FTW Racing in Minneapolis/St Paul

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First Ever Koochella Classic


Photo by Ben Hovland

The first annual Koochella Classic was part bike race, part babe fest, part three ring circus.


Photos by Ben Hovland

Our ringmasters for the weekend were none other than Tiana “T-Bits” Johnson, Beth “Treasure” Franklin, and new kid Emily Wade.  The three crushers spent months scheming with France “Fancy Pants” Barbeau to make an event that equally reflected Koochella’s hard exterior and tender heart.  T-Bits even lost some sleep over it.

Photo by France Barbeau

Night one started with a meet up at Cherry Cycles, a back alley bike shop in Loring Park owned and operated by one of the raddest WTFs around.

Photo by France Barbeau

Around 9 PM Tiana, Emily, and the Tiny Terror headed off to an undisclosed location with friend Altan Gurel to set up the course for a fixed gear criterium.  The team finished chalking routes and placing glowing pink cones just in time for the racers to arrive.

phil wood

Photo by Crisi Lee

The competition was fierce as racers on all kinds of bikes clipped corners at break neck speed.  All in the name of these Phil Wood hubs graciously donated by the 2015 All City Championship.

Photo by France Barbeau

After ten laps local trackie Zak Mohr and our very own T-Bits took the top prizes in the men’s ad WTF categories, respectively.  The crew basked in the glory of the first successful fixed gear crit in Minneapolis in years.  Then they headed over to Sisyphus Brewing for drinks as mythic as the night.


After a few hours of sleep, the team headed to the NSC Velodrome where they worked on sprints for three hours.  Yep, three.


Photo by Beth Franklin

Track practice under their belts, the girls hurried back to the Twin Cities for a few last-minute alley cat preparations.  Racers began rolling in to Koochella shop sponsor Sunrise Cyclery at 4:30.  Among the herd was Kat McCarthy, local Sh!t Goose racer and co-organizer of  the original Minneapolis babe fest, Babes in Bikeland.

Photo by Ben Hovland

Photo by Ben Hovland

Koochella was also stoked to see their friends from the Hub Cycling Team #babetrain roll in to registration.


Riders were given a spoke card, a crayon, and this manifest.  The crayon was to etch over stickers carefully placed on each of the unmanned bonus stops, listed in the center column of the manifest.

Photo by Ben Hovland

Photo by Ben Hovland

With the rest of the team posted at stops around the city, Beth and Tiana sent off the racers just after 6 PM.

Photos by David Lopez and France Barbeau

Photos by David Lopez and France Barbeau

Like most things Koochella does, the alley cat stops were totally boring.


Photo by Ben Hovland

Local legends Ben Laugerquist and SK were the first to roll in to the final stop in the Chrome MPLS back alley.  The pair finished at 6:53 PM and 6:55 PM, respectively.

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

Ben’s finish was good enough to earn him first place in the men’s category.  You could say his teammates were pretty stoked.


With prizes from a slew of incredible sponsors including Trash Bags and Knog, the excitement was understandable.

chrome bag 2

But the most coveted prize of the night went to the WTF field with this Chrome Custom Barrage made by local sewer Rachel Dye.


Photo by France Barbeau

The first WTF prizes of the night went to Kristin Greeley and Airen Bijou, a time-tested alley cat duo that pre-dates Kristin’s status as a crusher at the NSC Velodrome.

Photo by France Barbeau

Alley Cat Queen Jana Velo’s 7:04 PM finish with 3 bonuses earned her the top spot in the WTF field and the super slick Trash Bags Wastebasket.

Photo by France Barbeau

Then came Koochella’s favorite prizes:  WTF & men’s Overall Crusher.  These high profile titles went to individuals who raced both the crit and the alley cat.  While neither competitor took the top title in either race, they beasted both nights leaving nothing on the courses but their warm smiles and positive energy.  As Emily said when presenting the awards, “They did it Koochella style.”

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

Men’s crusher went to Minneapolis courier Jeff O’Neil who took home the golden wheel from Behind Bars.  He also scored some beer from East Lake Brewery, which he poured before leaving the podium.


Photo by France Barbeau

WTF crusher went to Lee Pen.  Lee took third in the crit, and raced the alley cat with only 30 seconds to route.  Shout-out to Fratboy for the podium assist.

Photo by Ben Hovland

Photo by Ben Hovland

A total powerhouse, Lee remembers thinking to herself how much she wanted the Chrome bag, but knowing there was no way she could win it.  Surprise!

Photo by Ben Hovland

Photo by Ben Hovland

After awards, the party raged on well into the night.  There was dancing, picture taking, and even some back alley bmx shenanigans.  Koochella had so much fun they’re thinking about hosting another Classic next year.  Maybe.

Southside Sprint 2015

11174368_1168063796542325_6317879995171181033_oPhoto by Matthew Pastick

In Minneapolis the Southside Sprint has a special place in the heart of every crit champion and hill climbing queen.  The 3/4 mile course on the south end of Chicago Ave is known for its tight curves and tree-lined thrills.  This past Sunday four Koochella racers rolled out of bed early to compete in Southside’s Category 4 women’s race.

11722496_1167380729943965_2193514685866477710_o (1)    Photo by Matthew Pastick

Always ready to pounce, Koochella took a quick lap around the course after the conclusion of the Juniors race and lined up just behind the start finish while officials readied the road.


While she couldn’t compete, June “Tiny Terror” Osaki came in her best dress and cape for moral and mechanical support.

11110186_1167885926560112_7919614647216477439_oPhoto by Matthew Pastick

When officials gave the go-ahead, the team was quick to grab as many front-row seats as they could.

11056557_1167886403226731_4984395479282680165_oPhoto by Matthew Pastick

Tiana “T-Bits” Johnson set herself up for early success with a prime position in the pack.  While a a minor crash in the final laps threw a wrench in this mechanic-messenger’s game, she quickly jumped back in the saddle earning herself a 9th place finish.

11779829_1167887023226669_1692929952880397343_oPhoto by Matthew Pastick

Beth “Treasure” Franklin fought her way to a 5th place finish proving her calves could carry her through a crit almost as well as a chariot race at the track.

For Rachel “Lazer” Zaidman, Southside marked the one year anniversary of her first sanctioned race and the day she decided she wanted to be on Koochella (that’s Lazer in the back on the right).

Photo by Matthew Pastick

Rachel finished the race stoked to see just how much she improved over the past year.

11741061_1167356793279692_4227515461441805562_oPhoto by Matthew Pastick

Rookie racer Emily Wade paced with a well-organized chase group, making new friends on the Birchwood and Omnium teams.

10986803_10206563227666899_5696275399910044225_oPhoto by Matthew Pastick

Of course, no bike race is complete without Lilah “Fratboy” Guertin.  Also unable to race, Lilah made it to Chicago & 48th in plenty of time to cheer her face off for fellow trackie Heidi “Game Face” Goodson as she #yolosolo’d her way to the state championship title in the elite women’s race later that afternoon.  


Save the NSC Velodrome Part 1

If you’re in town this weekend, please join Koochella at Fulton Brewery for a fundraiser to help pay for track repairs at the NSC Velodrome.

In addition to some killer prizes for raffle and silent auction, and some pieces for sale, Koochella will be auctioning off one of our All-City Koochella edition team framesets to the highest bidder (the winner gets to choose between a 49cm or 52cm size).

Until now, the only way to get one of these framesets was to earn it.  We feel so passionate about our velodrome that we are willing to break with our tradition for this event.

Please join us!

Jingle Cross 2014 Report!


Last Friday, Tiana and I drove down to Iowa City for Jingle Cross.  We were accompanied by our old friend Erin (Second Chance p/b Zubas) and our new friend Rhys May (Loose Nuts) from Georgia.

Well, technically, Erin drove.  Like a champ.

I had managed to talk Tiana into going, despite her being very sick.  And injured.  And exhausted from her day job on the streets as a super cool bike messenger.  I had even made her take an ice bath the night before… which had only made her more sick.

Poor thing.  I’m a horrible friend.


We didn’t arrive early enough to race on Friday. We raced on Saturday but didn’t have a camera (and couldn’t poach pictures from our friends).

Tiana, who coughed her way through the night, finished a respectable 10th out of 25th, her hand swollen to the size of her gloves by the end.

I finished a few spots behind her (after nipping Valerie sprinting at the finish) after a few technical difficulties with apparel, namely my legwarmers fell down and stuck in my chain a few times. After almost biffing it on a downhill for this reason, I vowed to not wear them for Sunday. Embro would have to do.

Sunday morning!

We went to breakfast at Bluebird. Note the straw wrappers (which we promptly shot at one another, because we’re all adults).


Tiana and I ordered the same breakfast.  Already in Hero Mode, I handily won.


 At the event, we ran into friend of the show, Fattie, seen here crushing a piece of breakfast pizza.


The Minnesota Tent Complex was packed with friends and aggressively heated (thanks for inviting us to hang out, guys!).  Everyone was excited because, well, we’re pretty good at snow… and over night we had received a respectable few inches of it.


And it was cold enough to stick around.


Tiana suited up but couldn’t race.

I, burned by my legwarmer experience the day before and apparently unaware of how embrocation works, put a thick layer of embro pretty much everywhere. Here is me at the start, completely unaware of the burning that would come.
2014111695092745 (1)

 Fortunately, most of the major right turns on the course were banked.  I can counter-steer left all day long, it’s what I do all summer at the track.  Counter-steering right, however, is much more challenging.  I fee like Zoolander.

20141116_093846 (1)

I was delighted to not have crashed.  Still high-fived every kid with a mitten-out.  Maybe even had a good time… and rocked some lobster red legs.


Then Rhys got on the course.  Being from Georgia, Rhys was a little less experienced with riding on snow.


She crashed five-seven times (depending on who she was talking to…) but just kept getting back on it. You can’t keep this girl down.


The last crash twerked her saddle… just a little bit.


 Other friends of the show:
Craig Whatshisname being all fast.(Raleigh or something)


Heidi Goodson (Birchwood) having one of the best races yet.  She looked great!


 Fred (Fred)


 Anya (Northstar)


 Chelsea (Fulton)


 And Chelsea’s boyfriend, Jeff (also Fulton), seen here clearly taking the race seriously (probably because Chelsea was way ahead of him).



 Matt (Cat 3 Cross Pro/Fulton) crushed the “cool” game.


Anyway, we had a ton of fun and look forward to doing this next year with a bigger, better crew.



Flyer Gallery

In order to get everyone stoked on race night, I made flyers throughout the season.

They are collected here for your personal amusement.

Also, so you know, I was striving to use as many different typefaces and Photoshop filters as possible.