KOOCHELLA

FTW Racing in Minneapolis/St Paul

Posts in the Racing category

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.

10557634_1099992650013603_4626657174760667046_o

 

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

MN CX State & Jingle Cross

MN State CX Champs

State Champs brought the ladies of Koochella their first taste of true cold-weather cyclocross riding with temps hovering in the teens for the first race of the morning. The course featured a mostly-frozen “litter box” sand pit, a long stair run-up, and some downhill off-camber turns, playing into different riders’ strengths and weaknesses. Emily raced the Women’s Cat 4, Beth & Tiana raced the Women’s Cat 3, and both France and Sarah took on the challenging 45-minute singlespeed race.

state 3

state 4

While Beth may have not made it onto the podium, she took first place in the hearts of our fans.

mnstate-10-2

Photo by: France Barbeau

mnstate-5-2

Tiana rode/ran hard to a solid 6th place finish in her field – her best Cat 3 finish since upgrading earlier this fall! She reports learning that singlespeed bikes can sometimes completely outperform geared cx bikes when it comes to forcing you to mash up hills, and that sometimes your teammates play mental games with you during your race, but it’s always out of love.

mnstate-7-2

Photo by: France Barbeau

Challenging course. Strong ass field. My Best Finish as a Cat 3. I hate stairs… HATE THEM. Probably wouldn’t have made it up them a 4th (I think) time if my lovely teammates were not screaming so damn much. I was dying out there until Renee started running behind me screaming ” Shes right behind you!!” I finally looked back once I made it to the top only to find that I was alone. So…that worked. -Tiana “T-Bitz” Johnson

state 2

NEW BIKE DAY!!!! Raced on my brand new All-City Koochella custom-painted 853! It was perfect. Pink on pink on pink. I thought it would be funny to wear colored checkered Vans during this event. This was a mistake only because of the temperature. Everyone tells me I’m crazy for rocking flats, but I guess I have yet to learn why. My feet feeling free to jet out when I need instant leverage around a sharp corner or stability through some sand or over ice? No mistake made. Wearing Vans when it’s 20 degrees instead of winter boots? Mistake made. When I came around the lap to my favorite part, the barriers, Mattio Montesano announced my name as Sarah “Speedway” Bonneville. This melted all the frost bite. Thanks, Mattio. 🙂  – Sarah “Speedway” Bonneville

mnstate-6-2

Photo by: France Barbeau


Jingle Cross

jingle muddy bikes

Photo by: France Barbeau

For many of the Koochella ladies, Jingle Cross was their first time racing outside of Minnesota! With cars full of snacks, bikes, and our new arm/leg warmers and jackets from Podiumwear, we made the trek to Iowa City. The course was everything we dreamed it would be and more. Complete with derailleur-destroying mud, insane downhill sections, and the notoriously grueling Mt. Krumpit. Our new Nature Boy 853’s, however, were totally up to the task.

jingle 3

During my two laps pre-riding the course, I came close to falling a few times because the deep ruts in the mud from the previous night’s racers was completely frozen, making “commit to the rut,” pretty much pointless. By the time the juniors were done racing and my field was up, however, the course had completely warmed up, making it soft again. The best was to describe the mud consistency was peanut butter-like. I definitely felt that I had an advantage as a single speed rider with disc brakes. Not only did I not have to worry about ripping my derailleur off my bike (many riders did!), but I also didn’t have a bunch of mud/grass clogging up canti brakes, thus preventing my wheel from moving (which was also super common). I got 11/22, which felt pretty good considering we had riders from all over the Mid West show up! –Renee “Dark Horse” Hoppe 

jingle beth peace

Photo by: France Barbeau


jingle 1

JINGLE CROSS WAS SO MUCH FUN! It was incredible to see an event/race at that scale – and watching the pros race was super inspiring! The course was – insane. Bikes were getting ruined. It was epic. Super fun – going out to race the single speed race was an opportunity to get on the course early & leave the rest of the evening to cheer on the other fields. I was a bit jealous of the HUGE women’s field Friday night; that would have been great to race in too! – Beth “Treasure” Franklin 

jingle 8

jingle tiana beth run up

Photo by: France Barbeau

Mud up hill bad, Mud down hill… Awesome. -Tiana “T-Bitz” Johnson

jingle 2

Bike handling through MUD means you gotta stay loose or you’re gonna lose. – Sarah “Speedway” Bonneville 

jingle 4

It was great watching the more experienced racers, it made me really nervous think about my race the next day. They were just sleekly gliding down the muddy slope. The course I rode was much shorter and less muddy than the day before, but still very muddy. I rode down that same hill the next day and had no control of my bike whatsoever, I glided my legs against the mud as I slid down. I was trying to take the advice to not use the breaks down the hill, but I had no slick way of controlling myself. – France “Fancy” Barbeau

jingle 5

Coming off the fly over on my second lap I hit the mud wrong and crashed pretty hard. I got up fast but only made it a couple feet before I had to straighten my handle bars. I didn’t notice it that moment but my break cable was disengaged in the crash so for the next 2 laps I only had a rear break which made going down hill off camber in mud very very difficult but very amusing to spectators *cough*Beth*cough*. I can also file this race under one of my better finishes for the season. 12th over all is pretty great in my book. On a single speed in a huge field too? I’ll take it. – Tiana “T-Bitz” Johnson 

jingle 7

jingle 6

jingle emily carry

Photo by: France Barbeau

When we rolled up to the line on Friday afternoon I was super nervous. Though the mud and hills were intimidating, I was more anxious about being in a field entirely composed of men. Tiana saw my nerves and calmed me down enough for me to enjoy the sight of our bright kits along with Beth’s amidst a sea of dudes. The race was hard. But I was stoked I got to *walk* up Mt. Krumpit and impressed with my ability to go down the hills without breaking. Though I probably should have breaked down the last hill – a bad line sent me over my bars which was fun in its own way though I’m still a bit sore. – Emily “Eagle Screech” Wade

jingle socks

Photo by: France Barbeau

jingle wash

Photo by: France Barbeau

tiana muddy feey

Photo by: France Barbeau

Unless Otherwise Noted Photos by: Blake Kelley, Renee Hoppe, Emily Wade, and Beth Franklin

Star Cross & Wirth CX 2015

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

“Star Cross was pretty cool, literally,” “Fancy” France Barbeau said after shivering her way through the first half of Fulton’s two-day event. While she enjoyed racing at Aquilla Park in the dark, she was a bit intimidated by the lack of sunlight. The course’s steep hills and technical turns didn’t help matters, keeping France on her toes all night. “It was the hardest race of the season,” she said.

starcrossnight-4

Photo by France Barbeau

Teammate Renee “Dark Horse” Hoppe found the course just as challenging:

Overall this weekend highlighted exactly what I know my strengths and weaknesses are as a rider. Both Star Cross and Theo Wirth CX featured relatively long stretches of straights where I knew I could pick up speed, and then technical features like off camber downhills sections or 180-degree turns in sand, which really slowed me down.

Photo by Matthew Pastick

Photo by Matthew Pastick

For France, things started heating up the next day at Wirth CX. “It was the perfect warm November day for the Theo Cross race,” she said. “Though I mountain bike, I found some areas difficult for a cross bike, since I never ride as fast as when I race. There were a couple climbs that were hard, but everything else was nice and flowy.”

After her race France stuck around to watch teammate Tiana “T-Bits” Johnson in her element.

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

Theo CX is one of my favorite races. There is a sick single track section that can really break up the feild. I tried to ride the hairpin drop with just my foot down and totally failed. I crashed pretty hard. I decided to follow Deidre’s lead and just run it from there on out. I went 100%.

Tiana ended the day wiped, but proud of her results adding, “I still hate mud.”

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

Sarah “Beezy” Bonneville was stoked on Theo’s single track, switch backs, and steep sharp turns. “I definitely would never have tried these without blindly signing up for cyclocross,” she said.

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

The next weekend Emily “Eagle Screech” Wade joined Sarah for Star Cross II: Daylight Boogaloo. The course was mostly grass with several tight turns, short, steep hills, and off cambers. A wooded section marked the middle of the course, beginning with an uphill barrier and ending with a steep climb riddled with exposed roots and a matching descent on the other side.

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

Today was one of the first cross races where I really, really had fun. Riding our new 853s is magical. They handle so well. Just having a nice bike motivates me to be a better rider. Even though it was just Sarah and I racing, I was feeling the love from her and France, who came to cheer us on, along with a few other friends. Combine all that goodness with sunny skies and 60 degree weather and you have the perfect day for a cross race.

While France was too sick to race, spent the morning navigating the course with her camera taking all these seriously incredible shots:

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

starcrossday-7

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

Photo by France Barbeau

Night CX p/b Koochella

21765481864_1491a97934_k

With new gear from Knog and Paul Component Engineering Koochella racers needed a setting to put the Qudos Action Video Light and MiniMoto break to the test. While local sanctioned and unsanctioned races challenged the Koochella babes’ skills, the team needed just the right combination of dirt, friends, and darkness to make conditions perfect. Naturally they decided to throw a race of their own – Koochella style.

lurlanightcx

On race night Koochella Queen of Fun Lilah “Fratboy” Guertin began the quick work of setting up a rogue course through the urban landscape. Armed with a handful of Knog blinders, Guertin joined teammates Renee and Emily in lighting the most technical parts of the course so racers could clearly spot obstacles after darkness fell.

12027262_1223164284365609_1962621975112557654_o

Photo by Matthew Pastick

Meanwhile, a slew of riders streamed across the pedestrian bridge into Bryn Mawr Park.  Cross celebrity and Koochella Classic award winner Lee Penn made sure to arrive with plenty of time to get to know the course.

22362269476_752f5736d2_k

By dusk dozens of local crushers congregated in Bryn Mawr. The Hub Cycling Team’s Holly Windschitl came hot off the Green Acres CX podium sporting one of the raddest kits around.

22399008531_efa779e0c3_k

22388226585_095b4c248c_k

Once every Knog light, glowing pink cone, and scrap of course tape was in place, Lilah led the racers to the far side of the pedestrian bridge connecting the Cedar Lake Trail to the park. After a neutral lap for riders to get to know the course, Fratboy broke out her best heckling voice and set them off on a six lap tear.

PA217005
The course started with a sprint up a dizzying ramp to the pedestrian bridge and a matching descent on the other side. From there racers maneuvered through a tight, wooded single track dotted with fallen trees lit by Knog. Winding out of the woods the course hooked left under the pedestrian bridge into a construction zone where racers navigated building materials strategically placed as barriers.

22375083682_63fa7d9151_k

21765450204_cc5462d2a5_k

22201344069_54a5dccb5e_k

22201371339_85cb1bca19_k

After shouldering their bikes across railroad tracks under a pitch black overpass, racers blasted through a gnarly straight away atop a torn up asphalt trail. At the trail’s end riders sprinted back into the woods forming a figure eight with their competitors rounding the bend.

22200479948_8f61af5d1b_k

22398971591_5e2e0a23a5_k

By the end of six fast laps through Lilah’s dirt dream several racers found themselves pulling tools out of their bags to tend to their bikes’ wounds.

22200441038_4a2d5517eb_k (1)

12032822_1223161614365876_4783853842036903147_o

A few flat fixes later the crew corkscrewed their way back over the pedestrian bridge, hopped on the Cedar Lake Trail, and descended upon Sisyphus Brewing for local beer as dynamic as Fratboy’s course.

22398909151_88859cb7a9_k

21767068073_2db2625ee7_k

At Sisyphus the Koochella babes turned to the very serious business of reeling new women into the local sanctioned race scene. And learning to hard style like a pro.

PA217071

 

 

 

Green Acres CX 2015

11230921_1221452421203462_4152733564811964749_o

Photo by Matthew Pastick

“To say that course isn’t single-speed friendly is an understatement,” Crusher Queen Beth “Treasure” Franklin said after Saturday’s races. With a steep climb up loose asphalt, double barriers among tight turns, teetering off-cambers and sections through woods and a cornfield, Green Acres CX posed one of the most challenging courses of the season. But that didn’t stop Koochella from tearing it up.

Photo by Matthew Pastick

Photo by Matthew Pastick

“Rolling up to the course on Saturday morning I looked at the off camber on the hill and was terrified. Thinking I would have to ride up it, I dreaded the climb, and my exposure to spectators,” Emily “Eagle Screech” Wade remarked, “Yet once I raced, the course was my favorite of the season.”

12112471_932324856941_1854844593925644277_n

Attempting not to worry too much about her finish position, Wade tried to tailor her race into a set of personalized challenges. “Going in to day 1 I set three goals for myself,” she said. “One of them was to make it up the asphalt hill every time. Though my finish position wasn’t stellar, I accomplished all of my goals and left the race pleased with a much better understanding of my gearing – I’ve never shifted so much in a race!”

Racing her second sanctioned cyclocross race, Sarah Bonneville also surprised herself. There were “what seemed to be impossible switch-backs down a big hill face,” Sarah said. “However, upon further investigation, they were quite possible with such knobby tires. The technology is truly amazing.”

12122406_932324807041_8903648573072529671_n

11996915_932324792071_2250348270000018647_n

But steep hills and slippery inclines weren’t the only challenging features at Green Acres. Renee “Dark Horse” Hoppe found herself thankful for all the hours of training she’s put in so far this season. “I got to put my cornering skills that we did at practice this week to use this weekend and it felt awesome!” She said. “It was a big course with lots of different features, which required a whole slew of different skills.” 

One of these features was a tall, wooden fly-over that propelled each racer high into the air and immediately back down into the corn field.

12138528_1221936634488374_2419393182636199565_o

Photo by Matthew Pastick

Second-year racer “Fancy” France Barbeau’s love for mountain biking helps her be comfortable zipping through technical twists. Yet France’s crusher status does’t keep her from seeking out opportunities to improve. “I love feedback from other racers while I’m racing,” she said. During the race another rider advised France to shoulder her bike at exactly the right time. 

12017623_1221936391155065_1310062358896772958_o

Photo by Matthew Pastick

Catch Koochella this weekend as they return to their beloved NSC Velodrome for Velo CX 2015. While they won’t be bringing their track bikes with them, these racers always have a few surprises up their sleeves.