Naked Women's Racing Blog

Race reports, training tips, and our ladies' lives on two wheels.

Mentors Perspective: Louisville Criterium

Rachel, Berta, Susan, Ingrid and Sue of the BRAC BoD mentored the Cat 4 women during the Louisville Criterium yesterday as part of the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado’s women’s program. There were 50 in the field and zero crashes! Many of the women had never raced before. Following the race, Rachel wanted to share some physical and psychological observations through personal experiences. Read on!

  1. We had many girls racing not only their first crit, but first bike race ever! And you all finished upright and no one was last! (Not that being last matters, I come in last at least once a year. I highly recommend it! It’s humbling and reminds you that you race for fun)
  2. If you can do a no-handed victory salute in a Cat 4 crit, it is time to cat up! (Talking to you Sam, you could probably take me in a sprint! And Mean Mama Madison misses you.)
  3. When mentoring, I would say “get on her wheel.” When that happened, many of the girls I think thought I said “giddy up” and took off like a bat out of hell and passed the wheel I was pointing out. Get on her wheel means bridge the gap and sit on the wheel in front of you so you can enjoy a draft and recover so you don’t work so hard by yourself.
  4. You only have so many matches. Every time you give it an all out effort, you use up one match. Each person has a different amount of matches but knowing your matchbook takes a long time to learn. Trial and error when you’re new. I have about 4 when I’m trying to win a race and 10 when I’m working for a teammate because when I work for someone else, I try so much harder than I would for myself.
  5. The TWO PROFESSIONAL TRIATHLETES in the cat 4 field placed 8th and 11th compared to the Frostbite TT where they both bested every female (and most males) in attendance. This PROVES that racing is so much more than being able to go strong in a straight line. Add in drop bars, handling skills, and drafting, and it changes the game.
  6. You individually are not stronger than the group. When the group decides to organize and take turns pulling, they will catch you. Watch any pro race and rarely does someone stay away. When they do it’s amazing but it doesn’t happen often. I noticed a few girls would attack with all their might to only be swallowed by the group 2 min later. Time your attacks and know when to go or when to take a chance. This will come in time and you’ll learn. Cycling is a lifelong sport, and you will learn something in every race you do. So don’t sweat trying to learn everything in the first race because you won’t (or year for that matter).
  7. Confidence. Without it, you will do poorly. Your head is more important than your strength. You can train all day long but if your head is screwed up, it can change your race. Confidence as a racer is hard to attain, but you all deserve to be where you are. So line up in the front row and smile knowing you’re going to have fun and if anything, get one helluva workout for the day.
  8. Starting position will make or break your race. I started in the back at the Aspen Pro Challenge last year because there were other pros there that I was intimidated by. Big mistake. That was the first crit I was ever pulled from. It sucked but my head wasn’t in the game (i.e. violation of point 7) and I worked too hard trying to move up.
  9. In my opinion, working as a team and being a part of one means more to me than being an individual. If you want to win every race or not give a little extra to be a part of a bigger picture, then you should race unattached or cat up and stop sandbagging. If those are your goals, then that is completely ok and truth be told, I wanted nothing more than to cat up as a 4 and 3 (and now I want to downgrade!!). It is easier without teammates to do that for many reasons including much less responsibility. I’m not saying that it is wrong to want to do well or win or simply get what you want out of racing. We are all overachievers or we wouldn’t be training and in this competitive environment. However, when not working for a teammate on or off the course, you will miss out on some very important lessons, benefits, and more. You learn tons when working through things as a team. You also push yourself so much harder for a teammate than you would for yourself. Trust me on this. All of my PRs were when working for a teammate. I know others can say the same thing.
  10. NONE OF US (on this team) GET PAID TO DO THIS!! If you do, congratulations. You are one of the genetically gifted women whom possesses talent that I emulate, but I simply don’t have no matter how much I train. The majority of US female pro racers earn well below the poverty-line income of $11,170 for a single-person household. PER YEAR! I don’t envy training 20 hrs per week and having to work on top of that to make a living! And if you have a bad day on the bike, it’s just that. A pro has a bad day on the bike, they could lose their contract. Recognize that you’re doing this to have fun, stay fit, and challenge yourself. It ain’t your day job. It’s ok to be nervous, miss a day or two training, or to be outside of your comfort zone. That’s the fun part. Once out of the fun zone, and you aren’t having a good time, perhaps change your attitude or change your sport. And go easy on yourself. It takes one day being down in the dumps following a race that didn’t go so well, and then you get perspective. Lanier, I know exactly how you felt yesterday. I felt that at the State TT last year and then bailed on a teammate the next day at Guanella Pass HC because I couldn’t stand two days in a row of poor performance. I was ready to hang up my bike and never race again. I actually cried and I haven’t cried in about 8 years. Over a stupid bad bike racing weekend. Then thank everything holy for my teammates who picked me up and convinced me to do Dead Dog Stage Race where with the help of those teammates, they led me to a 1st place in the GC. Wouldn’t have raced without their encouragement and wouldn’t have placed as well as I did without their help. Best part was hanging with my teammates outside of racing in WY! Doing poorly taught me humility and empathy. And it gave me much needed perspective. That lesson is greater than any lesson winning will ever teach you.
I couldn’t be more proud of ALL you ladies out there who raced. Bike racing isn’t easy! If it were, everyone would do it. You did something huge just showing up to the line. Whether or not you are happy with your performance, please know that your teammates and I couldn’t be more proud!