FTW Racing in Minneapolis/St Paul

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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.


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.


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.”


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.



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. 


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:




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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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.


With one State Championship race under their belt, the women’s A field had yet another one to look forward to this past Thursday night. The presence of a couple new (not to mention strong) racers had the women on their toes, not knowing what to expect other than an incredibly fast race for the gold.

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The women’s B field had a 30-lap points race, 12-lap tempo, and Keirin to look forward to in a night that showcased both sprinters, and endurance riders alike.

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Beth “Treasure” Franklin jumped into the night of racing head first with a 6th place finish in the 12-lap tempo race, a 2nd place finish in her Keirin heat, and sprinted her way to a 6th place finish in the Keirin Final.

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The women’s B field started off their night by warming up their vocal chords in singing Happy Birthday to the youngest Koochella member, Renee “Dark Horse”Hoppe on her 23rd birthday.

Once the B field races got underway, June “Tiny Terror” Osaki stole the show, sprinting her way to a 3rd place finish in the 10-lap scratch race, 1st place in the Miss n’ Out, and 2nd place in the State Championship 24-lap Points Race. She shared the podium with the Hub’s Kristin Dare and local rider Briana Johnson.

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Meanwhile in Oregon, Rachel “Lazer” Zaidman didn’t even miss a week of racing despite moving across the country, taking the Alpenrose Velodrome by storm. We miss our Lazer already and are in the process of planning a “Koochella Take Over” next season. Portlandia, we’re coming for you.

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Well-rested from a rain out the week before, the Koochella Next Generation riders stepped into the infield a force to be reckoned with. An unusual line up and state championship race had the A field on their toes. Yet they weren’t the only ones feeling the heat with a jam-packed roster that included the NSC Velodrome’s annual corporate challenge.


Rather than let the pressure get to them, the Koochella babes got straight to work stretching ther legs on the trainers.


In the B Field Tiana “T-Bits” Johnson continued her streak of strong performances with an impressive third place finish in the Cat 1/2/3 Miss & Out. Fresh from two Thursdays away from the velodrome, Beth “Treasure” Franklin made her presence known taking third in the Scratch 10 and finishing out the night just behind T-Bits in 6th overall.


Energy was high in the Women’s A Cat 4 field. Sh!t Goose crusher Ash-slay Murray dominated the evening giving the baby ducks a run for their money.  But a first and second place finish for Sarah “Bee” Bonneville and Emily “Bullet-Heart” Wade in the Unknown Distance race made them want to shake a tail feather.


Lilah “Fratboy” Guertin rounded out her night by racing in the Men’s Cat 4 Miss & Out. By the time she left the infield, Fratboy earned her Cat 3 upgrade staging a stylish comeback after a few weeks out of the saddle.


But the women saved the best for last. The final race of the night was the A’s State Championship 20 lap scratch race. Ash-slay Murray earned the gold with a break-out attack that set her several meters ahead of the field. After a hard-fought race filled with clever tactics and close quarters Renee “Dark Horse” Hoppe and Rachel “Lazer” Zaidman came across the finish line in 2nd and 3rd, respectively, with Sarah Bonneville right behind them.



For Renee and Rachel, their results were a long-awaited symbol of their hard work and friendship. Earning a place on the podium was particularly sweet for Lazer who was racing her last night with her teammates at the NSC Velodrome before moving to Portland to pursue a Master’s degree and take the cycling scene by storm.






Like most race nights, the evening ended with toothy grins and a group hug. There were even a few tears as the babes closed out their last night on the track with Rachel and plotted road trips to the Pacific Northwest. Fortunately Koochella’s training includes mastering texting, Facebook, and telepathy, so staying in touch will be a breeze. And with her new one-of-a-kind Koochella punk vest, Lazer will be able to feel the warmth of a team huddle from anywhere in the world.





June “Tiny Terror” Osaki started her winning streak early with a pre-race snack of raspberries and homemade rice rolls.


Then she saw the races for the evening.  Two separate fields for women (A & B) with a Keirin for the Bs and a Miss & Out for the As.  What’s not to love.


The first race of the night was a fast-paced point-a-lap with big moves across the field.  Just look at Monster Mash go.


But nothing was as big as the roar of cheers coming from the infield as women in one field got to watch and cheer for women in another for the second time in the history of the NSC Velodrome.

High on lady-love, Koochella took five of the top six places in the Miss & Out.  For new rider Crisi “The Fox” Lee, fifth felt like first.


While newbie Laura Schaefer may have been the first rider eliminated, she was the only lady to win the National Hot Dog Day prize.


Next Anna “Momma Duck” Schwinn got back in the game after a few weeks of rest with her favorite event – the Keirin.


But the night’s biggest come back came from Lin-zilla Hamilton who crushed the Keirin on her first night of racing since a shoulder surgery earlier this year.


Rachel “Lazer” Zaidman also had a stellar night taking 2nd in the Omnium to Sh!t Goose’s Ash-slay Murray.


By the end of the night, many of the ladies were taking breaks from jumping for joy only to hug each other.  And plan the Koochella Classic.  And dream of unicorns.