Category Archives: Off Season
Kimberley, though one of our youngest, shares her vast knowledge of cycling experiences. She’s wise beyond her years! Read if you want to learn how to become a better racer!
After a somewhat strange spring, I am finally allowing myself to hope that the days of spending hours on the trainer might just be a thing of the past! (at least until next year…). During the month of April, nearly every week we had snowstorms that made it impossible to ride outside, first because of the actual storm in progress, and then, for the remainder of the week, the accumulation that refused to melt. Right when it did melt and showed promise of an outdoor training ride, the pattern would repeat itself. And this happened for 4 weeks straight!
Let me say that, living in Colorado, trainer time is both expected and accepted… during the months of November through March, I will likely put in more hours on my trainer than the road, but April?! It was a month where I had to dig up a little extra mental strength and focus to stay motivated, partly because at this point, I was going on five months of trainer time, and also because with my bigger, target races coming up, this was no time for shortened training sessions (my coach usually has my cut my time down by about 1/3 when I have to do them on the trainer… thus a 4 hour ride becomes 3… which still seems likely an impossibly long time to ride in one place).
Now that I’ve done a little retrospective ranting, I’m pleased to say that I’ve been riding outdoors since returning from my race at Gila. After a few days completely off the bike to give my body a boost in the healing process, I got right back on track with my new training plan. This month is all about maintaining my form through Nationals, doing some longer rides to keep the endurance and some shorter, harder workouts to keep the speed and the strength — but not so much that it puts me into a state of over-training.
A well-respected racer once told me that she did much better “off the couch” (under-trained) than she did over-trained. This is not to say that it’s best not to train, but rather illustrates the importance of finding balance as an athlete. The majority of athletes (myself included), especially endurance athletes, have a greater proclivity to doing more not less. For me, the value in having a coach is just as much to tell me when to rest as when and how to train. The planning my coach and I did to put me in my peak condition for Gila ended up being timed near perfectly, and so now the difficulty is in maintaining that. Typically, a true peak can last only about two weeks, which is why it’s important for racers to identify key target races. Very few people can win elite-level races all year long, but it is possible to do reasonably well all season, and very well at select, carefully placed races (unless, of course, you are a superhuman species, of which there are a few in the peleton).
Now that I’ve gotten slightly off topic discussing my current training, I will return to what I originally intended to write about: lessons learned from winter training. I know you may be thinking, “umm… this is a little late. It’s beautiful out, and I’ve relegated my trainer to only pre-race warm-up purposes.” I wholeheartedly share your excitement for trainer-less training, but if any of these five nuggets ring true for you, tuck them away for next winter
1. Mental state is huge. If you approach the trainer like an enemy to be reckoned with, every minute will be excruciating, and a three hour base ride nearly impossible. Instead, find a way to make peace with it and accept the hours you will spend on the trainer or rollers, and the experience will be much more pleasant (note: I say “much more pleasant”… not completely euphoric and joy-filled… I have to be realistic here!)
2. Trainer time is a perfect excuse to watch the kind of shows you can’t justify watching otherwise. I, with only minimal shame, will admit to you that this winter, I went through all 8 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy (I somehow missed the craze as a teenage girl, but don’t worry, Meredith and McDreamy still managed to find their way into my adult life), 4 seasons of Gossip Girl (similar story here), and several other random shows I started but didn’t find catchy enough. This is a time to indulge in shows with minimal to no redeeming value… because, hey, the redeeming value is coming from the work you’re doing on the bike, yes? The more brain power I have to use absorbing a show, the less energy is available for my workout. I realize this logic may be fundamentally flawed, so, feel free to watch Ted Talks if you prefer.
3. This one parallels #1. The toughest months, in my opinion, are December through mid-March. For me, this is because I usually take the month of September or October (whenever my racing finishes) off the bike, and do other fun, active things as a kind of physical and mental “reset.” So, when I do start riding again, it’s because I’m really missing my bike and am excited to ride again. This unadulterated excitement typically lasts through December before some rides start to become tedious, and some mornings I feel tired and would rather read a book on the couch than slop through the snow to my “training shed” (Marcus insists it’s a training studio, to try to make me feel more hard-core… it’s a shed). It’s far enough from both the post-season rest month and the first race that it can be hard to stay motivated. But this is the time that it’s most important to refocus, recenter, and push through the fatigue or boredom. I once read a cheesy ad in a bicycling magazine that said “races are won in the off season,” and although I can’t remember what they were trying to get me to buy, the phrase stuck in my head.
By the middle of March, the excitement of upcoming races starts to build, and I see each training session as a chance to prepare for the season. I picture myself attacking, chasing, bridging… there is purpose that will be seen in a relatively short amount of time. My point here is this: if it is past March (which is now is) the hardest part is done. And, in the future, when you find yourself in that few-month period where focus and motivation can wane, you at least have the knowledge that it is not forever. Knowing that hard times are inevitable can actually help them to be more bearable (and this is true not just in cycling, but life…but that’s its own post). If December rolls around and I wake up not wanting to ride, and I had expected and accepted that kind of inevitable dip, I can move past it and do what I need to do despite not loving that one ride. In contrast, if this lack of passion for the sport I love hits me as a complete surprise, I am at risk of internalizing it as some fundamental character flaw: “I must not be a very good athlete”… “What if I NEVER want to ride? How can I do this 6 days a week for months and months?!”… “I’m going to have a horrible race season… I don’t want to train today, and it’s only December!” My point is, that this negativity is avoided when I accept occasional lack of motivation as a normal part of any athlete’s life, and can use it as an opportunity for developing mental strength.
4. For those rare winter rides that can be done outside (minimal to no snow on the ground, but most likely still bitter cold), don’t underestimate the power of winter gloves (or the misery that the lack of them can bring). I can say that during winter riding, I have never said, “man, I really wish I would have had thinner gloves!” but I have, on multiple occasions, ended up struggling to ride with painfully numb fingers that refuse to shift. In the same way, clothing choice can make or break a winter ride. I know it’s a hassle to have to carry more clothes than you might need for the entire ride, and especially in Colorado, the weather can be hard to predict. But, unless you have someone at your disposal to pick you up in a warm car at any point during your training ride, I’d suggest bringing more than less.
Being cold has a strange way of turning an independent, logical and intelligent person into an irrational, miserable, whimpering primal creature who’s actually wondering if she will die here on this mountain (I say “she” because that primal creature has been yours truly several times in my riding “career”). Even if you’re an experienced rider, it can be hard to predict what level of clothing will keep you comfortable during your ride. One thing that I started doing was keeping a “clothing log” as part of my training journal, where I’d write what I wore, what the temperature was throughout the ride (including any inclement weather I faced) and how comfortable I was. This way, on those days where I still go back and forth on whether to bring the heavy or light booties, I can look back and remind myself what has worked well (or not so well) in the past under similar conditions.
5. Although winter, for me, is not an “off season,” I still see it as a time where I strive to add balance to my life, both on and off the bike. This is another aspect that helps stave of the physical and mental “burnout” (both acute and chronic) that can inevitably come up during your life as a bike racer. Since graduating from college, I’ve realized how much I miss using my brain on a regular basis. I don’t have anything specific to study for, I’m not doing research and writing papers, and as silly as this may sound (especially if you are one who currently finds yourself in the trenches of college or grad school), I miss that. I am constantly exercising my physical body, pushing it to its limit, but my mind is so often fighting off boredom. So, during the winter, I consciously add “balance,” both physical and mental. This past winter, this came in the form of: yoga, knitting, nordic skiing, cooking and baking (I got really excited about homemade raw bars, juicing, etc), practicing my violin which I previously hadn’t picked up in months, reading books in Spanish, studying for my GRE, and tutoring a few hours a week for both extra money and to keep myself sharp. My point here is that if ALL your life consists of is bike racing, sooner or later you’ll hit a breaking point. I’ve learned that for me, whether I’m at a place in my life where I can train 20 hours a week or 8 hours a week, balance is crucial, and without it, everything falls apart.
So, with that semi-coherent rambling, I give you five tips for winter training success. But for now, it’s beautiful outside, so enjoy the sun!
We know Rachel isn’t the only one to commute to work by bike on the team, but she’s going to be the second one to write about it! From time to time, she’ll share her commuting stories. You’d be surprised of what can happen in a 6 mile round trip commute.
When I moved to Colorado 2.5 years ago, I had to sell my beloved Litespeed, Bella, who I commuted 32 miles round trip to work in Tennessee. I also traded my city fixie, a sweet 80′s Schwinn, for a couch so I’d have something to sit on once I got to Colorado (I no longer own the couch BTW). Though I missed my commuters, I still had a road, mtn, cx and TT bike to keep me busy. But life just wasn’t the same. It felt like Sophie’s Choice (great movie for all those young ones on the team!)
But….flash forward two years later….
After moving my life and career to Boulder, I decided to buy myself a celebratory present–my very own, tricked out Raleigh commuter bike! Complete with an internal 8-speed hub, that I pretend is a power tap, my new gal is the latest addition to the fleet of 20 bicycles at our household. She’s also worth as much as my car (my car isn’t very expensive and is for some reason always missing doorhandles). Though I loved her stock, I’ve since added an SKS rear fender, reflective dots and tape, Krieg cycling bag, massive U-lock, an “I <3 my bike” bell, Niterider light, and three blinky red taillights. She’s quite sexy all dressed up.
So now that I’ve been commuting the last three months, I’ve only filled up my gas tank twice (instead of every week when commuting to my old gig), saving nearly $500 (which is greater than the cost of the bike). Also, since taking this leap of two wheels faith, my car insurance company has a device that plugs into my car to track my usage. Got a 6% reduction in my rates-taking that to the bank! Beyond the cash benefits, mentally it helps me wind down and reflect for the evening or prepare for my day on the way in.
Only one episode of epicness ensued since my commuting adventures have taken place. Jeff and I decided to ride our commuters up to NCAR and then hike Bear Peak, he on a single speed and me with my 8 gears, struggling to get to the top of the hill and start of our hike. While we both know better, neither of us wanted to carry a bag of extra clothes. Strike number one.
After hiking nearly 4 miles, snowflakes started to fall and the wind picked up. While this happens often in CO, we both had summit fever, decided to shrug it off, and we powered to the top. Strike two.
My arms were so numb from the cold that I could hardly pull myself up the rocks to the peak. So without any additional layers and getting colder by the second, we turned right back around and booked it to the trailhead. Luckily, I brought a banana. But was too cold to eat it. Strike three.
Finally, we made it back to the bikes, close to 4 hours after our journey started, with only one bottle of water between us and one banana. We started back towards home but had to descend down NCAR. Snow was blowing so hard and the temperature dropped about 30 degrees. Somehow we both managed to get back safely, albeit 80% frozen and 100% exhausted. We both fell asleep before 7 pm.
While epic adventures gone awry make for great stories, most of my commuting experiences go without a hitch. Occasionally, I’ll forget my work shoes, or it will be sunny in the morning and snow a foot by the afternoon, but those things make me laugh more so than seem an inconvenience. I wouldn’t trade my 3 mile stroll for a petrol-guzzling car ride any day of the week. And god-forbid waste any amount of water washing my car (clearly a pet peeve). Plus it takes me longer to drive, park my car and then walk to work than riding my bike to the front door of the office.
In fact, many of my coworkers feel the same way. We participated in Boulder’s Winter Bike to Work Day together a few weeks ago and had a great time. More communities should offer and encourage these things. Check out the video below.
Look for another blog post in the spring regarding my daily commutes. I’m already excited to ride my bike without a puffy coat, gloves, hat and night lights. However, I’m sure come spring, I’ll be trading the 20 degree temps for 50 mph winds so we’ll see how that goes! Either way, it’s always guaranteed to be an adventure.
In light of recent (read as gone on way to freakin’ long) news and interviews in the world of cycling I thought I would add some positivity to our beloved sport. Things to know before reading…
- I have not been a “competitive cyclist” for a year yet so what the heck do I really know
- I hate drama so I pretend like it is not happening by shoving my fingers in my ears and tap dancing
- Coffee is really kicking in already so this could be like reading a crack junkies journals
Remember when you were a kid and you learned to ride a bike? What an accomplishment that was and the world was immediately different. You had wheels and freedom and speed and streamers on your handlebars if you were really lucky! At first just riding up and down the street under parental supervision was all it took to make life so exciting. Soon my riding turned into meeting friends and riding to the boundaries our parents had set up for hours and hours. Then of course we had to build ramps and try catching big air that was probably more like 3-5 inches but hey I felt like I was flying. Riding bikes were fun and that was the end of the story. I was hooked.
A little later in life I found other hobbies that took me away from any physical activity whatsoever so there went bikes all together… sad face but hey this will come around I promise. I eventually (a year and a half ago) began cycling for exercise and that was the first time I had been on a bike again since I was probably 12. Did you know that even though it had been (cough 16 years cough) a large amount of time it was just like riding a bike. I knew that in order to stay upright I just had to keep moving forward. Side bar: Ok is it just me or is that some kind of analogy for life?
Anywho, I immediately loved riding my bike again. My lady parts maybe not so much but Helga has come to terms with my new hobby and hates me and my bike less. Since I was a “runner” at that time (read as a woggler = walk/jog) I started to see the differences pretty quickly when I got back on the saddle. Those differences then turned into me joining a team and becoming a racing junky. But here for you now I shall bullet point some of the reasons why I feel so positive about this wacky sport we call cycling.
- Some of my best thinking happens when I am pedaling. It can be just you and your bike with an open road/trail ahead of you with miles and miles of thinking/de-stressing. It’s like therapy but cheaper.. kind of… sorry Dr Amanda 1.0
- While biking you can opt to not pedal for a moment or six and still be moving along. If you were to stop running and try to coast you would now be standing still. Sometimes a coast or draft is a beautiful beautiful thing. Thanks again Lanier Allen, Tami Burke, and Sharon Madison for the view of your Naked butts yesterday…I enjoy them more than you probably know!
- Even on your hardest day on the bike you still just got to ride a bike and that is a priceless privilege that should not be forgotten
- You can make a ton of friends and if you are as lucky as I am some of those friends become your family.. not in a polygamy kind of way but more like a Sister Sledge “We Are Family” way .
- You get to see parts of the world from view points many people don’t get to. Yes you might have to climb to see them but it is ALWAYS worth it at the top
- Flying down a mountain pass that you just conquered makes you feel like you are 9 again ramping off of a dirt mound with your wonder woman cape on
- Pushing yourself to your limits and overcoming something you weren’t sure you could is unlike any other high
- Getting to sport your team kit for the first time is the coolest feeling. I raced several races this year before my kit came in and I remember so badly just wanting to squeeze my bod into that Naked lycra… it was like Christmas when they came in! I took off of work early so I could go pick them up myself because I wanted mine first.
- Lining up at the start line with all the training time, preparation, nutrition, dedication, adrenaline, nerves, vomit that is running through your brain and veins at that moment can seem unnerving but then at that very moment when you are considering wetting your chamois your teammate leans over and makes some smart @$$ comment about planning to rock out with her _____ out and you forget all that other stuff and just crack up laughing. It’s the funnest time.
- Getting to be a part of something NOT about yourself but about your teammates/friends/family and their aspirations and dreams is so rewarding. If you can then help them in any way it’s the icing on the Powerbar, which are delicious btw. It’s not about you anymore, it’s about your team and those wonderful individuals who love cycling just like you do and work as hard (or harder) which makes you want to ride even more and with your whole heart.
So yeah I went all kind of sappy and off topic and I made another pot of coffee but hey don’t judge me. What this all boils down to is I have decided I like bullet points when writing and wanted to try it out. No really seriously yeah there is some junk clogging the engine of the sport but it is so not about that. It is a weird and hard time to be called a competitive cyclist but it’s not about that. I didn’t start riding my bike to be cool like, insert any pro name you would like, I started riding my bike again to get some exercise and to feel like a kid again. Because of those two reasons I have found out who I really am as a human being. I am a dork, a bit OCD, have a fake it till you make it mentality, not a climber but secretly like it, a team player, a wee bit competitive, a Facebook stalker, a need for speed wanna be sprinter, flats are my friend, curbs are not my friend, my high fives cure many problems, start line jokes are my thing, I like a challenge, I like to be pushed, I love my bike on a good day and on a bad day, I love the sport, I love love love my team.
This sport is so exciting and contagious I only wish more people knew that and then everybody would be doing it! This team is unbelievable and I tell people all the time I feel like I won the lotto by getting to be a part of it. The friendships on the team and from the other women racing out there… I don’t have the words to describe. It is a community of hard work and respect and smiles and laughter. You get out of it what you put in to it and it can be life changing. Can you tell I am biased and hooked?
There is my attempt at positive rambling today. I really hope you get to ride your bike today. If you need someone to ride with let me know. I love riding my bike.
The moment you’ve all been waiting for….an open letter from Sexy Beast.
I have been accused of not being very nice to a certain member of mountain goat status on our team in the past. In fact people claim that I, Amanda Cyr, have written negative statements about us not being friends on this blog. They make me out to be such a bad person and that I have no reason at all to feel so victimized by before mentioned person. I feel like since I am too chicken to race cyclocross and therefore can not write any race reports I should offer up a piece of evidence into the case of Mean Mama Madison vs. Amanda St. Cyr.
It was a late, 5:30p.m to be exact, Wednesday evening when I received a text message from the plaintiff regarding my attendance in her spin class on the next morning. I explained to the plaintiff that her class was so early, 6:45a.m to be exact, that I wasn’t sure if it was natural nor healthy for me to be in attendance. (Dr. Amanda Bye can confirm and will agree with everything I say forever and always in case you need a note stating that I should not be doing anything physical before an entire pot of coffee) Not caring about my well being, as usual, she responded with an extremely harsh and violently worded message. In fact it was so bad that due to its graphic nature I must censor to keep this piece of evidence PG. “If you don’t get your %&*^$*# @$$ to class I %&$*#)%& swear I will #*$#*$ your #(*&#&#^#$ up with hill climbs, (@#*$&%* intervals, #$*%(%*$ lactic threshold, and the #$(#$*&#^# #*$%&#(# copper triangle.” You get the point and you can now understand that I had no choice in the matter.
*This next section may not be suitable for younger viewers*
“Resistance all the way up on the bike, hill sprints, squats with kettle balls, hill sprints again, squats with dumbbells, Cyr is a sissy, more sprints, plank, zone 100 Cyr or else, hill sprints again, wall squats, always deeper, don’t breath Cyr, core, core, core, core, core…is that all you have you #($%&#@(@&$% Cyr”
I want you all to know that I did not want to bring this to your attention today for any other reason than to educate you on the real Mean Mama Madison. At the end of road race season I heard talk of the off season and how people eat chips and salsa, drink refreshing adult beverages, and let their bikes collect dust. I feel like my off season is in jeopardy. I feel cheated. I feel betrayed.
What happens if she is allowed to continue I ask you? How long can one person take this abuse? Where has my off season gone?
If you feel like you need a first hand spin class experience with the drill sergeant known as “Mama Madison” I feel it is my civil duty to warn you that your legs will turn into cement blocks, your arms into wet noodles, your core will burn like the fiery pits of hell, and your lungs will burst into a thousand pieces. Yes you may be in amazing shape by the end, and yes she is a great teacher, and yes you will leave feeling like Rocky on the top step of the Philadelphia Art Museum but blah, blah, blah. It’s hard and it hurts and I am sure I will go back for more of this pain and suffering because she makes me.
I rest my case.
-Amanda J Cyr I
With threats of the first snow on the Front Range tonight, Rachel and Vera thought this winter riding checklist would be a good one to promote. Not only do you need to give yourself at least an additional 15-20 minutes to get ready for winter time riding, you also need to give yourself an evening searching for your winter riding gear! Don’t get left out in the cold!
Winter Riding Check List
- Three top layers: wicking baselayer (no cotton, Curve Inc makes great ones!), long sleeved jersey or short with armwarmers, jacket or vest (sometimes both!).
- Bottom layers: below 40-liner plus winter tight; above 40-winter tight; above 55-shorts and knee warmers (embrocation is your friend)
- Head protection: ear warmers, hat. Make sure it fits under your helmet comfortably or you will develop a headache 15 minutes into your ride.
- More Upper-body protection: neck gator or balaclava if below 40.
- Gloves: everyone is different but wool liners under gloves can help, or always carry rubber surgical gloves for emergencies! My favorite trick and easy to pack. You can see what happens to Roberta, Rachel and Vera when one forgets their gloves and decides to race in the snow and freezing, wet temps.
- Handwarming Packs: Not just for hands-great for all body parts!
- Booties: Preferably wind stopper or water proof because snow melt will get your feet wet. If 50 or above, go for toe warmers.
- Socks: Defeet Wool socks and silk liners help keep the feet warm. If you have Shimano shoes, make sure to tape up your air hole!
- Food: Bring food that won’t freeze. Lara Bars, liquid Powerbar shots, bananas, sandwiches, waffles! Bring food that you’ll eat and that you like.
- Money: always bring cash money honey and a debit card! Keep $5-10 in your saddle bag at all times. You never know when you’ll need it.
- Flat kit: handpumps are good in the winter. I tend to get more flats in winter. Also have at least 1 tube and a patch kit or 2 tubes. A heavier set of tires might also help prevent flats.
- Hydration: Water and electrolyte-type drink. Insulated bottles (polar bottles) can keep your water from freezing.
- Time: Give yourself at least an hour to get all of this ready for the first couple of winter rides. It takes a long time to get out the door with all this stuff. Don’t be late for the group ride-it’s RUDE and in violation of Rule #87.
- Water/Snow protection: Rain jacket if you have room. Pearl Izumi or Craft make a good lighter wind/water resistant jacket that wads up to the size of a tennis ball.
- Sunglasses: your year-round riding gear! If you need goggles, you should turn around and ride inside or go skiing instead:)
- Maintenance: Make sure you’re cleaning your bike after each ride and drying it off (chain, moving parts, relubing chain). If you leave a mess on your bike, you’ll find you’ll need to replace parts much sooner than later.
- Optionals: Fenders if it’s super slushy could be a good addition to your riding gear. Also, I’ve always wanted to get my hands into a pair of bar mitts just to try.
Megan D did an informal interview with all the hard-working Cat 4 ladies from the TriBella team this year. Below is her Q&A and I have attached childhood pictures of all the ladies, to add to the fun! Congrats to all on 2nd Place in the Rocky Mountain Road Cup!
Hometown: AB: Military brat; AC: Miami, FL; MD: Palos Verdes, CA; SM: Steinauer, NE; BP: Laramie, Wyoming; AS: Littleton, Colorado
- What were your childhood hobbies?
AB: Climbing trees and staying active
AC: kicking butt and taking names (classical guitar, French horn, and other non-active things)
MD: Soccer, Reading, Babysitting
SM: Mowing, detasselling corn, gardening and playing the piano, organ and flute.
BP: Riding my bike to all the ends of my hometown Laramie, ballet, and reading to my stuffed animals.
AS: I was all over the place when I was a kid. I did gymnastics, soccer, track and field, dance and horse vaulting
- How did you decide you wanted to start bike racing?
AB: I watched a friend race in City Park Crit and his wife said that she thought I would be good at it, this first piqued my interest.
AC: a bottle(s) of wine and an episode of Grey’s Anatomy
MD: My boyfriend bike raced and encouraged me to give it a try. I was a runner, then a triathlete, and then decided I would try the challenge of bike racing. It was very intimidating to start!
SM: I never decided. Amanda Cyr made me.
BP: I had a road bike for several years prior to racing and had done several bike events (Ragbrai, MS150, Elephant Rock, etc.). Thought I’d challenge myself more.
AS: I was in between sports and my best friend at the time invited me to watch a race so I went and decided that I wanted to try it.
- What is the best part about being on a team?
AB: The support of other women cyclists. The stronger riders push me to try harder and everyone is so nice.
AC: matching chamois
MD: The team is a constant support system. The team is a motivation to get out of bed and train, to race, to work for others. The team has been a big motivation for me to reach my goals and to get out there as well as be proud of the other girls, and do good things for each other and the community.
SM: Meeting new people and making new friends.
BP: How does that saying go, misery loves company?? No, it’s really not that bad…ha! I love the encouragement and support the team provides. It’s so much easier to line up for the race when you know one of your buddies on the team is getting up at 0′dark thirty making the same trek to the race as you. In the case of our team, the laughter and good times make it lots of fun. You also learn a lot from your teammates, with respect to racing technique, mental attitude, training, and nutrition.
AS: Everything!!! I really like that everyone is there to help you.
- What has been the hardest part about bike racing?
AB: Not hitting a deer. No, really, I almost hit three in different races over this season. I think the Colorado deer are out to get me. The other hard part of racing is not getting too down on yourself. I have always had to work hard to be good at activities but this is the most effort I have placed into a single sport and I still do not do as well as I would like. Sometimes I feel defeated and it is hard to keep going but these days do not outweigh the fun of racing and being with friends.
AC: bike food
MD: I think it was the intimidation factor (and still is). You find out by doing it though that you are in this together with other girls, you forge bonds based on your experiences and you accomplish things you would never have dreamed of.
SM: Nerves before a race.
BP: There are two things that stand out as being the most difficult for me: (1) Time for training and racing – I’m a single mother, with a full-time job, as well as an additional part-time job. I struggle with training consistently and not letting work interfere with planned workouts. (2) Mental Attitude – It’s difficult not to compare yourself to others and as a result get in a negative mindset about your own abilities or whether you have what it takes. I struggle with shutting that negative self-talk down and with moving into the pain cave in training and racing, in order to push myself even if it is for ten seconds longer.
AS: For me the hardest part of racing is recovering. I always want to go all out whenever I’m on the bike.
- What was your favorite thing about bike racing this year?
AB: Racing along other supportive women and the small improvements. Also laughing at every race with my twin and other racers
AC: making amazing friends (free beer)
MD: This year I conquered a lot of fears, and really pushed my limit in races. I set goals I wasn’t sure I could quite reach, like a podium, or upgrade, or top 3 in RMRC cup, and I actually reached them. I think it was about not giving up. Having those goals and having a team to work for made it all worthwhile.
SM: Going above and beyond my expectations. I was only going to do 5 races this year and I did 22. Being on the podium and having great teammates who worked for me to get me there.
BP: It was being a part of my team, sharing our goals together, and supporting one another.
AS: Well when I wasn’t recovering from mono and strep. My favorite thing was being on the bike and racing it for the small amount of time I had.
- What inspired you the most this year?
AB: Seeing how hard other people worked, even when they were tired. There were times when I wanted to give up but other people kept pushing and that made me want to try harder. The ladies on Naked Women’s Racing Team all have personal stories of both triumph and perceived failures; their love for racing despite the hard times is what was so inspirational for me. Team rides will allow you to hear such stories and be amazed by what these ladies have endured
AC: Sharon Madison
MD: I am forever inspired but the women of all ages that bike race. We had girls from 15-50 on the team this year and they were all amazing.
SM: The CAT 4′s working together at every race. Love those ladies.
BP: I was inspired by all my teammates’ accomplishments over the season. Each and every one of them provides me with something to aspire to. In particular, all my buddies on the Cat 4 team always gave me more to think about in terms of the examples they were setting.
AS: Knowing that once I get rid of the mono I can finally start to ride again. As well as having an awesome team standing behind me even if I was sick and couldn’t race
- Any tips for newbies getting into the sport?
AB: Team rides, ride your bike often, go to races (even when scared), face your demons and join a team that fits for your personal goals.
AC: jump in head first and enjoy every second it
MD: Do group rides as much as possible. You will always improve by riding with others. Join a team if possible; it’s a great support system and social network. Work on things you are bad at (gulp!).
SM: Believe in yourself. I didn’t last year and that’s what held me back from being a great racer.
BP: Set goals, it will give you something more specific to work on. Be good to yourself and watch that negative self-talk, embrace the support you’ll find in a team, ask questions, and above all else have fun!
AS: Have fun. If you’re not having fun, don’t do it. Race the races you want to do, be nice to people, try not to crash people out.
- What are your goals or accomplishments that keep you motivated in the sport?
AB: To meet new people, help other ladies to start racing, to get stronger as a woman cyclist and to help my team as much as possible. Something I learned this year is that helping other teammates win is such a rewarding part of cycling.
AC: I just want to be a great teammate and help my buddies achieve their goals… everything after that is just icing on the gluten free, sugar free, low calorie, vegan, organic cake.
MD: Next year I want to increase my training hours, do more stage races, cut weight and improve climbing, and work consistently for and with teammates in races.
SM: My Goals are to keep getting stronger and be able to comfortably race with the Cat 3′s and Pro 1/2′s.
BP: I’m motivated by my own curiosity I have about just how much I can accomplish. I love progressing towards goals and forward momentum in all aspects of my life. This coming season, I want to train more consistently, continue to work on my nutrition (and perhaps be able to eat with my “other” hand while on the bike this year), and do much more climbing, while smiling (added that one in for good measure and I know it’s possible because Rachel and Mama Madison do it).
AS: My goal is going to the Olympics for track cycling.
Our ring leader, Sharon Madison, get’s her own *special* blog post-interpreted by Sexy Beast (AKA Amanda Cyr)
Name: Sharon Winner Madison
Hometown: Nowhere, Nebraska
Photo: there were no cameras when I was a small child
- What were your childhood hobbies? lunges, squats, and running kitties back to their homes
- How did you decide you wanted to start bike racing? I haven’t yet
- What is the best part about being on a team? I get to tell people what to do
- What has been the hardest part about bike racing? Matching my nail polish to my kit
- What was your favorite thing about bike racing this year? Telling the Amandas what to do
- What inspired you the most this year? Pictures of me on the podium week after week after week after week after week after week
- Any tips for newbies getting into the sport? Listen to everything I say
- What are your goals or accomplishments that keep you motivated in the sport? To be the fastest old lady on 2 wheels
The 2013 season is coming up quickly and Naked Women’s Racing is accepting applications for next year. If you are interested in getting to know other women who love to ride / race their bikes, have a great sense of humor (or enjoy people who do), feel good about giving back to the community that you live in – let us know – we may be the team or club for you! We are currently accepting applications from now until October 2012.
Our team is an all-women’s cycling team based in Denver. In addition to being great ambassadors to cycling, we are also involved in the community. All race team members are expected to volunteer for Ride for Reading (our nonprofit philanthropy) and our team race. Before you apply, please understand that any race reimbursements are tied to the volunteer hours, race responsibilities, as well as your racing schedule. Please see our Race Team Responsibilities for additional questions.
Cat 4 minimum race commitment:
10 Total. 8 Road Races, 2 can be other types of bike races.
Cat 3 minimum race commitment:
12 Total. 10 Road Races, 2 can be other types of bike races.
Cat 1/2 minimum race commitment:
15 Total. 11 Road Races, 4 can be other types of bike races.
- TT Series: Every 2 starts in a TT series will count as 1 race start.
- Stage Race: Each race start will count as 1 race start (stage race and criterium = 2 races).
- Training races do not count as a race start.
- Races will only count if you finish and have a result.
- We would like to focus on the Rocky Mountain Road Cup Competition as these races are more heavily attended.
- Other qualifying races: track, cyclocross, mountain bike. Sorry, triathlons do not count as a bike race. But we welcome triathletes to try bike racing!
- Master’s racing doesn’t count unless it is a CO state championship
We are adding a Naked Women’s Club for the 2013 season for women who would like to be involved in a cohesive cycling group and are maybe considering doing a race or two. Download the Club Responsibilities HERE. Enjoy benefits of the club, such as mentoring and retailer/product discounts, without having to commit to racing. But if you drink the racing KoolAid and decide you want to be a part of the race team mid-season, that’s possible too! Triathletes, Masters Racers, Mountain Bikers, New Racers, Enthusiasts, or the Newbies are welcome to apply! Shoot us an email and we’ll get you started.
Thank god, it’s not! For a change of pace, five of us Bella’s made it out to Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, CO for the annual ski and soak. This is an all-women’s day of skate and classic ski instruction, lunch, lecture and some time to dip in the hot tub and drink wine (learn about wax.)
I have skied since I was 7 and 10 years ago, I took my Alpine skiing to the dark world of telemark skiing. I consider myself a pretty accomplished telemark skier and pride myself on skiing the trees in the back bowls of Vail. I have, on the other hand, never tried to cross country ski, not even once. Why would I want to do that? It looks so boring!
Maybe age or potentially wisdom, or the idea of hanging with my ladies and finishing the day with wine and cheese, but for whatever reason, I signed up for the day on skinny skis. In fact, I think I was the fourth person to sign up. Rachel said, “don’t worry, it’s just like ice skating.” Those comforting words from her were terror for me. The last time I ice skated, I took a huge splat on the rink at Squaw Valley and it left quite the mark and some minor whip lash.
We lucked out. The weather was amazing and our group of Bella’s minus Ingrid (as she’s advanced) all got out there with our awesome instructor for the day, Haley Johnson (former Biathlon Olympian and general bad ass.) She broke things down into the basics and made it work. After the one-legged drills, then the no poles drills, we were ready for poles and skate skiing. And, what in the world? I could do it! I was skating a long, one side, then the other. My glides were not long, but they existed and it felt fabulous.
The feeling of pure exhaustion is intense and comes very easily in skate skiing. Before lunch we made it out, what seemed to be a really long way, and came back for lunch and a discussion about how amazing Haley’s experience at the Vancouver games was and all that goes into the games. She passed around her participant medal and also the medal of her grandmother who had helped with the Lake Placid Olympic Games. It was a great discussion. We took some photos with her, too.
After lunch, many ladies went to the spa but not us; we persevered and went out for more. I went back to the basics and Rachel, Ingrid, Susan and Joan went out for a ski. I rejoined them but told them I was only going to do a very truncated loop. Seeing them continue on, I thought OK, I will just go a few more minutes and then, I ended up going back to where I was that morning and a little further.
They decided to do a bit more and I b-lined for the lodge. I needed my afternoon tea and in a major way! I met up with Susan and we went to the hot tub. Soaking post incredible athletic work was a welcome relief. The Devil’s Thumb Ranch thought of everything for us and the place is incredibly beautiful.
After the soak, we went for the wine and cheese and wax discussion. Ingrid, Rachel, Joan and Susan were interested in the wax discussion. I was interested in hunks of cheese and wine!
After my first experience on skate skis, I am now the proud owner of boots. The skis should arrive in 2-3 weeks. I am hooked.