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Speed Week

Posted by Christina on May 19, 2017 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)

I am writing this on my return flight home from Speed Week with my new team for 2017: Papa John’s presented by Trek. (No, no, I am not eating the pizza quite yet but soon they will be introducing a gluten-free option.) Each of the women on my team are really strong riders and I’m leaving the start of our season excited for what is to come. Our time at Speed Week was fairly successful, however, we didn’t get the overall win. In my mind, that gives us the opportunity to learn from our mistakes and to continue to grow as a team.

Speed Week is a series of crits in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. There are podium presentations after each day but our main focus as team was to have a rider take the overall victory. Points towards the overall are awarded during the week on specific laps as well as for the final finishing place for each race.

The racing began in Charlotte, North Carolina at the Rocky Hill Criterium, a new venue situated on a racetrack with a switch back climb. The course was wide open and unprotected from the strong winds making it easy for protected riders or really difficult for riders on the front. I spent a lot of time on the front, followed attacks from other riders and lead my teammate out for mid race points. After all the work I had done during the race, I felt completely spent on the final lap. Thankfully, one of my teammates was able to cover for me and lead out our sprinter, Tina Pic. After they went around me, I looked back to see a huge gap between me and the rest of the field, but by the time I rolled around the final corner, it seemed like 100 girls flew by me. However, we got the win and that’s what was important.

Based on last year, I knew day two in Belmont was going to be a tough course. Erica Allar always nails it from the start so I was ready for the race to go from the gun. But today the first move would be even more decisive as wet roads and pouring rain became a factor. I lined up at the start, ready for the whistle. As expected, Erica immediately drove up the pace. Even though I started in the back, I was able to quickly move into a good position, but Erica had already rolled off the front. Since we held the leader’s jersey, our team had no choice but to chase. Tina and I were the only ones from the team left in the field when I heard our director, Crater, yell from the sidelines, “12 seconds.” I continued to pull, but now we were getting attacked and riders from other teams were getting across to the break. About four to five laps were left in the race when my teammate, Sara Tussey, who had been sick, surprised me and came to the front of the pack. I was so relieved to see her. She helped me chase until the last lap. When some of the riders started to dive to the inside on the final downhill turn I sat up not wanting to partake in the wet roller derby. The risk outweighed the reward that day and we lost the overall lead we had gained the day before.

The first two days were extremely tough and I did a lot of work that was made harder due to an unknown problem with my bike. Ailton De Souza was rooming next to us in Walterboro and after looking at my bike exclaimed, “No, you can’t ride this.” Puzzled, I responded, “Well, I’ve already done two races on it. What are you talking about?” He showed me that my chain guard had been catching on the bolts of my chainrings, creating massive resistance every pedal stroke. This would explain why my intensity factors were well over 1.0 for both days of racing. If you aren’t tracking with me, this essential means my efforts during both races of racing were much harder than a normal hard workout.

We had a few days rest before the next race in Waltoboro. My bike was now working correctly and I was looking forward to the race as the technical course suited my strengths. Debbie, Tina and I were on the front going into the final lap so Debbie could take the gamblers prime, right after there was a crash somewhere behind me and the race was neutralized. We got restarted with two laps to go. Not a good decision considering the course was only a kilometer long. I didn’t get to line up at the front and it was a struggle to move since most of the racers that were previously off the back were allowed to restart with the pack. Payton had put a good effort in to move Tina up since she got caught at the back on the restart. Another crash right in front of me on the second to last turn. I touched my brake to avoid it and we lost what would have been a win. Tina ended up in 4th.


Day four of racing found us in Spartanburg. I stayed close to the front and we tried to grab mid race points throughout the race. Because of this we missed a counter move from Peta Mullins and had to chase. I was blown after chasing for several laps and then towards the end of the race, Rachel from Fearless Femme got away off the front. Luckily, Tina won the field sprint, collecting more points towards the overall.

Sunday was the big day, the famous Athens Twighlight on the original course, a four corner crit with an incline on the back side. This race has over 25,000 spectators who come out to watch, making it extremely loud and a lot of fun. They were announcing primes on every lap so the race was fast from the gun. My goal was to stay at the front and go with moves but not to go for any mid race points so I would have something left to lead Tina out at the end. It always seems that when I cover a move, the counter follows my big effort. My teammate Sara was able to get on the front to help chase a move we missed. She is like a freight train in her ability to chase, she spent everything she had left but it was enough to pull the race back together. We were going into the final lap and I knew my competitor Peta was behind me so I was waiting on my teammate Tina’s wheel. Peta jumped and I followed, yelling at Tina to get on my wheel but the crowds were so loud that Tina couldn’t hear me and I gapped her in the process. We missed the top two spots that day but grabbed 3rd and 4th which put us in 2nd overall and 2nd in the team overall.

Roswell would be the final day. The course had a very long start finish and today it was in a head wind. After going with some moves and short lived breaks, the counter came when I was boxed in, most likely a strategic move by the Fearless Femme riders. Again, I missed the move and had to chase. We had help from LA Sweat who had been putting on an impressive performance all week. Two laps to go, I yelled for my teammates to get to the front and Kim Pettit made her way there to help Debbie. After Payton and I worked hard in the chase group, we closed down the gap but we still weren’t quite close enough for the long sprint finish. Tina ended up in 3rd for the day and we finished Speed Week 2nd overall and 2nd for the team overall. We have our homework to do and I am very hungry for the rest of the season.

What's for breakfast?

Posted by Christina on March 9, 2017 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (1)

What's your favorite healthy breakfast? Christina's go to morning meal is dairy-free and gluten-free pancakes. Simple, delicious fuel for training rides or races.


1 3/4 cup of Bob's Red Mill Pancake Mix

1 cup of Rice Milk

1/2 cup of Water

2 TB of Coconut Oil

1 TB of Honey

2 Scoops of Pure Bone Broth Protein


1. Melt coconut oil and honey

2. Mix all ingredients together adding in the melted coconut oil and honey last

3. Use about 1/4 cup of mixture for each pancake (smaller pancakes are easier to flip!)

4. Top with maple syrup and enjoy!

Bonus Tip: Make enough for the week and refrigerate the extra batter in a mason jar so you can have your pancakes hot each morning!

Why Are You Doing This Again??

Posted by Christina on March 9, 2017 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)

by Derrick Birdsall

It’s a question I’ve been getting a lot lately. Let’s face it… at nearly 50 years old now, many of my peers are getting ready to retire (some already have!), or are settling down to life with the grandkids.

Contrary to that, I’m pretty much constantly sore from the grind of daily training on the bike, and throw in the occasional crash and there are definitely days when I’m limping around.

I’ve fallen pretty hard the last couple weeks and as a result I’m hobbling around pretty good while the contusions heal and I’ve had several folks inquire “why are you doing this again?” or “when are you going to realize that your body can’t take it?” or “You know you’re not 20 something anymore?” And on and on.

Well… here’s why:

Well, for starters…. A couple years ago I went to the Dr’s and was informed that my BP was getting high. So I went from one medicine to another, trying to regulate my BP with a drug that wouldn’t mess with my body. Over the course of 9-10 weeks I bounced from one to another and at the end of it, in March, 2015, to be exact… my body broke down and I had a very, very long and horrible night in the middle of the New Mexican desert while my system told me enough was enough. After a night of cold sweats, convulsions and a ton of misery I decided right then and there that it was time for a change.

In addition, I’d gained a lot of weight. I was pretty much a porker, eating anything at will and felt like shit almost all of the time. The last time I checked on the scale, before I got too disgusted with myself, I weighed 264 pounds in 2013 or so. I’m sure that I gained more weight than that… I just quit caring.

I had been dabbling with getting back on the bike, I’d purchased my first new bike (a nice gravel ride) in December 2014 and had been easing back into riding. But nothing really serious. By the middle of 2015 I came to the conclusion that I needed some help on how to get things going and in August or so, I hooked up with my coach, Christina Gokey Smith (National champion now!!) and started the work.

Christina keeps me focused and on track and makes sure that my body and mind are constantly challenged. Going on 18 months into the program, I’ve dropped quite a bit of weight and gained a substantial amount of fitness. And the work is only just beginning as far as I’m concerned. Now that my body is getting used to the stress of training, I need to start perfecting my diet and changing a lifetime of bad eating habits. As a Masters athlete, I don’t have the cushion I did as a 20 something bike racer to eat, drink and not sleep. All the little details that once upon a time didn’t amount to anything – I’ve got to pay close attention to.

3 years ago, I never, ever would have believed that I could ride hard again. I never believed that I could train, and race again. I was convinced that my life had started that slow, gradual slide into old age and being unable to do things any more. After 18 months of hard work, I truly believe I’ve found the fountain of youth – and it’s called riding a bike!

Christina has been working with me to clean up my diet, and to stay mindful of things going on around me, and to help manage my stress brought on by an exceedingly busy work and home life. I am confident that as more time (and work) goes by, I will be able to ride harder than I can even imagine today – and that’s quite a lot! As Christina says, it’s all part of the process!!

So, when someone asks me “just what the hell are you doing this for”? It’s those bottles of pills – and I’m not going back!


Grit in Action

Posted by Christina on February 12, 2017 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (0)

There’s something romantic and almost like a fairytale about the type of person who shows up out of nowhere with little to no experience and dominates the competition. As humans, we are drawn to the idea that talent – an inherited ability that we don’t work for – is the key to an athlete’s success. We love to celebrate and praise the people we see who are “naturals.” But what if there’s more to the story? What if winning and exceling is actually the product of lots of hard work and even lots of failure. In her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth challenges the American ideal placed on talent and natural ability and explores her findings that effort is the greatest factor in achievement.

Kim Chance is a steller example of a person with true grit. Kim’s win at the 2017 Cyclocross National Championships this year was a compellation of years of passion and perseverance on the bike. Kim entered the bike-racing scene as a lifelong athlete and competitor in motocross, track, gymnastics, cheerleading and competitive aerobics. Sure, she had some natural ability, fitness and stamina that helped her excel from the start but it wasn’t all top steps and stellar seasons. After moving up into the higher category as a mountain bike racer, she had a rude awakening on the 2nd and 3rd laps of the longer mountain bike races. had been easy to hold the faster pace for the shorter races but now she had to maintain that speed for two and three times the distance while chasing faster women. Kim didn’t let this discourage her and honed her handling skills and improved her speed throughout the whole race.

The biggest setback of her racing career happened in April 2008 when she crashed during a group ride and suffered multiple fractures in her spine. Her first doctor told her the injury was inoperable and that it would be best to sell the bike and find a safer sport. Anyone without grit would have given up at this point but Kim got a second opinion and within 6 months she was back on the bike.

Kim has lined up at mountain bike nationals and cyclocross nationals many times over the past several years with good finishes but never the top step. Rather than becoming discouraged or disappointed because she wasn’t taking home the jersey, Kim was able to celebrate the things she did well and learned from the experiences. This year, she came into nationals prepared physically and mentally. She had completed a great season, free of major injuries. She had benefited from the tough Texas cross courses and from throwing herself into the Open field which meant far fewer podiums and getting her butt kicked by the faster women. While it wasn’t the easy path, her willingness to fail and be challenged helped prepare her for Nationals.

Kim was always daddy’s girl. Her father’s passing this past year was another hard life challenge that she had to face. He was on the forefront of her mind that day as she prepared to race, tucking his American Indian ID card under her jersey and reminding herself why she was racing. “I thought to myself about who has given me the ability to do what I do and decided I’m gonna do this one for dad. I know he’s watching and how proud of me he would be if I won a national championship.” Kim became teary as she recounted crossing the finish line well ahead of second place and raising her hand to the sky in a gesture to God and to her dad – “this one’s for you.”

Years of hard work, commitment, and perseverance finally paid off for Kim as reality set in when she stepped onto the top step of the podium with the stars and stripes jersey. One dream may have been achieved but Kim isn’t finished racing. Her eye is set on mountain bike nationals. “Racing gives me a purpose and drive in life to do something besides taking out the trash and paying the bills. Why would I retire? I want to go win another national championship!”



Keto Diet-Self Experment

Posted by Christina on January 16, 2015 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (0)

 As most athletes we've learned through College nutrition classes thinking a certain way of how to fuel our bodies.  Carbs, Carbs ; more Carbs.. I know this is how most of us athletes are fueled. I am not saying that all carbs are bad.  What I do know, is if it makes you feel better , perform better then you must be onto something. Each person is very unique and this should not be any different when it comes  to what we eat. What works for me may not work for you. 

It's not like I eat bad , matter of a fact I already have food restrictions prior to this "new diet"- In 2009 I went to see a Hollistic Nutritionist , After discovering some food sensitivities towards gluten, casein, whey protein ; corn. I started feeling better, and have stuck with this food restriction ever since.


As I entered my "off season" I consulted  My friend ,mentor& now nutrition counselor Dr. Kathy Lyons. The Keto -nutrition diet- is basically a low carb diet instead of carbs, it is training the brain to fuel on fats. Healthy fats. It takes about 2 weeks for the body to go in a ketosis state Where the liver is producing 

I was going to train my brain to fuel off of fat oppose to sugar. Healthy fat instead of Carbs. I have been racing my bike for some time and in those years I can’t count how many times I’ve crashed and had to replace a helmet. Inflammation is the reason I decided to look again at my diet. I already cut processed foods, I eat healthy etc. But this was even deeper.


Carbs turn into sugars- your body has this crash sensation, you are always hungry. I would eat every two hours. In which I thought was okay and healthy- it seemed to work for me.


Now.. I have more energy then ever and the biggest thing I am recovering faster. I have to be able to compete against girls half my age. I have to be able to go hard, recover and repeat.


The diet was to be started during your ‘off season’ as there is an adjustment period you wont feel so great , especially during the 2 weeks. - As my body goes into a ketosis state. (This was 60% healthy fat- and less then 20% in carbs. Iam one of those people, that feel like Mentally can handle anything- “and deep down I thought.. this is going to my challenge. I can do it.


Even though not recommend to be racing during this time. I had finished my season at Crit Nats Sept 6- I then took some time off. I rode my horse, ran a little, worked on core and strengthing. I had a couple mtn bike rides with clients. Then in October I begin doing the weekly cross races put on by my Cross Coach, Bryan Fawley . I wasn’t training at this point but it would jump start me into cross. Made a trip mtn bike trip to Arkansas with friends for some long rides. I started to think about the amount of carbs I ate at this point. But it was after this trip when I started to log every meal with the help of “my fitness pal” -App . I started to cut out the amount of gluten free breads- and carbs and replace with healthy fats.

So.. I would cook with Cocunut oil, I added an avocado to my eggs and mostly snacks consisted of nuts.

My body was going through some changes. I had started my period -after just being on this diet. it.-This started to scare me a bit- I had read that this could occur.

During these weekly races- I knew I should ‘win’ against the women- Or that’s what my mind beleived. It was a race where I barley won the - and Toby said, Okay when are you going to make the decision that this diet is not for you”. I quickly responded with, Hey you have to give me the two weeks.

Sure enough.. I had a workout that was 30 seconds ‘on’ (as hard as you could go) followed by 30 seconds ‘off’ . I will never forget this day. The 30 seconds ‘OFF” started to feel like it was in slow motion. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to start another effort-“on” at the 15-seconds . I felt so strong. Wow.

I did start my cross racing in November- and I knew I would carb load going into a race weekend. This is what I needed to dial in , exactly how many carbs etc. The first race I had- I felt so strong, in fact I felt like I wasn’t even pushing myself. However, the next day during my race I felt like I was missing something in my diet- like I needed a bit more carbs ?

Going into this race weekend Friday

64% fat, 24% car and 12% protein Friday (day before)

Nov 1st Saturday -race day: 63% fat, 21% carb; 16% protein

Sunday Nov. 2nd. 65% fat, 17% carb; 18% protein


Next weekend we drove to Louisville for my first UCI cat 1 race.


wednesday nov 5:



Had a great race on Saturday and Sunday- though legs were a bit tired onSunday it was mistakes being made (crashes) that


The following weekend was Colonels cross race in Ft.Worth. it was a more wide open course- and I wasn’t sure how I was going to fare . However, I opened up a gap on the first lap and never felt like I had to push to my limits. Score.

I felt like I really dialed in my eating and was feeling untouchable. I was racing every weekend and with the weekly cross race. This week would be the last cross race for the Thursday nigher- I wanted to support this race as well and had a week where I could make it happen. However, racing the weekend followed by two back to back weekly races one day off before hitting the weekend races in Houston called for some tired legs. What was interesting - was that my body , my breathing felt like I didn’t even come close to riding hard- however my legs were simply not there. the course was muddy and riding through the grass just sucked the energy out of my legs both days. -and ended up 2nd both of those races. It wasn’t until end of December I took two weeekdnds off of racing- so I would go into State Cross and Nationals feeling hungry to race.




Texas Women's Cycling Development Program

Posted by Christina on February 11, 2013 at 10:25 PM Comments comments (0)

 Mentoring Program for female cyclist.

  If you know of a female cyclist who may benefit from this program. Please Contact Christina

Rick Kelley Earns Leadville 100 Belt Buckle!

Posted by Christina on August 14, 2011 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Congrats to client, Rick Kelley for well exceeding his goals . He worked hard and it paid off!!

State Cross Champs!!

Posted by Christina on December 19, 2010 at 6:57 PM Comments comments (0)

Congrats to Justin Wallace! Cat-2 State Champ, raced again in the Cat-1 and placed 5th


Justin placed 2nd in the Age based the following day. (behind Fawley)


Congrats to Spears!!! Cat-3 State Champ



Weekend Races- Cycle Cross and Mountain Bike Races

Posted by Christina on December 8, 2010 at 12:49 PM Comments comments (0)

Congrats to those that Raced This past Weekend!


NorthShore -Grapevine mtn bike race


Lucas Brusseau- 1st place

Josh Clark - 3rd place



A great turn out at Grapevine, NorthShore, funds to go back to the trail.


Houston Cross Race (Day-1)

Bryan Fawley -1st

Justin Wallace- 2nd place



Justin W- 4th