KOOCHELLA

FTW Racing in Minneapolis/St Paul

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The Women Behind knog

As part of our sponsorship from knog, the whole team recently flew out to Australia to tour the offices and get a behind-the-scenes scoop on how our favorite lights and locks are made!

…just kidding. That would have been sweet, though.

We did, however, sit down (digitally) with the women behind the brand. Their roles vary from graphic designer to logistics and they all pack a big punch when it comes to product innovation, brand marketing, and smoothly-running day-t0-day operations. Read on to learn a bit about these incredible individuals!

Michelle – Product Designer

Tell us more about your role at knog. 

I’m one of the behind the scenes designers that make the awesome sketches, drawings and ideas into a reality. I put together the computer files and the drawings so that the factories know what to make. And then I make sure that they make them the way that we want them to.

Finish this sentence: The one thing people should know about Australia is… 

That we don’t all look at speak like Steve Irwin (but some of us do!). Australia is diversely multicultural and I love being able to call people from many different backgrounds my family, friends and colleagues. (And to be able to eat food from many different cultures right down the street. Yum!)

 

Maddy – Graphic Designer

Tell us a bit about yourself! 

Due to a number of unfortunate incidents occurring over the years, my bike riding days are currently on hold. I love to travel (cannot wait for my next trip to Japan), try new restaurants and spend time with family and friends.

What’s your fav musical group right now? 

Michael Kiwanuka

Leah – International Sales Manager

What are some of the challenges you face working in the bike industry? 

It is still a very male dominant industry, there’s no doubt about that. Of course in the early years, if you’re a female at a tradeshow you were immediately mistaken for a promo girl. Thankfully times have changed since then, and I’m very lucky that I currently work with such great companies and people all around the world, who treat you like an equal no matter your gender. I would really love to see more females working in the bike industry, and now is a better time than ever to see that happen.

What’s your favorite knog product? 

The Oi bell. The design, its so revolutionary, yet so simple. The best thing is watching people’s reactions when they first see it, its like love at first sight! The Oi bell has been such a global success, and we are about to clock over 1 million units produced since its launch 18 months ago!

 

Meesha – Logistics

Tell us about yourself! 

I have a bright yellow retro bike and I love  going to music concerts, hiking and brunch.

Finish this sentence: The one thing people should know about Australia is… 

The coffee is the best in the world.

 

Virginia – Finance/HR Manager

What do you like most about working in the bike industry? 

The relaxed but busy vibe.

Finish this sentence: The one thing people should know about Australia is… 

AUSTRALIA IS INFAMOUS FOR its dangerous animals. With more deadly snakes than any other country worldwide, it isn’t surprising. Though sharks, spiders, and snakes get the majority of bad press, it is actually an awesome array of predators and venomous critters that have earned Australia its fearsome reputation

Not enough knog in your life? Check out the brand’s latest project, the Bandicoot headlamp, and pledge money to the kickstarter to get one for yourself!

I first met Jenny during QBP’s annual intern bikepacking trip (Jenny was an engineering intern). Her can-do attitude and general stoke factor was immediately evident as she stuffed (at least) two cases of beer into the back of her cargo bike for the 40-ish mile round trip journey. Yeah, no big deal. Also, it was like 95 degrees out that day.

Anyways, All-City wisely hired her shortly after the internship ended, and she’s been making magic for them ever since.

When did your interest in bikes begin?

I was running a lot in high school, and decided that I wanted to do a triathlon. I didn’t have a bike so I bought this World Sport from a garage sale and made it my summer project to tear it apart and clean it and then put it together. It went really terribly because I had no idea what I was doing and no guidance, but it was really fun and I wanted to learn how to do it properly. I got a job at a shop through MSU’s triathlon club and started riding and working with bikes more seriously.

 

What’s your current bike style? 

Commuting is what I do most, just because I have to go places, like work, every day. I race cyclocross and I have dabbled in gravel, but I think riding mountain bikes with my friends is my favorite bike style. That includes bike packing trips, which I’m hoping to do more of this year.

Why engineering?

Up until halfway through my sophomore year of college, my major was philosophy. I was also working at a shop, and having a lot of fun learning how to fix bikes. There was a ton I wanted to learn though, and the shop mostly serviced bikes for college kids, so the technology was pretty unimpressive. One of my friends at the shop was doing mechanical engineering, and had done internships with Trek. When I heard about the things he was doing there I wanted that internship, so I started engineering as a second major. I have always liked making and fixing things way more than reading and writing, so it felt more natural, and I went that route.

 

How’d you get your start in the bike industry?

I got connected through that bike shop, MSU Bikes. I worked in the front room, which was the shop area, and all the repairs were done in the back. It was really small, and most of our customers were students on tight budgets, so I always tried to fix their stuff without having to check it in and have them pay for the repairs. Our head mechanic was also really cool and would teach me how to service high end stuff, which I was a lot more interested in. Learning how to wrench got me a long way, and I think it was a foot in the door when I went to apply for the Trek internship.

What advice would you give to other femme/trans/women (FTW) folks who want to work in the bike industry, but don’t know where to start?

I would say learn as much as you possibly can, and just start tearing into things. The bike industry is definitely intimidating when you’re new, because there is so much to take in, and it seems like everyone else is already in the know. But in my experience people respect when you want to fix your own stuff, and if you want to learn how to do something there will definitely be someone who will teach you. And don’t doubt your abilities just because others have been conditioned to seem more confident. That took me a long time to learn.

 

Can you tell us about any exciting projects you’re working on right now or are they all top secret?

I think they are mostly top secret, but I can say that I am working on things that are pretty.

If you could engineer anything in the world, what would it be?

I could get down with designing motorcycles. My second choice would be artisanal kitchen equipment.

 

What’s it like working at All-City?

It’s great, everyone is so passionate. Sometimes I’ll see a heated argument break out during a meeting over something that seemed so minor. And it’s obvious that it only got heated because of how much everyone cares, because after the meeting we go back to talking about Law and Order Valentine’s cards. The team works together really well, and it’s cool to see how much thought and care is behind every single detail.

Where’s your favorite place to ride?

My favorite ride is my commute to work because I love my job!!! Just kidding. The coolest riding I have ever done was on the Colorado Trail. Around here I like riding the bandit trails along the river. There are always new things to see and explore.

 

Favorite quote/saying:

Live laugh love

Follow Jenny on Instagram <3 <3 

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.