Naked Women’s Racing has a mission to grow the sport of women’s cycling from the ground up – through support of new racers in our various programs – and now at the More »
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 More »
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 More »
Shortly after moving to Colorado, Katie joined the Colorado Women’s Cycling project and found that it was more than she could have expected. The experience of finding her home, and her place on the team was easier than she expected. Read more to see how it all plays out.
Ever find your mind wandering? Ever feel like there is a place calling you and you shake it off or put those thoughts off for another day? Some of us find ourselves in the position to take that risk and pursue something we’re not 100% sure will play out as planned. Here’s the truth, things will never go as planned but, it’s the journey that’s worth it all.
Katie has always had an affinity for bikes and dirt. She purchased her first Mountain Bike last winter and managed to get sucked into the Pro category at her first race, read on to see how she faired.
I’m a lover of the bike, the wind in my ears, the calming hum of the chain, and the sizzle of tires on pavement. Do you know what’s not a pretty sound? The sound of the chain slapping your bike as you fly down what appears to be an ever-steeping descent towards your impending doom. She’s over reacting you’d think but in reality I’m on my second lap of the Rocky Mountain Endurance Bear Creek Race and I’m death gripping the bike the whole descent.
Those who know me well know that it is extremely rare for me to get nervous about racing. The last time I was nervous, the race did not end well (crash in a TT). So why did I race when my intuition was directing me to avoid it at all costs? Because sometimes intuition is wrong and thankfully today was one of those days.
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.
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.
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!
Cathy was brave enough to race the Boulder Reservoir cyclocross race where temps were in the single digits. In this race recap she shares with us her joy of riding on snow and a few reminders for correct clothing selection.
The first icy, snowy, and truly “crossy” race finally came to the Boulder Reservoir! After the unseasonably warm races we had I figured the start line would be empty. Nope. There were plenty of cat 4 women shivering next to me at the start line. Now, I know freezing isn’t fun, but there’s something about sliding around ice on your bike with other people that is just enjoyable! You can’t help but smile when you figure most normal people are skiing or drinking hot cocoa, not riding their bikes.
Melissa W. has had a tough time finding her passion for the bike with school taking up so much of her free time. But she’s thankful for teammates that motivate her. Great lesson in friendship and finding your love for the bike again.
It happened. I allowed school to take such precedence in my life that my bike sat alone in the corner of my room, collecting dust. I knew that sacrifices would have to be made once I started school full-time, but I had no idea that it would be this drastic. My bike has always been a symbol of achievement for me, but it had come to a point where it was only a resemblance of the disappointment I had in myself. The disappointment that came from losing my passion for the bike and allowing myself to become bitter towards an object that once brought me so much joy. When I recognized how far I had let this go, I knew that I needed to do something. I needed to make sacrifices to rekindle my passion.
Unfortunately in my mind, the only sacrifices I could make would be to skip out on some of the studying that I knew I needed to do to be successful in my upcoming exams. I did it though. I made the sacrifice of giving up studying just long enough so that I could get out for a 30 minute ride. The first time I went out for a ride, it did nothing for me but cause more anxiety and guilt because I knew that I should have been home preparing for my exams. I kept making the sacrifices and trying to get out for small rides hoping that one day soon I would find the satisfaction again. And still nothing. It was never enough. The spark to rekindle my passion never came.
During this time of not being on my bike, my disappointment would grow anytime a friend or teammate would ask if I could join them on a ride. My response was typically “I wish”, “Maybe over winter break”, or “Maybe I’ll catch up with you next summer” always in a joking tone, but in my heart I felt like it would be true. I had allowed preparing for school to take control over my life, not allowing me to enjoy those things I once had.
During the last week in October, Katie Harrer texted me and asked if I could go out for a ride the next Sunday up Deer Creek Canyon. My initial response was going to be no, but I stopped myself and thought about what a ride with a good friend could do for me. I missed my friends. I responded with a YES! I wasn’t sure who would show up for the ride, but was just excited to know that at least one of my good friends would be out there. Earlier that morning before the ride I learned that a few more of my good friends would be out there with us.
We started the ride with catching up on each other’s lives and then the sufferfest of climbing High Grade kicked in. The group broke up a little on the climb, but we had all agreed that we would meet up together at the top. Typically I enjoy riding up High Grade, but I’m not going to lie, it was miserable. The only thing that kept me going was knowing that my friends were with me and that we were having to overcome this hill together. That was it! That was the spark I needed!
We reached the top and I was so overjoyed that tears came to my eyes. I know this may sound a little sappy, but this was the happiest I had been in a while. Working hard with my teammates is exactly what I needed to rekindle my passion for the bike. Thank you to all of you ladies who got me back out there!
Jenny shows grit and determination despite a bad chain of events at the Sienna Lake cross race. She pushed through and managed to finish strong. No DNFs for this lady!
At the start line of Cyclo X-Sienna Lake I was in the second row of the Cat 3’s. There were more people there then normal, but I had been training hard and felt like I actually had a chance this time. I lined up behind Emily Z., knowing she was going to get a great start, and Tea was right next to her. Once the whistle was blown everyone immediately started sprinting, and I was able to keep up. On the grass I was in about 7th or 8th place with the front group within my grasp. I was feeling good as we approached the ditch and I was ready to ride it without a second thought. But as I got closer to the ditch, the person in front of me slowed down way too much that she was barely moving down the hill. Since she had no speed and had her breaks completely locked, she did an endo into the ditch and nearly took me down with her. I was just able to scoot by her and saw that the gap between me and the lead group wasn’t too big. My first three laps of the race were fast, consistent, and I didn’t make any mistakes. I was happy with how well I was doing and was just starting to gain some ground of the people in front of me. By the fourth lap I was flying through the ditch and learned all the best lines to take throughout the course.
At the top of the big run up after the ditch, I set down my bike really fast and hopped back on only to learn that I dropped my chain. I panicked for a moment then thought, it’s fine! I’ve done this a million times before. But in my rush to get the chain back on, I only made it worse and it completely locked up. Then I really got worried. Everyone I passed and put a big gap between had finally started to pass me. I stood there for some time not knowing what to do and watched as the beginning of the 4’s started to come. I was so frustrated with the situation because I was doing so well in this race and had been improving throughout the season, only to have this happen to me. Another thing that made me concerned was the fact that my dad wasn’t there to help me. At that point I felt defeated and thought that it was pointless to finish the race since I was in last place. I finally decided to just pick up my bike and run. I ran a little ways until someone was able to help me. He was very nice and helpful, and fixed my chain in no time. I quickly hopped back on my race but felt no motivation to actually race. I passed the pit with a strong urge to get off and quit, but told myself that I should at least finish this lap then be done. Once I got to the finish line, I saw there was only one lap to go. I was about to stop and be done but I didn’t want to disappoint myself and my dad for not finishing. I got a quick jolt of hope and started racing hard again, determined to catch a few of the 4’s. On the grass I was flying around the corners and was actually catching a few people! I felt confident again and was sprinting hard with my head down on the gravel straightaway.
I was pushing down hard on my pedals and concentrating on the path in front of me when I looked up and realized that I had to turn right now! I quickly jerked my bike to the right and wiped out, crashing under the tape. After laying there for a few moments I got up and dusted myself off. I was so utterly disappointed that I said out loud “I’m done.” Some people near me came over and helped me fixed my bike and asked if I was alright. Shawn Curry (photographer that many of you know) also came over to make sure I was alright. When I told him that I was done, he told me that I was doing great and that I didn’t want a DNF. I got all pumped up again and jumped back on my bike and decided that I was going to finish the race even after all that happened. I managed to pass a few more 4’s and finish the race. Even though this was not one of my best races, I’m happy that finished the race and didn’t quit.
They say it’s not about the bike, but you bet your victory it is about the tires. Read about Emily‘s race and how the tires helped her get to the top step of the podium (along with some killer bike handling skills).
My brain doesn’t work the same way as other people’s when it comes to having fun, which is why I was delighted when I woke up before the sun on Saturday to inches of snow and temperatures that hadn’t yet hit the teens. The company I work for, Challenge Tires, was the presenting sponsor of the race, so I got to enjoy the crazy day from dawn until dusk in an expo tent with a propane heater and brewing hot cyder to keep me company as I reminded people all day long that in cyclocross, tires win races.
The other people that made it out have the same types of brains as I do and were already high on the endorphins of numb digits. On the start line we sang an enthusiastic rendition of “Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya to Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama…” to go with our new dance moves, The Cyclocrosser. The moves go as such:
- Swing your right leg up and behind your left foot and switch feet (The Dismount)
- Reach your right arm down and make a fist and bring your fist up to your right shoulder (The Shoulder)
- A couple delicate leaping butt kicks (The Double Barrier)
- A few Jazzersize-style running steps and a double-legged butt kick (The Remount)
Over the next 40 minutes or so, I proceeded to slip and slide in a foot-out, flat-out riding style on sand, snow and ice and stay upright more often than not, taking high-fives from spectators who did the wave to all of us on the final lap. Coming through the start-finish on the bell lap, I heard the announcer explaining that I wasn’t literally riding naked, but riding for Team Naked Women’s Racing, and thank goodness because riding naked wouldn’t be a wise choice on a day like that. My 1x green Zinn Magster Cross was riding great, but after a lapped rider took me out and I twisted my brake lever I ended up finishing my race on a different bike (my 2x orange Zinn Magster Cross) than I started with and with enough time on second place to post up and point to my tires as the announcer confirmed that “This proves it, tires do win races!”
It’s become clear after trying many times that explaining that this experience is a fully type-A fun for me is simply lost on most people, but I assure you that is exactly how I wanted to be spending my snowy Saturday – playing in the sand box at the Boulder Reservoir.