Allez, allez! 2014!

Les Petites Victoires, known affectionately to many as LPV, is excited to announce some great things happening in our third year as an elite amateur women’s cycling team.

First, we welcome Madeleine “Madi” Pape to our team roster! Madi shares LPV’s commitment to having fun while racing at a high level and brings a positive outlook, serious athletic background, and geographic diversity to LPV. After driving over to meet us from Madison, WI, Madi endured some unintentional hazing when the midwest skies opened up violently over our get-to-know-each-other team ride. She didn’t melt, or even whine, so we decided she’s definitely a keeper.

Next, we officially put Tenspeed Hero in charge of making us look good. They already were doing a good job of this with photos and stories and socks and water bottles for us, but now TSH will be our exclusive clothing and style sponsor for 2014. We cannot wait to show off the work of a talented team of people that has resulted in possibly the best women’s cycling kit ever made. Big thanks to Lauren Ayers, who gets the credit for our modified 2014 colourway.

Last, but not least, we have one more important partnership to share. Looking to add meaning and mentorship to our athletic endeavors, LPV has hooked up with Girls in the Game, a Chicago-based organization that promotes and enhances the overall health and well-being of girls by providing opportunities for sports, fitness, nutrition and health education, and leadership development. In addition to participating in several Girls in the Game events, LPV will donate a minimum of 20% of all funds we raise this year to support this group.

“The bicycle has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”- Susan B. Anthony

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Tested: TSH Women’s Jersey

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Photo by Luke Batten

About a month ago, L.P.V.’s shop sponsor, Johnny Sprockets, hosted a focus group with Olivia Bleitz, a Women’sProduct Marketing Specialist at Specialized Bicycle. Olivia wanted to hear what women cyclists in Chicago were looking for in bikes and gear made for women. Representatives from Half Acre Cycling and L.P.V. involved in everything from mountain bike racing to cycling advocacy groups to criterium racing to commuting were on hand to give their feedback. Despite such great diversity among the group, there was one complaint common to all: the lack of options for high-performing, well-designed cycling clothing for women.

So, when our friends at Tenspeed Hero showed me the prototype for their very first women’s jersey, it seemed as though they had overheard everything that we wished for in the Johnny Sprockets fit studio on the night of Olivia’s visit. No pastels, no swirly graphics, simply the most comfortable fabric and fit you can imagine. You really should read Tenspeed Hero’s own description of the jersey, but I will just tell you that I was lucky enough to test out this wonderful piece of clothing last Saturday and look forward to many more rides in it.

Oh, and the new socks are great too!

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Tour of America’s Dairyland: Part II (The Road Races)

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After a mix of experiences in the first 6 criterium races of the TOAD series that ranged from okay to pretty demoralizing, I was looking forward to the back-to-back road races on Days 7 and 8.

The Fond du Lac course was a flat-ish 10-mile circuit and there seemed to be an agreement among the omnium contenders to treat this as a rest day. I sat in patiently and tried to stay near the front–a place I didn’t spend much time during the crits–alert for moves as well as tips that more experienced riders were dishing out to their less experienced teammates. Holding position was tricky on the narrow roads and centerline infractions became so frequent (across all fields) that the local sheriff felt it was unsafe and one 10-mile circuit was cut from the race. Even the bell lap was pretty tame, but the lead out for Pepper Palace went a little too early causing a lull before the final surge led by Sam Schneider. Sam (Tibco to the Top) ended up third, while Amy Cutler (EPS p/b Shebell Shebell), who podiumed at Schlitz Park the previous day, took the win by inches from LVG (Mellow Mushroom). I waited a while for results to be posted, and two chocolate milks later found out I was 13th, which meant I was in the money. Finally!

roadamerica-mapI would also finish 13th after 12 laps on the 4.4-mile Road America auto racing course in Elkhart Lake, although this race played out quite a bit differently. Again we had a slow start, but by mid-race things were starting to get animated. After a series of moves by ISCorps, Pepper Palace, and Specialized Columbia, it seemed right to try to keep the action going. I made an attack and was joined by Kelli Richter (PSIMET). With Kelli’s former teammate, Jeannie Kuhajek (Vanderkitten) blocking, our gap grew to 45 seconds. Kelli and I had time to talk during a neutral period in the race while the men were overtaking. Although there was still half the race to go, we decided to give it a shot. We couldn’t see anyone behind us on the track until we started going up the big ramp for the third time alone. The field looked to be gaining, and the feed zone at top of the ramp would be a good place to reintegrate. We shut it down and I did my best to latch onto the group. At first, recovering from that effort seemed unlikely, but the pace settled down and I managed to rest enough in the next 4 laps to stay in decent position for the finish: one final sprint up the big ramp followed by 200 meters of false flat. During my recovery period, Alison Tetrick (Exergy 2016) escaped and stayed away to win solo. Sam Schneider won the field sprint, but couldn’t put enough places in between her and LVG to take over the leaders’ jersey. Unfortunately for my break-mate, Kelli punctured in the final lap.

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Tour of America’s Dairyland: Part I (the NCC races)

LPV "like a Boss" by w|c studioWith the memory of the last NCC race I competed in still fresh, it was a jittery drive up to Shorewood, WI for the first of four races on the National Criterium Calendar that lead out the 11-day Tour of America’s Dairyland. Taking several preview laps around the bumpy course didn’t exactly calm my nerves, but somehow I felt very comfortable  once the race started. The pace only became challenging in the final lap, and I was very glad to finish near the middle of the 70-woman start list.

Day two on a short and tight course in East Troy, WI began similarly. It was harder to move up and my legs weren’t as fresh, but I felt smooth in the turns and at ease in the middle of the largest field I’ve raced in to date. The pace seemed higher than the previous day though, and the near constant cornering eventually started to take its toll on my legs. I really struggled to hold position in the last third of the race, but still finished the race on the same lap as everyone else, just a bit behind the group.

Completing two NCC level races sent my energy way up, and I was excited about improving in the next two. As often happens in bike racing though, things don’t go like you think, and the weekend races were like two steps backward.

I started the Giro d’ Grafton in good position, but knocked bikes with someone middle of first lap.  Everyone kept it upright, but I never recovered my focus. After a crash split the field several laps later, it was dangle city for a few laps, then an early ending for the group of five I had settled in with.

Poor staging put me behind (but at least not in) a crash in the very first turn at the Waukesha Carl Zach Cycling Classic.  Needless to say, it was a very short race for me. On the positive side, I got to see what the front if the race actually looks like. Exergy, IScorp, Specialized Columbia, and Pepper Palace took substantial solo fliers and some primes. The teams with strong sprinters brought it all back and set up their women for final sprint.

toad_day4 Podium was Kimberly Wells (Fearless Femmes), LVG (Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers), and Sam Schneider (TIBCO) in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, respectively. To learn what happened in the other races, you’ll have to check the official ToAD race reports, just like I did.

 

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