Race Report: Louisville Crit & USAFA Road Race

Junior rider Ava Hachmann recaps her first time racing with her Naked women’s cycling team mates.  Read about her best career finish ever.   A couple weekends ago I drove the 370 miles from my More »

I Found my Juice

 New Naked Womens Cycling rider, Dana Platin, describes how she is adjusting to life back in America after 17 years in South America.  Read about her journey and how she has found More »

Adversity Wins

Kim snags the top step in the CSU Oval Criterium! Read more on how riding a little less may have helped her ride to victory! This Sunday I drove up to Fort More »

Heidi Crosses The Bridge

Bodies of water and bridges are no match for this fearless Naked lady. Read how Heidi squashes those fears on two wheels. So I have a huge fear of water. I mean, HUGE. More »

Getting to the Start Line

Nicole Jorgenson is a new racer but has no problem jumping right into the race scene.  She knows that getting to the starting line is half the battle.   The most important More »

 

2015 Ride for Reading Is HERE!

10303168_773900132634413_8138273554602407931_n

Join Colorado Women’s Cycling Project (Naked Women’s Racing) for National Ride for Reading Week! Now in our 5th year delivering books by bike, we hope you’ll join us to help make this event even bigger and better for the children of Valdez Elementary School! See below to find out what Ride for Reading week is all about and sign up to volunteer, donate books, or spread the word!

What: Colorado-based women’s competitive cycling team Naked Women’s Racing will deliver thousands of donated children’s books by bicycle to Valdez Elementary School Friday, May 1st for National Ride for Reading Week. Naked Women’s Racing partnered with the charity Ride for Reading, a non-profit with a mission to promote literacy and healthy living through the distribution of books via bicycle to children from low-income neighborhoods.

When: Delivery takes place Friday, May 1 from 7:00 am to 12 pm. We are collecting donations of books and/or cash donations for Ride for Reading from now until delivery date!

Why: In low-income neighborhoods, the ratio of books per child is one age-appropriate book for every 300 children. Reading is an integral part of education, and without books it is hard to build a strong academic base. Our children need materials to read at home and it is our goal to provide the means. And in the process, we can fight childhood obesity and nature deficit disorder through the power of cycling, too! Exercise the mind and body and lead through example.

Where: Valdez Elementary School located at 4250 Shoshone St, Denver, CO 80211
Meeting Location: Turin Bicycles at 700 Lincoln Street. Join us at 7 am if you want free breakfast and coffee! Be ready to ride by 8 am!

Bike Route: It will be doable by any person of any fitness level on any bike! We assure you, so please join us. It’s only 4.4 miles!

What to Bring: Bike (duh), helmet, backpack or panniers or some form of bag to carry books by bike. We could use chariots to load extra books so please bring if you have one!

How to Register to Volunteer: 

How to Make a Donations: Cash donations are tax deductible so please provide your name, mailing address, and donation value with your donation so Ride for Reading can send you a tax exempt letter.

If you’d like to donate used or new age-appropriate books, please drop them off at one of our many DROP OFF LOCATIONS around Colorado and Wyoming. If you aren’t local and would still like to send us books, please mail them to the Quick Left to Attn: Rachel Scott, 902 Pearl Street, Boulder, Colorado 80301.

How can my business become a drop box location? Simple! Email us at info [at] nakedwomenracing.com to let us know so we can add you to our list of drop off locations and get you a poster notifying the public that you are an official Ride for Reading Book Drop location. You can also download our 2015 Book Drop Poster HERE and print it out to display.

Are you a member of the media and want to publish this story? If you are a member of the media, feel free to publish any of this information here. We welcome you to join us on the delivery too! We are available for personal interviews pre, during, or post event so please email us (info [at] nakedwomenracing.com) and a team representative will get back to you immediately. Video and photography are welcome at the school; however, you must contact the school to arrange parental waivers ahead of time. You can also contact us at least 2 weeks prior to the delivery date, and we can add your language to our photo/video release.

Read about each of our previous deliveries here: Includes recap, images and video from last year’s delivery. We had so many books that we got to do an impromptu delivery to two schools last year!

2014

2013

2012

2011

See what Ride for Reading is all about below:

More details if you’ve registered to deliver:

First, thank you kindly for volunteering your time (if you haven’t signed up to volunteer, do it now!) to give back to such a great organization and being a part of National Ride for Reading Week! We assure you, this will be the most fun you will have on two wheels! We’ll need help delivering nearly 4000 books so join us and your fellow cyclists in our 5th annual Ride for Reading delivery. We’re thankful you’ve chosen to volunteer your time to help us spread the Ride for Reading mission to our city. If you’re still on the fence about joining, check out this video from our delivery last year!

Here’s some additional information that will help the delivery go smoothly if you’re volunteering:

  • We’re delivering books by bike to Valdez Elementary School. We’re departing
  • Here’s a link to our route. We’ll also have printed cue sheets with a map and turn by turn directions in case you want one or have to leave early and don’t know how to get back.
  • All kinds of bicycles are welcome! From cruisers to road bikes to frankenbikes. The Denver Public Library will be their with their mobile book library bicycle, too!
  • Please arrive at Turin before 8 am. I’d encourage between 7-7:30 am to load up with books, chat it up with other volunteers and get specific directions prior to departure. We are rolling at 8 am sharp if not slightly before. Free breakfast and coffee in it for you if you come early!
  • If you have to drive to our departure location at Turin Bicycles located at 700 Lincoln Street, there is free unlimited street parking on 7th, 9th, 10th. Most other spots are limited by time.
  • Please obey traffic laws and on busier streets, ride no more than two abreast. We’ll have women in Naked Women’s Racing kits helping direct traffic and blocking some intersections as well as a lead and follow car to ensure rider safety and groupo compacto. 7th Street will be slow going with the traffic lights, but if our group doesn’t make it all the way through a light, our ride leaders will wait until the group is together.
  • Remember, please bring a bike trailer or backpack to load down with books. Also, please be prompt. It takes a few minutes to load the books and (wo)man the troops!  
  • Wear a helmet! We are trying to set a good example for the children and if they don’t protect their brain when they ride, they won’t be reading any books.
  • We’ll arrive at the school hopefully around 9 and be greeted outside by all the kids. Definitely interact, give high fives and show off your bicycle! I’ll give a very quick speech to the kids and we all take the Ride for Reading pledge.
  • We will bring bikes inside the school to park in the gym so you don’t have to worry about locking it up.
  • We distribute books in the cafeteria. The first lunch for the children starts at 10:50 so we hope to have each class come through to pick up 3 books per student to keep before first lunch starts. Help the kids pick out books! Teachers also get to keep 5 books for their classroom if they ask you.
  • You can take pictures/video with the children and we encourage this; however, please don’t photo any child wearing a bright pink “no picture” label. This is very important.
  • If you have to leave due to work or any other obligations, that is perfectly fine to leave early. We anticipate being out by 11:30 at the latest. All leftover books will be loaded into the cars (or back in your bags) and if you can stay, ride them over to a different elementary school in need that is TBD but will be close. That will take an additional 30-45 minutes and there is no interaction with kids at that school.
  • We’ll have women on our team lead rides back to Turin following the delivery to the 1st school and also over to the additional elementary school so you can arrive to your car/destination safely whichever option you choose.
  • Bring layers. It’s Colorado so it could rain, snow, sleet, hail or have unicorns fall from the sky. We want you to be comfortable during the delivery. Also, bring water and a snack just in case. It’s a 9 mile bike ride so you’ll probably be hungry and thirsty on your way home.
  • Want to learn more about Ride for Reading? Watch this video about the experience.
  • There’s a chance we’ll be featured on the news. Just a heads up because we get press every year we deliver!
  • If you think a friend would enjoy this ride, then please send them the registration link!
I’ll go over all of this again the day of the event. The main thing you should focus on is to just have fun, meet new people, and give back to your community. We couldn’t do this delivery without your help and are so excited to ride with you!
 
Ithuteng (forever learning)
Rachel Scott
@missbikesalot

Race Report: Louisville Crit & USAFA Road Race

Ava

Junior rider Ava Hachmann recaps her first time racing with her Naked women’s cycling team mates.  Read about her best career finish ever.  

A couple weekends ago I drove the 370 miles from my hometown of Durango up to Denver for Saturdays criterium, and for the USAFA road race on Sunday. Being a junior racer means my “mommy”/soigner/chauffeur came with me. Racing so far from home tends to be more stressful than when the race comes to you. Making sure to remember every piece of gear, equipment, charging cords, food and bikes is an art. And it was a good thing that I had all my cold-weather gear for my 8:30 am start time on Saturday. It was cold on the start line, but I had two teammates in the race to help get me going. The pace wasn’t too bad the first couple laps and the uphill part of the course broke up the field. Taking the opportunity to set the pace I moved up to the front and lead for lap after lap, never getting a gap but staying strong and confident and having fun hearing my team and name announced when I went across the line. In the final lap straightaway there was an attack and my small group became very spread out, due to poor timing we happened to be finishing at the same time as the chasing riders, so the finish line was very chaotic. I lost track of who I was trying to out sprint, so I just passed as many people as I could before the line. I ended up in fifth place, my best career finish. I am thankful for my teammates who stayed after their race and cheered me on!


The next day we drove out to the Air Force Academy for the Pro-open category road race. The course was rolling and hilly, with quite a bit of descending. There were five of us Naked women in the race all ranging from cat 4 to pro1/2’s, giving the race some depth. The race started slow, with Naked taking turns pulling the pack and keeping the pace down on the climbs. The finish line was on of a sustained climb and there was an attack before lap one was over, the field was blown apart and three groups formed. I worked hard to solo-bridge the gap between the third and second group, I worked hard to stay on the wheel of Katie Harrer, but I couldn’t hang on any longer after we began the final climb for the second time. I worked together with one of the Masters women to finish the race. After grabbing some lunch (and ice cream!) we drove all the way back home, thankfully I didn’t have school Monday. Overall I had a really good weekend of racing, and met more of my teammates! Looking forward to the Clasica De Rio Grande after an upcoming weekend of mountain biking in the desert!

I Found my Juice

zumbahua 2001

 New Naked Womens Cycling rider, Dana Platin, describes how she is adjusting to life back in America after 17 years in South America.  Read about her journey and how she has found her place as part of this squad.

A couple of weeks ago, I was telling some work colleagues how excited I was to go pick up my new juice for cycling, I got a few empty stares.  I go home that day and tell my husband the same ‘my juice has finally arrived, I am going to get so strong this cycling season.’ Another 3 second stare.  That would be Naked Juice as I am a newcomer to their cat 4 Naked Women’s Cycling race team for the 2015 season!

Impressions and aspirations of a cat 4 ‘newbie’

I moved to Colorado a year and a half ago after living in South America for the past 17 years.  While living in Ecuador, South America I was working with the Peace Corps, scaling the Andes Mountains, racing triathlon as well as discovered my passion for cycling. After some wear and tear from a running injury, I bought myself a road bike and found myself cycling in a velodrome and with the peloton at 9,000 feet elevation where the air was of so thin. I fell in love with cycling and spent my weekends riding long distances with girl friends and later raced road races on a women’s team. I found the camaraderie, community, and teamwork exhilarating, I was sold!

After being out of the country for so many years, coming back to the U.S. was at first scary, confusing and a bit overwhelming. I will never enter a Super Target again :). It took some time to readjust. As part of my readjustment stateside, I decided to set two goals and make ‘em happen in 2015:

  • Find a women’s cycling team that I could race with and
  • Surround myself with strong women who would help me grow as a cyclist

Thus far, I have accomplished both as I recently joined Naked Women’ s Cycling to race cat 4. My first impressions have been so positive.  I know I am surrounded by some of Colorado’s toughest gals; they have all been so welcoming, supportive, encouraging and humble!

My goals for this first race season are to work hard for my team, learn and continue to help women’s cycling grow and flourish.

As I continue to adapt and adjust I am re-learning cycling language in English.  As I first picked up a road bike living in Ecuador and learned all about cycling in Spanish, I still require a second in my head to translate that ‘plato grande’ is actually the big gear and ‘piñon’ is the cog, and when I want to yell ‘libre’ I need to actually say ‘clear’.  Crossing borders and crossing finish lines have taught me that you can adapt, overcome and achieve.

And yes, I have found my juice!

Adversity Wins

10505121_10155350829615154_1843399684071933653_o

Kim snags the top step in the CSU Oval Criterium! Read more on how riding a little less may have helped her ride to victory!

This Sunday I drove up to Fort Collins to race the CSU Oval Criterium. Although I had the opportunity to race twice in Arizona for the early season VOS and TBC races, this would be my first Colorado Race. As I was driving up, I made the decision that I wanted to start it off well, with exciting and aggressive racing, risk taking, trusting my training, and mental fortitude. I told Marcus, “I think I can win this race!” This goal was immediately threatened by a bit of unexpected traffic due to multiple accidents, adding a solid 30 minutes to what is typically an hour drive. I had even planned what I thought would plenty of margin for the drive. I began to feel a bit frazzled, compulsively glancing at the clock, as one by one, the minutes remaining before my race start elapsed. I took a breath… this entire year has been a lesson in controlling the controllables, and breathing deep and finding calm in the many variables that are outside my grasp. For anyone who thinks bike racing has no relevance to “real life”, you are mistaken. Bike racing has taught me invaluable lessons about planning well but taking the inevitable surprises in stride, in a way that has served me well far beyond the race course.

We arrived at the CSU campus 45 minutes before my start time, and Marcus dropped me off as close as he could get to race registration before finding a parking spot. Thankfully I’ve now developed quite a streamlined routine, so although 45 minutes from car to start line is far from ideal, it’s not impossible. Registration completed, bibs/jersey/shoes/helmet/sunglasses on and beet juice drinken (why Marcus, equally fluent in the pre-race checklist, pumped my tires and put chain lube on), and I still had 15 minutes to spin around before the start. I returned to my previously set goal, before the traffic and rushed preparation and premature adrenaline rush. Despite all those, I wanted to win this race, and there was no reason why I shouldn’t. One of my biggest challenges in racing has been learning to take risks and push beyond my comfort zone. Trusting that the training I’ve done is enough, and my legs can handle the load.  So I decided that today, there would be no giving up. I would allow my body to get to a new level. Far too many people are held back by the fear of what they may not do that they never find out what they can do. I resolved that I would rather fail because I’d exceeded my limit then finish having not even attempted to reach it.

From the first lap I raced aggressively, driving pace, attacking, chasing, counter-attacking. I was in a glorious place of mental clarity, purpose and determination. I timed my moves well, and trusted my training. As the race went on, the field was slowly whittled down, with several riders losing contact with the group, and several more just hanging on the tail end. With five laps to go I was still feeling strong, and began to put myself in position for the finish. I marked two of the other riders, who I judged as among the strongest, and patiently waited, as the familiar cat and mouse interactions unfolded. With one lap to go, one rider went, attacking hard off the front, but my marked riders didn’t jump, and neither did I. We kept the pace steady, and I made sure to stay near the front. In too many races, I’ve been forced to let off the throttle in my finish as I tried to move around riders who’d run out of gas before the line, and I wanted to finish this race knowing that I had given it all. We were closing the gap between the lone rider ahead, and caught her with less than 500 meters before the finish. I began my sprint earlier than I typically do, before the final bend of the oval that the course is named for, and didn’t look back.

In this moment of temporary pain, as I kept my eyes just beyond the finish line, I took my first win of not only this season, but of the last two. My entire being felt a rush of something I can only describe as gratitude, pride, resolution, and acceptance all rolled into one soul-warming experience. It was almost as if in this win, some of the broken pieces were coming back together. This year has been the most challenging one I’ve had in quite a while. A broken neck, sub-par race results, personal and professional challenges and changes, and set-back after set-back left me wondering if everything I was doing was in vain. Despite my best attempts, some of these circumstances and additional time commitments impacted my training, and my volume was slightly lower than it has been in previous years. I questioned whether I would have built enough base or be in form by race season, but I knew I could only do my best, which I had. After the race I jokingly said to my husband, “I guess not riding as much this year served me well!” He gently smiled, and replied, “I think adversity serves you well.” Although the circumstances of this year are far from what I have chosen, I have done my best to take them in stride and become a stronger person. I have been learning that measuring effort solely by outcome will sooner or later leave you feeling uncertain and discouraged. Hard work, integrity, and endurance in the face of trial is never in vain. It may take longer to see why or how, but it will come. This past Sunday I got a small taste of that delicious fruit that comes from never giving up.

Heidi Crosses The Bridge

DSCN0102

Bodies of water and bridges are no match for this fearless Naked lady. Read how Heidi squashes those fears on two wheels.

So I have a huge fear of water. I mean, HUGE. Some call it irrational, I say it’s erring on the side of safety after a very scary incident when I was 6 or 7 years old. I won’t go in water over five feet deep, boats are not something I see as enjoyable, I will not put my face in water (my swim technique is fantastic, let me tell you), I won’t go in open bodies of water (everything besides a bathtub and pool are out, in other words), and later as an adult I hate driving over bridges over water. Aside from making sure I’ll never be a triathlete, I’ve gotten by quite alright in life without the deep watery stuff.

What does all this really have to do with anything, except making all y’all think I might be crazy? Well, in December 2011 an ex-boyfriend and I road tripped through Seattle. No one warned me that I-90 crossed Lake Washington via a “floating bridge.” Yes, a bridge over a mile long that sits on the surface of the water. I mean, the water is right there. I’m pretty sure I cried the entire way across, and my ex mentioned that people ride bicycles across the bridge. “Are they freakin’ crazy?! Who the heck would do that?” I exclaimed – I wasn’t a cyclist yet and that just seemed so absurd on so many levels.

Fast forward to March 2015. I’m a full blown cycling nut, that boyfriend is long gone, and wouldn’t you know, work was sending me to Seattle for eight days. Since I couldn’t possibly be without a bike for that period of time, I rounded up a rental road bike and set about planning out some rides. Of course, one of the better rides I could access from my downtown starting point would be going across the I-90 floating bridge to Mercer Island. Gulp. “Fine, I’ll ride across that damn bridge!” I exclaimed to myself.

Luckily the day I chose was sunny and not very windy. I made my way through Chinatown rush hour traffic successfully (an adventure in its own right) and found myself on the I-90 bike path. Soon the bridge was in sight, and half of me wanted to turn around. After stopping to catch my breath, I hesitantly pointed my front tire down the bridge and pushed off. As I descended down to the water level I felt tears welling up in my eyes, but I calmed my breathing and had such an intense focus on the ground 10 feet in front of the bike that I wouldn’t even move my eyes to check my Garmin. I’d take a couple of pedal strokes, and coast, couple of pedal strokes, and coast. The nearly calm cross wind felt like a hurricane. Then suddenly I realized I was ok, and it was just time to pedal pedal pedal all the way across. Before I knew it I was on Mercer Island and on solid ground. Woohoo, I made it!

The return trip was a bit more frightening to me as I would have to be on the closest side to the water. When a bike path is only nine feet wide to begin with, I just wasn’t comfortable. So I decided I was British and rode on the left side, only barely moving over when other cyclists approached. It probably didn’t help that the bike shop I rented the bike from scared me with the thoughts of hooking the handlebars in the simple metal rail that separates the bikes from the water. Once again intense concentration got me across to solid ground on the Seattle side. Two for two! I will admit to a happy dance at the observation point above the bridge and gushed to a random guy with a bike about how I rode over that silly scary floating bridge!

Bicycles have a funny way of pushing us to do stuff we never would’ve considered otherwise… I’ve only been riding shy of three years, and yet I’ve done so many things I never would’ve even thought of doing otherwise. Most people don’t think twice about going over bridges over water, but I’m still in awe I willed myself across one on a bicycle when usually I panic in a car. Might seem simple or silly to most, but I love the fact that a simple two wheel contraption powered by merely my legs has taken me to so many places and on so many adventures, and has helped me conquer some fears along the way!

Getting to the Start Line

IMG_0971

Nicole Jorgenson is a new racer but has no problem jumping right into the race scene.  She knows that getting to the starting line is half the battle.  

The most important thing I’ve learned thus far in my introduction to racing is that getting to the start line is half the race. It requires a good deal of preparation – the right gear, adequate food, ample hydration, allocating enough time for registration and number pinning, warming up – and it also requires ignoring all of those apprehensions about not being in good enough shape, not having eaten the right prerace food, not knowing the course, etc. In the end, you just have to show up to the start line and trust that getting there was half of it. You might not have done all your pre-race prep in perfect methodology and routine, but now all you can do is ride your hardest.

All of this may sound trivial to experienced racers who have their pre-race routine down to a science, but as a new racer I’m still trying to figure it all out. I showed up to my first race of the season – the Oredigger Classic Crit – with the attitude that I just needed to jump into my first race to get the season rolling. As it turned out, almost everything that could have gone wrong in my prerace preparations went wrong. I misread the start time causing myself to have to forfeit everything I had planned on doing before the race. Once I realized the start of my race was less than ten minutes away, I hadn’t pinned my number, used the restroom, eaten, or even warmed up.  Not to mention, I wasn’t mentally prepared. I made a split second decision to race anyway, because what did I have to lose? I lined up with the rest of the ladies, made an attempt to compose myself despite feeling quite disheveled, and waited for the start whistle. About 20 seconds into the race, I dropped my chain on the first lap, and it was over. Aside from the embarrassing nature of the situation, I was pretty bummed I had messed up that badly in my first race of the season.

Somehow I was able to let that race go and adopt the attitude that I could just use it to learn how to better prepare for my next race. This past weekend at the CSU Oval Crit I triple checked my start time and left myself plenty of time to complete all my prerace activities. I still wasn’t in the best shape of my life and probably didn’t eat the exact foods or consume the exact liquids my body needed. But all I can do is keep getting myself to that start line and continue refining my prerace routine.  I was pretty happy to have gotten 4th for Cat 4 women after the previous disastrous weekend!

Why Now….

036

Becky Howland shares an inspiring post about the new challenges she is taking on this year. 

So, I’m turning 40 soon!

I’ve always been independent, athletic, full of wanderlust and a love of the outdoors. I’ve never been one to waste energy worrying about what life had in store or making too many plans about the future. Age has never been an issue: I’ve always felt that those who are young at heart and share a love for life are one and the same, 20 or 60 it didn’t matter. Then this year rolled around! Although I know it shouldn’t, 40 is bothering me. I can’t help but feel sad, nervous, and scared. My illogical heart is fighting my logical mind. I keep telling myself it doesn’t matter, but somehow the expectations of society are still whispering to my subconscious and causing anxiety.

Crit Skills Clinic- How to corner like a pro

IMG_0958

Katie recaps the second clinic that the Naked Women’s Cycling team had with professional riders Alison Powers and Jennifer Sharp.  In this clinic the ladies learned how to corner, sprint, and start.

After one understands how to balance on a bike the rest appears relatively easy.  However, if one starts to race bikes they realize that there is a lot more to it than just spinning both legs in circles.  We begin to realize that there is technique that can be learned and practiced. 

Road Skills Clinic with the Pros

Roadclinic1

Melissa recaps one of the perks of being Naked Women’s Racing team and club member – clinics taught by the pros! Thank you Jen Sharp and Alison Powers for helping us ride safer and smarter in the races to come!

One of the many benefits of being part of such a great women’s cycling team is having the opportunity to participate in skills clinics. We were fortunate to learn from the best of the best athletes and coaches, Alison Powers and Jennifer Sharp. The two coaches met up with 20 women from the Naked team and shared their expertise with us on riding and racing in a pack out on the road.

There were several ladies there that have been on the team for a few years, but there were also many new faces that participated. It was a great opportunity for us to meet our new teammates and share in this experience together.

There were many skills that Alison and Jen taught us. The most valuable piece of information I took away from the clinic was “protecting your box.” This is the area from your headtube to drop bars to the edge of your front wheel. If you can keep this area clear from other riders, you can be more confident that you won’t go down in a crash. This was valuable to me because I went down in a crit last season and it has been a challenge for me to become comfortable positioning myself in the middle of a fast-paced pack of racers.

roadclinic2

We also practiced various types of pacelines through Cherry Creek State Park. I know that something everyone was able to improve was “making your bubble smaller.” We practiced this by riding much closer to one another in the pacelines.

Today was about learning new skills and getting outside of our comfort zones. Most of us agreed that we gained a lot from this clinic and are eager to put it into practice!

“Keep Calm and Pentathl-on”

image

Why race two or three events in one day when you can race a Pentathlon! Roberta is our veteran at off the wall sports – like a biathlon state champ and trail runner extraordinaire!  Read more about her Pentathlon experience!

I have always been wanting to try the Steamboat Pentathlon. Although it seems like in past years I have always had an excuse- no mountain bike- not in Steamboat race weekend, etc. Well this year I had no excuses. I bought a mountain bike in the Fall and I had all the gear necessary and no trips planned. The stars were aligning so I am sure it was after a few glasses of wine that registering for the event actually sounded like a good idea.

So what is involved in the Pentathlon you ask, well the first of the events entailed running 500 meters up Howelson Hill in Steamboat and then alpine/telemark ski down. This involved placing my telemark gear at the top of the hill prior to the race. I got to walk down the steep hill I was going to eventually run up. Yikes.

The next four events were snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, mountain biking, and running.

In theory I had all of the sports down and had been “training” all winter. When I was getting my gear together the day before the race, I realized I had 5 different pieces of footwear that I was going to have to get quickly in and out of, two sets of skis and bike gear. Sheesh. I thought triathlons were gear intensive.

I laid out all of my gear in the transition area and looking at everyone else’s spot we were all remarking that it just looked like a gear swap. Several of the ladies I was racing against had never done the race before so we were all wondering what compelled us.

First Event- Alpine Ski

The run up Howelson was humbling. I wore an old pair of running shoes and my yax trax. When the gun went off I started running up the mountain and then I felt like I was in heart rate overload. Straight uphill- probably a 45 degree angle and many of us happy runners were forced to a grueling march to our gear that awaited us at the top of the hill. Once there, I strapped on my tele boots and headed downhill. So with this race, helmets were necessary, so to help reduce the gear load, I skiied in my bike helmet. Yes, I was one of those people that I make fun of on the skil hill.
Luckily no collisions happened and we were all safe.. now on to transition…

Second event snoweshoe (2.5 miles)

The snowshoe event was probaby my weakest link. Yes I have been runnig but not on snowshoes. That is a totally different story. Especially when you borrow them from your friend the week before and try on the day before the race! All was fine in the snowshoe with the exception of a few trips going uphill. Many of the ladies I was racing against were walking the uphills so when it was particullary steep I followed suit. The run/ walk pace went on and I would pass someone, they would pass me back. The best racer outfit award went to the racer wearing a lumberjack shirt, Carharts, and running in snowshoes that I am pretty certain were hanging on the wall in the cabin he was renting just the night before. I felt great that he was not beating me.

Third Event – (5.6 miles skate ski)
This is the event I felt the strongest in. I have been racing biathlon all season and I was racing strong this year. I knew I could take the girls that were ahead of me. Sure enough, I had better technique and a better glide to pass every gal, except one that was ahead of me. I was basking in my glory when all the sudden, when going downhill, I hit a snowmobile track and went tumbling (cue Wide Wide World of Sports montage). I hit the snow hard and seriously thought I was going to tumble down the side of Howelson. I picked myself up, and moved ahead. It was on the second lap of the nordic ski that I thought I was hitting myself in my calf with my poles. Then I realized I was cramping up. It dawned on me that I hadn’t really been eating or drinking during my transitions times. Oops. I tried to squeeze a gel into my mouth but it was hard logistically when your hands are attached to your poles. Without water, I was tempted to eat some snow but knew I would loose my lead. My thoughts went immediately to the bike. The bike portion seemed like a luxury awaiting were I could freely eat and drink and hopefully take care of this nagging calf cramp.

Fourth event- (12 mile MTN bike on River Road)
So I can’t say I have really ridden my MTN bike on the road. Oh wait, the Friday before the race, I commuted to work on my MTN bike. Appropriate training- check! River Road is the classsic “flat” road in Steamboat. I have ridden it several times and even Time Trialed it in the Steamboat Stage race. Trying to TT on a MTN bike is a different story. Some racers put aero bars on their MTN bikes but I just went with my set up. I was able to stay ahead of all of the women I passed in the Nordic portion except for the last 2 miles when I was passed by a very serious woman racer. I gave her a ring with my bell, cheered her on, and proceeded to pass her in the transition area.

Final Event (running 3.2 miles)
By the time I got to the run, I was hoping that my legs would not give out on me in cramps. I think I drank enough on the bike that all signs of cramping went away. I forgot that when you transition from the bike to run, your legs feel like rubber. When I came into transition, my husband Paul let me know that I was in second place overall. I couldn’t believe it! My goal on the run was to just hold everyone off the best that I could. Feeling a bit like Gumby I plodded away. Days before the race I couldn’t imagine finishing in less than 3 hours. With the clunky transitions, the same muscle groups being used, MTN biking on dry roads, how do people do it? I was running in disbelief that I was on the final event. At the turn around the race officials validated my current second place. I just had to keep up my plodding pace and I would do it.

Finish

I got to the finish line in 2 hours and 39 minutes. I was so excited. I was second female overall and got 1st in my age group. Now granted there were only 10 of us registered to do the full Pentathlon event but I was so excited. Racing in Steamboat on a beautiful day, who could complain. It was fun to challenge myself, get my mind ready for the road cycling season, and race with some really fun ladies. I can now cross this event off the event bucket list. Will I do it again? Maybe. The town of Steamboat directs this event and it was so well organized that that reason alone may bring me back.

Now I sit back, relax and drink from my race beer kozy that states “Keep Calm and Pentathl-on”

image 2

Domestic Elite Status for Naked Women’s Racing in 2015

1012895_10202832934398742_5141177177991816808_n

Naked Women’s Racing has a mission to grow the sport of women’s cycling from the ground up – through support of new racers in our various programs – and now at the top of the ranks too as we embark on our domestic elite status for 2015. Are you a Cat 1/2 female cyclist who is concerned with growing the sport too? Perhaps you can guest ride with us! Read more from our NRC/NCC veteran, Kim Johnson

Although I am only 26 years old and wouldn’t consider myself even close to being a veteran in the sport, I’ve raced at the elite level for long enough to see a trend emerge. Every fall, social media is abuzz with the latest news about who is joining what team, which team is folding, new sponsors stepping up to support a women’s team, etc, and then usually late in the fall official rosters are posted. There seems to be a flaw in the system, and one that hinders the growth of high-level women’s racing (but a flaw, I will also note, that does not have an easy solution). The addition of new teams is excellent, but over the past few years, they have tended to replace teams that folded. So instead of a new sponsor bringing up a fresh group of talent to join the mix, riders seem to shuffle, in a musical-chairs type interchange based on what vacancies are available. As a rider who has worked incredibly hard over the past few years to make the jump to the next level, those spots seem to be painfully few.

I have hope that that can change. Despite my personal setback (a fractured C2 the day after Gila, which relegated the majority of my season to “brisk walking” in a neck brace), I saw stirrings in the world of professional cycling. More and more women rising up to call out inequality as they saw it and question the rationale of missed opportunities simply because of a second x chromosome. Momentum continued to build in women’s cycling; for the first since the 1980’s, women had a stage at the Tour de France, and by the end of the season, 3 major US Stage Races (the Tour of California, Tour of Utah, and US Pro Challenge) had committed to giving women several stages of their own in 2015.  

Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to race at numerous professional level races throughout the US, and am incredibly thankful for Naked Women’s Racing’s support of my endeavors and the opportunities I have had to guest ride. At the same time, the logistical chaos and meticulous planning that it’s taken to get to these races have highlighted a challenge in women’s cycling that many of us know all too well: there are more talented, qualified riders than there are teams to support us. This year a new layer was added, when a large number of races were given UCI status, making them officially team-only events. In laymen’s terms, this means that in order to race at the Tour of the Gila, for example, a rider would need to be a registered member of a UCI or domestic elite team. Before this change, it was challenging to be a solo rider doing her best to stay in contention in a race dominated by team tactics and the UHC Blue Train, now it would be impossible to even show up at the start line.

I spent a few days in a state of inner turmoil, contemplating my upcoming season and my goals, and discussing this dilemma with my ever-supportive husband. On one hand, I could re-adjust my goals and expectations, plan a few regional stage races, but focus more on local races and maybe a few NCC criteriums here and there. That way, I would plan for what I knew I could do. On the other hand, I could target “dream big” races like the Redlands Bicycle Classic and the Tour of the Gila, and do everything in my power to secure a guest riding position, while accepting I may not be able to go. The idea that I could be training so incredibly hard for something that was completely out of my power to accomplish was heartbreaking, but the thought of letting go of a goal simply because of unknown was unacceptable.

A few nights later I lay in bed, far more alert than I ever want to be at midnight, and was struck by a thought. If you want to go, and it’s team only, make the team, and go! I pushed it out of my brain space of realistic options — never trust any seemingly brilliant solutions you come up with after midnight — but the next morning it was still there. The deep desire to race at my target events was what catalyzed my midnight problem solving session, but the realization that this could move beyond myself was what kept in there in the morning. Just as I’ve poured out blood, sweat, and tears just trying to get to races, so have many other talented, hardworking women. Cycling is as brutal a sport as it is glorious, and it can be easy to feel defeated or like luck is always against you. I can’t tell you the number of people who’ve seen my scars and asked casually if I should “probably just quit cycling?” But the reality is, far more cyclists ride waves of ups and downs than a fairytale-like rise to professional status. Evelyn Stevens is a lovely individual — but her tantalizing story is a rare one. I’m not here to whine — there’s plenty of that, and it does no good. Rather, I am trying to provide context to what Naked Women’s Racing is gearing up to do this year. One low-budget domestic elite team will not solve the problems that women’s cycling is facing, but it will provide a logistical way for 4-8 more women to show up at the start line than currently can.

I proposed this nascent idea to the leading ladies of Naked Women’s Racing, and they were on board! Over the next few weeks, we will be slogging through the paperwork that is required, and by the end of March we will appear on USA cycling’s list of Domestic Elite Teams. I am incredibly excited to see what will come of this step, and we are proud to be able to open up an opportunity for more qualified women to race at a National level. In addition to the category 1/2 riders already on the team, we are hoping to extend an guest-riding invitation to regional riders who would like to target NRC and NCC races. Please contact us if you would like to be considered, and stay tuned for updates!