2015 News!

socksPhoto by Samuel Copeland

Les Petites Victoires is now a national network of women cyclists with alumni in Chicago, Seattle, Madison, and New Orleans and like-minded, big-hearted women’s cycling supporters world wide. We will be racing our bikes as parts of many different teams in 2015 including, but not limited to: The Chicago Cuttin’ Crew, Chicago Women’s Elite, and Garage Racing just to name a few. A big thanks to our mentors, supporters, and all the awesome individuals in this community who contributed their talents, time, and resources to our team over the last four years. Stay tuned while we continue to use this site/page as a forum for the exciting and rapidly changing landscape in the greater world of women’s cycling.

Allez, Allez! L.P.V.!

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slimCady and JRho go “pro”

Off the bike that is. Some of you may know what it is we do when not riding or racing. Most of you probably don’t but fear not– here’s a peek into the professional lives of slimCady and JRho.

slimCady aka Cady has been working on architectural and design projects for a number of years. She recently left her chickens and the city of Chicago for Seattle, WA to concentrate on her own business, WC Studio, with her husband and partner. Along with developing architectural plans, wielding blueprints, and riding the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, Cady has been tackling the many divisions of the Architect Registration Exam. We are proud and excited to announce that countless exams (Seven!) later, Cady has officially earned her license to practice architecture as a pro.

This author, JRho aka Jannette, decided a number of years ago to switch careers and pursue a Masters degree in Nutrition. This eventually led to wanting to go the whole nine yards and earn my certification as a dietitian. Partly because I don’t like to do most things halfway, but mostly because I knew the dietetic training would make me better equipped in my practice. It has been a long journey involving years of studying and hours spent in rotations. I’m pleased to let you all know that I recently passed my (One! Whew) certification exam and am now officially a Registered Dietitian.

Thanks for reading a little about this part of our lives. We’re thankful for all of our friends and supporters, on and off the bike. We’ll see you at the CX races.

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L.P.V. Composite Team and the North Star Grand Prix

Last August, LPV dipped a toe into NRC stage racing at the 2013 Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove. The circuits were fast and furious and we loved it. We loved the up-close experience of racing at the highest level in the U.S. and we loved seeing our Chicago Women’s Bike Racing peers right in the mix. We went into the weekend afraid we would be time cut, but by stage 3, LPV had cracked the top 20, Jeannie Kuhajek came inside the top 10, and the other local ladies, Daphne Karagianis, Ellen Ryan, and Kelli Richter were all racing well. Between congratulations to each other, we discussed plans for a Chicago Composite Team for the following year.

NSGP Composite

We soon learned that the Tour of Elk Grove would not be returning to the National Race Calendar in 2014, so we set our sights on the prestigious North Star Grand Prix and convinced Daphne, Ellen, Sarah Rice, and Sierra Siebenlist to go in with us as a composite team. With six stages compared to Elk Grove’s three, we knew we’d need the backup.

Putting team allegiances aside and attending NRC stage races as a composite team is less about teamwork in the tactical sense, and more about sharing resources and supporting each other–at least with moral support.  NRC stage racing has an additional set of logistical demands on top of the physical ones. Beyond normal stuff like making meals and keeping track of the schedule for each day, there are manager meetings to attend, support vehicles to be driven in the race caravan, and the potential of being selected for random anti-doping control. Professional teams have a director as well as several staff to worry about these things so that the athletes don’t have to. We are not professionals, but coming together as a composite team meant we had an expanded network of truly amazing friends and family willing to help out.

First, we had many of YOU, because if you’re reading this, it is likely that you pitched in during our fundraiser. We were able to cover race fees, meals, and provide a travel stipend for our guest riders. Your support is a really big deal to us and we are happy that some downtime between races in Minnesota gave us a chance to thank you all properly and personally. Keep an eye on your mailboxes!

Next, we had Eric Lindahl, most devoted husband and team car driver, EVER. Some people will really go the extra mile; Eric literally went several hundred extra miles to make sure we had a support vehicle in the race caravan. Between Sarah’s experience from last year’s Nature Valley Pro Chase Team and Eric’s caravan driving skills, this power couple taught LPV a thing or two about domestique duties and sticky bottles.

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After that, we had Gracie, childhood friend of Daphne, who married a guy named Andrew, whose family lives in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Andrew’s family loves cycling and they hosted a heck of a dinner party after Stage 5, Menomonie Road Race. We felt like something between family and honored guests as we were treated to great company and conversation around a cozy fire, piles of delicious foods, hot showers, fancy soaps, and all the sparkling water and craft beer we could possibly drink. We were also lucky to have wonderful host housing the entire week at the homes of Randy & Erin Bell and Heather Leide.

photo 3 photo 5Of course, we also had Tenspeed Hero, who continue to redefine what sponsorship even means to an amateur cycling team. Sure, we got a sneak peak at some new water bottles and socks, but that’s not why we love being LPV/TSH Women. We love it because these guys came all the way to Minnesota to be a part of our adventure! Thank you Luke, Samuel, and Matthew for being there when we needed a swig of water, or a hug, or 12 stitches in the medical tent, or a ride to the airport. And thanks for capturing women’s cycling in a unique way with your trained eyes and skillful camerawork.

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 8.42.13 PMScreen Shot 2014-06-18 at 8.41.41 PMLast, we had each other. For me, the most transformative part of the NSGP experience was returning to the team car after Stage 3, Cannon Falls Road Race. I was the last LPV to roll in, and–after nearly 90-miles out in brutal cross winds–at my lowest point of the week. A few tears were inevitable with all the hugs, warm clothing, and hot tea coming from every direction. Accepting help isn’t one of my strong suits to begin with, and then there was this sense of overwhelming gratitude for teammates who stepped up to fill critical support roles. Despite an injury at the Quad Cities Criterium that knocked her off our NSGP roster, Madi drove over from Madison to help with feed zone support during the toughest stages. Mia sent a thoughtful care package containing compression tights, foam roller, and herbal salves for sore muscles. And, instead of checking out when an unfortunate crash or mechanical cut their racing short in stages 2, 3, and 4 respectively, Jannette, Ellen, and Daphne remained committed to the integrity of the LPV Composite Team through the end of the NSGP. These women are the best! I hope that we can continue to support each other and collaborate as teammates and friends. Speaking of friends, the NSGP peloton also felt a lot friendlier with the presence of these ladies: Kelli Richter and Sarah Szefi of PSIMET Racing, Jeannie Kuhajek of Vanderkitten, and our other favorite composite team, PBLRB! Great to see all of you out there, gettin’ after it.

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The Rapha Women’s Prestige 2014

rwp2014

“Hey, a peloton!” we overheard a local out for a lunch ride say as we climbed past him on Skyline Boulevard, headed into the Redwood Regional Forest on our pre-Prestige Friday training ride. Surely, ‘peloton’ would have more accurately described any number of race or group ride situations we’ve been in before, but this was our Rapha Prestige composite team’s first time out on the road together. Our “Dream Team” comprised three LPV (Mia, Jannette, and this author) joined by Daphne K. and Maria L. from the Chicago Cuttin Crew, and our 2012 teammate, Liz So. To be recognized as the unit we were striving to become by 7:33 A.M. the next day filled us with pride and the sense that the team we had formed for this event, was, in fact, much bigger than the sum of six individuals.

That first ride together, following a rocky arrival in San Francisco the previous day, would end up being the key to our success at the Prestige. Our “dress rehearsal” seemed to expose every possible weakness or challenge we might face on race day: inadequate cue sheets, missed and wrong turns, group separations, no cell phone service, mechanical issues, and even a crash–fortunately, no injuries. By the end of that ride, we had less anxiety about the physical challenges of the race (110 miles horizontally and 10,000 feet vertically) than about our ability to keep our group on course and all together–the singular rule in the scoring of this race being that the clock stops only when your last rider crosses the finish line.

Determined to let neither navigation nor separation get the better of us, we made a plan for regrouping after climbs and descents, or before any tricky turns. Then, we feasted on the first of several dinners to be prepared by our amazing soigneur team, Lynne and Larry Moore, and spent the rest of the evening huddled around various screens and poring over maps, a last-minute cram session on the route, which had been released just two days prior in the midst of a pre-trip bike-boxing, errand-running, exam-taking flurry.

On the morning of the race, less than one hour before our scheduled start time, we were informed at the captains’ meeting that two sections of the published route had been revised to avoid dangerous road conditions discovered during the final course check. That these revisions reduced the amount of off-road riding we would have to do elicited reactions varying from relief to disappointment among our diversely skilled and equipped crew. In common, however, we feared the meticulous cue sheets we’d spent precious sleeping hours on would be worthless. But, there was nothing more we could do except simply what we had come to the Prestige to do: ride up and down mountains, help each other, savor this unique opportunity to witness 112 other women doing the same, and finish as a team.

Lynne and Larry, crewing our fantastic support vehicle, worked from dawn till dark for us. Somehow Lynn and Larry were always there at exactly the right moments with exactly what we needed, refreshing our bottles on summit tops, appearing out of nowhere with relief for sunburned lips at an unscheduled pit stop, or a simple thumbs up, peace sign, or wave given from their Suburu’s rolled-down window. Sometimes nearly missed, these tiny gestures provided a moment of relief from the monotony of road and were always a comforting sign that we had not gone off course. During the race they carried our water, our snacks, our fancy sandwiches, and our extra clothing. They carried our talented photographer, Samuel Copeland from Tenspeed Hero, who also worked tirelessly documenting our struggles, triumphs, teamwork, and beautiful cycling-wear against the California landscapes. They carried extra of everything in case we got into a jam. Luckily, the only jams were on bread with peanut butter, and we pulled off the rest of this crazy adventure without so much as a punctured tire. Our finishing time was roughly in the middle of the times posted by the fastest and slowest teams, who would take home the 20 bottles of champagne and lanterne rouge caps, Victorious Secret Sauce and Ironclad-Yakima respectively.

Still, eight plus hours on a bike is no piece of cake. If you’ll excuse one more food pun, a piece of cake was what we enjoyed upon arrival at the finish line. Something gooey and chocolatey and delicious courtesy of Vive La Tarte bakery, title sponsor of another Prestige team. The “Tarte’s” support vehicle was a pie van, which we must assume is a pastry chef’s version of a food truck. From the window of this pie van, a very cute dog and several people shouting, “Go Chicago!” provided much-needed encouragement as we ascended 3,800 feet up Mt. Diablo, the longest sustained climb of the day.

These cries from the pie van are just one example of the encouraging environment and welcome feeling we found at the Prestige and throughout the rest of our adventure. Seeing familiar faces as we moved around from the East Bay to Sacramento to Folsom, following the first stages of the Tour of California and visiting one LPV’s hometown in Placerville, we felt incredible love wherever we went. Until next time, California…we hope to be riding in your sunshine, smelling your eucalyptus trees, and meeting your friendly people again soon.

 

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