Category Archives: Race Report

Capturing the Season Through Still Images

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Melissa shares her 2014 road season recap in photos. And mighty fine ones at that!

Earlier in this year my husband purchased a new camera and has been photographing our team throughout the season. He is quite talented in capturing what cycling truly is through still images. This is a recap of the 2014 road season through photographs.

 

New places, New Faces

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Gayle tried out racing on the east coast’s muddy cyclocross courses. New places, new faces!

Knowing I would have a work trip around the corner (time to update the dreaded polygraph!) I looked into the cyclocross scene in the DC-Northern Virginia area. Luckily my trip dates were flexible enough I was able to negotiation work around the last race in the Super 8 CX series. In the few days leading up to the race I was watching the weather from Colorado…rain.  Cold rain!  When I landed the day before the race it was in fact cold and raining, and not CO kinda cold, it was that damp, chills you to the bone east coast kind of cold. Now that I’ve lived in Colorado for a few years I don’t think I even own an umbrella any more.

Luckily race day was clear skies, but the ground was definitely showing signs of all the rain. I geared up to pre-ride the course and see how the terrain varied from what I was used to in Colorado. It was a sweeping, hilly course with lots of natural challenges, but the mud was definitely going to be the biggest obstacle for me.

I hit the start line for the SW3 race and tried for a good start from the back of the line ups. I managed to get up in the top five and stay there for the first two laps, but every time I hit the thick, sludgy, grassy mud sections I was loosing time. My bike was getting heavier as the others were switching to pit bikes (there were actually two separate bike pits!).    I learned that I am not good at that mud, but was actually able to pass people in the fast, slick, just maintain your line and keep pedaling kind of mud!  

It was a fun course, a great experience and I met a some nice riders and as always got lots of great (and somewhat inappropriate) comments about the name “Naked Women’s Racing”!  

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It’s all about the mojo…

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Gayle not only crushed her first SW3 race, she pulled a double racing the SW35+ race too! We’ll have the turkey that she made for Thanksgiving next year!

Photo Creds: Bo Bickerstaff

After a couple crashes, difficult riding conditions and some tough courses I had kinda lost my CX mojo.  I went into Turkey Cross a little nervous about the course due to the challenging run-ups and descents that were muddy and still had some icy patches on my Friday pre-ride.  Add to that it would be my first SW3 race…and then top it off with the MW35+ race directly after (also my first time racing that category)!  All I could think about Friday night and Saturday morning was coming through without injury – and that is not the way to go into race mode.  When I pulled into the parking lot there was an ambulance and a bunch of commotion.  Someone had broken their leg on the first descent.  Great, just what I needed to hear. 

As my race time grew closer I made a conscious decision to put all that out of my head and just ride.  I was pretty familiar with the course, I just bought toe spikes, the weather was great and I had nothing to prove.  I just wanted to ride and have fun.  I got to the line, no more call up now that I’m a SW3!  I hit the back and hoped for a clean start in the gravel.  My favorite part of the race was right in the beginning at the big run-up…I was probably in 10th place coming to the hill and while everyone was trying to find their place along the edges I decided to run straight up the middle and made it cleanly up and landed in second place behind Amanda Bye.  That felt pretty good.  There was a great vibe of people cheering and having fun.  I lost a little ground throughout the race, but every run-up was clean and I didn’t hesitate on any of the descents. 

I finished up 6th in the SW3 race and had a few minutes to decide whether to race MW35+.  I may have cut it a little close, but I rolled up to the line just in time and did it all again.  Although I was definitely tired, I found that I was still riding cleanly and managing to find some better lines in the second race.  I pulled through with a 4th place finish, but decided that may placement that day wasn’t the most important part.  It was how I felt afterwards.  I was a bit more confident and had shaken the nerves off.  I’m excited for my next race and hope to keep improving.

Cyclo X-Louisville Rec.

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Jenny fought to a top 10 finish at Cyclo X in one of the biggest fields to date! Four of the Naked ladies finished out the top 10!

The weeks leading up to the Louisville cross race I practiced at the course almost everyday. When it was finally time to race it, I have ridden it in every possible condition and I was ready for anything! The week before the race, it snowed a ton and the course was covered in ice and mud. But when I woke up on Saturday it completely dried out with only a few mud spots here and there. I was so excited for the race that I got up at 8, made pancakes, and Savannah and I rode down early to pre-ride the course a few times.

A few hours later, they began the call-ups, and for some reason they didn’t call quite a few of us. I should’ve been in the second row, but ended up in the third. This already started to crush my spirits since I thought that there was no way that I would do great now and I would probably get a bad start. At the start line I was all the way on the far left. Once the whistle was blown everyone took off and started swarming towards the middle. I saw this as an opportunity as the side started to open up. I quickly sprinted harder and went around everyone on the left side and was in 3rd place going into the big hill. I was glad to be in the front so I could climb the hill and not get stuck in the pack. By the second lap, I got passed by a few racers and was just outside of top 10. The whole second lap I was tired and almost gave up as I moved down to 12th place. But my whole heckling crew was there and they cheered me on, giving me motivation to push harder. I started to catch more people and was able to work my way back into top 10. On the last lap, I finally passed one more person who I was playing cat and mouse with the entire race and finished the race in 8th! This was one of my best races of the season and four Naked Women finished top 10 out of 30 in the SW 3!

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​Chain of Events

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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. 

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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. 

#tireswinraces

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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!”

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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.

Women’s Cold-Weather Cycling Holiday Gift Guide

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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!

Cascade Fluid Pro Bicycle Trainer

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.

http://www.cascadehealthandfitness.com

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Sufferfest videos

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.

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Schwalbe Marathon Winter Studded Tires

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.

http://www.schwalbetires.com/bike_tires/studded

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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.

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HT Panache Women’s Thermal Bib

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.

http://shop.panachecyclewear.com/shop/ht-womens-thermal-bib-short/

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Stages Power Meter

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.

http://www.stagescycling.com/stagespower-tech-specs

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The Feed Pro Box

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.

https://thefeed.com/product/pro-box/

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Rudy Project Airblast Glasses

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.

http://www.rudyprojectusa.com/index_inner_detail.php?group_id=1&cat_id=30&item_id=SP300306S3

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Sidi Breeze Rain MTB Shoe

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.

http://www.sidisport.com/scheda.php?macro=1&id=75&lng_riv=

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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.

http://www.turinbikes.com/turin/

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Racing Without Limits at Snowy Boulder Res

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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.

Around the first three icy corners and no falls.  So far, so good. This race did not disappoint with windy, icy, snowy corners, downhills, steep turns and icy sand to ride or run up. There was also a drop into sand that was even steep to run followed by several barriers on the uphill. More sand and stairs followed. I layered well and was never cold but my mittens were too thick and I could not brake or shift effectively. Last lap= gloves came off… watch out ladies. I had thinner gloves under the mittens and could finally shift while maintaining my warmth. I threw the mitten off the course and began shifting for the first time in the race. Fastest lap time for me.
Finishing the race I was so proud of the teammates for going out to race, of Emily Zinn who brought home the W and was happy to have completed such a mentally and physically challenging race.
Thank you to Without Limits for another stellar race at the Boulder Res and to all the ladies and gentleman who came out to race and cheer. The cheering kept us going. Also to the poor photographers who braved the weather to give us evidence of the insanity that ensued today.

5 reasons why racing in below freezing temps is better

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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.

1. You seem more bad a$*/crazy than other cyclists. You also think your friends that are racing are pretty hardcore and you enjoy the company of others.
2. Sand is easier to ride when frozen.
3. Liquor and warm drinks (such as apple cider) taste so much better in the cold.
4. Cheers seem to be louder when it is cold out. It’s a physics thing.
5. The warmth of a shower post embrocation is one of the best feelings in the world. Being warm feels so much more enjoyable after being extraordinarily cold.

Trainer, Cookies or Lights

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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.