Tag Archives: Rachel Scott
Rachel explains some reasons behind her first DNF in today’s Interlocken Cyclocross Race. No bike mechanicals, just mechanicals of the mind. Don’t worry, she’ll be back at it tomorrow.
Is a DNF still considered for a race report? Even when I quit pretty much in my first lap? I’ve had plenty of DFLs, a couple DNSs due to injuries, a couple of time cuts as well as some lackluster results in the 8 years of bike racing. But I have never had a DNF so I feel it deserves some explaining. Especially since I encourage all of our women to never quit a bike race no matter the circumstances. So this is not an unpacking of excuses as to why, but rather offer a comparison to life, losing and other “L” words. Don’t worry, it won’t be a diatribe either. But it will be heart-felt. It would be easier to accept my first DNF if it were due to a broken bike or mechanical of sorts, but unfortunately it’s due to a broken heart coupled with a mechanical of the mind.
This hasn’t been the best week of prep for a weekend of fun cross racing. Having consumed less than 1000 calories and getting less than five hours of interrupted sleep in the last three days and throw in a great deal of waterworks adding to the dehydration factor, I didn’t have stellar expectations for today. But I did expect to have a top 5 finish. This course was perfect for me and it was fun. My first two pre-laps of the Interlocken course, I rode the sand and was darn close with my first attempt at the mud pit. I was confident. I was tired and weak, but yeah, I was confident and looking forward to forcing pain upon my body, making it hurt as much as my heart. I choked a Gu down and couple swigs of Naked Juice as the only calories I had taken in that day despite riding an 1.5 to the race and it was approaching almost 3 pm. It was tasteless and hard to make myself eat lately, having lost 6 pounds in 3 days according to my Withings. Weird how the mind does that to the body.
I’m a very private person with regard to my relationships or my family life. Though I’m very active socially more for my profession, most people would never know that I’ve even dated or anything about my family other than superficial info since living in Colorado unless you’re a considered a pretty close friend (not the Facebook, Strava or Twitter kind-sorry). I’ll spare details but it’s been a long time since I’ve suffered a broken heart. Around 12 years for it to hurt this much to be exact. Yes, I’ve been in relationships since then and have loved other partners since then, but this was a different type of feeling. I was beginning to question if I were capable of having emotions that would even remotely bump over or under a flatline until this person was in my life. Let alone have tear ducts that worked.
Anyway, this is a race report. Got my usual very back of the pack, last row call up and lined up behind my super fast starters of teammates Amanda and Emily. Also, had my usual bad start but was able to pick through the crowd of racers in front of me. I rode the sand but slowly through the congestion and got stuck on the hill behind some other riders. I still pushed, picking off riders knowing where my ranking among the other racers would be if I kept this pace as I had done in all my previous races. It felt good and my heart rate was stable but certainly at threshold. But then I saw THE person. I wasn’t sure if they saw me. I had never seen said-person at a race before because our start times are very different. We’ve never even crossed paths when I’ve raced, unless it’s intentional and long after my race is finished. Why was this person here this time?
And at that precise moment, I proceeded to fall a part. My mind completely shut off, and I forgot how to ride my bike. That has never happened before. Ever. In looking at my heart rate, it was the highest it had been all year and it wasn’t even a difficult part of the course. It couldn’t come back down and then…I nailed a root driving me into the tape and knocking my chain from my bike. I struggled even getting off of my bike because my body didn’t want to work. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t see, I couldn’t swallow. My chest felt like it was going to explode, and I was going to spew that Gu everywhere. An eternity passed while trying to get my chain back on my rings with hands that weren’t working. Then I was quickly the very last person in the race. I thought I could give it another try, and passed three more folks to charge my way back. Heart rate still through the roof and getting higher, I then rounded the corner through the sand (terribly might I add) and at the top I saw that person on a different part of the course. Cheering me on. Why? Why now and never before? Was it an accidental crossing of paths? A lot more why’s ran through my head in the 1 minute it took for me to get out of eye shot. Heart rate hit 182 which it hasn’t done since moving to altitude. Once out of sight, I slipped through the blue tape and told my kind teammate I needed to go home but to finish strong. She understood.
I returned my timing chip and left quickly with my tail between my legs, tears streaming down my face. Thank everything holy that cycling isn’t my job because I would have surely been fired from the team that day. I’ve always prided myself on strength and determination. Why had my mind told my body to give up? I remember talking my teammate earlier this year through a tough experience, and she had the mental fortitude to push through and challenge her body and mind in a way she had never done before on much more technical terrain. How hypocritical of me that I can’t eat my own dog food? Perhaps this experience will provide me more empathy for others who have a bad day on the bike, no matter the circumstances.
In any event, I’m certain this won’t be my last DNF. It won’t stop me from riding or racing again either. I love the bike and all it provides: freedom, experiences, transportation, memories, career opportunities, exercise, camaraderie, passion, opportunities to give back. My heart will still be heavy, but I will go back out tomorrow, and I will finish that bike race, even if I’m DFL. I will also love and likely lose again. But that’s a part of life. It won’t stop me from giving 100% and allowing myself to be vulnerable again (I just hope it’s not another 12 years). Breaking up is like a big fat DNF – the probability that it will happen again is high throughout the course of your life or racing career. It’s how you choose to deal with it, learn from it, and grow from it that matters.
From this experience, I am also thankful that I “get” to feel this way. No longer do I walk the flatlined life that I had thought was going to be my eternal purgatory. I get to experience excruciating pain because that means I truly felt the opposing yang. The same could be said for a bike race, especially the grueling cyclocross style of racing. How amazing does it feel once you’ve finished the hardest race you’ve ever done in your life: your body hates you, you want to throw up, and you’re already thinking about your next race? I’ve been reading a lot of Rumi lately and am grateful his words are still relevant nearly eight centuries later. This one excerpt in particular really sticks out, especially as it pertains to the season and the roots that knocked my chain from my bike
“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”
Continuing her Roadie Series, Rachel shares some tips with you to help hold your position in the pack. You worked hard for that spot, so here’s how to keep it!
BEST TACTICS FOR HOLDING YOUR POSITION IN THE PACK
First, read this blog post from the Norcal Cycling News on how to hold your position in the pack. Oldie but a goodie. Some very good pointers here and will set the groundwork for the rest of my blog post. Seriously, required reading before diving into specific tactics.
As we all know, our competitors have certain strengths. If you don’t know these riders and their strengths and weaknesses, be sure to watch them and find out. It’s usually pretty clear. But, as we’ve also seen in our own riders, we each have strengths we didn’t know about. So, we don’t want to get trapped into ANY expectation for ANY rider. Including ourselves. So while some of these tips are just scenarios, each could end a million different ways. This is just what I perceive (and my coaches perceive) are best practices so to speak. Intrigued? Read on!
BEST TACTICS TO HOLDING YOUR POSITION IN A BREAK
So, you find yourself in a break … what are the “best” tactics? In a break, you must be honest with yourself … and the question is this:
“What can I do in this break that will give my team the best chance at winning the race?”
So what are those some answers?
- drive the break
- sit on the break
- attack the break
- be conservative in the break
- kill the break
- sacrifice for a teammate in the break
- attack for the win from the break
- repeat 7.
- never, ever get dropped from the break. Ever.
and, so on.
– – – – –
“So I’m in a break with a sprinter, she’ll beat me…what do I do?”
Good question. First answer: don’t work with him/her. Unless you make the decision that you are happy with second if you can’t beat this gal/guy, then take whatever you can out of the situation. Because, sometimes second is as best our team is going to get. Them’s just the honest facts
However, for the vast majority of races, the proper tactic is to put your team in the best situation to win the race. And so, that may mean killing a break that has a sprinter who will beat you in it. But what if you have a teammate with you against that feared sprinter? Well then, I think you know you can beat her then.
– – – – –
“I’m strong in the break, but no one will work with me?”
Well, I have to be honest with you, 99% of the time if a girl isn’t working in a break, it’s because she can’t. Everybody, I mean EVERYBODY wants to be seen as strong, it’s as simple as that. If there’s ever a rider who’s sitting on you for a reason other than she’s tired or that her team tactics dictate it … well, those are what we deem as wheelsuckers and they will get branded as such.
But, the honorable riders don’t sit on unless there’s a valid reason to do so. If you have a teammate up the road, it’s almost always suitable to sit on chasing riders. If you can’t win the race out of a 2-up move and you don’t want your team to settle for second, it’s ok to sit on that rider. etc.
And so, back to the original question – you’re strong, but the riders won’t work in the break. Well, maybe the best tactic is to kill the break immediately so you can re-absorbed in the pack and try and attack out again with a more favorable set of conditions for you.
– – – – –
“I’m in a 4-person break and I might be the weakest rider. Should I work or wait for teammates?”
The answer to this question will answer a lot of your questions about whether to work for a teammate, or what you should do as a teammate when one of your other ladies is up the road.
Anyone who does the work to get into a break or ANY of your teammates who does the work to get into a break deserves to get a result out of that break. We love winning, but we love the chase of the win more. Meaning, if one of our teammates gets in a break, let’s support their chance at a result. The reasoning behind this is obvious. If we all share the work, we’ll all share the chances at being that rider either in the break, or positioned well for a field sprint.
Any examples you can share? Let us know!
Already three races deep in the Spring Classics season, and just like that, the road season is upon us! Channeling her inner Boonen in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne today, Rachel is going to share with you some early season road racing tips in her Roadie Series. Any you have to add?
EARLY SEASON RR (ATTACKING AND COUNTERATTACKING)
a) recognize which breaks to go with;
b) how to share the workload in covering attacks;
c) how to try and conserve energy while in breaks.
WHICH ATTACKS TO GO WITH? WHEN SHOULD YOU ATTACK?
OK, first thing to remember is that EVERYONE is fresh and fast in the first 5 minutes of a race. If a break goes right from the gun and they stick it to the end … well, they deserve it. But, that’s very, very rare – so, my suggestion is to play the odds and try and be as relaxed and cool in the first couple laps as you can. Get to know your competitors, get to know the course.
Now then, you MUST recognize which teams have larger presences and that if they attack – they are likely interested in forming moves. If a single rider attacks – it’s often ok to let them go off the front; however, you then prepare yourself to follow the NEXT person(s) who try to bridge to them. In the end, racing is a lot of math (with knives). If your pack can average 23mph – you know that a breakaway will have to average higher than that. It is rare that a single rider can do so – but, 3 or 4 riders can do so with much more regularity. And so, if you see a move of 3 or 4 riders going off the front, that’s when you need to make sure your team is represented.
The key to being represented in moves throughout a race is to share the workload. If you have seen a teammate just attack or follow an attack, you MUST ready yourself to follow the next one. You MUST extend the energy needed to position yourself near the front of the race … but not AT the front of the race. Riding in the first 10-20 riders almost always allows you enough space and time to attack out of the pack. Don’t be nervous about positioning, you can do it.
Remember, even in races with “lower category” riders – there will be attacking riders. But, there will be some CHASING riders, too. There will be big, strong girls who won’t really know how to race bikes – but will know how to go hard. If you see these women going to the front and setting a hard pace – let them. You don’t need to attack them, be patient and see what happens. The time to attack is when the speed drops – it’s speed differential that makes the gap, makes the race. But getting the gap is only the first part – keeping the gap is the second.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. It’s fun. Have FUN!
Remember which direction everyone is pulling off, and flick with the INSIDE elbow to signal that you’re coming off. Then, move slowly in the direction the group has been pulling off. Now, if no one pulls through – just keep slowing down. Remember – you have teammates behind who will follow the next attack if your group gets caught. That is SO IMPORTANT to remember – you MUST be willing to let your group to get caught. If your breakaway mates aren’t going to pull, the move is doomed and there is no sense in your killing yourself in it.
Don’t surge! Keep the same speed as your break’mates. If you surge in speed, it will decrease the likelihood of them continuing to work with you. And remember, MANY riders will surge with their pulls – so you’ll need to be fresh to be able to accelerate with them. Many riders do not have experience in breaks and will do a lot wrong in them. You must be able to anticipate and adapt.
Many times the finish of the race is on the top of the hill (short or long like our Bannock Criterium team race); it helps the officials to sort out the group also.
If you are in a breakaway, you need to remember that hill will be taxing and you can get dropped faster than freshman chemistry. If you attack, or you follow an attack – be sure to regulate your effort as much as possible so that you have some juice in the tank for that long effort up the finishing hill. Now, how does one do that? You still need to pull in a breakaway group, right? YES! and no.
A very good skill is to learn how to take quick, short pulls in a breakaway. In a criterium – it’s all about recovery. So, taking short, 4-8 second pulls where you keep the speed the SAME as the group is going to be very beneficial. Be sure to signal that your pull is ending a second before you want to drop your speed.
Sadly, one of our teammates’ bike’s was stolen last night, and this isn’t the last time a bike will be stolen either. So we put together some tips to hopefully help you recover your beloved stead and catch that dirty bike thief! If you have any to add, let Rachel know.
- Scour Craigslist and eBay to see who is trying to sell it. You can also set up Google alerts or eBay search alerts with descriptions on your bike just to see if anyone posts something about it online.
- Set up your own Craigslist ad and email it to all the bike shops in the area. Sometimes thieves and pawn shops are dumb enough to call a bike shop to ask about the value of a bike. If the bike shop is aware of your stolen bike, then they can reach out to you when it happens. This happened to a teammate of ours and she was able to recover her bike!
- Pawn shops are another place to look. Call starting with your area and then expanding beyond.
- To recover your bike, you have to show proof of ownership. You can get this from your bike shop if you didn’t keep your receipt assuming they have good records. They may also have your serial number. Take lots of pictures and one of you with your bike, too.
- To the point above, because thieves can scratch off the serial number, etch the last four numbers of your social security number beneath your rear triangle. Most thieves are too dumb to look there and figure that out. It’s also undeniable proof the bike is yours if your bike is recovered by police and your serial number removed.
- File a police report! Supply them with your serial number, pics of the bike and any other identifying/unique info. If you don’t have any of these items on hand, call your bike shop and maybe they can help with proof of purchase/serial number.
- Get grassroots and make missing bicycle posters to hang around town, in coffee shops and bicycle shops. The more creative the more likely someone will be able to remember your poster and share it with others. Check out some of these posters. Include a unique but easy to remember hashtag!
- Encourage everyone to post/share your bike via social media. Create a hashtag so in case someone sees the bike, they can snap a pic, hashtag it, and post it on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram! The more eyes looking for your bike the more likely you are to find it. Make sure you include the area that you’re in, too, just in case the thief is stupid enough (because thieves are!) to ride it around in your area.
- Get renter’s insurance if you don’t have it. You can file a claim and get a new bike. If you don’t have renter’s insurance, it’s only about $150-250 per year and absolutely worth it! Happy to refer you to my insurance agent who also sponsored our team for two years:)
- If you care about your bike, EVERYONE should register their bicycles with the police. Take pics of your bikes and serial numbers (usually under the bottom bracket). Boulder, Denver, and Golden reg is below. You can Google your “city” and “bike registration” if you don’t live in any of these local areas.
What do you have to add?
Rachel has had her fair share of mishaps while riding in the dirt and on the road. Here’s her top 10 road side maintenance tips, and yes, they all have happened. Do you have any to add?
1. Don’t PANIC! What’s done is done and you’ll get back riding much more quickly if you keep a level head. You can’t think clearly when you’re freaking out. I know, speaking from experience here.
2. Know how to change a flat. Not that you’ve watched someone change one, but actually practice doing it.
- Always have at least 1 size appropriate tube, CO2 w/dispenser or hand pump, and two tire levers.
- Patch kit can be your best friend.
- Stand with a tire between your legs to get some leverage to roll it back on. It helps, promise.
- If you need to bum a tube from someone and it’s not the right size (too small or too big), some sizes can work in a pinch but not recommended.
- If you rip your side wall of the tire, you can use a dollar bill, tire boot or a food item wrapper to plug the hole.
- Always bring cash in case you need to buy something along the way. Also, many remote gas stations or markets only take cash.
3. Check your spare tube occasionally. Don’t just stuff it in your saddle bag and fugetaboutit! Many times I’ve had flats, my spare tube was already punctured from having been in my saddle bag. Bummer:( This is why you need a patch kit.
- To see if your tube is flat BEFORE you put in your bike, you can blow air in it. You should do this before changing your flat anyway so you don’t get a pinch flat when putting the tire back on.
4. Multi-tool. Know it, use it. I’ve had cleats come off mid-ride, head sets come loose, bolts come loose, handlebars come off, derailleurs rip off, and so on. You don’t want this to happen.
5. Weather. It’s Colorado and you always need to be prepared and dressed appropriately when it begins to snow/rain/sleet/hail etc.
- Pearl Izumi makes a great protective barrier that wads up in a tennis ball size.
- Rubber surgical gloves year round! Great for changing flats so you don’t get dirty or for warmth in a pinch. And pack really easy.
- If you must, newspaper for an extra layer in your jersey and plastic bags on your feet make for great emergency layers.
6. Broken spoke. This one is a bit tough depending on the spoke count of your wheels.
- You can use your knee to try to bend the wheel back in a less-wobbly position.
- Open your brakes up to allow the wheel to spin through.
- If you have a lighter rider with you, switch wheels so you can get back. The lighter rider will put less pressure on the weak spot in the rim and potentially prevent more spokes from breaking.
- If you’re a serious randonneur, they do make spokes on the fly called Fiber Flight.
- Check to see if your multi tool has a spoke wrench, and also, learn how to use it. (Youtube it or Google and practice on a spare set of junk wheels)
- Low spoke count wheels are great if you have a team car and your paycheck depends on you getting to the finish ahead of the other guy/girl. Get a higher spoke count wheel, especially if you’re heavier.
7. Broken Chain.
- More applicable to mountain bikes but make sure to have a chain breaker, know how to use it, and a spare pin to reattach your chain.
- You could also reuse the pin but make sure to not back it all the way out because you may lose it.
- Remove broken link by removing 2 segments of the chain at the damaged end. You need to remove 2 segments instead of 1 because the two types of segment alternate. If you just remove 1 segment you can’t re-attach it. Fixing a broken chain is no more difficult than fixing a flat tire if you’re prepared.
- You won’t be able to shift normally so make sure to not shift under a lot of load. However having a derailleur allows you to remove links more easily. If you have a single speed, it’s a little different.
- Get out those rubber gloves! This is a dirty job and you don’t want to mess up your sharp kit.
8. Broken Cable (Coincidentally encountered this tonight).
- If you have a geared bike, you can manually move your chain where it needs to go in the big and small rings (get out those rubber gloves).
- If Rear Der. goes out, you can still shift in the big and small rings up front. No biggie.
- Get cable replaced asap when you get back.
- Could be an array of reasons why this happened, but take it to a shop if you don’t know how to diagnose or change your cables.
9. Crash:( It happens.
- Straighten whatever is crooked with your multi tool (seat post, stem, wheel, etc) and scope out your helmet to make sure you it’s not broken. If you crashed in your helmet and hit your head, replace your helmet. No ifs, ands or buts. Most have a crash replacement policy and they should be replaced every 2 years anyway.
- If you have carbon bars, as much as this is a pain in the ass, you should unwrap and check to make sure your bar isn’t cracked. Never a better time to replace your bar tape, especially if it’s white.
- If you’re missing clothing, use spare clothing to cover up revealing rips in your kit.
- Make sure to scrub your road rash (you must) and buy some tegaderm! If it’s a BOGO, buy extra. (YES, that happened).
10. Prevention is a great way to avoid road-side emergencies! It’s always a good idea to simply keep your bike clean, lubed in pivot points, make sure bolts are tight (with a torque wrench) and inspect each time you clean or crash for cracks.
- “ABC Wheel Quick!” Make sure to check the following:
- Air in tires
- Brakes and Bars
- Chains and Cables (nothing fraying or obviously out of place)
- Wheel –check for trueness and spoke tension
- Quick Release – Make sure it’s tight. Nothing worse than lining up for a race and you notice your front skewer just dangling.
Rachel, Berta, Susan, Ingrid and Sue of the BRAC BoD mentored the Cat 4 women during the Louisville Criterium yesterday as part of the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado’s women’s program. There were 50 in the field and zero crashes! Many of the women had never raced before. Following the race, Rachel wanted to share some physical and psychological observations through personal experiences. Read on!
- We had many girls racing not only their first crit, but first bike race ever! And you all finished upright and no one was last! (Not that being last matters, I come in last at least once a year. I highly recommend it! It’s humbling and reminds you that you race for fun)
- If you can do a no-handed victory salute in a Cat 4 crit, it is time to cat up! (Talking to you Sam, you could probably take me in a sprint! And Mean Mama Madison misses you.)
- When mentoring, I would say “get on her wheel.” When that happened, many of the girls I think thought I said “giddy up” and took off like a bat out of hell and passed the wheel I was pointing out. Get on her wheel means bridge the gap and sit on the wheel in front of you so you can enjoy a draft and recover so you don’t work so hard by yourself.
- You only have so many matches. Every time you give it an all out effort, you use up one match. Each person has a different amount of matches but knowing your matchbook takes a long time to learn. Trial and error when you’re new. I have about 4 when I’m trying to win a race and 10 when I’m working for a teammate because when I work for someone else, I try so much harder than I would for myself.
- The TWO PROFESSIONAL TRIATHLETES in the cat 4 field placed 8th and 11th compared to the Frostbite TT where they both bested every female (and most males) in attendance. This PROVES that racing is so much more than being able to go strong in a straight line. Add in drop bars, handling skills, and drafting, and it changes the game.
- You individually are not stronger than the group. When the group decides to organize and take turns pulling, they will catch you. Watch any pro race and rarely does someone stay away. When they do it’s amazing but it doesn’t happen often. I noticed a few girls would attack with all their might to only be swallowed by the group 2 min later. Time your attacks and know when to go or when to take a chance. This will come in time and you’ll learn. Cycling is a lifelong sport, and you will learn something in every race you do. So don’t sweat trying to learn everything in the first race because you won’t (or year for that matter).
- Confidence. Without it, you will do poorly. Your head is more important than your strength. You can train all day long but if your head is screwed up, it can change your race. Confidence as a racer is hard to attain, but you all deserve to be where you are. So line up in the front row and smile knowing you’re going to have fun and if anything, get one helluva workout for the day.
- Starting position will make or break your race. I started in the back at the Aspen Pro Challenge last year because there were other pros there that I was intimidated by. Big mistake. That was the first crit I was ever pulled from. It sucked but my head wasn’t in the game (i.e. violation of point 7) and I worked too hard trying to move up.
- In my opinion, working as a team and being a part of one means more to me than being an individual. If you want to win every race or not give a little extra to be a part of a bigger picture, then you should race unattached or cat up and stop sandbagging. If those are your goals, then that is completely ok and truth be told, I wanted nothing more than to cat up as a 4 and 3 (and now I want to downgrade!!). It is easier without teammates to do that for many reasons including much less responsibility. I’m not saying that it is wrong to want to do well or win or simply get what you want out of racing. We are all overachievers or we wouldn’t be training and in this competitive environment. However, when not working for a teammate on or off the course, you will miss out on some very important lessons, benefits, and more. You learn tons when working through things as a team. You also push yourself so much harder for a teammate than you would for yourself. Trust me on this. All of my PRs were when working for a teammate. I know others can say the same thing.
- NONE OF US (on this team) GET PAID TO DO THIS!! If you do, congratulations. You are one of the genetically gifted women whom possesses talent that I emulate, but I simply don’t have no matter how much I train. The majority of US female pro racers earn well below the poverty-line income of $11,170 for a single-person household. PER YEAR! I don’t envy training 20 hrs per week and having to work on top of that to make a living! And if you have a bad day on the bike, it’s just that. A pro has a bad day on the bike, they could lose their contract. Recognize that you’re doing this to have fun, stay fit, and challenge yourself. It ain’t your day job. It’s ok to be nervous, miss a day or two training, or to be outside of your comfort zone. That’s the fun part. Once out of the fun zone, and you aren’t having a good time, perhaps change your attitude or change your sport. And go easy on yourself. It takes one day being down in the dumps following a race that didn’t go so well, and then you get perspective. Lanier, I know exactly how you felt yesterday. I felt that at the State TT last year and then bailed on a teammate the next day at Guanella Pass HC because I couldn’t stand two days in a row of poor performance. I was ready to hang up my bike and never race again. I actually cried and I haven’t cried in about 8 years. Over a stupid bad bike racing weekend. Then thank everything holy for my teammates who picked me up and convinced me to do Dead Dog Stage Race where with the help of those teammates, they led me to a 1st place in the GC. Wouldn’t have raced without their encouragement and wouldn’t have placed as well as I did without their help. Best part was hanging with my teammates outside of racing in WY! Doing poorly taught me humility and empathy. And it gave me much needed perspective. That lesson is greater than any lesson winning will ever teach you.
We know Rachel isn’t the only one to commute to work by bike on the team, but she’s going to be the second one to write about it! From time to time, she’ll share her commuting stories. You’d be surprised of what can happen in a 6 mile round trip commute.
When I moved to Colorado 2.5 years ago, I had to sell my beloved Litespeed, Bella, who I commuted 32 miles round trip to work in Tennessee. I also traded my city fixie, a sweet 80’s Schwinn, for a couch so I’d have something to sit on once I got to Colorado (I no longer own the couch BTW). Though I missed my commuters, I still had a road, mtn, cx and TT bike to keep me busy. But life just wasn’t the same. It felt like Sophie’s Choice (great movie for all those young ones on the team!)
But….flash forward two years later….
After moving my life and career to Boulder, I decided to buy myself a celebratory present–my very own, tricked out Raleigh commuter bike! Complete with an internal 8-speed hub, that I pretend is a power tap, my new gal is the latest addition to the fleet of 20 bicycles at our household. She’s also worth as much as my car (my car isn’t very expensive and is for some reason always missing doorhandles). Though I loved her stock, I’ve since added an SKS rear fender, reflective dots and tape, Krieg cycling bag, massive U-lock, an “I <3 my bike” bell, Niterider light, and three blinky red taillights. She’s quite sexy all dressed up.
So now that I’ve been commuting the last three months, I’ve only filled up my gas tank twice (instead of every week when commuting to my old gig), saving nearly $500 (which is greater than the cost of the bike). Also, since taking this leap of two wheels faith, my car insurance company has a device that plugs into my car to track my usage. Got a 6% reduction in my rates-taking that to the bank! Beyond the cash benefits, mentally it helps me wind down and reflect for the evening or prepare for my day on the way in.
Only one episode of epicness ensued since my commuting adventures have taken place. Jeff and I decided to ride our commuters up to NCAR and then hike Bear Peak, he on a single speed and me with my 8 gears, struggling to get to the top of the hill and start of our hike. While we both know better, neither of us wanted to carry a bag of extra clothes. Strike number one.
After hiking nearly 4 miles, snowflakes started to fall and the wind picked up. While this happens often in CO, we both had summit fever, decided to shrug it off, and we powered to the top. Strike two.
My arms were so numb from the cold that I could hardly pull myself up the rocks to the peak. So without any additional layers and getting colder by the second, we turned right back around and booked it to the trailhead. Luckily, I brought a banana. But was too cold to eat it. Strike three.
Finally, we made it back to the bikes, close to 4 hours after our journey started, with only one bottle of water between us and one banana. We started back towards home but had to descend down NCAR. Snow was blowing so hard and the temperature dropped about 30 degrees. Somehow we both managed to get back safely, albeit 80% frozen and 100% exhausted. We both fell asleep before 7 pm.
While epic adventures gone awry make for great stories, most of my commuting experiences go without a hitch. Occasionally, I’ll forget my work shoes, or it will be sunny in the morning and snow a foot by the afternoon, but those things make me laugh more so than seem an inconvenience. I wouldn’t trade my 3 mile stroll for a petrol-guzzling car ride any day of the week. And god-forbid waste any amount of water washing my car (clearly a pet peeve). Plus it takes me longer to drive, park my car and then walk to work than riding my bike to the front door of the office.
In fact, many of my coworkers feel the same way. We participated in Boulder’s Winter Bike to Work Day together a few weeks ago and had a great time. More communities should offer and encourage these things. Check out the video below.
Look for another blog post in the spring regarding my daily commutes. I’m already excited to ride my bike without a puffy coat, gloves, hat and night lights. However, I’m sure come spring, I’ll be trading the 20 degree temps for 50 mph winds so we’ll see how that goes! Either way, it’s always guaranteed to be an adventure.
Susan Adamkovics and Rachel Scott hosted the 2nd Annual BRAC Women’s Summit at Boulder Beer. Great to see so many women wanting to grow and improve the sport in Colorado! Plenty of Naked ladies made the trek to Boulder Beer too, showing their support.
This year’s summit had about 50+ more participants than last year–including staff, board members, promoters, officials, the ED of OIWC, new and seasoned racers–and adopted four initiatives for 2013. Also, 2012 was our largest year for participation across the board in every senior and masters category (32.8% growth over 2011). SW4 and SW45+ saw the largest growth percentages. Retention from Cat 4 to 3 was a focus of the evening as statistically many come into the sport as a beginner to never be seen again. 2012 is no different than any year prior for BRAC or other LA’s across the country. But also nationally, retention rates for nonprofit membership-based organizations for 1st year new members hovers around 70%. It’s a problem shared among organizations like BRAC.
Overall, the feedback thus far from the summit has been very positive. Colorado has a great group of passionate, strong female athletes who want to grow the sport for women and are willing to work to make it happen despite raising families, working full time, and fitting in training where they can. I’m continually impressed by the stories women share, insight they offer into the sport, and willingness to work whether impacting one person at a time or influencing a room full of people. I know I’m excited about it and have experienced growth first hand with our team growing from 6 in 2010 to 60 women for 2013, with many of them never having participated a bike race in their life as of yet.
Susan and I are preparing a recap and survey during the holiday to send to participants and registered BRAC riders. This will also be published on coloradocycling.org.
And also, a HUGE thank you Jennifer Triplett for being a genuine keynote speaker and starting us off in a positive direction. Colorado is lucky to have you!
While us Colorado folk were playing in the dirt, snow and cold last weekend, Emily Zinn was tearing up the CX scene in Louisville, KY at the USGP. Here’s her account of racing in the ‘dirty’ south.
Wearing Naked kit in Kentucky is like being in a celebrity entourage. Can’t pedal three strokes without someone stopping you to ask if you know Rachel Scott. The entire state seems to have voraciously followed her movements on Facebook, and everyone in Kentucky knows that she sold her cyclocross bike for a Specialized mountain bike, yet still asked if she would be racing that day.
Pro. Not only was it a USGP, it is the site of the first EVER world championships outside of Europe. “The first city outside of Europe to host a cyclocross world championship is Louisville, KY!?” you ask. Yes. And deservingly so.
Unless you are Adam Craig, there are a minimum of four dismounts, and not wimpy little grab-my-bike-and-run-over-a-couple-barriers dismounts, but crazy-steep stairs, limestone steps, and, if you missed your line, the Clif Bar Sand Land. Sounds fun, like going to the beach with a shovel and castle-shaped bucket, right? Yeah, it’s nothing like that.
On form. A sampling for your enjoyment:
“Can you believe they let that girl race naked? Shameless.”
“That’s it, nice and easy. It’s not like it’s a race or anything.”
“Just remember, you paid to do this.”
“Touch my monkey.”
“Chase the unicorn.” Side commentary: I think this is Peloton Don!
“Katie Compton is right on your tail.”
“Isn’t it uncomfortable to race naked?”
Race report from day 2, as it ran through my head at the time:
Me on the line, to the girl next to me: “You’re Emma, right?”
Girl next to me: “Nope.”
Me: “Right. Are you Emma? Who’s Emma?”
Very young and cute winner of both days, quietly: “I am.”
Me: “Sweet! Awesome job yesterday! You’re coming to Boulder to train with Ingrid Alongi on the track, right! Excellent! Look me up when you get there! I can’t wait for you to come out riding with us!”
Emma: “I’m excited to come.”
Girl next to me shifts, unclips, swings leg over and turns her crank. Really? Panic. Is she going to get stampeded? Look over and see marshall is rolling his eyes and waiting. She swings her leg over. Gun goes off immediately.
Launch. Clip. Push. Sweet, second to the grass. Now I’ve just got to hold this for, like, a few minutes so I can be top-3 into the sand and not have to run.
Did they add more stairs to this permanent staircase during the night last night? Sneaky buggers.
My Norwegian friend was talking yesterday about how hard he was “breading” in his race. Yes, the heavy breading has already begun.
Already to the alligator swamp. Means the second pit is coming up.
Cool, neutral support is cheering for me. Or perhaps for that other girl named Emily that has been right with me the whole time and I tell myself that the cheers from people I don’t know are all for me. Either way, doesn’t seem very neutral.
Gnats don’t really fly into your eye, you ride into the gnat. Do young gnats have nightmares about giant eyes coming at them at a speed they can’t out-fly? How long does a gnat stay alive squirming in my eyeball after I ride into it?
I hope that’s really a unicorn in kit and I’m not delirious. They haven’t even started counting off laps yet. I could have eight laps to go, for all I know, and I’m already seeing unicorns. The bubbles are definitely real, though. Must look for photos after the race. Hope there’s a sweet one of me bursting through bubbles as I fly over the barriers.
I better not close my mouth, because it’s so dry my tongue might stick to the roof of my mouth like it does when I lick ice and I won’t be able to open it again for the rest of the race.
That Strava segment is only like 20 feet of flat with no turns. Why didn’t they put the Strava segment on any of the many actually cool features? I should go for it, anyway. If you can’t win the race, you might as well win the Strava segment. Wait, Katie Compton is riding this Strava segment.
This is so off-camber it wouldn’t even recognize camber any more. This would be hilariously stupid in the mud. Some people would probably crawl it. I wish it were muddy and I were crawling this section for others’ enjoyment.
It was so thoughtful of all these hecklers to come out with rubber chickens and stuffed monkeys and gramophones to tell me I’m sucking in clever ways. It’s early in the morning and nobody ever comes out to heckle. I should buy them a beer or something. There are too many of them. I’ll just touch the monkey each lap in stead. Next lap I’m gonna grab the monkey and stuff it down my skinsuit for a lap. That will never work. My skin suit is way to tight to accommodate me and a monkey.
Louisville, KY is the greatest place on earth to race cyclocross. And then after, you can go to Sergio’s World Beers and Belgian TFU with legit Belgian beers that actual Belgian cyclists have wrung out their skinsuit into, it’s that legit. Sergio knows just about everything about beer… but doesn’t know what the sign on his own, unmarked establishment says.
Most importantly, the biggest event ever in American cyclocross is happening in Louisville, KY, on February 3 and you definitely want a ticket to that action.
Sometimes racing does go according to plan! Roberta shares her experience during the Dead Dog Classic Criterium.
I was going to blog about my own race experience at Dead Dog since Dead Dog is a race that has a lot of personal meaning to me and my cycling goals. Unfortunately, the road race was not one of most stellar cycling performances and it ended getting to know the volunteer EMTs in the emergency tent. I do think those EMTs worked just a little bit of magic for me since the story I am about to tell involves the race that happened in the heat of the next day. As criteriums go, the Laramie course is super fun. Fast turns, chicanes, trains roaring through town, and great volunteers. After watching the 4s race, Joan and I decided to spin our legs in the heat of the later morning sun. After the heat exhaustion that plagued me the day before I was really tired of sunshine and heat. I did partake in an icebath and the team standing in the pond on Saturday after the road race. Joan also had us eat two dinners after the road race and that didn’t necessarily hurt my recovery either. Anyway, there we 7 of us in the 1-2 category and I was 7th in the GC. I was thinking before the crit that when you are in last place, 20 minutes back, there is really nothing to lose if you lay it all on the line to secure a win for your teammates.
Joan and I discussed strategy for the race and we both decided we would do most of the work until we could go no longer and hopefully one of us would hang on for the entire race. It is rare when a strategy that is verbalized before a race actually happens and what happens is even better! The Cliffs Notes version of the 40 minute race was this, Joan was in front, then I would get in front, someone else not on our team would get in front, PRIME LAP- Sprint hard and lead out a teammate for the prime- Joan was in front, I was in front, TIME BONUS SPRINT- lead out teammate for the sprint win. I had the biggest smile the entire race because magically everything fell into place. Naked Women’s racing was dominating and in control! We were blocking others from going for the sprint and Rachel and Kimberly were getting enough rest in between sprints. We had lead outs that looked like they could have been choreographed in a ballet. The energy was so exciting. When it came down to the final sprint, Joan and I both lead out Rachel and Kimberly for the 1-2 win and an overall GC win. Did I mention this was a fun race?
There are times in bike racing when things don’t go as planned. Teammates can feel let down because a plan didn’t execute or someone was having a bad day. Not this day in Laramie. We were a well oiled machine and we worked as a team and we pulled in the win. We were all ear to ear with grins. This is the reason I race my bike- not to win- but to be part of a team of strong, dedicated women. Thank you!