Disclaimer: My teammates asked that I (Katey M.) write up this team race report and I acquiesced. While I can’t rightfully speak for the group, I can only provide my amateur insight, my thoughts and in return, hope I don’t piss the hell out of anyone. Enjoy!
I am not your typical racer – I prefer long solo rides, hiking tall peaks and taking Reposado shots over carbon fiber wheels, Strava kudos and Garmin stats. However, when an email was sent out to the team about a 24 hour mountain bike race in Tuscon, I jumped at the chance thinking it was time to kick start my season. 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo is known for being the largest national MTB race and hosts some 4,000 mountain bikers, gathering a mosh pit of amateur and pro racers from around the country. A windswept cacti- clad dessert is transformed into a prickly mecca of motorhomes, tents and porta potties. The course is a fast, furious 16.1 mile loop with small bouts of technical sections and 1,200ft climb. It hosts a few namesakes too. “The Bitches” are a series of small punchy climbs and decent in the first few miles of the course. While they seem mundane during a pre-ride, they are hellish at race pace. Lots of flesh has been lost on The Bitches and helicopters evacuate racers every year. Also, an aptly named “Whiskey Tree” houses bottles of moonshine, Hot Damn and various other adult libations mid-course and many a sauced fellow can be seen hooting happily by the tree as you pass. The course also hosts a rock drop. While it’s not terribly daunting, pack a handful of bikers close together and if one slightly balks, it could spell broken bones. The course offers a choice – to rock drop or not. A life size Justin Bieber cutout points to the “Belieber” route which avoids the drop, while the “Biker” route includes it. Belieber or not, you can tell, mountain bike racing is not for the fanatically clean of mouth or body. While gorgeous, expensive mountain bikes are appreciated; how you ride your beast is even more important. Tattoos, beards and beer guts are commonplace yet despite the looks, these folks can seriously rip but they also play hard too.
Heidi2 (Heidi Gurov) and I made our way to Tucson Thursday morning. The race was scheduled to start Saturday at noon. Heidi1 (Heidi Wahl) and Rachel decided to make the 18 hour trek by car. Heidi2 peppered me with stats about the race and her coach’s training schedule. She was prepared and truthfully, I felt sick. I hadn’t been on my mountain bike in three months. The last time I was actually on my MTB was a drunken pub crawl where I flipped a guard rail and broke my hanger. She was anxious to get there early, build her beloved Fate, and get out on the course. Sadly, even with our 85 mile an hour tailwind, we had a minor hiccup which forced a five and a half hour delay [read: RV trouble] We were to be picked up in our rented RV at the airport by Rachel’s friend, John. John had been working quietly behind the scenes along with Heidi1 to organize this trip and help with RV procurement, delivery, and tying up loose ends for us. Truly this man became our kit clad angel. Our RV, the Flying Dutchman, had other ideas because this behemoth decided to lie down and play dead in the airport’s cell phone waiting area with a dangerously bald, stripped to the steel belts, remains of a tire. After an abundance of calls, a tow truck, and stop at Discount Tire, we were back on course. John had befriended a race bound fellow who held anot RV spot for us. Camp space fills up wicked fast so this was music to our ears. I hugged the guy and his girlfriend even though I didn’t know them from Adam.
We made our way to the site careening down dusty roads, we looked like an episode from Breaking Bad. “Let’s cook!” Heidi2 posted keeping the world appraised of our status. My cell service left me in Tucson and wouldn’t return until after I got back to civilization a few days later. Damn you, T-Mobile.
Camp was set, bikes were built, beer was welcomed along with an odd assortment of foodstuffs including one jar of dill pickles; a request from Heidi1 which made me question an impending pregnancy but no, I found that they were simply salty, crunchy goodness after an especially mind bending lap. God bless you, jar o’ pickles.
The next day was a bluebird day and our pre-ride. I had heard about the cactus and it prickly fangs but my tires had seen nor heard nothing about these Arizona natives. ” YOU DONT HAVE STANS? DUDE,YOU NEED STANS. Behind my back whispers: “She’s running tubes! She’s gonna diiiiie.” Bewildered looks and shaking heads. “My first thought was “uh…who is Stan and why does he care so very much about my bike”. Between the group of very patient and kind souls in my group, they explained tubeless tires and that it was virtually impossible to ride the course without them. I converted that morning to Stans while Heidi2, Rachel, and Kalan (a twitterpated soul who kept us laughing the entire time) rode the course. Heidi2 shopped in 24 Hour town and I spun in circles on a Green Machine while they converted my bike. I have to say that was the best impromptu decision I’ve made in years and it ticked off another niggling inadequacy I had about racing my bike.
Race day came quickly, Bikes were staged at the bottom of a hill where the Lemans start ended. Hilarity ensued. Fit and fearsome men in pro team kits fought their way down the hill in slippery bike shoes, some were trampled and still fought their way to their bikes. Heidi2 waved our makeshift Naked flag for Rachel to see while she came down the hill. Rachel was far ahead of the masses and one of the first out on her bike and on the course. We hooted and hollered and cheered her on. A few minutes later a Pooh Bear skipped merrily along looking for his bike. Not everyone was taking this race seriously.
Rachel raced hard pressing for fastest female lap and came through with a mind altering 1:09 lap time. I was next in line. I stood in the staging area with music vibrating in my ears to calm my nerves. For a 24 hour race, each relay team is given a small wooden baton. You are required to pass this baton from teammate to teammate. Lose your baton and well, you DNF. Point is: don’t lose the baton. We tried shoving it down sport bras (didn’t work) and settled for the front of leg or back jersey pocket. In the staging area where you wait for your teammate to pass the baton, a large projector screen displays arriving team numbers on the ceiling along with an emcee who also doles out bad jokes (ie What do you call a cow with three legs? Ground Beef) Rachel came flying in and our transition was smooth. I had staged my bike outside the tent further than the multitudes because I knew I could run through the first section faster and have more room to hop on my bike. The course was fast and hellishly narrow through a variety of cactus – some have cruel fishing hooks covering their bodies, some look like soft little teddy bears but with razor sharp paws and some cactus just want to kiss you for no apparent reason. Know this, if you are not dead center on the trail, the cactus gods become enraged. They will gather, display their meaty, needle sharp armored bodies and eat you alive. No, seriously dude, they will.
Even giving cactus wide berth, I knew this race was going to be tough. I hadn’t properly trained and I got passed by a multitude of men flying by me at staggering speeds. It seemed like they were floating through the air while I mashed my pedals. The headwind was brutal and sadly I became the one to pull everyone through the cactus corridors. Letting all these men pass me was humbling. I told one racer to pass on the left, he passed on the right and knocked me into a cactus. It stung but I kept going with this large thorny mass attached to my glove. It took pliers and a steady hand from Heidi1 to pull them out after my lap. I came into the staging area with a 1:22 lap time. Heidi2 took off like a rabbit on her lap and came in with an impressive 1:14 time. Heidi1 was next in line and crushed it with a 1:23. We were already in the lead with sub 1:30 laps and it gave us incentive to keep it that way. Rachel went out for her second lap with night lights just in case but she came in so quickly with a 1:13 that dusk had barely begun. I took our first official night lap. I can’t speak for the others, but I prefer riding at night. By this second lap, racers has spread out significantly making it easier to maneuver however, my head lamp burned out part way through so I eeked my way to the finish and came in with a 1:24. Heidi2 came in for her first night lap with 1:18 and Heidi1 with a 1:33. We were still almost an entire lap ahead of the second place team.
Nutrition and recovery is critical for these longer races – that is, if you want to win. You rest, you eat, you digest best you can, repair any bike issues and before you know it you’re dressed again and on your way to the staging area. For me, sleep was elusive as was digestion. Somehow it behooved me to eat about 2lbs of pork with green chilis after the second lap. In those wee hours in the morning, my stomach decided to revolt. I found out this is called “gut rot”. When really you should just throw up, I rolled around like a flatulent otter in the RV. One of the guys gave me a shot of Pepto. I didn’t have the wherewithal to ask if this pink goo was gluten free cause the porta potty was my BFF already. We still pulled off some amazing night times and kept our lead but it started to get a little closer with a bad crash on The Bitches that kept Rachel at a standstill for a spell.
Since three of my four laps were at night, I feel I got the best deal watching the sun come over the horizon to start the new day. The sky was this amazing blood red. While I rode, this guy and I talked about how vivid, saturated, and beautiful the sky was. I was tired yet I realized I was blessed to be a part of this community of fast fit women cyclists and this temporary 24 hour community of mountain bikers.
Final laps were made and the line up changed toward the end leaving Heidi2 and Rachel to secure our win (despite getting a flat in the final lap two miles in on The Bitches). Heidi1 gave us 3 impressive laps, me with 4 laps, Heidi2 with 5 and Rachel with 6. 288 miles and 18 laps brought us the first place win. We were ecstatic and very proud Naked girls on the podium. We celebrated briefly, packed up quickly and 24 hour town deconstructed in moments. What once was brimming with activity a few hours earlier became a quiet, sleepy venue with an epic trail– restored to what it is year round. This race has become a memory of comradery, patience, a few scratches, and one remaining half jar of pickles.
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.
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.
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”!
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!
Melissa exceeded her goals by a long shot with this season’s road racing. Read more!
Going into the 2014 road season, I had several goals that I wanted to achieve. One of the largest goals I had was to be in the top 3 of the Rocky Mountain Road Cup for SW4. To achieve this I knew that I needed to enter as many races as possible and place as high as possible in those races to have enough points to be at or near the top. I didn’t have as good of a start to the season as I had hoped for, but because I was consistent in racing every weekend the points started accumulating. This year I was fortunate to make it on the podium a few times and the points from those races helped my overall score.
Towards the end of the season, Jenny Lucke and I were in the top 3 for the road cup. Once the points had been added for the last race of the season, the results showed that I placed 1st in the road cup for SW4. I was thrilled! My happiness grew when I realized that Jenny was on the podium with me. Team Naked had also placed 1st in SW4 for the road cup! This was a tough season of trial and error, but through it I learned that staying focused on your goal and being dedicated will get you the results you want.
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.