Posted by: marissaridesbikes | April 6, 2012

Touchstone Climbing’s Josie Morgan Shines at Topsport!

The Topsport Stage Race was held March 31-April 1 2012 within the rolling green hills of the Sierra Foothills, in the vicinity of Copperopolis, CA. It also boasted one of the worst weather forecasts of the weekend with a 70-100% chance rain and 18mph winds.  Yet Touchstone’s own Josie Morgan registered last minute, showing her affinity for tough racing! Sure enough, she arrived at the
road race Saturday to find bitter cold winds and rain. Impressively, the entire field showed up
to the line and, given the option to shorten the race considerably, all racers opted for the full
length, signalling again, the depth and toughness of the NorCal Women’s Peloton.

The road race was a rolling out-and-back course, with the start line about mid-way,
and the finish closer to one end of the course. Metromint was the largest team represented
in the field, and the first to attack. Several attacks continued through the first turn-around, until Julie Bellerose (Metromint) attacked with the field happy to sit on it. Eventually Josie made an effort to bridge, unaware that Kelly Crowley (Primal-Map My Ride) was set to sling-shot herself up to the break. Kelly and Julie now had a more threatening break away. After some chasing it became clear the break would likely stick.

Unfortunately, several race favorites crashed out of the race part-way through. Three heavy hitters were out — Rikke Preisler (Metromint), Jennie Phillips, and Jane Despas. Touchstone Climbing sends their collective best wishes  and the speediest of recoveries to those injured!

Shortly following the crash, Molly Van Houweling (Metromint), flatted, leaving a much smaller remaining field. Not long before the last turn-around, Kelly was caught, leaving Julie up the road. After the final turn-around, the pace slowed considerably, with the final sprint for 2nd on everyone’s minds. As the final kilometer was a gradual uphill to the finish; Touchstone made an accelleration for the line with Metromint (Ellen Sherrill) and Tibco II (Heather Ross) hot in pursuit. Josie held them off at the line, claiming 2nd on the stage. Ellen finished third, Heather 4th, and Lucia Mokres (Los Gatos), 5th.

Due to the chaos of the race — flats, rain, and the crash — the time gaps in GC standings were
big. Both the time-trial and circuit race courses were windy again; the TT rolling and bumpy, the circuit race much smoother. At the end of the TT stage, Josie ceded time, dropping from 2nd to 4th.

By the time the Circuit Race came around a couple hours later, fatigue was on everyone’s mind. Josie played her cards conservatively  and would focus on maintaining her 4th place. As anticipated, Molly Van Houweling (Metromint) attacked early in the circuit race and held on to a solo win. The remainder of the field came in for a field sprint.

The final General Classification standings saw Julie Bellerose (Metromint) claiming the win, Lucia Mokres (Los Gatos) in second, Heather Ross (Tibco II) in third, Touchstone’s Josie Morgan in
fourth, and Ellen Sherrill (Metromint) in fifth.

Posted by: marissaridesbikes | March 26, 2012

Touchstone takes the WIN: Berkeley Streets Criterium

On Sunday, March 18th,  Touchstone Climbings’ Josie Morgan toed the line with just three other women on the worst weather weekend of the NorCal”winter.” Josie was thrilled to race in the Women’s 1/2/3 race as she had raced the same crit course when she was just learning to race as an undergrad at UC Berkeley.

Josie at Berkeley

Josie Morgan (Touchstone) on her way to winning the Berkeley Streets Criterium. Photo by Alex Chiu.

The course is a short, fast, and rectangular crit with the longer stretches on an uphill/downhill. Each lap takes maybe a minute, so forget about any relief between laps! Gaps form quickly, leaders lapping the field is common, and “pain cave” drool/regurgitation WILL find its way onto your face. The most challenging part of the course is the uphill, and the downhill you take AFAP (as fast as possible). The wind on this particular day made the course just slightly more challenging, with a cross/head on the downhill.

After sizing up the racers, Josie decided not to play it conservatively. First of all, with only three other racers, there wasn’t any place to hide in the tiny field. And would there really be much consequence for doing too much work out front by yourself? Not really.

Honey badger don’t care. Honey badger said to try it.

At the start, when Josie and another rider botched their clip-ins, the Metromint rider (Lina Martinsson) took notice that 50% of the field was cleat-impaired at the line and she attacked, achieving an immediate gap. Touchstone and the others worked to keep the gap steady. Eventually the Metromint rider was pulled in; she and the fourth racer in the group (named Grace) dropped off soon after, and it was just Josie and Kim Fong of Cycles Fanatic for the remaining 30-35 minutes.

After a couple surges for primes, Touchstone’s Josie realized she had a significant gap off the front! Eventually Josie lapped the first two riders, and then Kim from Cycles Fanatic. Three of the riders stayed together (Grace, Kim, and Josie) until the final lap where Josie took the win, with Kim Fong taking second, racer Grace in third, and Metromint’s Lina Martinsson in fourth. In addition to Josie’s win, she also took home three primes!

The last word: the Berkeley Crit course is definitely under-rated; its a fast course in a great setting, nestled into the edge of the Cal campus –We hope it returns next season!

Posted by: marissaridesbikes | March 20, 2012

Sprinting onto the Podium at Land Park

**Land Park Criterium presented by the Sacramento Golden Wheelmen in William Land Park, Sacramento, CA.**

On a chilly but dry Saint Patrick’s Day, Rita, Carol, and Marissa toed the start line in Sac-town under surprisingly dry conditions. According to NorCal Cycling News “The kidney-shaped crit course, set amongst the links of a municipal golf course, has good flat paving and two, short “dog-ear” detours at its north end.” The dog ear corners make for a fast, flat and technical course, lending an advantage to those that corner well.

This year the Stevens p/b Pactimo and Metromint teams came to the crit-party with the most numbers, comprising half of the 22 person Category 1/2/3 field. Though Touchstone was outnumbered, they were mighty! The race began rolling around, getting a ‘feel’ for the corners before the real attacks started. Touchstone maintained position at the front of the field, ensuring good position to follow the attacks anticipated from Stevens and Metromint.  Mid-way through the race, Marley Smith (Stevens) counter-attacked, taking Rikke Priesler (Metromint) with her. Unfortunately Touchstone was unable to immediately respond. Soon, Touchstone realized the breakaway would stick for the remainder of the race and therefore it was up to Touchstone to do the majority of the chasing. As Carol and Rita worked exhaustively on the front trying to manage the gap, this meant it was “game on” for Touchstone to win the field sprint.

As the race entered its final laps, Touchstone riders Carol and Rita were replaced on the front by the Stevens leadout train riding for their sprinter, Mary Ellen Ash. Touchstone’s Marissa Axell patiently played her cards, hanging close to the Stevens leadout train. The last lap arrived with Marissa still firmly attached to Mary Ellen’s wheel. With the finish line fast approaching, Marissa jettisoned around the Stevens rider to win the field sprint and take 3rd overall for Touchstone Climbing.

Land Park Podium 2012

Marissa Axell (Touchstone Climbing), Rikke Priesler (Metromint), Marley Smith (Stevens p/b Pactimo)

Rikke Priesler (Metromint) wins the overall race, Marley Smith (Stevens) in second, Marissa Axell (Touchstone) was third, Mary Ellen Ash (Stevens) in 4th and Jane Robertson (Metromint) in 5th.

Posted by: marissaridesbikes | March 16, 2012

Touchstone Climbing: Rider Spotlight – Carol Irving

Over the next few weeks we’ll introduce you to each of our Touchstone Climbing teammates.  You might be surprised to find that in addition to training many hours per week, most every teammate holds down one (or more) jobs! Stay tuned for inside information about the riders, both on and off the bike.

Name: Carol Irving

Carol Irving

Touchstone's Carol Irving sizes up the peloton

Nickname: Squirrel–no, that is not from cycling!

Hometown: San Marino, CA

Current Town: Woodland, CA

Alma Mater: U.C. Davis Aggie

I’m a category 1 racer and am starting my 8th season of racing…I think.

What’s playing on your iPod RIGHT NOW?  Andrea Bocelli

My favorite NCNCA race is…
The Davis 4th of July Crit

What do you do for a living? 
I own a Pilates studio–Studio Serendipita in Sacramento. I’m also a Trip Consultant for Backroads Travel

When I’m not on my bike you might find me…. hanging out with my dog Parker.

Whats your favorite quote ? 
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” -Wayne Gretzky

Posted by: marissaridesbikes | March 14, 2012

Touchstone Cycling: Rider Spotlight – Beverly Chaney

Over the next few weeks we’ll introduce you to each of our Touchstone Climbing teammates with rider profiles and photos. You might be surprised to find that in addition to training many hours per week, most every teammate holds down one (or more) jobs too. Stay tuned for inside information about the riders, both on and off the bike.

Touchstone Teammate Beverly Chaney at Masters Track Nationals 2011

Touchstone Teammate Beverly Chaney at Masters Track Nationals 2011

Name: Beverly Chaney

Nicknames: Bevinator, BevMo, Chaney

Hometown: I was born in San Francisco and raised in Concord (CA)

Current Town: Carmel Valley, CA

Alma Mater: UC Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts in Aquatic Biology. I received my MS-Marine Science/Ichthyology from Moss Landing Marine Labs (CSU).

Racing Category: I’m a Cat 2 on the road and am starting my 5th season.  I also love racing on the track and started getting more serious about it last year. I’ve been racing on the dirt since 2004.

What’s playing on your iPod RIGHT NOW?
Well, I listen to a lot of old school, but recent downloads are Florence + The Machine, Mac Dre, and LMFAO.

Your favorite NCNCA race is…  Cat’s Hill for the fun and Copperopolis for the suffering!

What do you do for a living?
I’m a fisheries biologist working with steelhead on the Carmel River.

When I’m not on my bike you might find me….
Building a tree house in the back yard with my boys.

What’s your favorite quote?  It’s too hard to pick just one!
“It never gets easier, you just go faster.”  – Greg LeMond

“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” – Lance Armstrong

“I thought of that while riding my bike.” Albert Einstein, On the Theory of Relativity

Posted by: marissaridesbikes | March 11, 2012

Touchstone Climbing: Rider Spotlight – Marissa Axell

Over the next few weeks we’ll introduce you to each of our Touchstone Climbing teammates with rider profiles and photos. You might be surprised to find that in addition to training many hours per week, most every teammate holds down one (or more) jobs too. Stay tuned for inside information about the riders, both on and off the bike.

Introducing Touchstone Climbing’s Marissa Axell

Marissa Axell and Heather Nielsen (Touchstone Climbing) at MERCO. Photo by Tim Westmore

Marissa Axell and Heather Nielsen (Touchstone Climbing) at McDonald's Downtown Grand Prix. Photo by Tim Westmore

Name: Marissa Axell

Nickname: Max or Maxell, and my immediate family might call me Mitz

Hometown: Salem, OR

Current Town: El Cerrito, CA

Alma Mater: I’m a graduate of Willamette University, and I hold a Bachelor of Arts in Biology. I was a collegiate swimmer and am now a member of the WU Sports Hall of Fame, how cool is that?

Racing Category: I’m a Cat 2 and this is my 5th season of racing.

What’s playing on your iPod right this minute?
The last three songs were by Zac Brown Band, Eminem and Girl Talk.

Your favorite NCNCA race is…
A three-way tie between the Giro di SF, Cat’s Hill, and Nevada City Classic.

What do you do for a living?
I’m a Personal Trainer, USA Cycling Level III Coach, and I teach TRX and bootcamp classes in the SF Bay Area. Somewhere in there, I find time to mentor Category 4 Women’s races throughout Northern California.

When I’m not on my bike you might find me…
Geeking out with fitness equipment, planning for future workouts OR hiking in Redwood Park.

What’s your favorite quote?
I have two, the enduring “Shut up Legs” from my favorite rider in the peloton, “Big” Jens Voigt. The other is “I’m kicking my butt today so I can kick yours tomorrow.’ Hey, it gets me through tough cycling intervals and rainy rides. Whatever works, right?



Posted by: marissaridesbikes | March 9, 2012

Touchstone Climbing: Rider Spotlight – Heather Nielson

Over the next few weeks we’ll introduce you to each of our Touchstone Climbing teammates with rider profiles and photos. You might be surprised to find that in addition to training many hours per week, most teammates juggle one (or more) jobs, and family. Stay tuned for inside information about the riders, both on and off the bike.

Introducing Touchstone Climbing’s Heather Nielson

Heather Nielson shows her stuff

Heather Nielson shows her stuff

Name: Heather Nielson

Nickname: Lil’ Heather

Hometown & Current Town: I’ve moved 24 times… Home is where my bike is.

What Educational Degree do you hold? I have a Bachelor of Science in Biology and double minors in Chemistry & Nutrition.

What Category do you race? I’m a Cat 2 and am starting my 5th year of racing!

What’s playing on your ipod right now? Trance around the world, Above & Beyond

Your favorite NCNCA race? The Vacaville Grand Prix.

What do you do for a living? I race my bike & coach cyclists of all levels.

When I’m not on my bike you might find me….in the kitchen – I love to cook!

Can you share your favorite quote, some words to live by? “Carpe diem”

Posted by: marissaridesbikes | March 6, 2012

Merco Cycling Classic: Images

Special thanks to photographer Alex Chiu and Tim Westmore for snapping these few pics of Touchstone racing McDonald’s Downtown Grand Prix as part of the Merco Cycling Classic in Merced, CA.

Rita (Touchstone) races at Merco Grand Prix. Photo by Alex Chiu

Rita Szeto (Touchstone Climbing) racing the McDonald Downtown Grand Prix. Photo by Alex Chiu

Marissa (Touchstone Climbing) at Merco Grand Prix. Photo by Alex Chiu

Marissa Axell (Touchstone Climbing) at McDonald Downtown Grand Prix. Photo by Alex Chiu


Marissa Axell and Heather Nielsen (Touchstone Climbing) at MERCO. Photo by Tim Westmore

Marissa Axell and Heather Nielsen (Touchstone Climbing) at McDonald's Downtown Grand Prix. Photo by Tim Westmore


Posted by: marissaridesbikes | March 6, 2012

OG Merced CRIT: Touchstone races onto the podium!

One of the longest running criteriums in NorCal has to be the OG Merced Crit. With the interesting technical aspect of careening full speed through a driveway around the Merced County Courthouse, this course deserves its place on the calendar as enduring Spring Classic. The day saw 25 racers toe the line with Touchstone Climbing bringing Rita and Ann to race the 3s (they were picked separately) and Heather, Josie and Marissa to race the 1/2s. Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, Team Exergy Twenty12, Stevens p/b Pactimo, Vanderkitten, Colavita-EspnW,  Cycles Fanatic and Tibco II were represented as well.

The women’s race began about 30 minutes late, but kudos to VeloPromo for adding a ‘last minute’ Women’s Category 4 race, creating a positive and safe race experience for all category 4 racers. Thanks to Velopromo for making the change!

The race began with a few attacks to soften up the field, and immediately Josie was attentive and up front monitoring the moves.  Early in the race, the solo Colavita-ESPNW rider shot off the front and the pack dared each other to chase her.  Vanderkitten, Team Exergy, Optum Kelly Benefits and others took turns attacking the field to try and bridge the gap. The peloton got within 10 seconds of the Colavita-ESPNW rider but the chase let up and she regained time on the peloton. At last, the field reeled her in, and Touchstone Climbing performed incredible selfless teamwork, keeping the field together for a field sprint. With 2 to go, a Cycles Fanatic rider and Stevens rider assumed control to ramp up the pace. Touchstone Climbing riders Marissa and Heather moved up toward the front. Rounding the final corner, Marissa sprinted off of second wheel, moving to the right gutter and taking the shortest line to the finish. Team Exergey’s Rhae Shaw accelerated up the left curb, out-sprinting Touchstone to the finish line, with Vanderkitten Vanessa Drigo racing across for third.

Incredible job done by Josie, Heather and Marissa to garner a solid podium result sandwiched between Team Exergy’s Rhae Shaw and Vanessa Drigo of Vanderkitten!  Special thanks to all of our sponsors, we’re thrilled to represent you on the NorCal podium!

Posted by: marissaridesbikes | February 21, 2012

Race Report: a Top 5 finish at Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada Folsom Criterium

Touchstone Climbing was represented by five teammates at the Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada Folsom Criterium on Saturday, February 11, 2012. The Folsom Criterium course is used several times each racing season, this race saw the course run in the clockwise direction.  It’s a flat course with great pavement. The weather was overcast at the start with very mild wind but the sun shined during the race. The Women’s 1/2/3 field comprised of  25 including the Touchstone teammates: Carol Irving, Heather Nielson, Josie Morgan, Marissa Axell and Rita Szeto. The field also included thee riders from the newly formed Stevens p/b Pactimo team; local pro Emily Kachorek from Primal/Map My Ride, two riders from Los Gatos and three from Metromint.

Touchstone was active from the start with teammate Josie answering an attack from Stevens rider in the second lap. Touchstone teammate Heather countered again, and two Stevens riders answered the attack with Touchstone rider Marissa responding. With Kachorek joining the break of 6, it was imminent that they would stay away.  Immediately after seeing all teams represented in the attack, the chasing field let up slightly, allowing the break to establish.

As the lap cards counted down, Stevens began whittling away the breakmates. The Primal rider joined Stevens to separate themselves leaving Touchstone, Los Gatos and Metromint  in pursuit. After one lap it was evident they were not going to be reeled in, and in fact they went on to lap the field. The remaining Stevens rider sat on the group of three and eventually attacked, gaining a gap that the group could not close–although the the Los Gatos, Metromint and Touchstone racers cooperated well together.

Meanwhile back in the main pack, with four remaining Touchstone riders, the race was still active with attacks, counter-attacks and intermediate sprints –teammate Carol Irving winning one prime. With 5 laps to go, there were shouts from the field that the front group had split up and that the main pack was gaining time on the broken lead group.  A quick decision was made and it was decided to send Heather Nielson up the road in an attempt to bridge to help assure a good finishing place for Touchstone.  She attempted to bridge for over two laps but was reeled back to the peloton with a little over a lap to go.

In the final laps, Marissa, representing Touchstone in the break, focused on winning the remaining sprint. Metromint led out the sprint from the final corner and Los Gatos stood to answer the sprint and Touchstone stayed attentive and powered across the finish line first to take 4th for Touchstone Climbing.

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