What’s Next?

I’ve had a lot of people asking what’s next for me, so I thought I’d share. I’ll have a busy four weeks of training, racing, and sponsor events before I take a real off-season break. As a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer, I’m also accepting new clients who would like help reaching their health and fitness goals. If you are interested or know someone who might be, please e-mail me at: kristabeldh@gmail.com.

August 22-27Mammoth Lakes altitude training at the Snowcreek Resort: I will stay with a couple other racers in a beautiful condo with full access to the Snowcreek Athletic Club and Mammoth Lake’s spectacular training grounds. I had my best summer of training here in 2011, so I expect nothing but the best.

August 29-September 1Gateway Cup: After a great time in Utah, I can’t wait to get back out there with some of my Team TIBCO teammates for four crits in St. Louis. You can watch a live stream here.

September 6Best Buddies Challenge Hearst Castle: This is a phenomenal event, and I can’t think of a much better cause than raising awareness and funds for the incredible people with intellectual disabilities who thrive and inspire others to make the most of their own abilities. I’ll be joining one of Team TIBCO’s main sponsors, Silicon Valley Bank, and riding a scenic century followed by post-ride festivities including a gourmet BBQ concert by Don Felder. Want to join or make a donation to Best Buddies? It’s not too late! Register or donate here.

September 10-11. TIBCO Sports Analytics Innovation Summit in San Francisco: A teammate and I will offer attendees the chance to learn what we do as professional cyclists and to test their legs on our Fuji Bike and Kinetic Trainer.

Life of a professional cyclist, and loving it!

Tour of Utah Women’s Edition Circuit Race

The Tour of Utah’s inaugural event for women was 15 laps on a twisty 2.2 mile circuit on a race track. Exciting? For sure. I think every team came with high hopes and ready to race hard. We gave it our best shot, but it wasn’t our day.

My role was to follow attacks. The many off camber turns and high speed on a windy day made this no easy task, but I did my best. I followed what I could, but that wasn’t as many attacks as I had hoped. I also tried to drive a break with Amber Neben because I saw that it was forcing UHC to chase, but it too was quickly brought back. So a bunch it was, with Coryn Rivera taking the win and Sam Schneider coming in seventh for us.

Although the team’s result was disappointing, I accomplished more than I hoped to in Utah. I’m a better and more confident racer, and I’m proud of the work that I did in the crits.

Race Report: Cedar City Grand Prix

I came to this race for experience and to give myself a reason to hold off on starting off season. Sure, I hoped I could help my teammates at least a little. But I didn’t know if that would be possible in a four corner crit, even one with a slightly uphill straightaway into a headwind. In stage races, I am happy to survive the crits without any time gap, and I try to expend the least energy possible. I think that had put the idea in my mind that all I can do in crits is hang on somewhere in the main field. But this race was different: it didn’t matter where I placed or how hard I worked, only where our sprinter finished. That meant I could follow attack after attack after attack. I could, and I did because I changed my mindset and listened to my director and teammates who seemed confident that I would be up to the jobs they gave me.

Following attacks lead me into a few breaks, but it was pretty clear they were unmotivated and it would be a sprint finish. Sure enough, Alison Powers just edged out our Sam Schneider who was second followed by Tina Pic. Our 15 year old Skylar Schneider took 8 and Top Amateur, and I finished 20th with a 11″ gap and having gained confidence that crits aren’t beyond the ability of my mind or legs.

One day of rest and then we take on the Tour of Utah Women’s Edition circuit race.

Race Report: Cascade Cycling Classic

Last year, I did my best to support our GC racers at the Cascade Cycling Classic. Although I was beyond excited if I could help Claudia in any way, the reality is she and Shelley were the ones supporting me and showing me what it means to race as a team. I took home 19 GC. Wait, no, I took home excitement, belief in myself and my team, and many lessons learned. And all of those served me well this year.

The stage race opened up with the always daunting 2.5 mile prologue. Less daunting after our guest director rode the course with me a few times showing me how to start, get aero, choose lines, and descend in my aero bars. I got through the course in 5:15, 17 seconds faster than last year and 22 seconds off our Lauren Stephens who set the fastest time and also won the Stage 1 RR and stage 2 TT. Personally, I shaved 82 seconds off what was a disaster of a TT last year.

Then came stage 3, and what was one of many incredible demonstrations of team work by all of Team TIBCO. With Alizee Brien away in a break for most of the race, our team controlled the front of the race riding tempo. On the final climb, after the break had been absorbed, Andrea Dvorak and I set a hard tempo to discourage attacks. And when the attacks did come, I followed them. With about 3 km to go, I got away with Anne Perry. I played it smart and jumped with 300 meters to go to take the win and my first NRC victory.

Our team also controlled the front of the Stage 4 crit and delivered Jo Kiesanowski to the line with Andrea taking the “Most Hopped Up Award.” Good times!

The final stage was a brutal circuit race that we entered with one goal: defend Lauren’s yellow jersey. We let breaks go, knowing our strong racers could ride the front and keep the gap under control and I could follow any attacks on the climbs later in the race. On the final lap, Lauren asked me to attack and bring her with me on the climb before the feed zone. I did that, with Andrea taking over the hard pace setting when I tired. A select group made it over the final climb before the finishing puncher. I knew I didn’t have it to bridge to Kathryn Hunter and Karol Ann Canuel who were just about ten seconds up the road but thought I might be able to get Lauren within reach. She told me to go, and I did until I couldn’t pull anymore. I went back and recovered until the final stretch into the puncher climb. I then gave her my wheel and everything I had to deliver her to the base of the finishing climb in a position to take third. She was able to do that, and held on to her yellow and QOM jerseys. Our team that worked so very hard to make that possible also earned the top step for the Team GC.

Winning a stage, second in the QOM GC, and 8th in the overall GC show that I’ve made great progress from a year ago, but I’m much more proud of how my progress allows me to have a full role in our team coming out with a yellow jersey.

Update and Interview

My last race was the North Star Grand Prix, previously known at Nature Valley Grand Prix, and you’ll notice I didn’t post a race report. That’s because concussions and withdrawing from stage races are things that are not a whole lot of fun to write about or reflect upon. But that’s what happened: I crashed approximately 40 minutes into the first crit. Although I got back on the bike and continued racing that crit and the Stage 3 road race, I knew my head wasn’t right. As much as I tried to block the pain out of my mind and go into life or death race mode, the pain that I felt at high intensity efforts in the road race was enough to make me question the safety of continuing to race. After some discussion with my coach, friend, and director, we decided that I would see the race doctor prior to the start of the stage 4 crit. She told me that I had a concussion and that racing was extremely high risk and discouraged. I didn’t enjoy spending the next couple days in a dark basement resting my brain, but I felt good about following the advice of a professional and being able to look out for myself long-term.

Fortunately, my symptoms (nausea, headache, pain at high intensities) diminished fairly quickly. By the time I left for Colorado Springs for a month of altitude training leading up to the Cascade Cycling Classic, I was able to get back on the road. I’ve been here for almost 3 weeks now, and training is going smoothly. I am enjoying exploring new roads and spending time with friends new and old.

While in Colorado, I had the opportunity to do an interview with Tenspeed Hero about my path into professional cycling. This interview is more lighthearted than a concussion, but I thought it would only be right to share both because it’s all a part of the journey.
interview

Philly Cycling Classic

I knew how I wanted to race the Philly Cycling Classic, and I believed I had it in me because people who know me as a racer better than I know myself were sure of it. A few close friends told me to race brave, to stay near the front and hold that position even if it’s aggressive and tightly packed up there. And my Team TIBCO director and teammates not only told me this, but they also helped me do it. They “coached me positive” during the race. What does this mean? It’s saying “go” if I am not sure if I should follow an attack. It’s telling me to hold her wheel as she guides me to the base of the first climb up Manayunk. And, maybe most of all, it’s saying “you’re doing great, keep it up.” Because when I hear these things, it keeps my mind where it should be: focused on the race. Not worrying about if my legs will give out or if someone will cut me off…on the race and the opportunities.

And so Philly was an opportunity. An opportunity to prove to myself that I can hold wheels I would usually back off of, go through gaps I would usually consider too small, take corners a little faster than I would like, follow attacks that I would usually let go, and trust my teammates when they tell me I can do something. And then, on the final lap, when all the breaks had been brought back, and Specialized-Lululemon railed it going into the final climb, it was an opportunity for me to see how well I could position myself and what was left in my legs.

Photo credit: Rick Genzer

Photo credit: Rick Genzer


I can’t say I nailed any of those tests, but I gave each my best effort. Not recklessly, but also not afraid. Rather with excitement and looking for opportunities and moments to go. And that’s all I really wanted out of this race: to be brave. And when I accomplished that, I also found myself wearing the Best Young Rider jersey. Thanks to Fuji Bicycles for sponsoring that award. And also a big thanks to all the racers out there, inclining winner Evelyn Stevens, for continuing to inspire me and show that women’s cycling is on the rise.

USA Road National Championship

Last year, this was my first race as a professional cyclist. And as such, it was a huge learning experience and also one of my most disappointing races. Everything was new: bike, teammates, strategy, director, you name it. And as hard as Shelley Olds tried to show me the ropes with much patience, I struggled tremendously and can’t say I helped her much at all. It was absolutely devastating, and I questioned if I could ever ride with racers of this caliber. But my teammates and director at the time never stopped believing in me. They pushed me hard to work on my weaknesses, but most of all they pushed me to keep believing.

A year later, with many of the same teammates and a new director, I was back to Chattanooga with a bit more confidence and skills but still much to learn. The race played out as it did, and a full recount is beside the point of my personal race report. What is important is that I showed great progress from a year ago: the starting circuits did not feel like a full gas crit, my legs had much more on the main climb, and I was able to follow our race plan for the most part. And yet, I walked away far from satisfied with my 11th place finish because I didn’t execute one critical part of our race plan. I knew I needed to be at the front on the wall, especially in the last couple circuits. But I felt more comfortable riding up it alone, so I gapped myself out at the base and climbed it from there. And that hurt me bad when an attack went on the wall. I know my legs could have gone if my mind hadn’t stopped me from being up there, but that’s part of the sport and maybe the part of me that needs the most development.

Developing in this sport takes time and patience from yourself and everyone working with you, but it also takes an eagerness to learn and frustration with your limitations. I’m so fortunate to have amazing people supporting me: family, coach Peterson, physical therapist Mark Payares, Team TIBCO, and mentors. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am and able to keep moving forward. So forward I go with great excitement but also understanding that it is a long process and Alison Powers didn’t become an accomplished multiple-time champion overnight.