by Chicago Women’s Elite Cycling Co-Founder and ALP Athlete Daphne Karagianis
Chicago Women’s Elite Cycling (CWEC) is a non-profit designed to support Chicagoland women racers and develop future talent. The team is a composite of the strongest category 1/2 riders in the Chicagoland area. We offer guest rider opportunities to riders we can learn from, or riders who can learn from us. We are all abut learning, becoming better cyclists, sharing knowledge, and growing the women’s peloton.
Last weekend we headed down to Fayetteville, AR to compete in the UCI 2.2 Joe Martin Stage Race. This year there were 17 women's teams and 104 starters for the 4 stages. We were honored and privileged to have Alison Powers as our DS. As an ALP Athlete, I was especially spoiled and knew that having #bettercoaching on board with CWEC was going to create a great experience for our riders.
LESSONS LEARNED: Time Trial
The group pre-rode the TT course with Alison. You could sense her excitement for the new course and riding it as a group was extremely valuable.
How to carry momentum/speed
What lines are best up the switchbacks
When to KICK IT UP, making visual markers
Alternating in saddle and out of the saddle climbing
Proper warm ups and cool downs
LESSONS LEARNED: ROAD RACE
Our team goal was to help position Amber, our highest GC rider, and align for the sprint points. We learned a valuable lesson even before the race began, as Alison set a time for a morning spin. The schedule was posted in the house every night for the next morning, and we had a roll out time of 8AM. Less than half of the CWEC riders were outside and ready to go, but Alison was sticking to the schedule. We rolled out and headed to the course to preview the downtown finish. The rest of the weekend everyone was not only on time, but early.
Be on time
After the first road race another team goal was set: Everyone must see the pointy end of the race. It was as if a switch was flipped on stage three. Everyone's confidence grew, we felt closer as a team, and raced together better than we ever had before. Unbelievable how much was learned and directly applied to racing in just a few short days.
As part of strengthening and growing the pipeline of riders, CWEC brought along three category 3/4 riders from the Chicagoland area. These ladies helped support the CWEC team (feed zones, meals, laundry, social posts, etc.) while also racing in the amateur race. They were also exposed to the advice and coaching of Alison.
"Joe Martin is by far the biggest race I've done and I feel very fortunate to have been able to go early to be part of the CWEC experience. Alison's race plans were a big part of her role as race director, but her structured schedules, specific race goals, and overall calm and confident manner helped me see how to approach an event that could otherwise feel really overwhelming."
—Annie Byrne, Category 3 racer BFF Bikes
LESSONS LEARNED: CRITERIUM
We were pretty stoked to learn the best ways to race one of the hardest crits by someone who once herself WON it. CWEC lined up among the National Champions, Rio hopefuls, and best professional women racers in the country.
Never give up
It's easier at the front
It's going to hurt
"Alison's professionalism and experience brought a sense of calm and focus to, not only the racers, but the support crew. Much of that calm was from the discipline of adhering to the plans which were set for off-the-course activities, such as leaving for the race when we said we would, to the racers accomplishing on-the-course objectives. I learned a lot about leadership, being a better teammate, and racing from Alison. And she's also a darn good driver! In the 1st road race, Amber flatted early on. After a quick wheel exchange from Bobby, Alison paced Amber back to the caravan - the two communicating with appropriate 1-word shouts, 'steady!' Or 'up'. So cool!"
—Cathy Frampton, CWEC President and JMSR Team Manager
A QUICK STUDY IN ALISON'S HAND GESTURES
Alison’s 6 Tips for Recovery after a Stage Race:
⛵ time off the bike
👐 stretch/foam roll/massage
👪 Friend/family time
🚴 then, once you've had a few days off-- a happy bike ride
Photos by Snowymountain Photography—more photos can be found here