Redlands Classic- Bring It ON!!!

Vanderkitten Focus- Calm Before the hurricane!

The Vanderkitten-Focus 2012 campaign begins in earnest tomorrow morning with the Prologue of the Redlands Cycling Classic in California, USA.
The worlds best Women Cyclists have assembled in the delightful town East of LA for what will be the first true test of the 2012 Road Cycling Season.
Vanderkitten-Focus has assembled our best squad yet, with 6 athletes coming off a tough edition of San Dimas Stage Race in which Emily Collins, Kate Chilcott and Ruth Winder all recorded top ten finishes. With young hardwoman Jazzy Hurikino in lead out duties, the experience of Connecticut’s Kathleen Billington and the never say die attitude of Courntey Van Dimpel the team will try to build on its performances at San Dimas beginning with the 3.1 Mile Uphill prologue that finishes at the top of Sunset Drive, Redlands.

Notably, the team will be joined by team Captain Jenn Reither, competing in her 12th Redlands, while Bridie O’Donnell arrived today at Los Angeles International after flying in from Australia. Bridie is a multi time Oceania Champion and the 2009 Australian Road Cycling Time Trial Champion. Redlands Classic will be her first race with Vanderkitten Focus, and she is keen to test her legs after scoring 3rd in the Oceania ChampionshipsTT in New Zealand this past week.

Bridie O'Donnell flew Sydney Australia to Los Angeles, USA, dropped in at Starbucks, collected her kit from JLVelo in Santa Ana and then test rode her 2012 FOCUS Izalco Pro 1.0 on the Redlands Prologue Course. Bridie. Is. Invincible.

Just CANT WAIT to get it started in here. Remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for up to date pics, info and results!


Vanderkitten-Focus Spring Camp Gallery

Images by JasonPerry Photo and Vanderkitten Athletics

Ruth Winder wins Cherry Pie Criterium in Napa, CA. Kathleen Billington wins two stages and Overall @ Tour of the Bahamas.

Mmmm... the sweet taste of Cherry Pie!! (c) JasonPerryPhoto

Vanderkitten-Focus has had its winningest ever start to the season, with Kathleen Billington winning both stages and the Overall Classification in the Bahamas while Ruth Winder picked up the Cherry Pie Criterium trophy in Napa, California yesterday.

Cherry Pie is an important California season opening event, with the recent win list including names such as Tina Pic, Brooke Miller, Megan Guarnier and reigning Swiss National Champion Pascale Schneider.

Vanderkitten-Focus fielded a small squad led by captain Jenn X and including Maura Kinsella, Courtney Dimpel, Vanessa Drigo and Ruth Winder. They would be up against the likes of California teams Stevens Pactimo, Metromint, TIBCO II and Red Racing, whilst International Pro’s from Chirio Forno D’Asolo, Primal Map My Ride, Exergy, Optum Health and NOW-Novartis put some spice in the field.

Maura Kinsella HAWT in her new Smith Pivlock V90s and KASK Vertigo (c)JasonPerryPhoto

Lucky for the VK gals, each rider was on their 2012 Izalco Pro 1.0 Team Issue steed- a bike Courtney Van Dizzle says is “SoFast”.

VK-Focus quickly asserted their authority on the 6 lap, twisty and undulating Crit Circuit in Napa Valley, being active in the front early on as rider after rider tried to break clear from the peloton.

The most dangerous California riders early in the year look to be Emily Kachorek and Liza Rachetto from Primal, along with Pascale Schnider (Exergy) and Olivia Dillon (NOW-Novartis). Luckily the VK’s were able to use their skills to patrol the front and negate any dangerous moves, while Captain Jenn X kept throwing bombs down the road for priem points.

With 8 laps to go Ruth launched a huge attack that saw her gain up to 11 seconds on the charging field, as rider after rider attempted to bridge the gap in the challenging crosswinds. With 4 laps to go Heather Nielsen from Touchstone managed to bridge, but soon after that Ruth was re-absorped into the field.

Sensing a need to change tactics, JennX again attempted to go off the front, but her efforts were negated by the field who could sense the win and smell the Cherry Pie.

ONE LAP TO GO and Courtney is DRILLING IT! (c) JasonPerryPhoto

With a lap to go Courtney van Dizzle, an ever faithful domestique, led the field over the finish line and strung out the bunch. Courtney rounded the U-turn in first and charged down the back straight putting pressure on all the teams. under the 1km to go and Maura Kinsella took over with Ruth steady on her wheel. Maura stomped through the final straight into the last chicane, and then dropped off Ruth with 150 metres from the line. With Swiss National Champ Pascal Schnider on her wheel, Ruth had to kick with everything she had and more, and in the drag to the line managed to even distance 2nd and 3rd place on the podium to throw her hands in the air in front of a jubilant crowd, family and friends. What a win!!!

Ruth outkicks her rivals in the sprint. Pic by Jason Perry Photo

Put your hands in the air for VK-Focus!! (c) JasonPerryPhoto

Big Step for lil' Ruth (c) JasonPerryPhoto

The weekend previous our East Coast USA based Kathleen Billington made a trip out of the Connecticut winter to the sunny Bahamas for the Holowesko Partners Tour of the Bahamas. Kathleen showed her prowess in the small but strong field, winning two stages and the Overall general Classification to show that she is ready to build upon her 4th place at the USA Cycling National Championships in 2011. This kitty aint done yet!

Kathleen Billington #1 at Tour of the Bahamas

Look forward to news soon relating to the March1-7 Vanderkitten-Focus team camp in Los Altos and Scotts Valley, California, including a VIP Team Launch Party!


Emily Collins in the HOT SEAT!

Emily Collins is going to the BONFIRE! Image by OTB Photography

Chipper Kiwi Emily Collins had a breakthrough year in the USA in 2011, after placing highly and winning races in New Zealand, Australia and the Netherlands. The New Zealand under 23 champion forged a solid reputation in her first season with Vanderkitten-Focus, and will return to the US in 2012 with renewed focus and determination. Behind the scenes Emily studies Business at Massey University and entertains her teammates with her witty, tongue in cheek banter. Here are the answers to her Q&A:

Name: Emily Collins

Hobbies: Biking, tennis, beaching, running, fun with friends and fam

Non Cycling action/ adventure/ fitness story or memory: When I was 14 I won the Auckland Junior singles tennis champs. I was pretty stoked. Soon after, I gave up the racket for the bike 😉

First Bike Race: My first Tour was the Junior  Novice Tour of Manuwatu. I had no idea how to race and when it came to the first KOM I was slightly confused why all these crazy little girls were sprinting up a hill! The next stage I was told by my coach to race up all the hills as fast as I could. I did !! The field wasn’t too happy

When did you first hear about Vanderkitten? When racing the NSW Crit series in Aussie. They were the ‘cool american gals’ that everyone loved.

 What does it mean to you to be a part of Vanderkitten?: Being on Vanderkitten is pretty awesome. I love the people, the team, the management and everyone involved. I love that even though when it comes to racing, it’s serious, there’s always an element of fun with VK. We are definitely a focused but relaxed team which is very cool.

It’s also great that Vanderkitten is highly focussed on women’s sport and leadership. I love repping the VK gear and having people comment on our badass kits! Women’s cycling is a huge growth sport and being part of VK is a great way to promote the sport and it’s many benefits!

Q&A with MKULTR4

The Real MKULTR4. For Realz.

Name: Maura Kinsella

Hobbies: You mean besides the strenuous life as a Vanderkitten Covergirl? Well, I actually enjoy many hobbies outside of cycling as I strive to be the most balanced extremist that I can be. My hobbies include but are not limited to: studying for Biology exams, crazy dance parties, playing the guitar, pretending I’m Nicki Minaj, entering rap competitions in East St. Louis and then chickening out at the very last second, raising chickens, hiking, making lists, playing Words with Friends (find me!), grocery shopping, making googly eyes at hot professors, fixing flats (just kidding – that’s not very fun), and making bean juice (AKA coffee).

Non cycling-related action/ adventure/ memory: At the end of the season this past summer, my roommate sent me off on this gorgeous hike in the Santa Cruz Mountains. However, unbeknownst to my friend and I, this hike wound up being a tough 5 hours. I’m usually not one to bonk but we’d anticipated a much shorter hike and, hence, had only brought a total of two water bottles and four AussieBites (found at a CostCo near you) to split between the two of us– i.e. definitely not enough. Nevertheless, we surveyed all that Big Basin has to offer and literally climbed a waterfall, strode through innumerous redwoods, and found ourselves in the middle of the ‘desert’ – all in one hike. By the end, we were so glycogen-deprived that we were pretty slaphappy and seriously thought we were the funniest people alive… Dave Chapelle’s got nothin’ on us. The next day I was so sore that I could barely get out of bed (as I hadn’t walked over a mile in about 9 months). Needless to say, my roommate will never hear the end of it.

First Bike Race: My very first bicycle race was in late February of 2009 for the local junior team, Mesa Cycles. I rode with the Cat 4 women at a race in Columbia, Missouri aptly named “Froze Toes.” I crashed three times… literally. I could not stop from taking myself out. However, much to the peloton’s horror, after each brief love affair with the pavement, I hammered and hoofed my way back to eventually win the race! Not more than 24 hours later, a blog-post was written about me in which the author nicknames me “Kaboom… demonstrat[ing] the resilience of a Sherman tank”. I’d have probably laughed more if I hadn’t been so horrendously mortified at the time (but c’mon… LMFAO now). Moral of the story? There’s hope, gals, that even if you can’t ride a straight line to save your life, that you, too, will one day be able to race in the biggest Pro/1/2 races in the nation.
End Note: Much to my chagrin, I have been persuaded to provide the entire said blog-post for your entertainment purposes only:

When did you first hear about Vanderkitten? I think that I first heard about Vanderkitten at my first race in California, an Early Bird in January 2010 where I saw my current teammy, Starla Teddergreen, decked out in a fresh kit (obvi, VK). I always joke with her now about how intimidated I was of her (since, if you know her, you know she’s the sweetest pixie ever), and how tough and “kick-ass” she looked. I was envious to say the least. Then, I did a little research on the Vanderkitten Focus Cycling team and the brand, and I became secretly (I was on a rival team, after all) obsessed. Now I’m stoked to be Pretty in Kitty.

What does it mean to you to be a part of Vanderkitten? While Vanderkitten-Focus is about winning races and striving to be the strongest team that we can be like every other NRC team, another essential component that Vanderkitten is trying to permeate across the nation that the brand is more than just a cycling team, VK is a way of life. I think that in a world where the sports market is still so dominated by men, women are often an after-thought. At VK, women are the one and only priority, period. Therefore, being apart of this brand reflects not only my athletic abilities and potential but also the way I want to live my life day in and day out. We represent a revolution in opportunity, community, and protecting the fun in sport. Vanderkitten brings out the “e.d.g.y.” of women’s cycling and appeals to women everywhere itching to unfurl their competitive nature. Vanderkitten… it’s who I am. Meow!

Vanderkitten mornings…

I step out into the cold, crisp air. The warmth and comfort of bedtime interrupted by the piercing chill of a winter morning. For a split second the fleeting thought of heading back inside crosses my mind. It is overcome, and i swing my right leg over the bike and clip in and let momentum carry me down the driveway towards the rising sun.

Long base miles in the saddle call for dedicated support... but everytime i look behind to see the race car, i realize i am on my own...

It is cold. In fact colder now as the windchill factor seeps through openings in my hastily affixed winter wrappings. I think about stopping to re-adjust my clothing, but my fingers would be too frigid to make a difference. I keep pedalling. Pedal stroke by pedal stroke, block by suburban block, my core is warming as I near the end of oft traversed roads and near the edge of the forest. The black bitumen in front of me drawing a sleek line up towards the inviting mass of O2 dispensing foliage that rises on the horizon to meet me.

With the sun now at double its diameter off the horizon, the first rays of warmth skim through the earths atmosphere and land on my face. I smile. I am at the forests edge now. A car passes on my left with it’s occupants safely encapsulated in their warm cocoon. A cocoon that keeps them from sensing the delightful smell of the dew touched evergreen pine needles glistening in the sun. A cocoon that hides from them the baby deer running alongside the road only feet behind the shoulder of the road, darting around and under and over scrub as I maintain my pedalling pace in wide eyed amusement.

Im warmer now, condensation from my breath filling the air in front of me before sweeping over the slipstream of my shoulders as my ride begins to take pace and  the possibilities of the ride ahead of me jump around inside my mind.

I know in 20 minutes i’ll be climbing. In 90 minutes i’ll be riding Highway 1 along the ocean, and in less than 5 hours i’ll be home. I’m thankful i took those first 2 pedal strokes, that let me take a million more….


My bike takes me to places i never dreamed