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

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

Koochella Beginner Women’s (Trans & Non-Binary Inclusive) Road Clinic

In anticipation of our first week of sanctioned road racing in Minnesota, this Sunday 13 women grabbed their road bikes and headed out to Fort Snelling for Koochella’s second annual Beginner Women’s (Trans & Non-Binary Inclusive) Road Race Clinic. We covered everything from what race categories are, to equipment, to race skills and what to expect on race day. The women present ranged from racers with 1-2 seasons under their belt who wanted to strengthen their skills, to completely beginner women who are excited to sign up for their first races this season! Local crushers Erin Young, Tiana “T-Bits” Johnson, and Denise Ward helped out with tips, suggestions, and in assisting with drills. Huge thanks to everyone who showed up or helped out! We’re SO stoked to see some of you at crits and road races this week! If you’re attending or racing this week and see any of these women, be sure to give them a high five and cheer them on! #moreismore
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Koochella challenges you: Be Track Club of the Year 2016

Photo by Morgan Lust

Yesterday at around 11:30 AM (trust us, we were obsessively refreshing the USAC News page) USA Cycling named Koochella Track Club of the Year. Needless to say, we were stoked.

About an hour later Koochella Captain Anna “Mama Duck” Schwinn formally congratulated the rest of the team exclaiming, “LONG MAY WE REIGN.” Joking aside, Schwinn said that what she really wanted was for us to go at it again this year, harder than ever.

And have someone beat us.

Photo by Blake Kelley

Photo by Blake Kelley

According to USAC’s post, Koochella won for our passion for growing the women’s racing scene in Minnesota. In our application we talked up our new racers, the clinics we hosted and volunteered in, and the brand new second women’s field at the National Sports Center Velodrome.

Photo by Blake Kelley

Photo by Blake Kelley

But honestly we spent more time focusing on the stuff we do that isn’t on the track. We wrote about amping up other disciplines as a recruitment tool for the track. We wrote about the Koochella Classic and how we partnered with Babes in Bikeland to create a scholarship fund to cover new women’s race fees. We wrote about sitting on advisory committees, helping start new teams, becoming licensed coaches and race officials, leading community rides, and volunteering at local races and events whenever we could. We even wrote about #adventuremimosas.

Photo by Anna Schwinn

Photo by Anna Schwinn

We did a lot in the last year. And we’re tired. But we’re going after it again and we want you to, too. Next year when we frantically refresh the USAC News page, we want your name to pop up, not ours.

But hustle hard. We’re not going down without a fight.

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Of course, all of our hustling would be a heck of a lot harder without the many, many people who helped set us up for success.

First, we owe our ability to support and develop new riders to our fabulous sponsors All-City Cycles, Paul Component Engineering, Knog, Sisyphus Brewing, Podiumwear, CHUX Print, and, of course, Jamie McDonald and Sunrise Cyclery.

Second we’d like to give a huge shout-out to all the women, trans, and femme racers in our community both near and far. From amateurs to pros to our sister spirit teams SWAT, Velociposse, and Laser Cats. You all inspire us. Big time. P.S. if you wanna start a team check out Anna’s go-to guide here.

Photo by Blake Kelley

Photo by Blake Kelley

Next we are incredibly grateful for our super rad race community at the NSC Velodrome. Special shout-outs to Track Director Bob Williams, Friends of Velodrome Racing in Minnesota, and Linsey Hamilton for all that they’ve done for our racers in the past two years.

Photo by Ben Hovland

Photo by Ben Hovland

Last but not least we would like to thank all of our friends, supporters, fans, and partners. Babes this passionate demand a lot from ourselves and the people around us, and you always deliver. For that, we love you.

You’re all diamonds.

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau