Last week, in between the Cascade Cycling Classic and the National Road Championships in Bend, I joined the ValueAct women's professional cycling team on an easy reconnaissance ride through Tetherow. We analyzed the hills and the turns, discussing which ones could be taken at full speed in aero bars during the upcoming time trial. While riding, I had a chance to chat with several members of the team.
All of the riders said that the CCC was a really hard race, but the team did well. Bendite Chrissy Ruitter races on the ValueAct squad and placed sixth in the GC in the Cascade Cycling Classic, while Kristin McGrath, from Durango, CO soloed to victory in the final stage in the Awbrey Butte Circuit Race.
"The whole team rode a great race," commented team director, Lisa Hunt. "I told them they could win it and that's what they did. I'm so proud of all of them! Now that we've had a taste of victory on this course, we're going to try to do it again [at Nationals], but they might not let one of the girls go at the exact spot!"
Hunt is a former pro cyclist who owns and directs the team, which is based in the San Francisco Bay Area where she lives. She secured investment firm ValueAct Capital as a title sponsor two years ago so she could run the team and she is working on a new sponsor for next season.
The team is also sponsored by Specialized. "We're pretty lucky. Specialized provides our whole kit, plus bikes, shoes and even sunglasses," said racer Robin Farina. Robin owns a bike shop, along with her husband, former Saturn pro cyclist Chris Sheehan, in Charlotte, NC. While riding with a view of the snow-capped Cascades, Robin commented that she'd like to live out here someday.
A CLASS ACT
After the ride, we all sipped Emerald City smoothies at Bend Bike 'n Sport, where I chatted with owner Beverly Lucas. Beverly is passionate about women's cycling and said, "I'd really love to encourage and build participation in women's cycling here in Central Oregon."
Teri Sheasby, who rides on the Bend Bike 'n Sport team, also joined us on the ride. I met Teri about nine years ago when I scheduled a massage with her. A strong triathlete herself, she excelled at working on the muscles of other athletes, which was pretty surprising given her diminutive stature. But don't let her petiteness and mild manner fool you - Teri is one tough cookie and whirlwind of energy. After taking some time off from racing to give birth to a son and a daughter, Teri took up bicycle racing a couple of years ago. Now, the 47-year-old mother to two kids, four black labs and a houseful of exchange students from the Czech Republic is one of the best bike racers in Central Oregon.
Teri raced in this year's CCC as a solo rider without teammates and still placed 20th in the overall GC. Earlier this year she won the Elkhorn Classic Stage Race overall and the High Desert Omnium. Teri seems to thrive on activity. "For the 10 years Robert and I have been married, we've always had people living in our house. We're hosting two students and the Bissell racing team right now. After Nationals, I promised my family that I would be done racing for this season. We're going to Hood River next week and just enjoying ourselves."
"Then I'll start racing cyclocross." I think Teri defines the word "Supermom."
DO THE CHICKEN
The Flaming Chicken Adventure Race is returning to Central Oregon this summer on August 22nd. The race, which will start and finish at Crane Prairie Resort, involves 25-50 miles of mountain biking, 10-15 miles of trekking and 4-9 miles of flatwater paddling. The variability depends on whether you are competing in the 6-hour or 12-hour race and on route choice (i.e. if you get lost, it can be even longer!) The race is rogaine style, which means teams must strategically choose which checkpoints to find in the allotted time to maximize their point total. The ability to navigate with map and compass is essential.
Former professional adventure racer Cathy Sassin will be sharing her adventure racing tips at the Friday evening pre-race meeting. For more information, visit www.flamingchickenar.com.