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!

Rider of the Month: Andrea Casebolt

Rider of the Month

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Name: Andrea Casebolt, junior racer

Category/Discipline: Road 3, Cross 3

How you got into cycling: I got into cycling because of my dad. I watched him race a cross race in Portland about seven years ago and thought it looked really cool so I wanted to try it out.

How to balance life and cycling as a junior racer: Being a junior is great! A little hard with managing training with school, but I get by. Knowing that I started at such a young age and already have a good amount of experience is nice because I want to do cycling for forever. Racing as a junior at nationals is also pretty cool, you get to meet a lot of new people. It’s nice to have adults that are willing to support us with training and racing is great as well.

What’s your favorite thing about cyclocross, your main race discipline? My favorite thing about cyclocross is definitely the getting dirty aspect. Having to jump over obstacles is pretty sweet too. I like the challenge cross brings with all the different kinds of weather and terrain you have to race in. It’s not as strict as road, the environment is so laid back and chill. Not saying it’s not hard to race cross, because it definitely is.

 Favorite cycling memory? Hmmm… my favorite memory in cycling was in Kansas City, 2007, when I won the Cyclocross National Championships. Earlier that season my dad had broken his ankle in Steilacoom right after he had won and was about to move up a category… he told me that he was proud of my performance at the Seattle series so when I went to Kansas City and crossed the finish line first, the expression on my dads face. He told me he felt like he had won vicariously through out me. That was something I will never forget.

-Andrea

In Like a Lion…

Jess Sequim 2

Jessica Cutler wins the Pro-1-2 race at Sequim on a solo breakaway

March here in the Northwest was filled with exciting weather: rain, sleet, wind, snow, hail, thunderstorms, and more rain.  Likewise, our riders  delivered some exciting early season racing: solo breakaways, attacks, wins, upgrades, and teamwork.  (Appropriately, most of our races took place in inclement weather!)  While we are ready for some mellower temperatures and sunshine, our team shows no signs of slowing down as spring gets underway.

Here are some recent top results.  Many of our team’s victories are made possible by hardworking teammates who tire out the pack, chase down attacks, and provide support for their teammates. Still other teammates are just racing for the first time and successfully finishing with the pack–a big achievement in itself!

Top Results in March

  • Mason Lake 1: Jessica Culnane 3rd in the Cat 4s
  • Sequim 1: Jessica Culnane 1st in the Cat 4s
  • IceBreaker TT: Carly Tu 1st in the Cat 3s; Alexie Montaland 3rd in the Cat 4s
  • Sequim 2: Jessica Cutler 1st in the Cat 1-2-3s; Jessica Culnane 3rd in the Cat 4s
  • Farestart TT: Carly Tu 1st in the Cat 3s; Jessica Cutler 1st in the Cat 1-2s; Alexie Montaland 2nd in the Cat 4s
  • Independence Valley Road Race: Jessica Cutler 1st in the 1-2s; Courtenay McFadden 4th in the Cat 1-2s; Jessica Culnane 3rd in the Cat 3s; Eryn Maris 4th in the Cat 3s; Lori Surges 2nd in the Cat 4s.

Rider of the Month: Jessica Culnane

Jessica Culnane has started off the season with some really strong racing! She placed 3rd at Mason Lake 1, WON Sequim 1, and placed 3rd at Sequim 2, earning her upgrade from category 4 to 3. Way to go, JAC!

Nickname: JAC

Hometown: Snohomish, WA
Years racing:
1
Category:
4
Past cycling achievements: Third place at my first and only two crits last year as a Cat 4. 3rd at Mason 1 and Sequim 2, 1st at Sequim 1. Riding the Cascade Loop (Washington-Stevens Pass).
Why you decided to try bike racing
: Races help break the barrier of what you think you can do, and I love this. Most of my life I have raced to some extent, but it was running, triathlon, or multisport–so I thought I’d try bike racing next! I also wanted more discipline in my cycling efforts, not just riding when it’s nice out in search of the best scone.
What has surprised you so far about being on a race team:
I’ve always felt pretty competitive and dedicated to athletic pursuits. But now I realize, I’m just slightly above average and this team is where it’s at! They are intelligently committed to the sport and pushing themselves to new abilities. They inspire me to ride harder and stronger, but laugh when things go wrong.
What keeps you riding:
It is where I find my bliss. Whether it is pulling the team into a head wind, with sideways rain/hail, with numb hands or zipping around Mercer on one of those perfect ‘this is why I live in Seattle days’, life narrows in on that moment. New perspective is gained on what really matters and the insignificant is gone by the time I get home. And of course it is just fun to go fast!
What type(s) of racing you hope to try this year:
The only bike races I’ve done thus far are a few off the couch crits, so I’m excited be a little prepared for some races and race for a longer distance. Stage races seem like my cup of tea.

Empowering Women on and off the Bike

As an all-women’s team, the core of our mission goes beyond riding bikes really fast—though we do plenty of that!  We value empowering women, both on and off the bike.  Partnering with Jubilee Women’s Center gives us the chance to make a real impact on the lives of women who are transitioning from homelessness to self-sufficiency.

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About Jubilee: Founded in 1983, Jubilee Women’s Center has provided safe, affordable and supportive community housing in Seattle and a program that helps single women transition out of homelessness and into independent living.  Jubilee houses 27 women at a time, usually for 6-12 months each.

One of our founding members, Lindsay Felker, originally suggested that our team partner with Jubilee. “I have special ties to Jubilee, as my mom, who I lost to cancer a few years ago, was an active volunteer there and helped renovate the house.”  Lindsay has since encouraged our team to get involved and led the way with a few projects.  Recently, Lindsay, Sarah, Elise, Heather, Lisa, and Christine helped out at Jubilee’s annual Mardi Gras silent auction benefit—a lavish event that would have been impossible without the army of volunteers who stepped up to help out (see picture above).  Our duties included helping with setup, assisting in the kitchen, circulating appetizers, and cleaning up.  The benefit was a great success!

Getting to know the women of Jubilee brings joy and fulfillment to both sides.  Our teammate Kelly taught a series of computer classes at Jubilee, helping the women gain basic skills on Microsoft Word, like typing a resume or cover letter.  Something that many of us take for granted—typing up a document—is a new and empowering skill for many women who are moving toward self-sufficiency.  Kelly said, “It was awesome! I highly recommend getting involved with them.  The women at the center were all really friendly… I found the experience of working with the women there to be really rewarding. Do it!!”

Community dinners are another way we have connected with Jubilee.  Recently, our teammates Lori, Mirna, Sheila, and Lori’s daughter Bayley combined forces to prepare baked chicken, mashed potatoes and broccoli for Jubilee’s 35 residents.  Lori commented, “The women were so grateful and we received many thanks.  Most of the women came at various times to eat, as they had to juggle work, school and other activities.  I will plan on organizing a dinner every other month at this point.  The team is welcome to contact Angie to schedule more community dinners.”

As anyone who volunteers knows well, the people we serve aren’t the only ones who benefit. Giving to Jubilee brings us a sense of connectedness and fulfillment—now that’s empowering!

Pictures from the event:

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Rider of the Month: Cathy Varland

To help you get to know our team better, we’re going to highlight one teammate per month.

First up is Cathy Varland!

Hometown: Hoquium, WA

Category: Road 2

How you got started racing: I joined the WWU cycling team in college after getting a running injury.

Past Cycling Achievements: 3rd in the GC at Elkhorn as a Cat 3, finishing with the lead group on stage 4 of Cherry Blossom 2010, “competing” against Kristen Armstrong at the Mt. Hood Stage Race in 2011.

Why you’re excited about Peterson Racing p/b Spokeswomen:  It’s a team of strong women who are supportive of one another on and off the bike. We focus not just on racing but also growing the sport for women and giving back to the community.

Any thoughts about women’s cycling in general? Cycling provides a great opportunity for women to challenge themselves. Training and racing builds confidence that carries into everyday life. It’s awesome to see women working together and kicking butt during a race.

What keeps you riding: It keeps me sane! I love the freedom and the challenge of cycling. And the cycling community is full of wonderful, supportive people who I love to hang out with.

Favorite memory in cycling: A few epic training rides I’ve had with teammates. The rides that make you want to cry when they’re happening but leave you feeling strong and accomplished when you’re done. Those are good times!

When not biking: I hang out with friends and family, work, snowboard, and spend time outside.

When you’re not on the bike: I love to be outdoors or spending time with my friends and family.