay tuned for an update.