Koochella Classic 2k16

Our second-annual Koochella Classic took place over three days, featuring a fixie crit, alleycat, and bingo/brunch/beach sesh. With “Sweet 16” details like face painting, Pokemon-themed spoke cards, and casually blasting Avril Lavigne’s top hits, the 50+ riders who participated were treated to a weekend of celebrating all things bikes with a teenage twist.

HUGE thank you to our primary sponsor, knog, along with all of the other local businesses and companies who pitched in to make this weekend special.

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We kicked off Friday night with the fixie crit. Riders raced 10 laps. Competition among the top rider and facepaint competitions were fierce.

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Riders ready! @reneechristine8 giving final instructions…

A photo posted by Koochella (@koochella_racing) on

The following afternoon featured the main event…the #koochellasweet16 alleycat! Riders collected their #gottacatchemall spoke cards and quickly settled in at Sunrise Cyclery to get to routing ahead of the 6pm start time. The race ended up being right around 20 miles with the top finishers coming in at searingly fast times.

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More like STOKE cards. #gottacatchemall #spokecards #alleycat #koochellasweet16 #koochellaclassic2k16

A photo posted by Koochella (@koochella_racing) on

Afterparty shenanigans took place at Northeast’s finest cider brewery, Sociable Cider Werks, which also happened to be the final stop of the race.

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Day three brought relaxation and recovery to our weary legs. Britt’s legendary bingo prowess, with equal parts sass and spunk, made our recovery brunch at Red Stag Supperclub that much better.

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Thanks so much to everyone who participated, supported, and volunteered! You’re all diamonds.

Having waaaaay too much fun at bingo brunch.

A photo posted by Koochella (@koochella_racing) on

Enter the Koochella Super Prime!

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We here at Koochella are big fans of women’s racing. We’re not shy about this. We love racing ourselves. We love our competition.

We also appreciate the heck out of women who are racing at the upper levels of our sport. These women are the living, breathing manifestations of years of hard training and discipline. They are our best athletes. They are our champions. They are who we aspire to be. They humble us. We love everything about them.

As a Minneapolis-based team, we are fortunate to have women at the top of our sport competing in our local races. We have national (and world!) champions and contenders in our local scene. While we consider them our friends, there is still a lot of secret/not-so-secret fandom.

(I’m looking at you, Nicole Mertz. I still get stoked that you even talk to me.).

We also benefit from having some top notch, big deal local races, namely the Fixed Gear Classic (which wrapped up last weekend) and the North Star Grand Prix (which starts today!).

The North Star Grand Prix is a 15+ year tradition in Minnesota. It was at one point considered to be the most important race on the women’s pro road circuit. As it stands, it is still your best opportunity to see some of the fastest women around duking it out in our state.

For me, the women’s Uptown Criterium has been something I look forward to every year, usually with a marker in my pocket just in case I see one of my big name heroes and manage to talk her into autographing my bike (I’m 100% serious about this, you can ask to see the marker).

To celebrate and show support for the women’s pro field this year, Koochella will have pink bells available (for a suggested $10 minimum donation). Donations will go towards a “Koochella Super Prime,” awarded to a racer in the women’s pro field at the Stillwater stage on Sunday.

Here is the bell in question… again:

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Why pink? It’s our team color. We also haven’t seen a lot of bells this color. We wanted to be sure that these bells were unusual so that women in the race would be able to see them. See, we made these bells especially for this race, especially to raise money for this prime. We want our heroes in the women’s field to know that when they see a spectator ringing a pink Koochella bell that they are ringing the bell in support of them.

HOW CAN I GET A BELL?! You’re asking yourself. Well, that’s pretty easy. Firstly, if you see me (Anna) wandering the crowd, hit me up. I’ll have a bunch in my bag.

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Secondly, Koochella will be posted up at the Uptown Criterium and will be doing a ride out to cheer at the Stillwater Criterium. You are more than welcome to join us at either of those.

For the Uptown Criterium, we will be posted up on the Boulevard on 31st street between Humboldt and Holmes. We’ll be there at 6pm. Join us. Do it.

For Sunday, we’ll be leading a ride out to Stillwater for the final stage. It will be an easy ride. We’ll bump some tunes, snack on some donuts, and post up on the hill at Stillwater to cheer on the women’s field. I bought a brand new megaphone for the occasion. It will be covered with dumb stickers by then. If you haven’t done the ride before, it’s a nice, flat, easy program, mostly on trails.

See you kids at the races! And don’t forget some dollar billz to spill in support of these fast and fabulous women.

Xox

Anna “Mama Duck” Schwinn

2016 Fixed Gear Classic at the NSC Velodrome

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This past weekend was the Fixed Gear Classic at the National Sports Center Velodrome.

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We had no idea what to expect from the event. This is the first time the women of Koochella have had the opportunity to participate. The FGC has been canceled the past two seasons as our velodrome’s future has been uncertain due to needed repairs and associated funding.

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This year, with repairs completed and our track freshly repainted, our track had the opportunity to host top notch racers from around the country. And we hosted our hearts out.

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Koochella itself had the pleasure of hosting two of our biggest heroes: Jo Celso of Cinelli Chrome and Veronika Volok of Shespoke- both monsters of the track and fixed gear crit… and generally inspiring and lovely people.

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The wonderful thing about events like this is that you gain new heroes from it. There were so many fast and fresh new faces.

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The women of Koochella soon found themselves surrounded by loads of new racers to admire.

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It was completely humbling to be racing in a field alongside some of the fastest women in the nation… and completely amazing to be able to hang out with them on the infield between races.

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The competition was fierce. The racing was easily the hardest anyone on Koochella had done. It was the kind of humbling experience that makes you stronger. I will happily speak for myself when I say I didn’t feel like the competition that our guests deserved. I’m going to do my best to be that competition next year.

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At any rate, Koochella didn’t go home completely empty-handed. Sara Bee handily took home the win on the track stand competition.

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A big thanks to Linsey Hamilton for taking the lead on race coordination. You killed it. And a massive thanks to the NSC Velodrome community for making it so easy for women racers to thrive. Above is the prize list for the event. You’ll notice that prizes are equal, so gender isn’t noted in the spreadsheet. Because that’s just how it is at the NSC Velodrome.

And you’ll notice that there were only a few less women than men participating in the event. Because that’s just how it is at the NSC Velodrome

We’re very proud to be a part of the community and we can’t wait to see you all next year.

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xox

Anna “Mama Duck” Schwinn

(For more images from this weekend, please visit this flickr album)

Baby Ducks Take the Track by Storm!

If there’s one thing that makes our track racer hearts pitter-patter, it’s seeing new female-presenting riders take to the track for the first time, watching that sparkle in their eyes as they ride their first laps, and then seeing that sparkle turn into fierce determination as they become glorious track monsters. Racing is nearly here and a whole slew of women (over 20!) are gearing up for their first season of racing. This spring, Anna “Mama Duck” Schwinn, Linsey “Linzilla” Hamilton, and Renee “Dark Horse” Hoppe teamed up to co-teach the Women, Trans, Femme Intro Track Class. For many of these riders, riding and racing on the track marked their first time riding a fixed gear bike and trying out sanctioned racing. Their enthusiasm and excitement is contagious, reminding returning riders both old and new of their first few times riding our beloved boards…

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See the full album here. 

Pep Talk

My first track race of the season, 2013.

First night of racing, first race, 2013. What you can’t see is that I’m so scared that my legs are shaking.

Race License: check

Track Pass: check

Velodrome Bike Parking: check

Gear: check

Sweet bike: check

I have all the gear I’ll need for the season. My bike is good to go. I have lycra for days and a brand new pair of track gloves that I’m in love with.

I’m an hour away from being picked up to go to my first night of structured training for the season, and I’m so nervous I can’t sit down. My palms ache. I had to force some food into my stomach so I won’t get lightheaded at practice… I’ve been so nervous, I haven’t eaten all day.

It’s funny. This will be my fourth season racing, I’m captain of a team, and I’m still nervous.

I am telling myself now that I’m nervous because I didn’t train enough (I’ve been traveling and working a lot). I’m going to embarrass myself. All the new women are going to be so much faster than I am. It’s going to be me off the back, all alone, looking stupid. I’m listing excuses to not go.

It’s funny because I remember that one season where all I did was train and I was a total beast… and I sold myself the same negativity and excuses then as I am now.

When other people say these things, I have a pep talk for them. When it comes to myself, I just pace and worry. The koolaid hasn’t been self-serve.

But today, for some reason, I really need it. So here goes:

Anna, girl, you just need to get out there.

Every season has a first training session. Every season has a first race. They are always terrifying- you just need to jump in and get started.

You only get faster and better from here.

Racing is so good for you, and you know it. It makes you stronger, physically and mentally. It makes those around you stronger, too, which is why you’re always dragging your friends into it. Best of all, it gives you a way of appreciating and respecting strength in yourself and others. And you love that. It makes you so happy.

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First criterium, 2014. I got lapped twice and was so sick that I was puking on the course… I still had a blast and learned a ton from it. 

Remember that in those races where you’re falling off the back, being lapped like crazy, that you’re still having fun. You’re cheering yourself on in your head, thinking of ways to get better for next time. You’re cheering on your friends lapping you because, goddamn, they are so much faster than last season. And that’s so awesome.

Remember every race where you’ve surprised yourself. Remember when you held on longer than you thought you could and how awesome that felt.

First day of track practice, 2015. I can't remember being happier that year. We blasted Prince over the speakers at NSC and tore up our legs.

First day of track practice, 2015. We blasted Prince over the speakers at NSC and tore up our legs. It was so wonderful.

You have waited all winter for today. Rubber is finally meeting boards. Last year, entering turn one for the first time that season felt like coming home again. That’s what you get to do today, and that’s pretty cool.

Girl, this season is going to be so rad. You’re going to have so much fun. You always do. You love it. 

Get out there and make those legs burn. Turn yourself inside out. And do it all with a smile. You deserve it.

Eat those vegetables. Try really hard. Get it, girl.

Anna

Anna "Mama Duck" Schwinn

Anna “Mama Duck” Schwinn