A Closer Look: Koochella Edition All-City Nature Boy 853

They’re bold. They’re fast. And they may just remind you of a certain artist whose work graced the front of your folders in elementary school.

Thanks to our friends at All-City Cycles, Paul Components, and Sunrise Cyclery, the women of Koochella are now getting rad on a brand new fleet of custom Nature Boy 853’s with custom Paul hubs and disc brake calipers.

Perhaps even cooler than the paint job, is the fact that Mama Duck herself designed the dropouts to accommodate single speed gearing that would flawlessly work with a disc brake set up. Read more about her design process here, here, here, and here in a series of blog posts that appear on All-City’s website. For those of us who aren’t necessarily engineers, the challenge with single speed or fixed gear bikes is that, because of the horizontal dropouts (which are necessary to get the proper chain tension), the rear wheel can move forward and backward horizontally quite a bit. Most disc brake calipers don’t work well with this type of set up, which requires some unique engineering and a bit of creativity. That’s where this design came in:

Copyright: All City Cycles

The women took the bikes on their maiden voyage two weekends ago at Velo CX. Beth “Treasure” Franklin has already named her new whip.

On Sunday, got to debut the new whip, the Lisa Frank(lin) Nature Girl! And had so much fun. The thing just eats up whatever is thrown at it! I’m in love. – Beth

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Photo by: Blake Kelley

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Photo by: Blake Kelley

This bike just rips. Prior to getting the Nature Boy, I was racing on my commuter bike (a Bianchi San Jose that I love dearly!), which was fine, but definitely not optimal for cross. After just a few turns on the course at Velo CX, I totally had a new appreciation for cross bikes. This bike handles great, has way less toe overlap than my Bianchi, and climbs like a mountain goat. – Renee

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Photo by: Blake Kelley

 

 

Velo Cross

With fluttering hearts, giddy excitement, and brand new Lisa Frank-inspired cross bikes in tow, the women of Koochella flocked to their beloved velodrome last weekend. Rather than riding hard and turning left, however, they were racing through mud, over hurdles, and around sharp turns at Velo Cross, a two-day even held on the Velodrome grounds.

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Day one provided Lilah “Fratboy” Guertin with the taste of sweet, sweet redemption.

Lined up for the hole shot knowing I had a chance at this course due to my experience. Three years ago Velo CX p/b Little Guy Racing was my first ever sanctioned race. The barriers were shallow (about 7-8 inches) allowing experienced riders to hop over with comfort. I on the other hand had almost no skills coming into cross and was intimidated by the winding course, through ditches, over barriers, off camber, soggy patches, paved patches and spectators watching my every move. Well, this year I had it in the bag. My handling skills are dope, I saw the mud and was immediately excited. – Lilah

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Being surrounded by a bunch of new female racers, a supportive environment, and a velodrome with an existent future made the weekend for Anna “Mama Duck” Schwinn.  This time last year, the NSC Velodrome was essentially shut down. Fortunately, however, with efforts from the Friends of the Velodrome Racing in Minnesota (FOVR) combined with work from individual teams and riders, the velodrome still stands today and has numerous seasons of racing ahead of it.

It was an overwhelmingly positive weekend for me. A year ago at this race, the NSC had voted to close the velodrome. The weather was cold and rainy. I was in mourning… especially with the track just sitting there. This year was great in contrast. Not only is the track still there, but I just had a fantastic summer of racing with a ton of new ladies… some of which were out racing cyclocross after having tried the track. –  Anna

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Velo Cross was an exciting weekend of racing for the team for more reasons than the mud, riding around the velodrome, and excellent competition…it was also new bike day! All City Cycles, PAUL Components, and Sunrise Cyclery all worked incredibly hard to make our dreams come true with our truly gorgeous Nature Boy 853’s and pink anodized custom brake calipers and hubs.

On Sunday morning I was stoked to race my new bike. I’d only ridden it a few blocks back and forth to Sunrise the night before, but I was already in love. As I rode with Renee to the Velodrome Lilah text me, “Get that new bike dirty!” She told me that the course was muddy and windy, but that I could ride it. The first time I went into the mud I actually had Lilah in my head telling me I could do it. Riding through the mud was a lot easier than I thought it would be – and super fun. That first muddy rut one of the spectators told me I rode it better than anyone before me – half shocked because of the gap between me and most of the field. I’m sure it wasn’t true, but it felt good anyway. – Emily

Photo by: Blake Kelley

Photo By: Blake Kelley

For most of the race on day two, Renee “Dark Horse” Hoppe, Sara “Bee” Bonneville, and France “Fancy” Barbeau were neck and neck. With Renee’s dominance on the hills, Sarah’s barrier hoping prowess, and France’s mud riding skills, they each excelled in different areas of the course.

This course was really fun: lots of straightaways and mud! I also totally bunny-hopped over some shorty barriers for the first time which was pretty neat! I gotta say though, racing around the outside of the track? What a tease. – Sarah

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Beth “Treasure” Franklin raced both days of Velo Cross, adding yet another podium finish to her impressive cyclocross season.

I had originally planned on just doing the MWSSC [Minnesota Women’s Single Speed State Championship] race, but when I realized Denise was the only one racing in the 3’s, I figured I’d give her a little competition and signed up for that race as well! After she flatted out, I managed to get the top step on the podium…but I feel like I’ll save the celebrating until I really *earn* that top spot. -Beth

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While seeing the Velodrome, riding through mud, and cheering on our fellow racers are all things that make our Koochella hearts smile, nothing is quite like getting new ladies out racing for the first time. Our good friend, 11-year old Jaya (you may know her as the girl with the trumpet at cross races) decided she wanted to try out cross racing a couple minutes before the State Champ Single Speed race. Koochella sprang into action, switching out pedals, slamming a seat as low as possible, finding a helmet, and pinning numbers to get Jaya out on the course in time while her dad sprinted to the reg tent to get her all registered. Like a champ, she rode the full 45-minutes, plowing through the muddy pits, leaping over barriers, and mounting her bike better than most adults do, earning “Top Rookie” and her own podium. Way to crush, Jaya. We can’t wait to see you develop as a rider!

To see the full album from Velo CX, visit our flickr. 

Team Retreat + Jackson Meadow CX

This past weekend the ladies of Koochella packed up their bikes, sleeping bags, and fireworks (because priorities), and headed out to Wisconsin for a weekend of team bonding and bike racing.

A bonfire was had, Beyonce was danced to, and Pugsleys were ridden off jumps. Most importantly, however, the team had an opportunity to connect and have fun together outside of a race environment. #Koochipatrolcabinretreat was a success.

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On Saturday morning the team rolled out of bed, ate Beth’s delicious breakfast burritos, and made their way to Jackson Meadow to race. Seven Cat 4 Koochella women lined up to start. For both Sarah “Bee” Bonneville and Laura Schaefer this would be their first sanctioned cyclocross experience.

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Lining up with everyone was awesome. Our whole team was at the race. We’re all busy and we aren’t often in the same place at the same time. Feeling everyone’s support was really special.

I was excited for the paved straightaway which made me nostalgic for criteriums in the spring. After a great start my left foot unclipped causing me to fall back a bit. I clipped back in and caught the middle of the pack. Yet, as we went around the first turn, I crashed. It was a 90 degree bend on pavement–very much like a crit. I took an inside line and got caught on the wheel of a rider who cut his line in from the outside. Splayed across the pavement I hurriedly grabbed my bike and got back on. “You’re badass!” a voice called from the sidelines.

I was able to catch the end of the field at the first barrier positioned on the uphill right around the corner. Quickly dropped by the main group, I fought my way past a handful of riders and pedaled strong with blood dripping down both my legs.

Anna joined the race at the last second, skeptical about her abilities due to a knee injury. Though the race was difficult and painful for her, she followed me through the course until the end cheering for me and sharing in my pain. Sometimes Anna’s cheering empowered me. Other times I pedaled harder just to try to get away from her. Either way, I was glad to have her behind me, going hard Koochella style. The course was beautiful. Rolling hills through the woods and familiar, smiling faces scattered throughout made the race really fun. -Emily “Eagle Screech” Wade 

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I dug how many jump barriers there were at this race. I’m into those. The woods were super beautiful and pretty fun to roll through. Cyclocross is so weird. -Sarah “Bee” Bonneville 

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I always heard Jackson Meadow wasn’t worth racing, but I thought it had a little bit of everything, except sand; It was interesting and challenging enough. It was fun to see the Koochella ladies spread out on the course to cheer on. My most memorable moment was Crisi taking pictures of Elena & June doing yoga, which was funny. -France “Fancy” Barbeau

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Renee “Dark Horse” Hoppe was able to hang on to the leaders for the first two laps, and held her third place position for the remaining two, securing herself a 3rd place finish in her 3rd ever cyclocross race.

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This course suited me because it wasn’t very technically demanding, but was pretty hilly back in the woods. I learned that I’m better at less technical courses because I can really push myself harder if I’m not as worried about crashing. – Renee “Dark Horse” Hoppe

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Beth “Treasure” Franklin and Tiana “T-Bits” Johnson both toed the start line of the Women’s Cat 3 race. Because of the smaller field size and fast course, they were eager to see how the race would play out.

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While Katie Thompson ended up crushing the competition (coming in ahead of even the Women’s Cat 2 field!), Beth stayed on her for as long as her legs and lungs would allow, snagging second place, and on a single speed to boot!

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Get your weekly dose of Koochella at Green Acres this weekend, where the fine cyclocross women of Minnesota will continue to crush.

 

 

Metal Cross 2015

This past weekend 6 Koochella women made the trek out to St. Cloud, MN for Metal Cross. On day 1 Beth “Treasure” Franklin, Renee “Dark Horse” Hoppe, France “Fancy” Barbeau, and Anna “Mama Duck” Schwinn all took to the course for the Women’s 3/4 race where Franklin ultimately raced to an impressive 2nd place finish.

I got a good start…got in the breakaway with the ultimate winner, Jenna Westlake & Emily Nordahl, who eventually took 3rd place. As one of the only single-speeders out there, I knew I needed to hold onto their wheels so I could keep that lead — praying my lungs would outlast the ladies behind me & get me a spot on the podium.

Well – Jenna took off fast and didn’t look back (she later told me she had enough of a lead to help carry one of the little junior’s bike up the stairs!) … but there was an exciting game of leap-frog between Emily & I the entire race. Thankfully, I was quicker through the sand & able to bunny-hop a log to make up the time I lost in the climbs each lap.

My favorite part was when her teammate yelled, “don’t let her beat you – she’s on a single speed!” In my head I was like, “damn right this single speed is going to beat you.” And we (my bike & I) did it! Took 2nd place in that race – overtook Emily at that log on the last lap & kept telling my lungs that in about 2 minutes, they’d be able to recover & hustled to the finish line. Took 2nd place w/ about 8 seconds to spare! -Franklin

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On day 2, Hoppe, and Emily “Eagle Screech” Wade represented Koochella in the Women’s 3/4 race. For both Hoppe and Wade, Metal Cross provided them with their first sanctioned cyclocross race experience.

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I definitely felt a lot more comfortable on the second day of racing. I pushed myself and tried to ride through as much of the sand as I could, switched to a smaller gear so I could power up the hills, and remounted after the hurdles a lot faster than the day before. I’m excited for the rest of the season! -Hoppe

Photo by: Blake Kelley

Photo by: Blake Kelley

Tiana “T-Bits” Johnson took the big leap and moved up to a category 3 ranking this season. This didn’t stop her from fighting her way through the sand and running up the stairs more times than she could count, putting her in 4th place on day 1 and 2nd place on day 2.

Photo by: Blake Kelley

Photo by: Blake Kelley

Of all the Koochella riders who participated in Metal Cross, it’s safe to say that for Steph “Monster Mash” Aich, results and times mattered more than ever.

Metal Cross was one of my first races as a judge in cyclocross! The other officials were great to work with and eager to help me learn the ropes. It was a very positive experience and I look forward to participating in cyclocross as an official rather than a racer. -Aich

Photo by: Anna Schwinn

 

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