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Tour of Galena Recap!

Erin Dickey teaches class. You can only hope to learn.

Daphne proudly represents her 3rd place finish medal for the Women's Category 4 criterium as well as the 3rd place medal for the Women's Category 4 Omnium.

Brian blinging with the silver after the big sprint finish got him 2nd in the Men's Cat 4 sprint. (click through the sequence)

Jannette in elite company. Right where she belongs.

The racing was fast and the logistics were very well handled. Tip of the hat to xXx-Athletico for solely handling a massive 3 race/2 day endeavor on the other side of the state in beautiful (and hilly) Galena, IL. Highlights included (but are not limited to): There was a massive turnout from the Men's squad and a variance of fine results to boot. Zero intimidation came off of J Rho as she faced the terrifically difficult task of handling the big dogs solo in the Pro 1, 2, 3 category. Daphne and Marie teamed up to get Daphne onto the podium and Marie set that rep of being a badass pace driver. Mumford and Nikki joined us to get a taste of the whole "roadie" thing. We got the bus over those hills out west not once but TWICE! And we all were privileged to hold the great company of Erin Dickey. in fine wine country.

Josh was a sport after working so hard at the front in the crit and getting taken out by a nasty bell lap crash.

Sure. There were some lows as well. Mechanical misfortunes bring out the eternal optimism of what "could of been". What actually was the case was our teen dream, Mr. Ellison, learned a good lesson as to how anything can happen once the race starts. Bravo to Mr. Nordyke for eventually giving his bicycle and shoes (which were given to him by the ever wonderful Mr. Marcus Moore) to his teammate that was without a workable wheel 30 miles into a road race. Avi took some turf with his knee and Jannette was considerably undernourished for her daunting road race. I'm not convinced a single one of us understood or respected the significance of "climbing" gears and waited until we got BACK from the trip to seek some out. Right now the biggest blow, however, is looking to be the fate of super-domestique Josh Shough's knee and hip. We are all waiting to hear a verdict on the x-rays after he was taken out by a crash in the bell lap of a VERY fast paced criterium. First the verdict, then the direction, then the healing begins.

True, the peaks and valleys were quite literal and metaphorical. Regardless, we certainly won't be overlooking what a fine weekend it all turned into. Without a doubt, everyone appreciated the beautiful scenery and made do Cuttin Crew style with the accommodations. All this while taking advantage of some super fine racing. Thanks again to xXx for the great event as well as their team promo rate. As always, a major shoutout goes out to our ever-supportive sponsors!

-- Results are here. Some photos to check out for some captionable moments along the way - the new chicagocuttincrew flickr page and the candelabra caretaker. --

Quad City Crit

By Josh -

I was fairly frustrated with my Memorial Day weekend races leading up to the Quad city crit. Saturday was a rough day at the snake. I got stuck behind three crashes, two of them at the base of the snake making it so I had to run up the entire snake on the first lap, which made a top finish nearly impossible. Then 5 laps in, I dropped my chain on the uphill before the snake. All and all not the best day for me. I saw Mike and Max with 2 to go after I got pulled. Mike was looking real good leading out a small group from the 4th or 5th place with 2 laps to go. Mike ended up with 8th. Max had a hard neck-and-neck sprint that put him just out of the money in 16th.

The next day’s race wasn’t much better. I had a typical slow start and got stuck behind a big group of juniors and guys who would brake out of fear of the speed bump at the base of the hill. I was able to catch back on to the main pack on the climb but then got stuck right behind a very stupid crash in the turns just after the hill. After that I was playing catch up the rest of the race. On the morning of the quad city race I was feeling optimistic about the day. Mike was going to do the masters race earlier in the day so our goal was to lead Max out in the 4’s race. I knew I wanted to be as close to the front as possible as soon as I could to try and keep the pace high and bring back any breaks. Hopefully Max would be near me at the end so I could punch a whole in the air for him going in to the finish.

I had a good but not great start that had me toward the back half of the pack. I saw Mike and Max and slowly tried to move my way closer. About 3 laps in I was getting anxious to get to the front so I put a handful of strong jumps in and weaved my way to 5th wheel. A few laps after I got to the front there where a lot of crashes in the field over a period of about 3 laps. After we went past one of them I looked around and couldn’t see Max or Mike so I figure they got stuck back behind one of the crashes.

It looked like there were a few dozen of us in the lead pack so I decided to hold 3rd wheel as best I could and try to make the podium from a field sprint. With 4 to go there was a big jump of about 3 guys from a few wheels back. I was a bit slow to respond but we pulled them back within half a lap and I ended up taking a pull at the front to try and string out the pack a bit more. As we came in with 2 to go I went back to about 6th wheel to catch my breath.

The pace slowly started to ramp up. As we came around for the bell, the pack was still mostly together. I decided I was going to make a hard jump at the turn that marked about 1/3 of a lap to go, hoping I would take it down to just me and a few others. I made my jump and got as much acceleration as I could muster and got as low as I could. I dove for the 2nd-to-last turn and jumped again dropping down one more cog. As I got to the final turn, the lead car had slowed and I came damn close to hitting it coming out of that turn! I gave one last hard push and aimed for the line. As I approached I herd the announcer say, “this guy coming from the Cuttin’ Crew is coming in with a big lead!” I didn’t believe him so I gave a look back and I had about 8 to 10 bike lengths on the next guy. I posted up but not until after passing the line because I still didn’t believe it.

It was also cool to see J Rho in the big race at one point mixing elbows with Miller of HTC which was bad ass.  She spent most of the race ahead of the pro women! It was great to watch. She pulled in some breaks and looked in amazing form and even finished in the money!

Two for Two

Lest we forget about all the action in Iowa's Superweekend...some results of note:

  • Jrho banging bars with the Pros. Yup, HTC, Peanut Butter, the big guns.
  • Mike Morell is batting .750 in his last four at-bats in the top ten department.
  • Snaxwell Riordan was the victim of cat 4 carnage.
  • Josh and Brian took wins in the Cat 4 and Cat 5 races at Quad Cities.

Let the good times roll.

Don't Call it a Comeback

by Avi If you're reading this, chances are you're infected with an addiction to racing bikes, or you know someone who is. It's not Saturday night bowling or the occasional 9 holes of golf. The winter, instead of being a prison sentence to be served annually, becomes an opportunity to hit the gym, hit the trainer, and daydream of how your efforts are going to pay off. Take away any piece of the puzzle of the racing season, and the year feels incomplete. My winter was spent nursing a torn rotator cuff, surgery, and physical therapy, and 2011 was starting to look like a writeoff.

Everything I did to get me a decent 2010 on the Track was out of reach, so I just decided to do long, ugly, solo base miles, with a Midwestern "spring" that didn't exactly cooperate. I looked at the calendar a little differently. No tripling up at Snake Alley this year. 100k of gravel? Why not? Some good old fashioned Belgian miles. I thought a top 20 would mean I was on the path to getting some form back. Unfortunately my weekend started with getting hit in traffic by an off-duty cop. For a instant I thought my season would be over again, but I escaped with a bit of road rash. He gave me a ride home and pledged to buy me a new wheel. I made it to the start of the Gravel Metric. Hats off to Half Acre, Robots, the Bonebell, North Central Cyclery and all the sponsors for pulling it all together.

With 120 folks at the start, I wondered if maybe a top 20 was a little ambitious. Lots of familiar faces, most with 6-8 weeks of race legs under them, but still, a lot of cyclo-tourist types, so better to stay near the front. It started with a slow roll out of town. Lots of Half Acre, Iron Cycles, Johnny Sprockets, and all-around strongman CX Masters titleholder/coach Brian Conant at the front.

I didn't set out to attack relentlessly, but it seemed a slow pace, and it was in all of our best interests to thin the herd at the front, and maybe a break would form. The action started at the first checkpoint. It seems that our little group at the front forgot that this was an alleycat and flew right past. I was first in, first out, and despite being alone, attacked. Maybe a couple of opportunists would bridge up to me. If this were a "normal" race, there were enough teammates in the front group to block and let us go.

It wasn't to be, and I was caught, but in a lead group of seven! Maybe a top ten was in the cards! We kept an honest pace, but there were chasers. It was still overcast, and the road was fine gravel. I refused to look at the odometer, but I knew it was still early. I had no idea what was coming.

I had preloaded the course onto my GPS, and was just following a line on a map. Conant had a cue sheet set up similarly on his Garmin. They didn't quite agree. At one point, his route had him going off course, and I thought for a split second "if this were a real alleycat, I should let them go" but I couldn't. I called them back on route. With the delay, the lead group was up to 12. The course flags were agreeing with my route, so we decided mine was correct. A couple other guys had cue sheets pinned up, but with the rain starting and the road names tough to discern, they were becoming tougher to use.

Conant was happily dragging us all along, doing most of the work, when his road tires caught up to him and he flatted out. We kept on, and the rain picked up. We approached the second checkpoint, and a couple other guys started to realize the first in/first out advantage, and sprinted for it. The CP workers pointed us at our route: tractor tracks off into a field. It wasn't a road, it was a mile of wet sludge, ankle deep.

The group exploded. We all tried to ride as far as we could, but it was impossible. I wrapped my chain around my bottom bracket and suddenly had a dozen guys ahead of me, blocking whatever lines I might have wanted. Ted Ramos had coasted further than anyone and critically, seemed to have shouldered his bike while it was clean. He was off the front. The rest of us tried our best, pushing bikes until they were unpushable, then were stuck carrying them, slogged with 40 pounds of mud. I shed the mud by pushing it through the rivulets of rain water, in the tall wet grass, whatever seemed to work. Somehow I got my bike mostly clean and shouldered it, "running" through the peanut butter.

I don't know how long it went on. A mile? 15 minutes? There was Ted and then a hundred meters back, the rest of us. I knew I had to reach him and just kept on. I wanted the lead group to thin out, but I was stoked to reach him alone. I got him just as the mud ended and we started hammering. The madness continued, more mud, knee-high prairie grass, wading through wild alfalfa, scrambling across train tracks, fording a creek, for chrissakes, still, just following the little arrow pointing down the line on my computer. It was ridiculous, and getting more so. I would later discover that most of the lead group went off course somewhere in here.

The "road" came back and there was nothing to do but hammer and trade. Ted was flying in the tailwind sections and I could barely hold on. I pulled my weight in the headwinds, taking long steady turns. After my chain wrap, I was only able to get back into the big ring by reaching down and manually pushing the chain on, so I decided not risk the small ring for the rest of the day. Some debris in my rear cluster had my chain skipping in half the gears, and I didn't want to pop it, so I found myself with a whopping selection of about three gears to choose from. I was jealous of Ted, spinning merrily along, while I pushed the big ring.

I still hadn't looked at the odometer, but I thought we must be close, we made the turn and were heading back to town. "20 miles to go," Ted said, and I was more than a little crestfallen. Still, the out-and-back leg had tipped us off to the chasers, and I thought we could survive if we just kept at it.

The rest of the race was an hour of this. Blistering rain and 6 miles of headwind, then we made the turn and tried to outrun the storm. Lightning strikes everywhere, fortunately we were surrounded by windmills to take the brunt of them. I remember thinking "if I go out like this, at least I'm at the front of a bike race."

You'd think such a battle would come down to a thrilling and decisive finish, but you'd be disappointed. We both sized each other up in the closing meters, wordless, cautious. But neither of us knew where we were, where the line would be, which direction we'd be coming from, until literally seconds before we made the penultimate corner, and we were 20 meters from where we'd imagined throngs of cheering spectators. The CP workers had waited for an hour, then gone inside. They pestered us, "Somebody has to be first." We decided that it was a photo finish at the line, but with no photo, and no line, tied for first place.

Rose, Noah Lead Bulls to 2-0 Lead

By Marie

A 9am decision was made to drive down to the 2011 version of Monsters of the Midway, knowing we had the strong chance of rain and unforgivable winds ahead of us.

(Thanks to Tati for photo)

Has anyone told you about our newest member?  Not only is Daphne friends with the big guy, but she’s also a beast on the streets.  Our Cat 4 race started off strong; rain was a-pouring, and that cross wind was not going to let us have an easy out. Working to stay in the pack, I utilize some high school basketball mentality (if you can’t outscore the opponent, at least hustle enough to outrun them) to keep up with a strong lead out.  Daff is keeping a good spot for our first three laps, me not letting that other green/white/red jersey outta my sight, as we’re being strongly contested by the home team.  A $10 prime is announced, and no one’s moving.  We’re all waiting for someone to push, and as we pass the street light of the back end, I note that no one’s got the urge.  “Go big or go home,” I think, and I get out of the saddle with Daff, totally unaware of my Prime Dream, giving me some sound advice, “Marie, don’t burn yourself out!”  Turn 4, I look back, no one, but I decide I gotta throw down in case someone decides to jump ‘er.  Thankfully I did because as I cross the line, I see a flash of red to the left, and the announcer, Todd from ABD, has solidified it, #913, Marie Snyder, has claimed the prize.  Alberto’s tried to nick me at the end to no avail.  Feeling heavy and out of breath, I consider whether or not being on Team Prime will effect me later (YES), and keep truckin’ along, seeing my teammate push past and go for the breakaway.  I wish I could’ve watched Daff race because that lady dominated the lead and pulled for an Inaugural Cuttin’ Crew Podium with 3rd place!  We’re off to a nice start with my 9th place finish and D with the first podium of the day.

Jannette, having thrown her name into the Badass of the Day Bucket by riding down to the race, went full on control mode for her Cat 1/2/3 race.  Tamara Fraser, experiencing the season of a lifetime, goes off the front and holds the lead for the entirety of the race until an unfortunate flat with three laps to go.  With Katie Isermann having flatted out as well, this leaves for five ladies to vie for the five pay outs, and you know they're going to throw some proverbial elbows. Bell lap, ladies are packed together down the straight and rounding turns 1 and 2.  I run across the field to get to the mid-way of the back, observing that the ladies have the crazy eyes as they’re sizing the cohort up. They’re being patient and strategic.  I hustle back to the line, and we’ve got the Crew talkin’ up this finish because we KNOW J’s got it in her.  We see them embark onto the last 300 meters, and it’s an all out show down; the five are out of the saddle hammering down, with J neck and neck with Francine Haas, the crowd yellin’ for their favorites.  They cross and it’s close!  We jump in the air because we think J’s got it, but Todd tells us he’s gotta check out the picture.  We look at each other with mad anticipation, sharing our support for J. “She HAD to have snagged it, but I don’t know.” “Francine threw her bike, but did J throw hers harder?”  Todd gets back on the mic, and he’s doing a countdown knowing that we are revved on the suspense.  “Fifth place goes to Cathy Frampton of Project 5 Racing.  We got fourth place going to Erin Woloszyn of Village-Verdigris Cycling.  Third place is going to an Alberto’s lady, Angela Rochester, who was pulling off the front the entire race. Now that lady is a real go-getter, works hard for her money*…” He continues on with an anecdote about Ms. Rochester, smile on his face as he sees that he is killing us with the tension.  “Aaaaand in second … ……. … Ms. Francine Haas of…” the crowd can’t even hear the rest of the announcement with our hootin’ and hollerin’ about our lady’s big W.  We look for J, and as we see her coming ‘round the bend with her opponents, everyone runs out to the course with #1 fingers, pointing at our lady.  She gives another smile, “Who? Me?” and we nod our heads for another J post up.  Glorious.

Out on search for a hot chocolate warm up during the beginning of the Pro 1/2/3s, we're wondering if we should stick around when we run into Nico and Brian.  Brian’s stoked to be 19 and alive, and Nico is stoked to be supporting.  We head back to the race to see Chris Padfield pulling the entire field like a goddamn locomotive.  It’s been hours of standing outside in the rain, and with our Teenage Dream and his ma and step-dad in tow, we got a full on Cuttin’ Crew Social Club happening on the sidelines.  The rain and wind, paired with the hats and winter jackets, shift the audience into cyclocross mode.  No one’s leaving this race, and everyone who rides by is getting a cheer!

Cat 4’s line up with Max and Josh ready to roll.  “Nice jersey! Is that 7-11? NOPE. That’s some CUTTIN’ CREW,” yells Brian, with the optimism on lock.  The boys are looking good, when, without fail, a crash happens just after turn 2. When we notice that Max got caught up in it, Andrew and I go into EMT mode and run across the field, almost forgetting that there’s a little kid soccer match happening.  Andrew grabs his bike, we ask him if he’s going to go back in the race, and he’s unsure, but goes to check in with the official regardless.  He gets back in the race with the pack, and sticks with it throughout.  Josh’s knee is hurtin’, so he teams up with a guy to appease an amped up crowd with fake sprints and throws every time they cross the line.  The crowd eats it up and feeds more positive energy into a dense pack.  Bell lap, and the whole pack is fighting for it with three off the front.  We can’t tell who is who, and the camera is the go-to for results once again.  Turns out, despite a crash, Max gave enough effort to pull 6th place.  CCC is on a roll!

Brian’s been talkin’ big this whole time, feeling strong and ready to lose his road racin’ virginity.  And, though he doesn’t need the confidence, we keep him hopeful with strategy advice and high fives.  Dude’s ready.  The official blows the whistle, and Brian immediately jumps for the lead.  He’s pulling the entire pack, making jumps that are making us nervous.  “Can he keep it?”  “Eh, he’s 19, he can do anything.”  Todd gives the prime announcement, followed by, “And Brian Ellison off the front AGAIN.”  Brian is ready to join Team Prime.  He holds it, makes it, and posts up like a rookie, his category thinking, “Who the hell does this kid think he is?”  Brian doubles up on the primes, followed by a Roscoe Village guy going off the front for the remainder of the race.  We’ve got a trio of laps left, and we’re wondering if Bri is going to be smart about his moves.  Bell lap comes, Nico takes off across the field to give our kid some counsel, and we see a solo bridge effort on the back stretch.  Brian Ellison’s name is announced once again, and the crowd is losing it.  I run down to the 100 meter mark to witness yet another neck and neck finish.  Brian looks back and sees his second place will go uncontested, so he gives it to Roscoe Village, knowing that he has another race to govern.

As soon as he pulls off of his cool down lap, Brian yells “someone take my top number off, I’ve got another race to win!”  This kid is playing no holds barred.  The entire team surrounds him for some leg warming, water, and pride.  He’s got all of us inspired; Nico and ‘Drew, almost in seriousness, are asking for kits to go in and try to emulate our teen superstar.

Brian has just enough time for one more cool down/warm up lap until the beginning of his next race.  Having only had oatmeal for sustenance, Daff and I make the decision to get home.  We pile six deep in the notorious purple truck.  As we’re taking the scenic route home, Nico gives us the call that Brian has once again pulled another stunt-filled race for the big W.  We’re elated!  Brian put down the hurt for another tight finish against a XXX’er, claiming victory for the little guy.

All in all, Cuttin’ Crew had one of those days.  We suffered, we survived, and we had fun.  There wasn’t a single person who went home unsatisfied or with dry feet.  Couldn’t have asked for a better way to continue the Best Year Ever!

*elaborated for effect!

Jannette post-Glencoe

Jannette went down pretty bad today at the Glencoe Grand Prix. She got in with the Highland Park Hospital and everything came back A-OK....

...except she lost a front toof, shattered her dominant wrist up pretty good and got stitches on her forehead.

Gotta love her, though. She came back from the hospital to be guest of honor at the Gavin-Smyth household for a lovely BBQ and a relaxed evening at the Cuttin' Crew's secret beach in Glencoe.

Keep those spirits high, Jannette. We're all proud of you for taking it so well and we know you'll be back up and running ambidextrously in no time.

Get well soon, Bre

Just about the last thing you want to hear from a friend and teammate is a brief text to let you know they broke their collarbone and possibly worse at a faraway race.

The next worst thing is getting an update like this from a loaned blackberry in the ICU...

"I was intentionally crashed out of a road race sat morning. I think I'll be ok, but I've been in ICU since sat night. I broke five ribs and my collarbone. Three of the ribs punctured my lung, and they were afraid of spleen damage for a while. Lung looks better, but the oxygen level in my blood is low --that's why I'm still in ICU. They lowered my pain meds to help with oxygen level. Man, I'm in a shit-ton of pain. Anyway, when I can communicate better, I will."

If he sends us an update we'll be sure to post it.

Heal up, brother.

Second in the overall!

The long, arduous task of laying claim to the heartland of Wisconsin has come to a close and we are certainly proud to present our Dear Lady of the Dairyland, our ruler of the Rhoman Empire, your 2nd place overall finisher in the women's category 3/4 Tour of America's Dairyland...

Jannette Rho!


3rd place on the last day put her in the 2nd place slot in the overall rankings for 9 consecutive days of highly competitive racing.* I would expect she had consistent frustrations racing with a woman that won 8 of all 10 races. Miss Gaggioli certainly deserves great credit for such a performance. Gaggioli won 7 out of the 9 races Jannette was in. That did not deter our Jannette from shuffling onto a podium step 7 out 9 times. 7 of 9 despite taking a spill that put her out of top-10 contention late in one those races.


Something to certainly consider - of their 9 shared races, Rho and Gaggioli combined to take 15 of the 27 podium placements. The other 12 podium spots were shuffled amongst 7 different women.

While she never got the cowprint jersey or got to sip on chocolate milk for the camera she certainly aired consistent dominance and has a well deserved spot in the final standings.

Pretty f'n killer, J Rho.

*you'll note she's credited 8 points for the first race, an official's error seeing as she was still in the city when that race kicked off. The 8 point favor makes no significant difference to her standing in the GC.

Another big thanks to Jonathan Gray for keeping the photos comin'!