VELO BELLA - The Elite Women's Cyclocross team
The first report from Velo Bella, Melodie Metzger in the USA
8 & 9 October 2005 - US Grand Prix of Cyclocross Series, Race 1 & 2
One: Our arrival in Portland
Velo Bellas arrived in Portland Friday afternoon to tackle the first set
of races in the US Grand Prix of Cyclocross Series (USGP).
The USGP is America’s premier cyclocross series and attracts the
best riders across the country to compete.
Because I am a financially-stricken graduate student, and in order
to get to the race site in time for a training ride, I picked the cheapest
flight departing San Francisco International Airport (0600!).
I didn’t realize how early this was until I was lugging all my
stuff down the street to get to the subway station a mere hour after the
bars closed, giving me a “greatest hits’ highlight of the previous
Two: USGP #1 Portland, Oregon
road and off-road terrain, and so you ride past the pit area twice every lap giving an opportunity to grab your extra bike. A fresh bike can be crucial here in the Northwest where it is so wet. Fortunately, the bike-gods were on our sides and it was not raining; gloomy and overcast, but not raining.
elite women were called to the line and I got chills to see my teammates
all over the first row. Barb, Sarah and Christine took up almost half of the 8
positions across the starting line. I
received my call-up shortly after and was the first to line up in the
second row. I picked the
middle position behind Ann Knapp, hoping the US National Cyclocross
Champion could lead me to the front of the pack.
gun went off and Ann fumbled with her pedals leaving me little room to
maneuver around her in search of a better wheel.
This delay turned out to be a blessing in disguise as a crash
between my teammate, Christine Vardaros, and Canadian National Cyclocross
Champion, Wendy Simms, created a bit of chaos into the first turn.
we settled in I was pleased to find myself in the presence of great
company. Barb was two people
up from me and I could easily find the front of the race.
At this point Lynn Bessette jumped ahead and was never seen again.
Lynn is very strong and schooled the field leaving all of us in the
dust….or should I say mud.
through the first lap my bike handling seemed off, I yelled to the girls
behind me to ask if I have a flat and prayed that it was just the slippery
feel of the mud under my tires. I love cross, but it seems to have something against me.
This was my second race of the season and my third flat.
I had just passed the pit so I had to do an entire lap on my
deflated tubular tire. Disappointed,
I gingered my bike over to the pit and the “Velo Fellas” found me a
spare rear wheel to finish the race.
From then on, my goal was to pass as many women as possible and
hope my teammates were battling at the front.
I got over the frustration, my love for this graceful sport revitalized my
spirit. Focusing on the
ballet-like finesse required to maneuver over barriers/obstacles and
watching the amazing number of fans encourage the racers made the
experience all the more amazing. Portland
might be rainy, but it has more cross-fans than any other place I know,
and seeing all the young girls out racing with the Juniors filled me with
joy knowing the rising generation would take what we have done and move
our sport to another level when their turn comes.
I heard Barb’s name being screamed over the PA, and had a feeling she was enjoying a great race. Turns out she had a stellar finish, rounding off the Podium behind Lynn and Ann. And while she didn’t win the race, in typical Velo Bella fashion, she was the first to open her bottle of champagne.
Three: USGP #2 Tacoma,
another dreary day in the northwest, we were pleasantly surprised to wake
up with the sun peaking from behind the hotel room curtain.
The course here in Tacoma is one of my favorites consisting of a
windy single-track that wraps around to the largest run-up we experience
all year. Afterwards you are
back on your bike for a long descent with quick sharp turns on the dirt
and before you know it, you are running up that darn hill again!
A solid warm up with Barb, combined with a new set of tubulars provided by the fantastic folks at River City Bicycles in Portland, Oregon (THANKS Jon!) had me feeling ready to race. I was hungry for redemption after my flat in Portland. For good luck, Barb and I decided it was time to bring out the lipstick and plastered ourselves with a gaudy set of pink lips to match our kits. A girl has to look good…
the day before, they put me in the last row of the start area, and I knew
I had to jump to the front as soon as the gun went off.
Fortunately there was a good, wide straightaway on the road before
the first turn onto the dirt.
gun went off and I managed to get myself into the top ten before the first
turn. We were strung out
coming into the run-up and I could see Lynn Bessette taking off just like
she had yesterday; we would not see her again. I was in the main chase group barreling down after Lynn, but
got gapped behind some slower runners the second time up the climb and
found myself in a group of two other riders, Rhonda Mazza, who represented
the US at Worlds last year, and Melissa Thomas, a top-ten Pro mountain
biker fresh off the NORBA series here in the US.
group ahead was only ten seconds ahead of us, but had the fastest women
racing CX in the US. My
teammate Barb was up there with Ann Knapp, Wendy Simms and Georgia Gould,
all three of whom were from the US-based Kona team.
Rhonda, Melissa and I worked hard to try and catch them, but once
we realized that wasn’t going to happen we kept our gap to a minimum and
fended off the rest of the field that was diligently chasing us down.
'Til next time,
Click here to enlarge the images >>
Velo Bellas compete in the Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross
Series. The series schedule for 2005 is as follows:
Want to contact WomensCycling.net?
The WomensCycling.net email address is
To contact the webmaster, the address is :
Type this address into the "To" line of a new email message in your email programme.
The WomensCycling.net email address is displayed as a graphic in order to reduce the amount of 'spam' email received from programmes which 'crawl' the internet for sites with addresses displayed in text and then overwhelm that address with junk, or even forge the address in junk messages that they generate and send to others. Sorry for any inconvenience this approach causes you.
WomensCycling.net 2004, 2005, 2006 ©