Three Wins in Three Weekends! Stefanie gets Cat 1 Upgrade!

Mapletown RR 7/18/2015

Tess, Melissa, and I headed an hour south of Pittsburgh to race one of our local ABRA races. The race was short (37 miles) but quite hilly, so I had a good feeling about the day. These races are fun because they combine the W123 with the masters men, which gives us experience racing in a larger and deeper field, almost (but not quite…) what we encounter at UCI races. There was a hill one mile in on the course, so you can guess what my race plan was: attack hard from the beginning. I hit the hill at the front, and was pleased to find that I was not the only one with this plan. Many of the guys were hitting it hard up the hill so I was very glad that I was warmed up and ready to go for it. 5 miles in, I found that I was the only woman around, which seemed promising, but two other women caught back on shortly. When we encountered the first big climb at mile 15, I was elated to find that I made it to the top with the lead group of 6 men! However, just as we crested, one of the guys accelerated into the downhill. I was just not able to match his acceleration and found myself without a draft for the downhill. I went as fast as I could, but one small lone woman is no match for a group of 6 guys on a descent. Ah well. Once it flattened out, I started hammering along as best I could and a bigger guy caught me. We took turns taking pulls until the second hill at mile 23. I tried to let him draft me, but soon I found that I was all alone heading into the finish. I was worried because I know that lot of the masters men have more power than me and if the other women found themselves in a strong chase group, it shouldn’t have been too hard for them to catch me.  Finally, the course turned up again for the last 3 miles and as I was heading into the finish, I found that I was starting to pass some of the guys from the lead group. So that was promising! I rounded the corner and sprinted for the finish line to earn myself my first win in a W123 race.

Pennsylvania Elite TT Championships 7/25/2015

From a spectator’s standpoint, TTs are boring. There’s no team strategy, it’s just you and your bike in your pain cave. And in the case of this 40km TT, you’re there alone for an hour. I’ve never done the 40km distance before, but my coach assured me that it would be good for me, since my fitness had been good. When the day of the TT came around, I was feeling good. My start time was an hour later than expected, so I got an extra hour of sleep! Plus, it was cool but sunny and not windy. Perfect TT conditions. I opted for my deep front wheel and a disc in back and got a chance to rock my new JL Velo skinsuit. My coach warned me about going out too hard, even though I really wanted to go harder on the way out because it was uphill, when the gun went off, I listened. Twenty minutes in, I realized why he told me that: the same pace that felt easy 20 minutes ago was beginning to hurt and I had 40 more minutes to go! I found the course to be tough because it was roller after roller, so I had a hard time keeping my power steady. I also found that I was catching the girl who started a minute and a half ahead of me on the uphills, but she was passing me back when we went down. I concentrated on spinning as fast as I could so that I wouldn’t loose too much time on the downhills. In the end, I did the 40k in 58:58 at 25mph, which was enough to earn the title of Pennsylvania Elite TT Champion!

Tour of the Catskills 7/31- 8/2/2015

TOC is hands-down my favorite race of the summer. Usually, it’s a local favorite race, but since it’s the last year as a stage race, the competition was steep and several UCI riders were signed up. It was an “A” race for me, and I felt good going into it, despite being nervous about the caliber of my competitors. Unfortunately, I didn’t pick the right wheels for the gusty wind on the TT (stage 1), which started my weekend in a disappointing 8th place. Feeding off my disappointment, I launched a viscous attack 3 miles into the circuit race (stage 2) and found myself in a breakaway of 7 very strong girls. Since the course was not very selective, we set a vigorous pace that I had only experienced previously at a UCI race. Shortly after the descent, I hit a pothole hard and realized that I was starting to feel the bumps in the road more and more. I had a flat! I waited until I saw the wheel car right behind me and put up my hand. I got a new wheel quickly, but had to chase hard to get back onto the break. This put me in enough of a hole that when two girls attacked over the next hill, I didn’t have enough left to follow it. Despite this, I managed to finish 4th and move up to 5th in the GC, so I was optimistic for the final stage the next day. (Especially after looking at my powStef Catskillser numbers! I set a new 5 minute power record and immediately afterwards held threshold pace for an hour as I chased back on.)

The final stage of this stage race, the Devil’s Kitchen RR, is epic. This RR has a good climb at mile 23, which usually doesn’t break up the field followedby some rollers, a long descent, and an even longer flat stretch. The deciding feature of the race is a 3 mile climb averaging a ridiculous 12%, followed a 7 mile false flat  downhill stretch to the finish. I was nervous as we lined up for the final stage, since everyone had raced so aggressively the day before. During the first 20 miles, I mostly tried to stay out of the wind to save energy for the climbs. We hit the first climb at mile 23 and I decided to just climb and not attack, since I didn’t want to be dropped on the descent. (I’m not a great descender.) Apparently I was feeling stronger than I thought, because by “just climbing” a breakaway of 5 of us had formed by the time we got to the QOM marker! I was happy to have this group, but since I was with the 4 girls who were ahead of me in the GC, I put in a number of attacks on the rollers to see if I could get anyone to drop off or just tire them out from chasing me. Eventually, no one dropped off but they stopped chasing me and I didn’t want to do the descent alone, so I stopped attacking.

The descent was incredible! With moving to Pittsburgh, I’ve become much more confident at descending so I was able to stay with the group and actually take a breath and enjoy the views. We reassembled at the bottom, but the motoref told us that we had a 7 minute gap on the field and that’s when the games really began. We dropped below recovery ride pace. People were throwing on the brakes at the front and still no one came around to pick up the pace. It was annoying, but even if the peloton closed on us, I knew it wouldn’t change Devil’s Kitchen and I wasn’t about to waste energy.

I started to get excited when we hit the foothills before the climb. Finally, I saw the first 18% stretch of Devil’s Kitchen looming ahead and breathed a sign of relief. Earlier in the week, my coach had told me after a workout that if I could hold 251w from the climb through the finish line, that I’d be ok, so I decided to trust him and try to do just that. As road turned up, I hit “lap” on my GPS so that I could see my power, and accelerated to meet the climb out of saddle. I was really tempted to try to burn people with accelerations, but having confidence in myself and my coach, I decided I shouldn’t try anything stupid, so I just kept it steady. One of the women who I knew is *really* strong was on my wheel for a while, but I chose to ignore it, (although I was confused as to why she was not coming around). By the time the climb flattened out coming into the QOM, no one was in sight behind me. I came through the QOM line around 18 minutes and 252w. I was really nervous about being alone, but every year I’ve done the race I’ve been alone over the top and have never been caught by the group behind me or caught the people ahead, so I tried to tell myself it was just like every other year, except that I was winning. And I had to hold 251w. Instead of worrying about being aero or whatever, I just put my head down and tried to go stupid hard. Shortly, the 5k, 4k, 3k, 2k signs started appearing and I still couldn’t see anyone behind me besides the follow car. Actually, I didn’t see the car at 4k, and started to get worried about getting another flat… Finally, when I saw the 1k to go and still couldn’t see anyone behind me, I knew I had it. However, when I made the corner and saw the finish line, I still sprinted for it because I almost couldn’t believe that I was alone for the win!

The best news is that this winning streak was enough to earn me the final points I needed for my Cat 1 upgrade! This was my big goal of the season and I’m so excited to have earned it in the company of my QCW teammates.


Successful weekend at the Mapletown Road Race with lots of climbing. QCW sweeps the podium with 4th for Tess, 5th for Melissa and the win for Stefanie!

July 18th 


QCW Hits Up the Women’s Midwest Road Race Championships and Marietta Criterium

July 11th and 12th 2015

Marietta Criterium:

Over the weekend, I got to race my second race with the wonderful QCW ladies. Our first outing at Emerick went pretty well, with me nabbing 2nd in the sprint, but we were looking forward to ironing out the details. Saturday morning I woke up early after a night of racing at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, loaded up the car, and headed to Marietta to meet Melissa and Kristie and do some damage.

Marietta was a crit, which is my thing, but it was a handicap. So the promoters started the ¾ women 1:30 in front of us and made us chase. The fields were a little lopsided with 6 ½ women and 11 ¾ riders. We knew that we couldn’t wait around and that we had to all work together to try and catch the leaders.

Elspeth Marietta win
Elspeth takes the win!

Luckily, we had a strong group of ½ riders that worked well together and Kristie, Melissa, and myself, were at the front all the time helping to bring it back. We were starting to gain on the women and had about 10 laps of the one-mile course to go as my rear wheel started to go soft, I thought I was making it up, but I wasn’t. I rolled in to the pit with a flat, and thankfully one of the mechanics offered his wheel to me.  

I got pushed back in just as we were catching the women. The next lap, they rang the bell for a prime. No one was really sprinting for it, so I figured I’d give it a go and I rolled through easily as they rang the bell for a prime on the next lap. Since I already had one, I figured I’d go for the next one and I nabbed that one too. That’s when I knew I really could win. Kristie went for a prime with three to go, so she was near the front.

With one to go, I got behind Kristie and Melissa came up and got in front of her and we had our little leadout train ready to go. Melissa crushed it on the front for half a lap before Kristie took over. Coming out of the last turn, she used her trademark in the saddle sprint. I was patient and waited, but got a little anxious and jumped around Kristie with around 250 meters to go and launched my sprint. I heard a lot of people yelling and I was scared someone was close, but I ended up with a two-bike length gap on 2nd and 3rd.

We worked together so perfectly, especially for our second time racing together! I’m so excited to build on this with everyone at QCW.

-Elspeth Huyett

Women’s Midwest Road Race Championships:

Tess and I decided to head west to the Women’s Midwestern RR Championships this weekend. The race was not too far from Pittsburgh, was 60 miles, and the promoter did a really excellent job recruiting sponsors and racers for an all-women’s race so we decided to support the race that supported us.

It was great to race with Tess because we have such different strengths. Tess is a great sprinter and I am the climbing type. For me, the race seemed too flat so we had an easy time coming up with our team plan: I was going to attack aggressively, make other people suffer, and set Tess up for the win in what would most likely be a sprint finish.

Fields were combined, so we staged with about 50 other women to ride 4 laps around the 15 mile course on narrow country roads. Not wanting to be trapped behind less experienced riders, Tess and I got ourselves staged in the front row and then we were off. We took a right hand turn onto the only climb of the loop less than a mile in. The “climb” was only 0.5 mile stretch at about 7%, but I knew Chicago Elite (probably the biggest and strongest team represented) was trapped at the back of the field so inspired by a recent breakaway in the Tour that attacked from the start, I decided to hit it. My goal was to create chaos and break up the field, and punching it up the first climb proved to be a really smart move. By the time things simmered down after my move we were down to about 25-30 women. On the back side of the course, someone attacked, and a break of 3 got away with out us: I was boxed in and they were being pretty strict about the center line rule. Eventually, I got out, tried to attack to bridge, but not being the zippiest of accelerators, soon I was p

Stefanie and Tess waiting for the race to start

ulling the field. Ah well, I didn’t want a break to get away without Tess, they were still in sight, and I knew I could bridge up once we came around to the hill again. I caught the break on the hill, sat on a wheel for a minute or so, and then just as we crested the hill, I attacked again hard. I got a gap and stayed away myself for a few minutes, but was eventually brought back in. Shortly thereafter, while I was trapped in the middle of the pack, a breakaway of 5 got off and Tess was in it!

I so badly wanted to be in the breakaway, but I knew what I had to do. I got up to the front of the pack and sat there. I love blocking for a teammate: it’s a real art to go just hard enough that no one else wants to pull, but just soft enough that you’re sure the breakaway’s gap is increasing. An attack or two did go, but I covered them and sucked wheel. Finally, we got to the hill again (3rd time) and, Tess’s breakaway had about 1:40 up on us. A couple girls from Chicago Elite attacked hard (which confused me, because one of their girls was in the breakaway too) and tried to drop me, but I stuck on with one other girl and soon we had a chase group of 4. Actually, to be clear, they had a chase group of 3 with a passenger of me, who was appreciating the free ride, but did not particularly want these girls to catch my sprinter. Eventually, I was towed to Tess’s group and we had what looked to be a winning breakaway of 7. I was all prepared to start doing work, but then no!! Tess dropped her chain. I hung back again and sucked wheel. The motoref kept telling us that there were 2 girls 50-40-30 seconds back. I was sure it was Tess. When we hit the climb for the final time, I held back and waited until we crested to attack, but I still didn’t see Tess. I did however managed to drop one of the girls I was with, so at least I was bettering my non-sprinter odds. A couple miles later, the 2 girls did catch us (along with the one I dropped on my attack), and unfortunately it was more girls from the Chicago based teams. At this point, I knew it was on me to do the best I could in what would be a small bunch sprint finish. I sucked wheel and waited until the last moment to start my sprint (so that no one could use me as an accidental leadout, which is what usually happens to me). I passed a couple girls and managed to finish 4th in the sprint, which is my best finish ever from a bunch sprint!

I had a great time at this race and felt like we really used team tactics well. The bigger teams there noticed us and how well we were working together, despite the fact there were only 2 of us. Unfortunately, mechanicals do happen and you have to fall back to plan B from even the best laid plans. That’s bike racing! I hope we get to race and work together again soon.
-Stefanie Sydlik

QCW Race Time Trial & Celebrate for a Cause

June 6th 2015

On the eve of the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic, members of QCW’s club team and DE squad had great fun participating in the 2015 Philadelphia Amateur Time Trial sponsored by Tri-State Velo.  The course began near the Art Museum and hugged the rivIMG_2711er for a total of 8 miles.  Morning came early with start times just after 7am.  Category 5 men were off the line first followed by Masters Men, Juniors, Women, and Tandem divisions.   QCW was well represented in just about every category.  Some race highlights include a first place finish by Jennifer Matro in Cat 4 women, third place finish in Women 1/2/3 field by Samantha Fox, and first place finish in the Open Tandem class by Kristie Nichols James and Meurig James.

The festivities continued as QCW members gathered in Manayunk for the first annual ‘Party It Up the Wall’ team fundraiser.  Eden Vinyarszky welcomed over forty guests into her home.  100% of the proceeds of the event went toward supporting future stars in the sport of cycling through QCW’s grassroots development and DE squads.  It was a splendid night of food, drink and conversation.  Team riders mingled with our sponsors, shared personal highlights from the past races, and caught up with old friends.  The merriment continued as desserts were savored and conversations turned toward the 2015 Philadelphia International Cycling Classic and the 2015 race season.  Congratulations to all and heartfelt thanks to our continuing and new sponsors.

-Andrea Brennan

Race Results- 2015 Philadelphia Amateur Time Trial

Women 35+:

Melissa Paquette 4thIMG_2715

Women Cat 4:

Jennifer Matro 1st

Terri Young 5th

Samantha Downey 8th

Women 1/2/3:

Samantha Fox 3rd

Kristie Nichols James 5th

Open Tandem:

Kristie Nichols James/Meurig James1st

Andrea Brennan/Andrew Brennan 2nd




Winston Salem Cycling Classic

Winston Salem, NC

May 30-31, 2015

Photo May 31, 5 16 59 PM

This past weekend QCW Breakaway Bikes DE team attended the Winston Salem Cycling Classic in North Carolina.  The Winston Salem Cycling classic is a two-day event consisting of a National Criterium Calendar (NCC) race on Saturday May 30th and a Union Cyclist Internationale (UCI) sanctioned road race on Sunday May 31st.  Women from 24 teams representing 10 countries competed in the weekend’s events.

QCW Breakaway Bikes DE team joined the ranks of several top ranked UCI women’s elite teams such as fourth ranked Velocio-SRAM from Germany and Bigla Pro Cycling Team from Switzerland. Top ranked American teams Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies and United Healthcare Professional Cycling rounded out the list of elite international and U.S. squads.

Race director for Winston-Salem Cycling Classic, Ray Boden accurately described how the weekend would unfold when he said,   “The level of competition for the women’s professional races will be incredible this year.” “Our event continues to be one of three single-day UCI events for women in the U.S. and we expect a very deep field of international competitors for some serious racing.”  “Spectators will be treated to a full weekend of high-caliber racing.”

Photo May 31, 2 31 49 PM

The women’s pro criterium opened the professional racing on Saturday.  The women’s race started at 5 p.m., with the pro men following at 6:30 p.m. A new 1.2-mile course was used this year which took racers around a tight course with moderate climbs on every lap. Spectators enjoyed the race passing on three sides of Bailey Park with live music, from Rusted Root, at the start/finish.  Kristie Nichols James, Tess Senty, Lindsey Knast, and Marianna Williams represented QCW well as they battled for placement in the 130 rider strong peloton.  Only a fraction of the riders, approximately twenty, completed the entire hour and fifteen minutes of the race.  This tough course shed more than half the field.   

On Sunday, May 31, the women’s professional road race started at 12:30 p.m., and the men’s professional road race at 3:30 p.m.   An eight-mile circuit was used for both races, with the start/finish located at W. 6th and Trade streets downtown. The course included 8 laps, 64 total miles, through Old Salem and Haynes Park.  Multiple climbs, descents, and technical corners challenged these elite women.  Prize purses of $12,500 for the women and $12,500 for the men were on the line with multiple opportunities for a money grab in the Queen of the Mountain (QOM) and sprint competitions.  Melissa Hiller and Andrea Brennan joined Nichols James, Senty, Knast, and Williams to field a full team of 6.  The temperatures were on the rise and the course proved brutal.  As 130 racers staged for the start, QCW riders were excited to race knowing they were well supported in the feed zone and caravan by Duncan Oliver, Meurig James, Lauren Buechner, Kevin Greene, and Andrew Brennan.

The weekend was an experience of a lifetime to ride and race with women at the top of their sport.  Bob Roll and Jens Voigt added to the pro feel of the event as they served as race day announcers.  Marianna Williams summed up the weekend perfectly saying, “It was awesome to see everyone this weekend.”  “We definitely learned a lot about what it’s going to take to be competitive at a high level… in terms of fitness, handling, and race day support…and are blessed to have such a great crowd of people around us…,  let’s go ride bikes FAST.”

The race report would not be complete without thanking so many that volunteered and offered support Photo May 31, 2 34 32 PMplease join us in thanking the following who were standouts this weekend and apologies in advance if we have left anyone out; Tess Senty and Duncan Oliver who together served as Team Manager and Director, Kevin Greene and Lauren Buechner for setting up the host housing and volunteering in the feed zone, Meurig James who worked as Team Mechanic, Caravan co-pilot, and general moral support/cheerleading, Michelle Dial for host housing, and to Andrew Nydegger at JL Velo for getting our kits to Winston Salem on time!   A final thanks to all of our team sponsors, Breakaway Bikes, Felt Bicycles, JLVelo, Conshohocken Eye & Laser Center, Strafford Chiropractic and Healing Center, Center City Orthodontics, Colina Flora, The Foot and Ankle Center, Massage Blocks, Krapf Coaches, Love Beets, and Osmo Nutrition.

Proceeds from the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic benefit the Sceptor Pain Foundation and the Forsyth Medical Center Foundation. The Sceptor Pain Foundation was founded in 2004 by Dr. Richard Rauck as an independent nonprofit charitable organization that works with medical, research and clinical professionals who are dedicated to developing viable solutions for pain management.  The presenting sponsor of the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic is the Carolina Pain Institute. Platinum sponsors are Wake Forest Baptist Health, Boston Scientific and Novant Health. Event sponsors include BB&T, Clinical Solutions, Flow, Visit Winston-Salem, the Winston-Salem Journal and Winston-Salem Cycling.

-Andrea Brennan







BLP Grand Prix- April 26, 2015

Team QCW Breakaway Bikes traveled to Marlton New Jersey on a day that was perfect for racing.  The sky was clear and the sun was warming the race course as a strong field of women rolled up to the start line.  CAWES , Action Wheels, and EPS were all well represented in the peloton, promising a fast race and good competition.  After the officials gave final instructions, Team QCW rolled off the line.  The first few laps of the race were marked by a number of attacks and counter attacks.  At the bell lap, things began heating up.  CAWES and Action Wheels were setting up their riders for the field sprint.  At the finish Andrea and Kelley sprinted to the line picking off a number of riders just before the finish.

-Andrea Brennan

Domestic Elite Women's Team

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