Race: Shenandoah Epic 24 hour adventure race
Date: April 14, 2018
Location: Shenandoah, VA
Racers: Jessica Kutz
Race report given by Jessica Kutz:
There’s a first time for everything. I have been doing a lot more running as work has been busy and it is easy to take my dogs with me. So my schedule this year is less biking specific and mixes in adventure races, trail running races, off road duathlons and mountain bike races. All the early mountain bike races had been cancelled due to weather so my first race of the year was a 26 hour adventure race (talk about easing into it!) For those who don’t know, adventure racing is typically a mix of mountain biking, trail running/ bushwhacking and paddling. All of these activities are completed while also trying to navigate to specific check points with a compass and map; lucky for me Michael does all our navigating...I’m still working on that life skill. I race on a 3-person co-ed team with friends Michael and Barry, who are both experienced racers.
Conveniently this race was in my back yard, just 30 minutes south of where I live in Virginia. Usually I am slow on foot, but I had been doing a lot of running this year so I was excited to see how I would hold up in this race. We started off with a 10-mile paddle, the water was low but we got soaked in the process…which was fine, because the paddle was followed by a quick trekking section and then a swim across the river (which felt divine on the first VERY hot day of the year). Next, we did a quick mountain bike section to a longer foot section. Michael’s navigation was on point while Barry and I debated if it would be acceptable to drink stream water. The streams by the cows, NO; but the steams in the mountain, YES…it was the most refreshing water I’ve ever tasted.
Next up was a long and strenuous foot section as the sun was setting. Little did we know we’d be spending a lot of time in those woods on this section, longer than expected. Barry and Michael have sweet 1,000 lumens head lamps and I rocked my new 500 lumens head lamp, which looked dim compared to their lights. Low and behold within minutes of each other both of those bright lights went out late in the evening and as a team we were left with just my light and one weak back up light. Go figure, Michael navigated us right to a check point with no light at all…I guess 33 years in the coast guard will make you pretty flawless with a map and compass (with or without a light!).
Next came my demise, I could feel a blister coming on as we were sliding down and trekking up mountains off trail. I figured I could handle a blister, no biggie. I wore the same shoes for a 15-hour race and my feet held up great. Well, at hour 16 my feet decided to disown me. As we trekked to the top of a mountain to traverse a ridge my feet had had enough. Each step hurt, made worse by the fact that I was gingerly trying to balance on rocks and roots while also trying not to roll down the side of the mountain…I’m not known for being graceful! I went to a pretty dark place trying to get across that ridge. Poor Barry and Michael were very kind as I limped along, painfully slow. This section seemed to last the longest for me (though it wasn’t in overall time), it is most of what I remember from this race. I trudged along while Michael navigated and Barry occasionally checked in with me to make sure I hadn’t quit to take a nap in the leaves. When I felt like we were getting close I changed my mindset to “I just need to be on the bike…my happy place.” We eventually made it back to the transition area, the roughest part of the race was over…I built some adventure racing character, and I was ready to pedal the race to the end.
The final segment on the mountain bike was on trails I regularly ride, so Michael humored me and let me pick our route. We opted to toss 2 check points, which were going to be a pain to gather and instead had a pretty fun jaunt on the trails catching the last check points. I felt like I went from 0 to 60 with energy. Riding didn’t hurt my feet as much and I was happy to be pedaling. We made it back to the finish after 25.5 hours. We finished 5th in our division and 8th in the whole race. Not too shabby with an international field. I think Michael and Barry were worried they had scared me away from adventure racing, but actual I’m more hooked. I learned from some more seasoned women over beer after the race about some tricks for foot care in a long race and I’m ready to give it a go again! I’m also happy to report that my feet which were covered in blisters are healing nicely!
Event: Allamuchy TT
Date: April 14th
Location: Allamuchy Township, NJ
Riders: Teresa DiSessa-Johnson, Danielle Ferland, McKensie Walker, Diane Elmore, Erin Healy, Andy Maher
Race report as told by Andy Maher:
It was a beautiful morning for the third race in the 2018 NJBA Time Trial cup series. This 8 mile, mostly flat course rolls through the rural country roads of Green Township and is one of my favorite.
The team warmed up on trainers and rollers before heading over to the start line a few miles away on Long Bridge road.
First up in the Open Women Non TT category was team owner Teresa. Teresa has not raced in a couple of years so it was exciting to see her out there again doing what she loves. She had a fantastic ride on her new Trek Madone and ended up with a PR.
Diane was next up for the Cat 4/5 women followed by Erin, Danielle and McKensie. This was the first time trial for new team mates Erin and McKensie and they both had a great race. I was last to go in the Senior Women category and in the company of some very speedy ladies! I got off to a good start and had a solid ride. It wasn't my fastest time on this course but I felt good and had fun. Overall a great day and happy to see Teresa on the podium!
Teresa Disessa 2nd Open Women Non TT
Andy Maher 6th- Senior Women
Danielle Ferland 4th- Cat 4/5
McKensie Walker 6th- Cat 4/5
Diane Elmore 9th- Cat 4/5
Erin Healy 11th- Cat 4/5
Race: Gravel Grape Crusher
Date: Sunday June 8th
Location: Landenberg, VA
Riders: Katrine Waterman, Teresa DiSessa-Johnson and Serena DeFelice
Race report written by Serena:
Sunday morning Katrine, Teresa, and I set out to ride through PA, DE, and MD in the Gravel Grape Crusher on our mountain bikes. It was a chilly, breezy start to the day as we still wait on spring to arrive. Despite the cold weather we layered and bundled up a bit to get through our ride in a more comfortable state...ideally not frozen.
At the start I failed to check my pack, and my water hose was disconnected and we needed to stop and fix that situation as water is kind of important (rookie mistake, my apologies). We traveled through gravel, roads, and dirt throughout the day- a nice mixture of all. It was a learning experience of sorts finding a comfortable pace for us all to hang that kept us in a good place physically and mentally. We are all different riders with different strengths but with a positive attitude and encouragement we came together and communication was key for completing it. We dipped into a few different parks and it was fun to cruise around on the trails especially since we haven’t had the most time riding outside recently (cold weather= frozen rider, trainer/treadmill= warmth/happy rider) but it was a beautiful thing today. We complimented each other, taking turns in a rotation of sorts for where we were in our little pack riding. Around each corner there seemed to be climbing and more climbing, which turned into a joke of sorts that kept us moving and laughing (laughing is good when your legs are burning), surprise more climbing. We completed the 100k ride in under 5 hours with over 5000 feet of climbing. Climbing is fun, just keep telling yourself, and maybe you start to believe it. At the end of the day we had some laughs, and reflected a bit, while getting a chance to refuel! Looking forward to the next adventure!!
Event: Steve Reed Memorial Time Trial (Formerly known as Cape May Time Trial)
Date: April 8, 2018
Location: Cape May, NJ
Riders: Amanda Rinderer, Taylor Armstrong (Senior Women); Diane Elmore (Cat 4/5 women)
Race Report written by Diane Elmore:
Steve Reed Memorial Time Trial is a 7.5 mile out and back flat as a pancake course located right outside of the Cape May Zoo. This race was very cold and windy! Probably the coldest time trial I have done starting the day out at 29 degrees!
Amanda, Taylor and I found each other first thing, and Amanda and I warmed up on the trainers, while Taylor rode to warm up.
At the start, going out there was a strong headwind to fight, stay small in, and bring a higher cadence going for energy to hammer on the way back. At the turnaround, there was a tailwind, but it didn’t feel as strong as the headwind going out did!
Great day for our team with Amanda taking 2nd and Taylor taking 3rd on the podium for Senior Women, and Diane taking 4th in Cat 4/5 women.
Cat – Senior Women
Amanda – 2nd place
Taylor – 3rd place
Cat – Cat 4 women
Diane – 4th place
Event: Cherry Blossom Bike Race - W1/2/3
Date: April 7th
Location: Newark, NJ
Riders: Amanda Rinderer, Andy Maher, Katrine Waterman, Taylor Armstrong (Women 1/2/3); Daneille Ferland, McKensie Walker, Erin Healy (Women Cat 4/5)
Race Report written by Taylor Armstrong about the Womens 1/2/3 race:
Cherry Blossom is a 2.2 mile circuit loop through Branch Brook Park in Newark. This was our first big race as a team and we were looking forward to testing out our legs after a long winter of training and seeing how our team bonding attributed to our teamwork. Our race was early, cold, and windy! All of us (including McKenzie, Erin and Danielle who were racing the 4/5) warmed up together in another section of the park, and then it was go time!
There was a super strong Cat 1 sprinter signed up, so our strategy was to get Amanda into a breakaway for our best chance of winning. Another strong Cat 1 signed up shorty before the race started, so we knew we had our work cut out for us! Andy got the pace going strong the 1st lap, then Amanda, Katrine and I took turns attacking. Amanda’s second attack stuck and she was in a solo breakaway, with one of the Cat 1 riders ahead of her.
The rest of us made sure to steady the pace, and chase down anyone who tried to bridge to Amanda. Everyone worked their butts off and Amanda held her break for a second place finish! Back in the pack finish, I tried to get Katrine on my wheel and push it as much as I could to the line. Katrine came around and rocked her sprint for a 5th place finish, with me coming in 9th and Andy in 10th. Team owners Teresa and Jeff were cheering us on the whole way :)
Overall we were SO happy with how well we worked as a team and cannot wait to race every weekend with these ladies!! We couldn’t do any of it without the selflessness of Teresa and Jeff and all of our sponsors. Thank you so much!!
Amanda - 2nd
Katrine - 5th
Taylor - 9th
Andy - 10th
Race Report written by Erin Healy about the Womens 4/5 race:
WOW! What an awesome first race experience! The day started off with a very early wake-up and a very informative car ride as Teresa, Jeff, and Taylor discussed strategies and things I should expect during the race. It was a pretty chilly morning but a warm-up led by Andy got us all warmed up and ready to go! I definitely had a case of the pre-race nerves but thankfully those disappeared as soon as the whistle was blown! Thanks to awesome teammates and team owners at the race (Teresa, Jeff, McKensie, Danielle, Taylor, Andy, Amanda, and Katrine) who all gave me tips, advice, and overall reassurance that I will be fine.
When the whistle went off, it was go time. I was relieved to clip-in seamlessly (something I was quite worried about) and off we went! Keeping in mind all the tips I learned through the past couple months and leading up to race morning, I started taking everything in. It was so interesting to observe the tactics and strategies of the cyclists in the group. At certain points during the 7 lap, 14 mile race, the group accelerated to speeds over 25mph and occasionally dropped down to about 15mph or so. McKensie and Danielle and a few other cyclists in the group each tried to make breakaways but nothing seemed to stick and the race came down to a sprint. This was a pretty exciting moment as everyone in the 14 rider group gave it their all to get over that finish line. McKensie powered across the line in an amazing 2nd place finish, I was able to cross the line in 5th, and Danielle made a super impressive comeback 9th place finish. Overall, I could not ask for a better first race experience and I am beyond thankful to be surrounded by such kind and supportive people in this new sport for me!
Results Womens 4/5
Erin Healy- 5th
Red Rock Rampage
St. George, UT, March 24, 2018
Type: Mountain Bike- XC
Category: Women’s Expert
The first race of the 2018 Intermountain Cup Racing Series snuck up quickly in between the early spring snowflakes and my long winter work hours, but it did not disappoint. The weather in St. George was a perfect 70F under partially cloudy skies. After a super early morning start and a beautiful 4 hour drive to southern Utah, complete with pink and purple sun rising over the mountains, I arrived at what looked like a veritable party on the edge of the desert. I parked with the others amidst the desert scrub, eager to get this first race of the season started.
I was both anxious and super excited going into this race. Mountain bike racing brought me into the sport of cycling 20 years ago but I hadn’t raced a mountain bike in over 15 years. Just as I was about to hang up my road racing shoes, Teresa convinced me to hop back into mountain bike racing. I did one race last summer as a sport rider and walked away with the top podium spot. I had so much fun that day that I decided to come back to mountain bike racing full time, this year in the expert category. Unfortunately, life gets in the way sometimes and my training hours suffered this winter. Coming into race day I knew that I was not as fit as I had wanted to be and would be up against girls who lived in warmer climates that enabled them to ride outside all winter long, but I was still psyched to go tear it up in the desert with a fast group of ladies.
The race started with a nice long section of rolling double track. I started well and quickly found myself on the front of our tiny group of 7 starters, setting the pace just like I have done hundreds of times before on the road. I could hear lots of heavy breathing next to and behind me. So I cranked up the pace. Suddenly there were only 3 of us together and no one else in sight. We hit the single track and continued to battle it out through the technical sections that took us up slick rock steps and slabs, cut into deep gullies in the hillside. We continued to climb, winding up sandy single track that switched back and popped up onto open ridge tops. I felt great, until suddenly I didn’t. At about 30 minutes into the race my body decided that it wasn’t quite fit enough yet for this race pace that had been so natural in seasons past. I watched my hoped-for podium spot fade to second, third, and finally fourth as my legs turned to lead and the others riders easily caught back up and pedaled on by me. I pushed on, completing the race, with my pre-race expectation changed from “podium day” to “training day”. Despite a disappointing result, the course, scenery, and other racers made for a killer training day on the bike that I would repeat 100 times over if I could.
With 6 more races left in the I-Cup Series this summer, I plan to find that top step before the season is done!
Event: Sandy Hook TT
Date: March 31st
Location: Sandy Hook, NJ
Riders: Amanda Rinderer and Diane Elmore
The Sandy Hook Time Trial truly is the prologue to bike racing in NJ. Many of us look forward to this event to shake out our nerves and prime our legs to get ready to race the rest of the season. The course is simple. It is a 7 mile out and back on a flat stretch of road. It’s typically chilly and windy and race day was no different. It was 40 degrees, sunny with clear skies. The racers faced a mild headwind on the way out and a mild tailwind on the way back to the finish line. My teammate Diane Elmore and I found each other in the morning and warmed up on our trainers together.
We greeted many familiar and friendly faces, spun our legs out, and got ready to race. I was racing in the Women’s Open TT and Diane in the Women’s Cat 4/5 TT. Time trialing is my strength and I was hoping for a PR on this course. I did not get that PR but I rode well and ended up with the fastest female time of the day by almost a minute! I kept my head down and tried to stay small and aero while pacing my legs and lungs for a strong finish. A riders legs always hurt during a time trial since it’s an all out effort but today my lungs were screaming as well because of the cold air. All in all, a great day to get back at it.
Diane had an impressive 5th place finish despite numerous setbacks during the past year. Her determination and grit is a rare and precious gift. I also would like to give a shout out to the handful of women who showed up today to race their very first time trial. With no fancy bikes needed, there were some brand new faces in the Non-Aero division. They all did so well! Kudos to you! More women, more bikes, more often!
Event: 14th Annual Team Boot Camp
Date: March 24 - 25, 2018
Location: Jackson, NJ
Riders: Teresa DiSessa, Jeffrey Johnson, Taylor Armstrong, Beth Bonilla, Diane Elmore, Danielle Ferland, Erin Healy, Shaina Kravitz, Andy Maher, Mackenzie Walker, Katrine Waterman
March came in like a lion, and out like, well, a lion. But the team was still ready to roar for our annual boot camp weekend. A raging midweek nor'easter that dumped almost a foot of snow had us swapping a long, hilly ride in Philly to a weekend of trainers at drills at team owners Teresa and Jeff's house. The last minute change of plans and uncooperative weather didn't stop us from a fun, productive team weekend.
We were greeted with gift bags filled with great items from our awesome sponsors upon arrival, then it was immediately time to get on bikes and down to business. We set up on the Computrainers for team time trials efforts. Most of us have been grinding away solo all winter, so it was great to have the extra motivation and encouragement of teammates to help push ourselves to the limits.
After a quick rest and a delicious lunch provided by teammate Diane, we took advantage of the sunny afternoon to get outside and work on skills and race tactics. Teresa planned an entire session were we practiced turning, drafting, performed look-back drills other techniques that tend to get rusty in the off-season. Many thanks to Beth, who took time off the mountain bike to help out with road skills. We finished off the afternoon with race simulations and lead outs that left us excited for the races ahead. We ended the day with race schedule chats and lots of pizza and beer!
The next morning we fueled up and watched the women of the World Tour battle it out at Gent- Wevelgem to get us pumped for one more endurance trainer workout to finish out the weekend. After a few rounds of ten mile team time trials, we were toast and it was time to pack up. We regrouped for some final thoughts and instructions from the weekend before heading home.
With racing only weeks away, it was great to get together one more time for a weekend of hard efforts and many laughs to reinforce our commitment to a season of training hard and teamwork. Thanks to Teresa and Jeff for putting it all together as we look forward to a season of learning, growing and success!
McKensie Walker started the season off for Team EPS/M3 Riptide-Cycling by racing at the Philly Phlyer series of races this past weekend!! Here are McKensies thoughts on her race!!
First race of the season! I didn’t know what to expect, especially since the weather hasn’t been agreeable with riding outside. I was nervous with the 3/4 combined group. I came into the race thinking of it as a training ride/race that I could build the rest of my season on. At the starting line I saw a familiar pink helmet that was Shaina! She gave me a few pointers along with Deborah and Teresa who had helped me all week.
The wind was whipping, but with the sun out, the temperature was perfect. Everyone took it easy the first two laps. There were a few pot holes on the course that made some parts tricky, but I was able to get more comfortable each lap. On the third lap I was feeling good, but sat on the front a bit too long. There was an attack on this lap that split the front end of the race. I found myself with tired legs and was in the latter. We tried to work together on the last lap to catch back on, but we couldn’t seem to work it out. We pushed it up the final climb and came around into a head wind. The sprint was on!!
I sat in as long as possible before sprinting. I made out with first in the bunch sprint, 6th overall (being 2nd of the cat 4s!). What an awesome start to this season! I can’t wait to start racing with teammates.
Saturday was our team banquet/kick-off party which team owners Teresa and Jeff so graciously hosted. It was a fun-filled evening of celebrating the team’s 2017 accomplishments, kicking off our 2018 season, eating/drinking, and getting to know our sponsors.
The party kicked off with Teresa announcing all of our sponsors, returning and new, and acknowledging them for their immense contributions to our team. She also acknowledged each rider, Cat 1 through Cat 5 – we have a great mix of riders who are all going to contribute so much to our team’s success this year, and it was so much fun getting to know everyone just a little more than before.
Teresa then announced our team “awards” which the team voted on for the 2017 season. Huge congrats to our winners - Andy (Team Riptide Award), Shaina (Most Improved Rider), and Deborah (MVP – AKA Superwoman). Well deserved to all!
After the awards, the only thing left to do was to party! Several teammates brought amazing food/dessert/drinks for everyone to enjoy and we continued the celebration for the rest of the night!
This year we have many new riders and sponsors and it was the perfect time to get everyone together, introduce our newbies, and truly thank our sponsors for everything they do for us. Our sponsors are integral to our team’s success and we cannot thank them enough!! Overall it was a great night with many laughs and we can’t wait to see what 2018 holds for us!!