Bringing it in Bellingham

Last weekend brought sunny skies and more strong results from Peterson Racing p/b Spokeswomen.  Bellingham’s Fanatik Bicycle Team hosted a trio of races in Whatcom and Skagit County: two time trials on Saturday and a tough road race on Sunday.  We showed up in force, earning four wins and a second place!  Many thanks to Stewart Bowmer, the race director in Bellingham, who did an awesome job organizing and promoting the races. Anyone who hasn’t yet ridden the beautiful roads in Whatcom and Skagit County is missing out!

Recap of our results:
Skagit Flats TT: Jessica Cutler 1st in the Cat 1-2s; Carly Tu 2nd in the Cat 3s
Northshore Hill Climb TT: Jessica Cutler, 1st in the 1-2s; Carly Tu 1st in the Cat 3s.
(Read about Jessica’s experience in the TTs here!)
Northshore Road Race: Courtenay McFadden 1st in the Cat 1-2-3s; Kristen Sblendorio 1st in the Cat 4s.

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Carly Tu on her way to a win in the Northshore TT. Photo by Kevin Tu.

Here’s a race report from our own Courtenay McFadden, a Cat 2 on the road who lives in Bellingham and knows the Northshore Course well. As a Cat 1 cyclcross racer and Expert mountain bike racer, her main passions in racing are mountain and cross, but she has been tearing it up on the road as well!  She won the Cat 1-2-3 Northshore race on Sunday, beating out a strong field of 25 that included some of the state’s top-ranked riders and a pro racer.

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Courtenay

Courtenay’s report:

I won a bike race!  I might…might be figuring out this road racing business, or perhaps it was just dumb home race advantage luck.  This last Sunday was the Northshore Road Race. This race is located in Bellingham, and is best described as a very masculine race.  Why is it so masculine?  Because when the race was created, two college-aged guys wanted to create the hardest race course in the Northwest Collegiate Cycling Conference.  Poof, the Northshore Road Race was born.  It’s been around for as long as I can remember.  Originally, it was a collegiate race put on by WWU Cycling (and still is) but is now also a USAC race put on by the Shuksan Velo Club (AKA Fantik Race Team…they wear orange).  The course is an 8 mile loop, and you go in circles and circles until you finish your race distance.  It’s a race of attrition: whoever can just keep going will do well.  It’s not a total climber’s race, but it’s NOT flat in any way.  The hills are steep and short and require a lot of power, but there isn’t too much time to recover either.  I don’t typically ride out there because I associate the course with pain.  If I ride the course I usually only do 1 lap (which is plenty).

So, to put it bluntly, I wasn’t looking forward to the race.  Actually, I didn’t even care about the race (maybe that’s where I went right)!  On Saturday, I went out for a mountain bike ride with Logan and Chris, and I worked harder than I wanted to.  The day of the race, I packed a bag and rode out to the course, which was a great warm up!  I won’t get into details on how the race went, because honestly, I got dizzy and I don’t remember what happened on each lap.  They all just blurred together.  I just remember riding my bike up some steep hills, breathing hard, then turning around and seeing that half the pack was gone.  I had my eye on a pro cyclist that my friend Emily called “red boots,” but when she kept attacking in weird areas, I decided to not waste my energy chasing her.  I let the other girls do it because I knew the course, and I knew she wasn’t going to get away at the places she tried (home town advantage)?

Then, all of the sudden, we had one lap to go.  On the last lap, I just kept telling myself, hey not bad! There were 7 of us, and in the worst case scenario I’d get 7th place. Not bad on a tough course with a group of 25 starters for a race I didn’t care about!  The last time up the “stair stepper climb,” I found myself in the front of the pack.  The finish was getting close.  I didn’t want to be in the front, so I slowed down…a lot.  Other riders pulled through and took us to the base of the steep finishing climb, where “red boots” went for the sprint…too early.  A couple girls chased her. I took advantage of the speed I already had from the small downhill before the steep uphill, chose my gears wisely (I knew how steep the hill was and I knew what gear to be in) and took off, sprinting up the hill after “red boots.”  She petered out hard about halfway up the hill.  I kept going all the way to the finish line (with cramping quads and all) and took the hometown win!

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