Category Archives: Off Season
Lori not only wrote her first blog post, she did her first fat bike race! And guess what? She crushes it. Read more:
In 2014, I wanted to enter the WinterBike at Copper race but my husband ended up in the ER that day (all is good). So it was on the agenda for 2015 especially since it was moved out 1 weekend which happened to be my birthday weekend – all activities revolved around me!
Bike Maintenance Advanced Clinic: Un-smashing your rims, de-grinding your gears and how to properly tape your bike together
In case you don’t already know, Turin Bicycles rocks. Their support for Naked Women’s Racing already places them in the rocker category, but Thursday night, a couple of their mechanics stayed late to show a room of women how to get greasy and keep their cranks turning. Steve made every topic approachable and easy to follow, without dumbing anything down or the air of condescension that often keeps women away from pulling out the tool box.
The advanced clinic was a follow-up on the beginner clinic. The night’s topics:
- Keeping the Rear Derailleur on the Rails (derailleur adjustment)
- Keeping Your Wheels Round (truing)
- Taping Your Bike Up (handlebar taping)
- If you really smash your rim up and need to get yourself home, carefully place your hands halfway along the arc between the two bent points, raise the wheel above your head and bring it smashing down onto a rock or hard ground. Repeat as needed until desired shape is acquired.
- Don’t touch the Limit Screws. You’ll probably only screw them up. It’s nothing against you, they just don’t like the attention. And if you do screw them up you’ll regret it.
- If you break a spoke, twist the broken spoke around a good one to avoid whacking the frame.
- It doesn’t matter which way you wrap your bar tape, as long as you wrap it the right way.
- Cork bar tape looks and feels amazing, but will make you grumpy if you wrap your own, and your mechanic grumpy if you bring it in.
If you wanted to know all the secrets, you would have had to come to the clinic. Until you get to a clinic of your own, just make sure to invite a tech-savvy girl on your rides to get you out of a tight spot.
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!
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.
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!
Setting those clocks back doesn’t set Brittany back. Grab the lights and a fat bike and get out there!
Photo courtesy of Wayne Herrick
It always takes me a couple weeks to adapt when autumn sets in and the time changes. Even though there are still 24 hours in a day, I seem to always have less time to get things done. The truth is that I have the same amount of time, just less time with the sun.
This means I have three options with regards to riding: take over the living room with my trainer, find more cookies to eat while I read on the couch, or charge up my lights. I don’t hate my trainer, per se, but I know that he and I will have plenty of time together before March arrives and I’d like to do what I can to keep that to a minimum. Cookies are great. I have almost nothing bad to say about cookies, except that I already eat too many of them.
That leaves lights. I’ll be honest, I kinda have to talk myself into it or let my boyfriend talk me into it. I mean, it’s dark out, the temperature ranges from not-warm to stupid-cold, and getting on the trail is a bit of a process. Not only do I need to layer appropriately, I need to charge lights, attach lights to my bars and helmet, position the battery cord into my pack so that it isn’t whacking me on the side of the head while I ride—and I always try to do all of this without actually opening the car door and letting the cold in. It doesn’t ever work. The cold comes in and I get out of the car.
The thing is though, I love mountain biking at night. The trails that I avoid all summer because they’re busy, easily accessible, close to home, or just not that exciting become really fun and new at night. Green Mountain is probably my favorite; the view you get of the Denver metro is awesome. It isn’t the au natural vistas that we all love and instagram, but it’s a lovely, sparkle-y, almost festive sight.
And the riding is fun! No, I don’t go the same speeds that I do in the summer during the day. But I’m riding outside. My lights are very bright, so I never feel like I’m riding blind. It’s more like a tunnel that just keeps moving with you. It’s exciting and it keeps things from getting boring.
So to make the best of November, the time change, and the many short days ahead, I will continue to pull myself off the couch to charge my lights and ride. I hope you do the same.
Katie describes the internal battle that most competitors will face at some point in their race career.
Have you ever found yourself searching for motivation or just not feeling like you’ve got the mojo to race? Sometimes it’s a doubt in your ability to perform. Other times it’s because we’ve asked our bodies to perform too often and asking our bodies to race one more weekend feels like a mountain to climb. As we get to the end of cyclocross season I find myself struggling with the desire to race. This weekend I found that I was fighting this internal battle.
Cathy has some great reminders about the off-season told through two stories of learning how to ride a bike. Worth a read!
Last winter we had an eye opening clinic with Julie Emmerman. She asked a simple question, “Why do you race?”. Everyone had a different reason and story, with various emotions that were stirred up. My reason was as simple as the question: I race because it’s fun! It’s probably safe to say that we all ride because bikes are fun or at least that’s why we start. If you have gotten caught up with training, racing, and everything that comes with this sport, take a step back. It is the off-season for the roadies, and a good time to reflect.
Remember when you first learned to ride? Do you remember the exhilaration of taking off and being free to go where your bike took you? I hope you can remember, or at least remind yourself of that time, and use it to refuel yourself for whatever goals and challenges you are facing. I had the distinct pleasure of helping two people learn to have more fun by learning to ride bikes this summer, and was reminded of the raw pleasure of riding.
My daughter had ridden a balance bike since she was two, but froze when we put pedals beneath her. They got in the way, and the coaster brake freaked her out. After a few frustrating practice rides my husband and I decided it wasn’t worth pushing her. We both love riding and didn’t want to turn her off by forcing her to ride. So this summer (nearly two years later) she mentioned taking her bike to a field to practice, and we go her to that field pronto! She banged up her shins, fell, cried, but kept getting up. Her tenacity was inspiring. She owned the whole experience and wasn’t giving up. After a few days she took off and squealed with joy while she yelled, “I’m doing it! I’m riding!”. And now, she’s tearing it up and loving every minute of it.
The second person I helped was considerably older than my six year old daughter, but no less inspirational. This professional woman sought out a cycling coach, me, to help her to learn to ride. This special client of mine had never ridden a bike – as in never ever. I jumped at the opportunity! How amazing is it to have an adult admit that she doesn’t know how to ride, face her fears, buy a bicycle, and actually learn to ride?!? Well, she did it, and in a very short amount of time. Our first session was about one and a half hours long. That was just to get the sensation of balance. No pedals, no steering, just balance. She struggled, but she slowly gained ground in between the fumbles. You could see her determination. Talk about being in the zone! She was focused and persisted even with strangers looking on. The next time we met she was pedaling! She learned to ride her bike! I could barely contain myself, and was so proud this woman I had met less than one week before.
I am honored that I could help these two ladies, and thankful that I could witness them both learn to overcome some pretty darn big challenges. I hope you can harness the fun as you tackle your own challenges next season!
*My client happily agreed to share her story publicly in the hopes that it will inspire other adults to learn to ride a bike. If you don’t know how to ride leave a comment and this supportive community of cyclists will answer!
It’s hard to believe our road season is done and cross has really just begun! You know what also is beginning? Planning for your team in 2015! Naked Women’s Racing, in it’s 5th year, is open to race team applicants through October 1st!
Think you want to join? Read more about why you should on our Race Team page. Now are you ready?
Think you *might* want to race but not sure you want to dive in head first? Then you should totes join our Club Team!
Got questions? Email us at info [at] nakedwomenracing.com and we’ll be glad to help you out.
We’ve all been there or we will eventually experience it…the dreaded injury. Some worse than others but it does a number to not only your physical state but your mental one too. Unfortunately, Katey is on injured reserve this year, but hopefully her story of healing will help others out there as well!
Doctors coined it “overuse”. I called it enjoying life. Years of intense pushing, pulling, lifting, hauling carrying and simply being me had caused irreparable damage to my right shoulder. I had torn this, dislocated that, had arthritis here, bone spurs there. It would crackle happily in its socket daily. My right shoulder had become a can of Alpo encased in skin. I had been in pain for years but sadly no amount of PT, Cortisone shots and pats on the head from doctors could alleviate the pain. It was chronic and it needed to get be fixed. The MRI didn’t lie and my orthopedist agreed it was time. Dear friends and family members rallied around my impromptu decision. I figured I had gone big this season skiing over 40 days. But I paid the price, licking my wounds each evening. I waited until my sister and her son visited to ski with our family and went in for surgery the following week.
I am active. Perhaps a little too active? I have a husband, two kids and own a small business. I thrive on keeping busy and being physically active. It’s my sanity and riding is a huge part of it. It was going to be my first season racing with Naked’s mountain bike team. I was devastated. I hadn’t really raced in 10+ years and was ready to represent. My husband had bought me a new 29er for Christmas and I was ready…I was so ready…dangit.
The first few days after surgery I was in a purple haze of oxycodone. My shoulder size would have made a linebacker jealous. It was encased in gauze, goo and swelling. Medication would make me nod off mid visit with friends. I’d wake up in a pool of drool and pain, but I was still in good spirits. Dear friends took care of my boys, made us dinners, brought me flowers and kind words. One even changed my blood soaked dressings for me. My 88 yr old mother in law whom I call “Nonna”, kept me company, quietly working on her Italian crosswords, making me tea and polenta (the only thing I could keep down), and giving me an insufferable stink eye when I even thought about taking more pain medication early. We watched multiple Judy Dench period pieces – they were wonderful distractions and hugely soporific. (Yawn).
Sleep (or lack thereof) was elusive. Anything less than an upright position was excruciating. I had nested on our large leather couch in the family room. Truth be known, I slid off that couch in the middle of the night when I dozed off. (Ow!) I migrated back to our bed much to my husband’s chagrin because sleeping next to me with all my tossing and turning, “ouching” and expletives was just as painful for him. Without sleep, my kids were too loud and my husband looked sheepish. He skulked around my ever changing mood. My road bike was set up on the trainer in our living room winking at me.
My arm was in a sling….but not just any sling but a bright white 6 in wide harness/girdle of medical madness. It velcroed around my waist and arm to let my shoulder hang naturally. Such a good look. It drove me batty. I am left-handed thankfully so I had my dominant arm available but trying to put on underwear, let alone dress was ridiculous. Forget about a bra – too much effort. Skinny jeans- impossible to put on anyway, let alone button with one hand. That mixer on the top shelf- let it collect dust. Want a salad – buy it pre-chopped cause honey, you and a knife one-handed is just plain stupid. I was underslept, overfed and underexercised. Baggy jeans and button down shirts became my uniform. I couldn’t put my hair in a ponytail because I couldn’t reach behind my back far enough. (My husband still has to clip my hair back every morning.) My husband in the early stages had to fish me out of our tub because I managed to strand myself in it. I had so many little WTF moments; I had to chuckle, and chuckle, laugh, and roar out loud I did. For a woman who is painfully independent, resourceful and stubborn as hell, this has been quite a humbling and amusing experience.
But I haven’t let this stop me. I started riding that trainer in the corner tentatively the first week in my girdle. Yes, it was a little precarious and a little silly, but I did it. During following workouts, I’d shed the girdle mid-spin and rest my arm on the top tube for as long as I could without falling over because I couldn’t reach my drop outs. House of Cards and Scandal characters became my friends. I would spend time spinning prudently with Kerri Washington and Kevin Spacey. I wanted to cut my hair like Robin Wright but then a friend said I’d look like a Q-tip (with a big butt). She’s right and I haven’t cut my hair. I went back to my regular indoor spin class two weeks in. I felt like I was in an episode of Cheers…fellow cyclists cheered my dogged, one-armed nature. It gave me hope, it gave me incentive, it made me proud. I also had to remind myself ‘slow and steady girlfriend’. Slow and steady – which technically is not in my nature.
Fast forward five weeks post op, where I am now. My girdle is long gone…burned with the unbecoming jeans. I can sleep now comfortably, know how to get in and out of a bathtub safely, and continue to chuckle about my limitations and cheer at my small successes. My arm has atrophied significantly but my doc gave me the thumbs up to start PT (along with more rigorous exercise). I started to trail run again but I can’t bike outside just yet. If I crash, it could mean another surgery (although I’ve already hit my deductible for the year so hmmm. Strike that.) I spent the kids spring break in the Caribbean (a surprise trip my husband had booked before he even knew I was having surgery) bobbing in the waves with New Jersey retirees. While my husband and I dreamt of bare boating with the kids this trip, we knew my limits. We will next year. I have to remind myself this is just a blip in time.
While my teammates ride their hearts and lungs out, I wish them luck and podium finishes. And I…well, I will be riding on a bike path… ecstatically! Next season, I will be back. Oh, yes, I will be back.