Melissa W. has had a tough time finding her passion for the bike with school taking up so much of her free time. But she’s thankful for teammates that motivate her. Great lesson in friendship and finding your love for the bike again.
It happened. I allowed school to take such precedence in my life that my bike sat alone in the corner of my room, collecting dust. I knew that sacrifices would have to be made once I started school full-time, but I had no idea that it would be this drastic. My bike has always been a symbol of achievement for me, but it had come to a point where it was only a resemblance of the disappointment I had in myself. The disappointment that came from losing my passion for the bike and allowing myself to become bitter towards an object that once brought me so much joy. When I recognized how far I had let this go, I knew that I needed to do something. I needed to make sacrifices to rekindle my passion.
Unfortunately in my mind, the only sacrifices I could make would be to skip out on some of the studying that I knew I needed to do to be successful in my upcoming exams. I did it though. I made the sacrifice of giving up studying just long enough so that I could get out for a 30 minute ride. The first time I went out for a ride, it did nothing for me but cause more anxiety and guilt because I knew that I should have been home preparing for my exams. I kept making the sacrifices and trying to get out for small rides hoping that one day soon I would find the satisfaction again. And still nothing. It was never enough. The spark to rekindle my passion never came.
During this time of not being on my bike, my disappointment would grow anytime a friend or teammate would ask if I could join them on a ride. My response was typically “I wish”, “Maybe over winter break”, or “Maybe I’ll catch up with you next summer” always in a joking tone, but in my heart I felt like it would be true. I had allowed preparing for school to take control over my life, not allowing me to enjoy those things I once had.
During the last week in October, Katie Harrer texted me and asked if I could go out for a ride the next Sunday up Deer Creek Canyon. My initial response was going to be no, but I stopped myself and thought about what a ride with a good friend could do for me. I missed my friends. I responded with a YES! I wasn’t sure who would show up for the ride, but was just excited to know that at least one of my good friends would be out there. Earlier that morning before the ride I learned that a few more of my good friends would be out there with us.
We started the ride with catching up on each other’s lives and then the sufferfest of climbing High Grade kicked in. The group broke up a little on the climb, but we had all agreed that we would meet up together at the top. Typically I enjoy riding up High Grade, but I’m not going to lie, it was miserable. The only thing that kept me going was knowing that my friends were with me and that we were having to overcome this hill together. That was it! That was the spark I needed!
We reached the top and I was so overjoyed that tears came to my eyes. I know this may sound a little sappy, but this was the happiest I had been in a while. Working hard with my teammates is exactly what I needed to rekindle my passion for the bike. Thank you to all of you ladies who got me back out there!
Jenny shows grit and determination despite a bad chain of events at the Sienna Lake cross race. She pushed through and managed to finish strong. No DNFs for this lady!
At the start line of Cyclo X-Sienna Lake I was in the second row of the Cat 3’s. There were more people there then normal, but I had been training hard and felt like I actually had a chance this time. I lined up behind Emily Z., knowing she was going to get a great start, and Tea was right next to her. Once the whistle was blown everyone immediately started sprinting, and I was able to keep up. On the grass I was in about 7th or 8th place with the front group within my grasp. I was feeling good as we approached the ditch and I was ready to ride it without a second thought. But as I got closer to the ditch, the person in front of me slowed down way too much that she was barely moving down the hill. Since she had no speed and had her breaks completely locked, she did an endo into the ditch and nearly took me down with her. I was just able to scoot by her and saw that the gap between me and the lead group wasn’t too big. My first three laps of the race were fast, consistent, and I didn’t make any mistakes. I was happy with how well I was doing and was just starting to gain some ground of the people in front of me. By the fourth lap I was flying through the ditch and learned all the best lines to take throughout the course.
At the top of the big run up after the ditch, I set down my bike really fast and hopped back on only to learn that I dropped my chain. I panicked for a moment then thought, it’s fine! I’ve done this a million times before. But in my rush to get the chain back on, I only made it worse and it completely locked up. Then I really got worried. Everyone I passed and put a big gap between had finally started to pass me. I stood there for some time not knowing what to do and watched as the beginning of the 4’s started to come. I was so frustrated with the situation because I was doing so well in this race and had been improving throughout the season, only to have this happen to me. Another thing that made me concerned was the fact that my dad wasn’t there to help me. At that point I felt defeated and thought that it was pointless to finish the race since I was in last place. I finally decided to just pick up my bike and run. I ran a little ways until someone was able to help me. He was very nice and helpful, and fixed my chain in no time. I quickly hopped back on my race but felt no motivation to actually race. I passed the pit with a strong urge to get off and quit, but told myself that I should at least finish this lap then be done. Once I got to the finish line, I saw there was only one lap to go. I was about to stop and be done but I didn’t want to disappoint myself and my dad for not finishing. I got a quick jolt of hope and started racing hard again, determined to catch a few of the 4’s. On the grass I was flying around the corners and was actually catching a few people! I felt confident again and was sprinting hard with my head down on the gravel straightaway.
I was pushing down hard on my pedals and concentrating on the path in front of me when I looked up and realized that I had to turn right now! I quickly jerked my bike to the right and wiped out, crashing under the tape. After laying there for a few moments I got up and dusted myself off. I was so utterly disappointed that I said out loud “I’m done.” Some people near me came over and helped me fixed my bike and asked if I was alright. Shawn Curry (photographer that many of you know) also came over to make sure I was alright. When I told him that I was done, he told me that I was doing great and that I didn’t want a DNF. I got all pumped up again and jumped back on my bike and decided that I was going to finish the race even after all that happened. I managed to pass a few more 4’s and finish the race. Even though this was not one of my best races, I’m happy that finished the race and didn’t quit.
They say it’s not about the bike, but you bet your victory it is about the tires. Read about Emily‘s race and how the tires helped her get to the top step of the podium (along with some killer bike handling skills).
My brain doesn’t work the same way as other people’s when it comes to having fun, which is why I was delighted when I woke up before the sun on Saturday to inches of snow and temperatures that hadn’t yet hit the teens. The company I work for, Challenge Tires, was the presenting sponsor of the race, so I got to enjoy the crazy day from dawn until dusk in an expo tent with a propane heater and brewing hot cyder to keep me company as I reminded people all day long that in cyclocross, tires win races.
The other people that made it out have the same types of brains as I do and were already high on the endorphins of numb digits. On the start line we sang an enthusiastic rendition of “Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya to Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama…” to go with our new dance moves, The Cyclocrosser. The moves go as such:
- Swing your right leg up and behind your left foot and switch feet (The Dismount)
- Reach your right arm down and make a fist and bring your fist up to your right shoulder (The Shoulder)
- A couple delicate leaping butt kicks (The Double Barrier)
- A few Jazzersize-style running steps and a double-legged butt kick (The Remount)
Over the next 40 minutes or so, I proceeded to slip and slide in a foot-out, flat-out riding style on sand, snow and ice and stay upright more often than not, taking high-fives from spectators who did the wave to all of us on the final lap. Coming through the start-finish on the bell lap, I heard the announcer explaining that I wasn’t literally riding naked, but riding for Team Naked Women’s Racing, and thank goodness because riding naked wouldn’t be a wise choice on a day like that. My 1x green Zinn Magster Cross was riding great, but after a lapped rider took me out and I twisted my brake lever I ended up finishing my race on a different bike (my 2x orange Zinn Magster Cross) than I started with and with enough time on second place to post up and point to my tires as the announcer confirmed that “This proves it, tires do win races!”
It’s become clear after trying many times that explaining that this experience is a fully type-A fun for me is simply lost on most people, but I assure you that is exactly how I wanted to be spending my snowy Saturday – playing in the sand box at the Boulder Reservoir.
Back by popular demand, we’ve compiled the 2014 annual holiday gift guide for that special cyclist in your life. Remember, whatever the price, if it makes her happy, just buy it!
None of us got into cycling to ride a trainer, but now that we’re in it, sometimes you have to to combat the short days and cold weather. And you need a trainer that can stand up to your training. Cascade Fluid Pro is tough enough for you to stand in the saddle and really put the power down.
Pair a Cascade trainer with a good Sufferfest video, that will keep you suffering indoors and having fun doing it. Don’t chase the paint on the wall, chase the Maillot Jaune up the Alpe d’Hues.
Know a lady who won’t hang up the bike after August? Studded snow tires will get her to work in the worst of conditions without torn clothes and bruises, and can keep her pedaling through the days cars splash slush from the road on hearty cyclists.
Mad Alchemy Warming Embrocation
Mad Alchemy Embrocation is great when you are prepared to take on the cold and wet. It keeps you waterproof and windproof and toasty. It is made locally, and makes the locals’ extremities warm and yummy smelling.
Leg and knee warmers only go so far if you don’t have thermals on your hips. Stay cozy without getting overheated and layer tights or warmers as needed. Plus, keep wearing your favorite lightweight women’s chamois.
Get accurate readings on how much power you are laying down in your pain cave with the tiny, discreet, lightweight and accurate power meter built into your crank arm from Stages Cycling.
The Feed makes staying fueled with complete nutrition in the winter easy. Pick what you want to take on your rides from a huge list of sports nutrition and get a monthly delivery with all your favorite kinds. The Pro Box is packed with delicious and healthy sports nutrition, ready to drop off at your door. It’s giving the gift of relief every time your favorite lady athlete grabs for something to munch on a long, cold ride.
Winter months require lens choices: Sometimes you are riding in nearly dark conditions, while others the snow is so reflective only the darkest lenses will do. Airblast glasses offer full coverage from splash without fogging up and lens colors can easily be swapped between red, transparent and copper tints.
You can be as tough as anything, but if you can’t keep your feet warm and dry, you won’t last outside for long. The Sidi Breeze Rain is a warm, waterproof ankle boot for any condition.
Turin Bicycles gift certificate
‘Tis the season for frequently breaking components — the elements aren’t kind to our bicycles. Trust that her ride will need a tune up, and help her get what she needs from expert mechanics at Turin.
The first official ‘cross weather’ race is in the books. Here’s Amanda B.’s take on the below freezing and beyond snowy race at the Boulder Res!
Starting the day by layering up with ample embrocation lotion and then 3-4 layers of clothing on all areas of the body does not always predict a good outcome. Below freezing temps, wind and snow blowing we lined up to start the race at Boulder Res. The temperatures had been dropping all day. Spending the day watching each group fall around the first icy corner did not inspire confidence in beginning this race. However, all the worries dissipated after the whistle blew and the ladies were off.
Amanda B. may be the only one who could be crazy enough to turn our cold weather snap into a fun listicle for you! Read her top 5 reasons why racing in below freezing temps is better.
In part 2 Katie describes her most humbling experience on the bike.
Steamboat Stage Race: Part II The Road Race and the Crit
There was a short but moderate climb heading out of town and I got dropped immediately. Girls were passing me like I was standing still. I literally had nothing: no power, no legs, no lungs, no kick. I was done before the race even started and I felt awful. All of my training, all of my endurance and fitness had been robbed from me in an instant. I started to panic thinking, “Hadn’t I been hanging with most of those girls all season? Hadn’t I been with the lead group in Salida just a few weeks ago? WHAT IS GOING ON?” This was going to be a very lonely ride.
In a two part blog Katie shares with us her experience at the Steamboat Stage Race. She has labelled this stage race “Bonkfest 2014.”
Steamboat Stage Race: Part I The Time Trial
Have you ever gone out to your car on a really cold winter morning and the thing just wouldn’t start? Sometimes, no matter how much money you’ve thrown at it over the years in maintenance, all the oil changes, the quality fuel you pay extra for, the time you spend making sure it’s a reliable vehicle, no matter what you do, some times your car just craps out on you. Well, I got to Steamboat and my “car” wouldn’t start. Except this time my car was my body. The machine I try to take excellent care of failed me.
This is a two-part report recalling my worst performance of the season. It’s taken me a few months to come to terms with what I now refer to as “Bonkfest 2014” – also known as the Steamboat Stage Race. This is my favorite race. I love the town of Steamboat, I love ending race season in Steamboat and I love ending the summer in Steamboat. This year my family flew in from St. Louis to watch and I was hoping for a good result. I flatted in the road race last year and crashed in the time trial, so this year couldn’t possibly be any worse…or could it?
Katey Martus shares with us her recent adventure while night riding for the first time in years.
For those of you who are familiar with the popular 80s TV show Knightrider, it is still possible that an aging cyclist can have an adventure of her own as well. While I don’t have a cool, muscle car named “KITT” to offer unsolicited advice before I ride, I do have a well-loved 29er hard tail, some antiquated night lights and a ridiculous love to ride regardless of the changing season.
The outdoor mountain bike season is almost over for us here in Boulder. Daylight savings and inevitable snow causes a lot of us to hang up our mountain bikes for the season (unless of course you’re lucky enough to have a fatty and continue to rip it up year round). Against my better judgement, I’ve signed up for a 24 hour race in Arizona this upcoming February. The last time I rode at night was 24 Hours of Moab and that, my friends, was a long time ago …when I was newly pregnant with my first son. My race history has been spotty at best. I was out this past race season for a shoulder injury yet I feel that I’ve healed well enough given the circumstances. And…getting some saddle time in the dark would be beneficial to this upcoming race.
Riding off road isn’t for everyone. Katie may just be to be one of those people. Read about her experience this cyclocross season.
After months of badgering from Brittany Jones, Amanda Bye and a coworker, I decided to take the plunge into cyclocross. I bought a bike. I got some new shoes. I was excited about trying something new but also a little hesitant. I run. I bike. But I do not run and carry my bike. I kept telling myself that cross will be good for bike handling and skills but I was definitely not excited about mounting and dismounting or bunny hopping. I’m a warm weather girl. If it’s below 60 degrees you will find me with my North Face coat on. I get cold easily. I don’t like off camber. I don’t like dirt or gravel or sand. I don’t like water or mud or snow. Why am I trying cross again? The answer, simply, was to get better. To get out of my comfort zone, to try something new and maybe change my opinion on the aforementioned conditions.