Melissa shares her 2014 road season recap in photos. And mighty fine ones at that!
Earlier in this year my husband purchased a new camera and has been photographing our team throughout the season. He is quite talented in capturing what cycling truly is through still images. This is a recap of the 2014 road season through photographs.
Gayle tried out racing on the east coast’s muddy cyclocross courses. New places, new faces!
Knowing I would have a work trip around the corner (time to update the dreaded polygraph!) I looked into the cyclocross scene in the DC-Northern Virginia area. Luckily my trip dates were flexible enough I was able to negotiation work around the last race in the Super 8 CX series. In the few days leading up to the race I was watching the weather from Colorado…rain. Cold rain! When I landed the day before the race it was in fact cold and raining, and not CO kinda cold, it was that damp, chills you to the bone east coast kind of cold. Now that I’ve lived in Colorado for a few years I don’t think I even own an umbrella any more.
Luckily race day was clear skies, but the ground was definitely showing signs of all the rain. I geared up to pre-ride the course and see how the terrain varied from what I was used to in Colorado. It was a sweeping, hilly course with lots of natural challenges, but the mud was definitely going to be the biggest obstacle for me.
I hit the start line for the SW3 race and tried for a good start from the back of the line ups. I managed to get up in the top five and stay there for the first two laps, but every time I hit the thick, sludgy, grassy mud sections I was loosing time. My bike was getting heavier as the others were switching to pit bikes (there were actually two separate bike pits!). I learned that I am not good at that mud, but was actually able to pass people in the fast, slick, just maintain your line and keep pedaling kind of mud!
It was a fun course, a great experience and I met a some nice riders and as always got lots of great (and somewhat inappropriate) comments about the name “Naked Women’s Racing”!
Don’t unpack that suitcase full of excuses! Lanier will help you get out on that winter group ride!
Group rides are a great part of any off season program. You get to know your teammates, work off holiday calories and retain the group riding skills essential for races and centuries. However, it can be hard to fit group rides in.
I am queen of excuses. I also talk to myself from time to time (don’t judge). Here are some of my favorite excuses, and effective arguments I use with myself to get out of the house.
E: I don’t have time.
A: When you put it on your calendar you had plenty of time, Lanier. Besides, you’re leading it. Shut up and get on the bike.
E: It’s too cold.
A: As your husband likes to remind you, you spend a small fortune on super-special cold weather cycling gear. Now put it all on, and get on the bike.
E: I am tired / grumpy / hungover.
A: You will feel much better after riding with teammates. They always cheer you up. Down a double-shot of espresso and a Naked coconut water, and get on the bike.
E: These climbers are going to leave me in the dust.
A: Since when did you ever climb on a solo ride? Besides, you swore off hill climbs and haven’t seen these particular teammates all season. You can chat with them on the flats before the climbing starts. They are good company, even if they are disgustingly tiny with legs like pistons powering away on the hill. But hey, maybe they’ll be hungover!
See you on a group ride soon!
Melissa exceeded her goals by a long shot with this season’s road racing. Read more!
Going into the 2014 road season, I had several goals that I wanted to achieve. One of the largest goals I had was to be in the top 3 of the Rocky Mountain Road Cup for SW4. To achieve this I knew that I needed to enter as many races as possible and place as high as possible in those races to have enough points to be at or near the top. I didn’t have as good of a start to the season as I had hoped for, but because I was consistent in racing every weekend the points started accumulating. This year I was fortunate to make it on the podium a few times and the points from those races helped my overall score.
Towards the end of the season, Jenny Lucke and I were in the top 3 for the road cup. Once the points had been added for the last race of the season, the results showed that I placed 1st in the road cup for SW4. I was thrilled! My happiness grew when I realized that Jenny was on the podium with me. Team Naked had also placed 1st in SW4 for the road cup! This was a tough season of trial and error, but through it I learned that staying focused on your goal and being dedicated will get you the results you want.
Shortly after moving to Colorado, Katie joined the Colorado Women’s Cycling project and found that it was more than she could have expected. The experience of finding her home, and her place on the team was easier than she expected. Read more to see how it all plays out.
Ever find your mind wandering? Ever feel like there is a place calling you and you shake it off or put those thoughts off for another day? Some of us find ourselves in the position to take that risk and pursue something we’re not 100% sure will play out as planned. Here’s the truth, things will never go as planned but, it’s the journey that’s worth it all.
Katie has always had an affinity for bikes and dirt. She purchased her first Mountain Bike last winter and managed to get sucked into the Pro category at her first race, read on to see how she faired.
I’m a lover of the bike, the wind in my ears, the calming hum of the chain, and the sizzle of tires on pavement. Do you know what’s not a pretty sound? The sound of the chain slapping your bike as you fly down what appears to be an ever-steeping descent towards your impending doom. She’s over reacting you’d think but in reality I’m on my second lap of the Rocky Mountain Endurance Bear Creek Race and I’m death gripping the bike the whole descent.
Those who know me well know that it is extremely rare for me to get nervous about racing. The last time I was nervous, the race did not end well (crash in a TT). So why did I race when my intuition was directing me to avoid it at all costs? Because sometimes intuition is wrong and thankfully today was one of those days.
Gayle not only crushed her first SW3 race, she pulled a double racing the SW35+ race too! We’ll have the turkey that she made for Thanksgiving next year!
Photo Creds: Bo Bickerstaff
After a couple crashes, difficult riding conditions and some tough courses I had kinda lost my CX mojo. I went into Turkey Cross a little nervous about the course due to the challenging run-ups and descents that were muddy and still had some icy patches on my Friday pre-ride. Add to that it would be my first SW3 race…and then top it off with the MW35+ race directly after (also my first time racing that category)! All I could think about Friday night and Saturday morning was coming through without injury – and that is not the way to go into race mode. When I pulled into the parking lot there was an ambulance and a bunch of commotion. Someone had broken their leg on the first descent. Great, just what I needed to hear.
As my race time grew closer I made a conscious decision to put all that out of my head and just ride. I was pretty familiar with the course, I just bought toe spikes, the weather was great and I had nothing to prove. I just wanted to ride and have fun. I got to the line, no more call up now that I’m a SW3! I hit the back and hoped for a clean start in the gravel. My favorite part of the race was right in the beginning at the big run-up…I was probably in 10th place coming to the hill and while everyone was trying to find their place along the edges I decided to run straight up the middle and made it cleanly up and landed in second place behind Amanda Bye. That felt pretty good. There was a great vibe of people cheering and having fun. I lost a little ground throughout the race, but every run-up was clean and I didn’t hesitate on any of the descents.
I finished up 6th in the SW3 race and had a few minutes to decide whether to race MW35+. I may have cut it a little close, but I rolled up to the line just in time and did it all again. Although I was definitely tired, I found that I was still riding cleanly and managing to find some better lines in the second race. I pulled through with a 4th place finish, but decided that may placement that day wasn’t the most important part. It was how I felt afterwards. I was a bit more confident and had shaken the nerves off. I’m excited for my next race and hope to keep improving.
Katey knows how to have fun in the off season – FAT BIKE! But she needed to name her. Read how ‘Trixie DeLarge’ obtained her moniker.
She is big, she is orange and has some serious junk in the trunk. I see you raising an eyebrow and let’s be honest, it sort of describes me circa late-80’s – a tanning booth savvy sorority girl. You see, I broke down and purchased a fat bike…a sweet, 40lb, snow-crushing, mud-slinging, bad ass beast of a bike. Midlife crisis? Perhaps. But I prefer to call it a “spiritual awakening” (We can talk about the puppy I got recently too if you like).
Mountain bike season was coming to a close and I had this sad, niggling feeling in the back of my mind. The season didn’t necessarily have to end, did it? On a whim, I sought advice from my local bike guru and decided to purchase the same brand I know and love. I had set aside some pennies from my small business so not to interfere with my boys’ college savings (that is, if they don’t kill each other first) and anticipated its arrival.
A giant box containing my new bike arrived on a snowy Thursday afternoon. I immediately loaded it into my car and headed to my go-to bike shop. Sadly I was snubbed by an entitled, nose-ringed hipster when my bike build didn’t fit HIS schedule in the next century. Heaven forbid his soft hands touch “the box”. I went around the corner to another shop that built her that very evening.
I typically name things I bond with. My truck is “Chuck”, my mountain bike is “Thor” and my road bike was “Paco” – “was” being the operative word because that changed when I texted my husband to let him know I was “out riding Paco” and there was radio silence. Paco became ‘the road bike” again and honestly, Paco sucked anyway. We never bonded. My new behemoth needed a name to fit her solid stature. With help from some creative thinkers, she was christened: Trixie DeLarge. Trixie is Speed Racer’s girlfriend: a petite, lithe, elfish waif. Truly, this bike is the antithesis of her. But what Trixie the girl does have…is unparalleled moxie and smarts. Her surname “DeLarge” is duly named after Clockwork Orange’s protagonist – a juvenile delinquent in the most creepy and memorable sense. Combine these characteristics and she screams, “Bring it!”
It was ironic that it had been snowing steadily for the past few days when Trixie arrived. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The temperatures had dipped into the single digits and I had hired a sitter in advance to get outside regardless of the elements. I was going to ride and ride I did. I decided on a local trail close to home – Dirty Bismark – a 17 mile loop from home. Extremities needed special attention in these elements so I added multiple layers…and just a few more for sh**s and giggles. Shoes were a different story. Unlike my other bikes, Trixie came with flat pedals. I had upgraded and bought a nicer pair of flats with pegs to ride with. Shoe-wise, I didn’t really have anything that fit the bill except for a pair of old trail running kicks. Coupled with wooly ski socks and toe warmers, I was ready. I pride myself on being hearty, yet starting out, it was damp and raw. It reminded me of the cold I grew up with – a cold that only the NorCal coast can throw at you. Yet, despite the hoar frost I managed to collect throughout my ride, I was thrilled to be out.
Riding a fatty for the first time was slow moving. Twenty additional pounds of durability makes for a slow and steady grind up any grade let alone the flats. Add to it, 3+” of fresh snow over a crusty ice base, she was tricky to maneuver and hard to tame. While Trixie didn’t tread lightly, she made up for it climbing up and over virtually anything, even with her rigid fork. I slogged, I sweat, I listened to Soundgarden. It was unlike anything I had ever done. At first, corners were tricky. I came in hot around one and laid her down, fortunately landing in a pillowy stash. Several times I got caught in deep patches of untracked snow. I would spin, suffering like a hamster on its wheel going absolutely nowhere. It reminded me of riding in sand; endless f***ing acres of unrelenting deep sand – yet, it finally clicked when I stopped fighting and let the bike do the work. I could actually surf through these unpredictable waves of snow. Even without clips, my right heel would pop to the right involuntarily when I was about to lay the bike down – ah, those phantom clips.
The snow came down heavier and it was hauntingly beautiful. There is one section of the ride where the trail narrows and thistle patches border either side. During the Summer, I curse this prickly car wash. Instead I stopped and took pictures of the patch which was surprisingly beautiful in the snow. Snow softens how harsh and rugged our Colorado terrain is. Even the thickets of cows I passed – sprinkled in fresh snow – looked a little kinder.
I never made the full loop. By the time I hit the Coalton trailhead, my head and legs had had enough. For a loop that normally takes me about an hour to complete, it took me an hour just to get to my halfway point. I turned around, opened the gate and took a selfie to send to my MTB sisters – stupid happy in the snow, stupid happy with Trixie.
I’ve taken Trixie out several times since that first snowy adventure. I’ve slipped through some fine muddy and icy trails and have learned to adjust my tire pressure and body positioning accordingly. My trail running shoes work perfectly fine with flats despite the fact I’ve nailed my shins a few times when I’ve slipped. When the stars align, I can carve through corners like I would skiing. As I type, I’m in the mountains. I feel like a bit of an anomaly being out there on the trails behind the cabin – just me and my pup; adventuring on hard packed singletrack with my puppy nipping at my heels. Yet, my boys love seeing me come back from a ride – happy, tired and ready to play board games with them. So Trixie, thank you for this newfound fat fun – while you’ve been quite a beast to tame, I think you may have taught this old dog a few new tricks.
Jenny fought to a top 10 finish at Cyclo X in one of the biggest fields to date! Four of the Naked ladies finished out the top 10!
The weeks leading up to the Louisville cross race I practiced at the course almost everyday. When it was finally time to race it, I have ridden it in every possible condition and I was ready for anything! The week before the race, it snowed a ton and the course was covered in ice and mud. But when I woke up on Saturday it completely dried out with only a few mud spots here and there. I was so excited for the race that I got up at 8, made pancakes, and Savannah and I rode down early to pre-ride the course a few times.
A few hours later, they began the call-ups, and for some reason they didn’t call quite a few of us. I should’ve been in the second row, but ended up in the third. This already started to crush my spirits since I thought that there was no way that I would do great now and I would probably get a bad start. At the start line I was all the way on the far left. Once the whistle was blown everyone took off and started swarming towards the middle. I saw this as an opportunity as the side started to open up. I quickly sprinted harder and went around everyone on the left side and was in 3rd place going into the big hill. I was glad to be in the front so I could climb the hill and not get stuck in the pack. By the second lap, I got passed by a few racers and was just outside of top 10. The whole second lap I was tired and almost gave up as I moved down to 12th place. But my whole heckling crew was there and they cheered me on, giving me motivation to push harder. I started to catch more people and was able to work my way back into top 10. On the last lap, I finally passed one more person who I was playing cat and mouse with the entire race and finished the race in 8th! This was one of my best races of the season and four Naked Women finished top 10 out of 30 in the SW 3!