Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hobe Sound Elementary YOU'RE My Favorite!

The fourth graders at Hobe Sound Elementary are some of the nicest boys and girls I have ever met...and I visit schools all over the United States! Part of my commitment to my life as a professional cyclist is to share my passion for cycling and teach boys and girls about important bicycle safety. On Friday, December 12th, I was invited by Assistant Principal Mrs. Harvey to visit her school and share the job I love: bike racing! All of the children were so polite and very prepared. They asked me many really good questions and paid close attention to my bicycle safety information. All of the fourth graders will ALWAYS REMEMBER TO WEAR A HELMET when they go on a bike ride and they now know how to properly adjust their helmets!
In addition, the fourth graders learned about how important it is in my life as a professional cyclist to be a good WRITER, not just a good RIDER! We talked about the many ways I use my writing skills and how being a good writer has helped me in my cycling career. Almost all of the boys and girls I talked to ride bikes and all of them are passionate about something like I'm passionate about racing my bike. After my visit, the fourth grader went back to their classrooms to write about something each of them is passionate about. All the writings will be handed in to Mrs. Harvey who will read them all and award a new helmet from my team, Aaron's Corporate Furnishings Women's Professional Cycling Team, to each of the top FIFTY writers!!!

Good Luck Hobe Sound Elementary Fourth Graders
Keep Pedaling Your Bike
Wear Your Helmet

Start now by commenting on my blog!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nothin' gives me GOOSEBUMPS like..... NASCAR!

I Love NASCAR, old news, right? BUT I LOVE NASCAR!!! Todd and I went to the final race of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season to watch Jimmie Johnson take the Sprint Cup for the third year in a row. You hear about "the roar of the engines" and I gotta tell ya, when that green flag drops for the first lap and the cars take off at full speed, there's nothing that gives me bigger goosebumps. Watching the three-and-a-half hour race was exillerating and thrilling and exciting and just FUN! My driver, Jeff Gordon and the #24 Dupont Chevrolet team raced well with some late race tactics that paid off and got Jeff a fourth place finish. No win but not too shabby. So now what....Daytona's not until i'll go back to napping on Sundays until then...and dream about a championship for the #24 car...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tina Turner LIVE

Todd and I took my Mom and Dad to see the Tina Turner show in Miami. Much to my surprise, it was a blast! We read on wikipedia on the way to the show that Tina is nearly 70 years old but let me tell you, she can still shake it with the best of 'em! Her voice got better and better as the night went on. She did take a 45 minute intermission in the middle of the show; we guess she needed a break to nap or literally catch her breath. That was a bit annoying but in all seriousness, she was fantastic! And my Mom LOVED it :) which made it all worth while. One by one, she is seeing all the major far we've hooked her up for:


Rod Stewart

Billy Joel

Elton John

Tina Turner

She's got quite a list going now and we're looking forward to who's next!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I Lu-lu-lu-LOVE N-n-n-n-n-Nor-Cal!!!

Seriously, and I know you probably thought you'd never hear this sun-worshipping temperature whimp say that but....well....

"Hello, my name is Kristin and I love Northern California!"

I DO! Maybe its because pretty much everyone I've met from Northern California has been AWESOME or maybe it's because I've had some GREAT TIMES in the NorCal. My most recent trip was to Santa Rosa; Todd and I went to Kat and Janelle's wedding there in mid-October and, although it WAS chilly, it was fabulous. The mountains, the vinyards, the colors, the sun, the good was beautiful all the way around. Funny thing...I actually raced in Santa Rosa earlier this year and didn't notice ANY of this beauty...I didn't even realize I had been to Santa Rosa before until Todd and I arrived. I guess I was blinded by race nerves...I mean my fierce focus. Life Lesson: stop and smell the roses every once in a while...especially the Santa Rosas!

Above left is a nice view of a vinyard right outside our hotel. Above right is a snapshot of Todd and I with Carmen D'Aluisio, a NorCal lucky-local! This is Todd and I; we're at Kat and Janelle's wedding, which was just as beautiful as the setting itself :) Thanks to Meredith for the fabulous photography...

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Let's just get straight to's where I've been:

After Cascade, my full attention turned to Road Nationals in Irving, CA... WAY back in August! It was a nice week in SoCal and I was happy with 2 good results: 7th and 7th! My place was the same in the road race and the time trial...Aaron's did quite well with Meredith also placing 4th, Kat 5th in the TT and Kat was also 4th in the RR. Good week :) Completion of Road nats = no more climbing for the season :( sad...

Upon my return from Cali, my teammate Alison came for a visit in sunny SoFLA! Yeah- I was so excited to have her stay with us and we had lots of fun! We rode tons (and she even said the riding is a lot better than she expected!) and did some of the ususal "Florida" stuff. Here we are at the Palm Beach inlet on an easy ride:AAAANNNND...I showed Alison the Sanders way to clean your bike- Leaf blower is KEY!
Alison did have to go home at the end of the week but we did our best to cram as much fun and many many miles (and a little sprint training!) into the seven days she was here. Good times :)

Later in September and
I finally purchased an iPhone...YEAH!!!
While researching what is sure to be the "IT"
fashions for fall, I came across a new haircut for
myself...and a new hairdresser. This is Jill and
she ROCKS! I love my new haircut with BANGS and Jill is definately the hairdresser for me..................

And Dad got sick :( he had a successful back surgery followed by a blood clot in his leg that traveled into his lungs which required him to stay still and in bed which caused pneumonia. It was terrible and I wanted so much for him to get seemed like at every turn, it was something else for him. All in all, after 4 weeks, 5 trips to the ER, 3 multi-day hospital stays and WAY too many pokes with needles, he DID get better! I spent as much time keeping him company as I could and doing my best to help. My Mom was trying to work though she spent tons of time at the hospital so mostly my job was going by their house to take Pearl out; dog walking is a job I can handle. Here's Pearl, the Diva of all Dogs....................................................

So one of the popular topics between me and my Dad during this time was...shocking...ME! Really, what team I would ride for in 2009...after enough discussion to make a person crazy, I signed with ValueAct Capital! I'm really excited to join Director Sportif Lisa Hunt and the girls for the 2009 season!!! I can't wait for training camp to start getting to know my new teammates and staff...the friendships and the experiences with teammates are starting to become more and more important part of my cycling career. NEWSFLASH: Rumor has it that there might be some PINK on the horizon as well...more to come on that!

And lastly, I started YOGA...yes yoga. Honeybunny thought it might be good for me...for my body and my head. I'm good at some of the positions, others, not so good. They say it's not a competition and I shouldn't worry about "how good I am"...yeah right, we'll see about that! The hardest part is the mind-clearing part. The teacher says "acknowledge any thought and let it go," and all I can think is "this is gonna be great for bike racing!" So I've got a lot of work to do on the yoga front but I really like bending my body around like a pretzel!

Thanks for reading...its been fun...more to come...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Running Start

In reflection, during the last week of racing at the Cascade Cycling Classic I was launched right off the tip of a three-meter springboard! Not really, but that's what it feels like. Previous to Cascade, I was deep in reflection about my racing career and literally trying to remember simple things like how to turn my bike. Now, with my first-ever NRC win under my belt and a stellar week of stage racing at Cascade with the Aaron's girls, I feel like I'm not just back on track but maybe I have even taken a leap forward. Todd says winning does that for you and you know what, I'm going to just believe him. That's how I got into pro cycling in the first place...blind faith in Todd and Frankie, "its ok that you haven't raced with pro women before, you can do Philly, you'll be fine" and I just believed them...and I WAS fine! This blind faith seemed to work years ago so why not now? I'm going with it.

I definitely feel like I've got my groove back and I'm so happy to have it again. Loving something so much like I love cycling, as in any relationship, can also be painful when things go south. But once the relationship has healed, the bond seems stronger than ever and that's where I'm at. I DO love racing my bike...and winning was obviously a blast too. I love working with Julie, our twenty-year-old protege, and watching her grow and develop right before our eyes. Meredith, Felicia and my break-away-partner/tempo-setting-superstar from stage 2 Alison are all incredible women. And Carmen, our leader who has never waiver her support of me, is beyond fantastic. A recent Velo News article says "Patience Grasshopper" and I guess that is the lesson of all of this. It seemed like an eternity but it was only a matter of a few weeks for me to turn my head around...a very wise friend of mine told me that set backs are not failures, but instead they are life giving you the room to step back and get a running start at something. In my case, I got a 5 minute lead on a ten mile climb and I rode as hard as I could all the way up, in the race and in my life. With the help of the girls, Honey Bunny, Frankie, Pam, Mom and Dad, I succeeded. Not just in stage 2 but in the bigger piture as well. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Remembering Why I Race

These two cuties are easily my favorite things about the 2008 Nature Valley Grand Prix. They are the daughters of our host family in Minnesota and they helped me race better...more than they will ever know! Each day when we woke up, they came running to join us for breakfast. As we packed our bags for the race, they were there to help and ask questions. They sent us off to the races with big smiles and waves. And they were there to greet us when we returned as if we had just lit the world on fire! 

As I re-focused and searched the depths of my soul for the passions lost in the Mt Hood crash, these two helped me remember why I race. Because I love it. These two don't yet know about the fears associated with big goals nor do they know about innocence lost. I do and I wish I didn' Anna and Lucia remind me to just ride my bike. That's what they do...out the garage, right down the driveway, even in the rain. What's the big deal? Just ride, ride your bike because you love it. It's so simple and so that's what I'm gonna do. I race my bike because I love it! Thanks girls :) you're the bomb!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My Favorite Race

Me, Rebecca, Erica, Meredith, Kat and Carmen at the fountain in Philly

Commerce Bank Liberty Classic is my favorite one-day race. Not because it's my day for glory but because the fans are out of this world, solid throughout the 16-mile course AND because this was my first-ever big race. The field is big, the course is challenging and the spectators are loud and I LOVE IT! I'm so happy to arrive in Philly from Montreal, for many reasons, but the big one is because it's familiar, more like home then Montreal will ever be! My Mom and Dad flew in from Florida to watch the Aaron's team tear it up! 

Our plan was one I like: race hard! And that's and easy task considering the four times we'll be ascending the world-famous Manayunk "Wall." As usual, positioning was tough and the pace was even tougher. Our team raced hard and, unfortunately, I raced harder...flatting at the entrance to Manayunk and thus, chasing for nearly the entire second lap...of four! Thankfully my legs were good and I was able to give it a-go a few times with some well-timed attacks. My plan was to either escape or wear out the other teams and, along with a couple of teammates, we made plenty of chasing happen! Coming into the finish, Kat was positioned well and on Carmen's wheel yet the roar of the crowd kept Carmen from hearing Kat's "GO GO GO" instructions. With 300 meters to go, a crash changed the fate of the Aaron's team, putting Kat back but Erica, well, I took my own safe route on the far right all by myself! Erica rock with a 10th place among many of the world's best. All of us were in the front group of about 35-40 women. 

In pro-bike-racer fashion, I crossed the finish line, rode straight to the team tent, jumped off my bike and into a car to the nearest hotel shower and straight to the airport to catch a flight to the next Minneapolis! I felt like a rock star for about 2 hours...until the fatigue set in from the race while crammed into my non-exit row seat on the plane!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Montreal...oh Montreal...

So thanks to these people, I somehow survived the week of racing in Montreal. The weather wasn't so great, the culture was shocking and, well, I had my hands full on the bike every single day. I'm sure I raced harder than anyone as I spent way too much time in the wind and not protected by the draft of the peleton AND I climbed past fifty or so riders to make the front group of thirty. C'est la vie (HA!) as the French Canadians would say. First is Christina, only the best psychotherapist (soingier) in the world of pro cycling. Next is comic relief Brian (mechanic). Final, my team at the final banquet (of which scaled down version where held each night, most mandatory, after the traditional "shower" at a local school, not mandatory but highly coveted). I had TWO glasses of wine in celebration of my survival of what turned out to be easily the most challenging and stressful week of bike racing of my career!

Can't add much to further describe my time in Montreal besides UNBELIEVABLE. Looking forward to Philly!!!!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Etiquette Lesson: Proper Passing in Portland

Oregonians take bike riding to a different level. At least that was my experience last week during the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic. Portland has the reputation for being one of the greenest and most bike-friendly cities in the US and I believe it. We received a map with bike friendly routes clearly marked and rode several of them, even right downtown. Most of the routes have bike lanes; for the most part, all are bike friendly with cars actually driving by slowly and giving the cyclists plenty of space. But by far the best aspect, now take notes here, was the bike commuter passing lane (above). Part of the bike route design is to actually allow SAFE PASSING for cyclists- go figure! There are clearly marked lanes for the cyclists, designed to guide both riders to ride straight and avoid any sort of potential collision that could be caused by the passing rider. What a concept- there are so many applications for such a principle...whether actual lines or imaginary lines are utilized. After all, other sports have a similar visual guides...swimming has lanes, track has lanes...why not cycling?! Think about it...oh wait, we do utilize an imaginary line system...I learned that in bike racing etiquette 101. I must have hit my head and forgotten.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Hey Alison, we're in New Mexico!

The 2008 Tour of the Gila was last week and left this Florida girl feeling a little out of her element! Silver City, New Mexico, host of the race, resides in what is termed "the high desert." It's basically dry, dry and more dry...oh and with mountains...and tumbleweeds! Silver City's humidity is 9%- slightly lower than the 85+% we have at home in West Palm Beach. The town itself is an eclectic potpourri of free spirits of all ages from all walks of life. The downtown area looks as though time forgot it...a lot of time forgot it! Yet the coffee shops all offer free wi-fi and Issacs (restaurant and bar) offers a quite extensive wine list. We felt a bit like we might be in the twilight zone, especially the night when we dined in town, seated next to a group of about 15 of the hugest Harley dudes I've ever seen, when one of our three Canadians asked sincerely, "are we in New Mexico?" Love ya Alison- it was actually a really good question!

The race itself consisted of five stages, 3 of which were road stages and included substantial climbing and the other two being a time trial and a crit. Aside from my sinus longing for the tropics, things went quite well for me. I finished 6th overall, was in the top 10 every day and I even won my first-ever sprint bonus on the road! The Aaron's team had a great week too with Julie finishing in 8th and Felicia in 3rd and Alison taking 2nd in two stages. This is Julie at the top of the climb on the time trial course; the finish is 4 miles downhill toward the horizon.

A special thank you goes to the pharmacist at Super Wal-Mart who helped me turn my bedroom into a sauna with the help of a $12 Vicks Vaporizer!!! And thank goodness for Vaseline (use your imagination)!!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Aaron's WINS Twilight...again!

Super big congrats go to my teammate Rebecca Larson who rode to victory in the Athen's Twilight Criterium on Saturday night!!! We had a strong team in the racing including Meredith, Erica, Anna, Catharine Powers, myself and Rebecca and our plan was to race HARD. We sent attack after attack including several stellar moves by Rebecca until one stuck. In the finale, Rebecca was able to come around the Cheerwine rider to take the win- the third in four years for Aaron's at Athens! It was so exciting, especially since Rebecca had committed to this race in particular way back at training camp. It feels so good to see a plan come together...and it really feels good to win!!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Behind the Scenes of Aarons

A lot of work goes into the success of the Aaron's Corporate Furnishings Pro Women's Cycling Team. Mostly, my responsibility as a rider is to come prepared to race and then give it all I've got when I get there. Carmen, our director, orchestrates a symphony of logistics, staff, riders and more, much of which I probably don't even know about. I CAN tell you a few things: things generally go smoothly so Carmen ROCKS and we couldn't do it without the unbelievably generosity and hospitality of the families we call host housing.

It's this second factor that I can tell you the most about. Instead of the team staying in a hotel, eating out at restaurants for every meal and mechanics setting up shop in the parking lot, Carmen works with each race management team to secure us a family willing to host us in their home. An BOY did we get hooked up at Redlands. Last year we stayed with Carol and Dick Gentile and thank goodness we behaved ourselves because they opened up their house to us again this year. Carol and Dick are unbelievable host family, so much so that by the end of the week we were calling Carol "MOM"!!! We literally took over their house:

-Bunking in every spare bedroom and office in their house
-Setting up massage in their living room
-Cooking all sorts of strange concoctions in their kitchen
-Turning the dining room into our pantry
-Putting their laundry room to the test
-Taking over the garage for our a bike shop
-Conferencing at their dinner table well into the night

Carol and Dick are true PRO- they knew what to expect and they couldn't wait to have us back! Crazy, right? And there's more...most nights Carol prepared enough food to feed an army (and we did our best to eat it all!), they made signs for us (see the one on their garage behind us in the photo above) and put them all over their neighborhood and Dick drove them both all over every single course we raced to cheer us on at what seemed like every turn.

They were out of this world hosts and I want to thank them from the bottom of all our Aaron's hearts!!!!! Carol and Dick Gentile ROCK!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Redlands Stage 3: Sunset Loop

I love this race- the Sunset Loop is one of my favorites hands down!!! I'm so excited to race on the Sunset Loop I can't even tell you!!! The day started out overcast and chilly so I bundled up for the 30 minute ride from our host housing to the course. Once we arrived at the course we were greeted by these fellows: They are Ethan, Josh and Reed Haglund and are the sons of a host housing family who Carmen stayed with in 1997!!! I'm not sure they were even born yet then!

Tension could be felt in the thick haze that was the air around downtown Redlands. Today's race starts with a neutral section from the start line out of town to the actual Sunset Loop course and it is a battle every year. It's the most non-neutral neutral on the NRC circuit- josseling for a position in the front of the pelaton is critical as entering "the loop" in the back means you're immediately behind because it's super narrow, twisty and turny. Here we are, not racing, riding neutral up to "the loop":We are so wide across the road because we are going slightly up hill and everyone is trying to zip up the outside to move to the front. I'm third from the left with the blue arms, beside the two girls in green...probably trying to move up closer to the front.

The race this year was not unlike any other year, one by one riders were dropped as the pelaton dwindled down from the group you see above to less than twenty riders. Aaron's had a good day, especially our superwoman Meredith Miller, who AGAIN spent much of the day off the front in a break. I had a good day, not great but good and loved every minute of the Sunset Loop. I can't wait 'till Redlands next year!!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Redlands Criterium

The Redlands crit is legendary...possibly one of the toughest stage race crits we do all year. Not only is it fast but it's also extremely technical! But today, something happened to me that has never happened: I got a call up!!! In big races, the top riders are introduced to the crowd and "called up" to the front of the field at the starting line. (I'm thrid from the left above with the blue arm warmers on the front row.) This is such a big deal to me I can't even tell you...I felt a little self-conscious when I got up there but it was pretty cool :) ......and that was where my good day ended....I must have started the race with a slow leak because I struggled for the entire race only to notice with FIVE laps to go that I had a flat tire! Fortunately Carmen confirmed that I would receive pack time because I could barely hang on the back of the field. Trying to corner on a flat is scary and I was really happy to call it a day. Rebecca and Kat shined for the Aaron's team with a fifth and sixth place finish respectively.

And this is after the Beaumont RR- Redlands

So, as you can see, Beaumont went well!!! Aaron's definately raced hard and strong in this road race through the California town of Beaumont and it's surrounding foothills. Each of the four laps left the front group smaller and smaller as we would crest the top of the main climb with about thirteen riders. Meredith spent the majority of the race off the front, in a small break first then solo! Remarkably she still had enough left to help Julie and I bring Kat to line for the WIN!!! It was a great day, the team was awesome and boy winning sure is fun!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Redlands Stage 1: Beaumont

Today's stage was a 68 mile trek through and around the outskirts of Beaumont, California. We did four laps of a course that included flats and climbing on each lap. We drove the course yesterday and from the van, it seemed quite narrow and technical in places especially on the climbing sections yet our hopes were high for a big day. I wasn't as nervous today because I am part of the best team hands down. We are here in Beaumont to make our mark and I'm anxious, not nervous, about the magnitude of challenges we may face together today. I believe in my teammates and so this will be fun for sure. Here are Kat and I doing our best to relax before the race. I love these girls and I have plenty more to tell you about Beaumont.....later.....

Friday, April 4, 2008

Redlands School Visit

A BIG part of what we do as professional cyclists for the Aaron's Corporate Furnishings Womens Pro Cycling Team is visit elementary schools to teach the children about bicycle safety. The day before the Redlands Bicycle Classic started we all visit the Reche Canyon Elementary School. A croud of first through sixth graders gathered to learn about bike safety and our lives as professional cyclists. We aren't professional speakers but we do all thoroughly enjoy the time with the kids!

Redlands Here We Come!

I'm at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, one of the longest-running stage races in the United States. This race is also typically the first big test of the year and often the biggest thing since sliced bread in my early season! I am here with the Aaron's squad of Meredith Miller, Kat Carroll, Rebecca Larson, Allison Testerote and Julie Beverege along with our mechanic Jon, sougnier (translation: care giver) Mike and the most fearless of all leaders, our director Carmen. Day one we rode together to spin the flight out of our legs and I got this great shot of Kat's technique! We checked out the time trial course and also rode VERY EASY up the Sunset Loop climb...then scooted back to our host house (Carol and Dick Gentille).

Monday, March 10, 2008


Pam and I took Todd's Honda Element, a.k.a. The Elephant, and headed up to the Space Coast for the first official Time Trial AND Team Time Trial of the year. Todd had to work this particular Saturday, which never happens, so he wasn't able to join the Girls for a little TT fun but we assured him we could handle it on our own.

TEST #1: I left the house at 5am in The Elephant to go pick up Pam for the day and noticed my cell phone battery was drained. I must have forgotten to charge it but that's ok, Pam will have her phone, right? RIGHT buuuuut I was a little surprised when I arrived to pick her up to her telling me that Todd had been trying to call tell me that I had accidentally packed HIS cycling shoes, not mine! we loaded her bike and bags and drove back to my house to swap the shoes...oh and grab my cell phone charger. (Yeah, I've done this before!)

TEST #2: Did you bring the directions? Yeah, uh no, they're on my desk at home! Grab those when you get your shoes...

TEST #3: We did actually arrive, about 30 minutes later than projected, but without any wrong turns. The directions were good, at least! So a quick pick up of race numbers, stop off at the port-o-potty and it's time to get ready to race. We decided to pump up the race wheels and discs since, of all things, that would be our biggest challenge of the day. We did it...not easily and not without a little stress, but we did it!

Then, presto- chango girls in skin suits head out to warm up. And I'm ready and Pam's ready...the 2 of us are doing the individual 20k time trial...It's time for the final step...

TEST #4: ...change the wheels...thank goodness Pam had taught me well years ago so this one was no problem! I did it and we were ready to go.

As we roll up to the line to start the TT our record against the tasks of the day to get us here to the starting line is 2-2...speaking for myself, I can say all of that was forgotten and I looked forward to around twently-eight minutes of suffering, better knows as the Time Trial, my favorite event in cycling. Weird, but true. Pam starts right after me. The wind was strong, which is normal in Florida, but I felt good and as I crossed the line, I was happy. Pam crossed shortly after me and, based on her full-time Mommy job and 20 miles per week of training, I'd say she too had a stellar ride. Next up: Team Time Trial...and we're the only girl team!

More than anything, though, for me, it was a fabulous day with my best friend and that's what I remember more about this day. As far as I'm concerned, we got a 100%...100% of FUN that is!