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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Green Acres CX 2015

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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. 

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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.

 

 

 

Donkey Cross 2015 at Baker Orchard

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This year’s Baker Orchard extravaganza featured the largest amateur women’s field in the race’s recent history. For Mama Duck Anna Schwinn, lining up with thirty other women had her gushing. 2015 marked Schwinn’s third year racing at Baker Orchard. In 2014 she raced with 12 others, 2013 brought her only five competitors. “This year was freaking amazing,” Schwinn said.

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Yet right out of the gate Schwinn’s stellar sprint was foiled by a course post. The crash tangled Mama Duck and a few other babes making Schwinn gush in a slightly different sense of the word.

I didn’t get back on the bike until basically the full field had passed. The rest of the race was spent trying to pass racers- an art as I found out. Despite crashing and sliding out and bleeding during the race, it remains my favorite. The orchard is gorgeous. The crowds are amazing. The community is so fun.

Of course, part of that fun community is Fratboy Lilah Guertin who brought her megaphone and stood at the log stair run-up cheering until she was hoarse. Between heckles Fratboy also raced in the Women’s 3/4 field.

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After an immediate crash in my field after the start I had to crank harder into some better positioning. The course was technical but flowing with extremely difficult soft sand and boulders that were higher than 20″. There was a fun wood section through the apple orchard. 

As far as what she learned from Donkey Cross 2015, Guertin remarked, “PSI can make or break your race.”

Teammate Tiana “T-Bits” Johnson agreed. “The course felt like little hands coming out of the mud, grabbing at your tires,” she said. “It was soul destroying.”

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The course’s beauty almost made up for it. “I loved riding the course!” Renee “Dark Horse” Hoppe said. Donkey Cross was Hoppe’s third sanctioned cross race. Though still new to the discipline, Renee fought her way to 11th place, narrowly missing a top ten finish in the Women’s 3/4 field.

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Also new to cross, Emily “Eagle Screech” Wade was pleased just to finish her second sanctioned race ahead of a handful of riders.

I can tell that I’m still not on a level where I’m pushing myself as much as I know I can. But, with practice I’m becoming more confident. We’re lucky to have support from our teammates, our coach Drew, and local crusher Deidre Ribbons. Last Tuesday Deidre saw I was struggling with lifting my bike over barriers. She recommended I try a down tube carry and it’s helped me a lot. Still not perfect, but it’s progress.

At Donkey Cross Beth “Treasure” Franklin joined T-Bits in the elite women’s race marking her debut as a Cat 3 racer in cross. “I’ve been intimidated of that Cat 3 upgrade due to the longer race time and the fact I’d be racing (er…at least starting) with the Cat 1/2 elite women,” Franklin said.

Yet Franklin’s quad-bursting pace earned her a spot on the podium. 

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I didn’t even know I was sitting in 3rd place until Kristi caught up with me midway through the race and the Koochella cheering section started freaking out at the staircase. Kristi overtook me eventually but on the 2nd to last lap I edged her out at the barriers. I found a little something left in my legs and I cranked out my fastest lap of the race. I was honestly banking on getting lapped by the race leader in that lap. If I didn’t get lapped, I knew I’d be screwed; I knew it was unlikely that I would be able to hold onto the 20 second lead I had fought for.

Lucky for Treasure, the race leader passed her on the grassy straight away near the end of the course. Hear more about Beth’s race experience in her post-race interview conducted by the Mama Duck herself:

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Thursday Night Lights 8/27/15

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For Lilah “Fratboy” Guertin racing started on Monday with a series of team sprints and timed events. In classic Fratboy style, Lilah raced on teams that took silver in both the Women’s Open and Men’s Cat 2 State Championship Team Pursuits.

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On Thursday Beth “Treasure” Franklin and The Hub’s Anna “Shark Face” Sviben couldn’t help but get in on the action. In addition to racing a full omnium of their own, these babes joined Fratboy for the Men’s Cat 4 Super Sprint. Franklin even earned herself the 8th place spot, deciding to go easy on the guys just before the sprint as the last rider eliminated in the Miss-n-Out portion of the race.

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Over on the West Coast Rachel “Lazer” Zaidman finished out her track season at the Alpenrose Velodrome’s final night of racing for 2015.

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Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Cat 4s raced in a small field with fast-moving break away groups ruling every race but the Miss-n-Out.

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This week’s Miss-n-Out champion was no surprise. Junko “Tiny Terror” Osaki took the hard-fought race earning her third root beer float. After a full season of smart, strong racing, Tiny Terror also earned her Cat 3 upgrade.

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Brianna “So Cal” Johnson finished the night first in the Cat 4 omnium fresh off a fixed gear crit podium on the West Coast. An all-around crusher and good friend to the Koochella babes, Brianna was stoked to race to her first omnium win of the season.

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As the night drew to a close, a few racers began asking around the infield for a lighter. A wave of confusion came over the amateur athletes. Yet as the last riders walked to their cars, they looked to the sky to find fireworks as radiant as their love for the NSC Velodrome.

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