Try Really Hard

So we have this common saying on the team. It goes something like this…

Person 1: Statement about how hard certain part of the course, race, etc was and how silly they looked trying to overcome it. 

Person 2: But at least we tried really hard!

Person 1 & 2: *highfive in agreement*

This whole conversation seems pretty inconsequential, right?

And in some ways, it might be, however the idea of celebrating coming in dead last during a scratch race, crashing a million times on a cross course, or having the least graceful dismount/mount ever because, in the end, you tried really hard is important and valuable – especially to a growing women’s field. Let’s take a moment to break that idea down:

koochella anna cross photo by matthew pastick

The face of someone who wasn’t having the best race ever, but still tried really hard. And looked fly as hell.

There’s no shame in trying hard.

Maybe you keep getting dropped in every single criterium you do. Perhaps you feel like everyone else is way faster at technical cross courses than you, or that your standing sprint is awful. Maybe you felt like you turned yourself inside out during a race, only to still miss that coveted podium spot. That’s okay. It’s important to recognize weaknesses as long as you don’t dwell on them, rely on them for excuses, or allow them to control your life. Regardless of how any race or training ride goes, trying really hard not only makes you a better rider, but also increases the excitement and overall skill level in the entire field. Imagine watching a race on the velodrome where everyone is only giving 60% effort because they know that there’s one fast rider who is going to crush everyone. Sounds pretty boring and uninspiring, right? Imagine that same race, except now everyone is giving 100% and trying to reel in that fast rider. That’s the race that’s going to motivate racers to keep coming back, continue to train hard, and progress as athletes. Even if no one is able to catch up to that super fast rider, at least everyone gave it their all, and that’s something to always be proud of. In short, trying really hard, even if you “fail,” is an achievement worthy of both praise and celebration.

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These women got second, third, and fourth place respectively. They were all trying really hard.

Dedication is the only thing you can control.

In a sport rife with crashes, inclement weather, malfunctioning equipment, illness, and injury, training and racing goals can easily become derailed. That’s why, in many ways, your dedication is the only thing you can control. It’s important and empowering to set goals for yourself and work to achieve those goals. Do those intervals you hate, go out of your way to ride up that hill on your commute home, eat more vegetables than you normally do, or go on training rides with cyclists who are faster than you. Even if you can’t complete that workout or are totally exhausted by the end of that ride, (or hate vegetables for that matter), dedicating yourself to something you are passionate about is brave. Even if you go into that season or race feeling like you’re still not where you want to be, knowing that you’ve been trying really hard is something to be proud of.

koochella blood

This rider tried so hard that her legs got bloody.

That being said, we all have those races or rides where nothing is going your way and you feel that internal flame of effort die out. You might give up and switch into “survival” mode, in which your main goal becomes to just finish or find the nearest point where you can quit. As long as it doesn’t become a habit, that’s perfectly okay. We all sometimes get “beat down” by exhaustion, tough courses, or hard races. Acknowledge it in that moment and make a pact with yourself that, despite feeling negative about your performance right now, you’ll keep trying really hard next time.

koochella crash

Trying really hard isn’t always pretty.

You think about you more than anyone else thinks about you.

This isn’t to say that we’re all self-absorbed assholes, it’s just that most of us are too busy working, volunteering, spending time with family and friends, and riding our bikes to worry too much about what’s going on in everyone else’s life. Think about it – when’s the last time you finished a race and immediately thought, “I wonder how so-and-so did?” Unless it’s a friend who you know was trying really hard to podium or was particularly concerned about this race for any number of reasons, chances are they aren’t your first thought (if they are, however, kudos to you for being a loyal and concerned friend!). Next time you leave a race feeling less than stellar about your performance, just remember that everyone else is probably thinking about their own race too, not yours.

Support other women who try really hard.

So you’ve made a pact with yourself to dedicate yourself to your passion (which we sincerely hope is cycling related), and try really hard. Awesome! Remember that not every rider celebrates trying hard like you do and sometimes they might need reminders that trying really hard is about as rad as it gets. Support your fellow cyclists by congratulating them on their efforts, whether they’re on the podium, DFL, or DNF and strive to make our wonderful sport as welcoming and enthusiastic as it gets. From our perspective, more is more. The more women, races, and posi feelings there are, the better cycling becomes for everyone involved.

koochella pain face photo by blake

Pain faces = trying SO hard. Photo by: Blake Kelley

 

 

2015 By the Numbers…

Go Fast, Turn Left

  • 7 new female track racers…
  • 2 of whom upgraded to category 3 in their first season
  • 5 women total upgraded to category 3 in track this season
  • 7 total track podiums

koochella 6

Photo by: Linsey Hamilton

We Don’t Mind the Mud…Stairs on the Other Hand…

  • 5 women total tried out a sanctioned cyclocross race for the first time this season
  • 2 second-year cyclocross racers upgraded to category 3 in cyclocross this season
  • 5 total cyclocross podiums

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Breaking into Road

  • 10 women (both new and returners) participated in Minnesota criteriums
  • 3 women tried road races for the first time
  • 27 criteriums registrations between 10 racers

road 1

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  • 45 unique days of sanctioned racing in five US cities
  • 7 riders continuing on and either forming a new team, joining an established team, or competing on an individual level
  • 1 recognition as Track Club of the Year by USAC

Thanks for the memories, 2015. Here’s to 2016 being even better.

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.