Try Really Hard

So we have this common saying on the team. It goes something like this…

Person 1: Statement about how hard certain part of the course, race, etc was and how silly they looked trying to overcome it. 

Person 2: But at least we tried really hard!

Person 1 & 2: *highfive in agreement*

This whole conversation seems pretty inconsequential, right?

And in some ways, it might be, however the idea of celebrating coming in dead last during a scratch race, crashing a million times on a cross course, or having the least graceful dismount/mount ever because, in the end, you tried really hard is important and valuable – especially to a growing women’s field. Let’s take a moment to break that idea down:

koochella anna cross photo by matthew pastick

The face of someone who wasn’t having the best race ever, but still tried really hard. And looked fly as hell.

There’s no shame in trying hard.

Maybe you keep getting dropped in every single criterium you do. Perhaps you feel like everyone else is way faster at technical cross courses than you, or that your standing sprint is awful. Maybe you felt like you turned yourself inside out during a race, only to still miss that coveted podium spot. That’s okay. It’s important to recognize weaknesses as long as you don’t dwell on them, rely on them for excuses, or allow them to control your life. Regardless of how any race or training ride goes, trying really hard not only makes you a better rider, but also increases the excitement and overall skill level in the entire field. Imagine watching a race on the velodrome where everyone is only giving 60% effort because they know that there’s one fast rider who is going to crush everyone. Sounds pretty boring and uninspiring, right? Imagine that same race, except now everyone is giving 100% and trying to reel in that fast rider. That’s the race that’s going to motivate racers to keep coming back, continue to train hard, and progress as athletes. Even if no one is able to catch up to that super fast rider, at least everyone gave it their all, and that’s something to always be proud of. In short, trying really hard, even if you “fail,” is an achievement worthy of both praise and celebration.

koochella finish line

These women got second, third, and fourth place respectively. They were all trying really hard.

Dedication is the only thing you can control.

In a sport rife with crashes, inclement weather, malfunctioning equipment, illness, and injury, training and racing goals can easily become derailed. That’s why, in many ways, your dedication is the only thing you can control. It’s important and empowering to set goals for yourself and work to achieve those goals. Do those intervals you hate, go out of your way to ride up that hill on your commute home, eat more vegetables than you normally do, or go on training rides with cyclists who are faster than you. Even if you can’t complete that workout or are totally exhausted by the end of that ride, (or hate vegetables for that matter), dedicating yourself to something you are passionate about is brave. Even if you go into that season or race feeling like you’re still not where you want to be, knowing that you’ve been trying really hard is something to be proud of.

koochella blood

This rider tried so hard that her legs got bloody.

That being said, we all have those races or rides where nothing is going your way and you feel that internal flame of effort die out. You might give up and switch into “survival” mode, in which your main goal becomes to just finish or find the nearest point where you can quit. As long as it doesn’t become a habit, that’s perfectly okay. We all sometimes get “beat down” by exhaustion, tough courses, or hard races. Acknowledge it in that moment and make a pact with yourself that, despite feeling negative about your performance right now, you’ll keep trying really hard next time.

koochella crash

Trying really hard isn’t always pretty.

You think about you more than anyone else thinks about you.

This isn’t to say that we’re all self-absorbed assholes, it’s just that most of us are too busy working, volunteering, spending time with family and friends, and riding our bikes to worry too much about what’s going on in everyone else’s life. Think about it – when’s the last time you finished a race and immediately thought, “I wonder how so-and-so did?” Unless it’s a friend who you know was trying really hard to podium or was particularly concerned about this race for any number of reasons, chances are they aren’t your first thought (if they are, however, kudos to you for being a loyal and concerned friend!). Next time you leave a race feeling less than stellar about your performance, just remember that everyone else is probably thinking about their own race too, not yours.

Support other women who try really hard.

So you’ve made a pact with yourself to dedicate yourself to your passion (which we sincerely hope is cycling related), and try really hard. Awesome! Remember that not every rider celebrates trying hard like you do and sometimes they might need reminders that trying really hard is about as rad as it gets. Support your fellow cyclists by congratulating them on their efforts, whether they’re on the podium, DFL, or DNF and strive to make our wonderful sport as welcoming and enthusiastic as it gets. From our perspective, more is more. The more women, races, and posi feelings there are, the better cycling becomes for everyone involved.

koochella pain face photo by blake

Pain faces = trying SO hard. Photo by: Blake Kelley

 

 

#WTFCW (WTF Crush Wednesday): Linsey Hamilton

Our second installment of our Women, Trans, Femme Crush Wednesday series is none other than Linsey Hamilton.

Rider: Linsey Hamilton

Chances are, if you’ve been to the velodrome, you’ve probably encountered Linsey in some way. She’s a staple at the track where she teaches clinics (for adults and children alike), races, and is a source of enthusiasm and coaching for everyone. Additionally, Linsey is a successful racer, bringing home the hardware from national and international races alike.

1. When and how did you get into bike racing?
In the Spring of 2007, I attended a Women’s Track Night. (Yes, we had women’s programming way back then!). You know how it is…the first time I traced the blue line with my bicycle, I fell in love. Four weeks later, after competing the intro track class, I raced my bike for the first time ever, on the velodrome. I can hardly believe that 2016 will be my 10th season in Blaine!

linsey 5

Photo credit: Carlos Sabillon

2. Your most favorite bike you’ve ever had/why:
Right before 2nd grade my family moved to Michigan. My dad had moved into our new house a few weeks before my mom, brother, and I joined him. Waiting in my bedroom was a shiny new bike! What kind? I have no idea!? But it had wheels. For me, that bike was a means to emulate my dad’s athleticism. Also, it was freedom! A way to fly around the neighborhood uninhibited!

3. What do you do when you’re not racing/riding?
When I’m not racing or training…I’m often still at the velodrome teaching the Intro Track Class and the VeloKids. Otherwise, I’m at the dog park with Brooklyn, volunteering with English language learners, and working on projects around the house.

linsey 3 from brady

Photo Credit: Brady Prenzlow

4. What do you do to keep winter training interesting?
The weird thing that I do for accountability during winter training is to take a selfie while on my bike on the trainer in the basement (FYI: In the background is a national champ jersey and a road sign that says “Bike Lane” that my mom gave me). Seriously, don’t ask me why that works for me. Maybe it’s proof of my work. Yep, I’m weird.

linsey 2

5. The most memorable race you’ve ever done?
It’s hard to choose ONE most memorable race. One outstanding moment was my 2k pursuit at Master’s Nationals in 2010. It was my first race of the week and I was a nervous nelly. In turn one, Casper hollered my splits and in turn three I had a teammate hollering to me if I was up or down on my opponent. I was up, up, up, up, up for the first 5 laps. Then down on lap 6. Internal dialogue: “Ok, my legs have more, go faster!” Down on lap 7. “Seriously!? Come on, goooooo!” On lap 8, in the final half lap, I did the unthinkable, I peeked across the track! And my opponent and we looked dead even. I gave my final dozen pedal strokes EVERYTHING! And I won my first jersey by less than a tenth of a second. When I tried to get off my bike, my legs were mush and my teammate literally had to hold me off the ground!

linsey 1

6. What would you say to a woman who is interested in riding the velodrome, but hesitant due to the whole fixed gear, no brakes, banked turns thing?
I fully believe that the track is a safer environment than the road. No cars, no potholes, no dogs. And no brakes means that the riders in front of you can’t slam on the brakes. Decelerations are more controlled. Bring a friend (or make one at the track) and bring a bit of bravery. The track will steal your heart!

linsey 4

Photo Credit: f/go

#WTFCW (WTF Crush Wednesday): Heidi Goodson

Competitive cycling wouldn’t be nearly as fun (read: fun/hard) if it weren’t for all the rad ladies we get to race with. From road to track, to cyclocross women from all different teams are there to challenge us, encourage us, and make the cycling community what it is. Our #WTFCW (Women, Trans, Femme Crush Wednesday) series will highlight the riders who make our lady cycling hearts skip a beat.

Rider: Heidi Goodson

Heidi currently rides for Birchwood Cycling, and races road (cat 2), track (cat 2), and cyclocross (cat 3) when she’s not working towards her PhD in Math.

heidi 5 by herself

When and how did you get into bike racing?

I got a KHS Flite 100 in 2005 ( I named it Roxanne) and raced my first alleycat in NYC in 2006. I DNFed because I missed a checkpoint. Never again! I won the Halloween alleycat and Cranksgiving that year. In 2007 I won Monstertrack and Rumble Thru the Bronx. I stopped racing alleycats and now just race my purple steel Watanabe track bike on as many velodromes as I can get to.

In early 2007 I was working at a bike shop and decided to buy a road bike. It’s the same road bike that I race on now, albeit with newer components. I’ve ridden and raced that bike all over the country. I won the first crit I ever did on it in 2007 and the last crit I did in 2015. It’s perfect. Some dude recently said to me “don’t you think it’s time for a new bike?” I was all “whatever dude, this bike wins races.”

heidi 3 by steven gray

Photo by: Steven Gray

What’s your current favorite discipline and why?
Crits and track! I like to go fast. Plus I’m in grad school and I don’t have time to train for longer road races.
heidi 4 by carlos sabillon

Photo by: Carlos Sabillon

Best race memory?
This past summer I soloed away from a really strong field at Southside Sprint with 7-to-go. I still can’t believe I did that and won and that it was the State Championship. It was just one of those days when everything on me and my bike was working like a perfect machine.

Toughest race you’ve ever done?
The Points Race at Track National Championships this past year. It was 100 laps, which is 70 laps more than the Points Races at home. With 8-to-go, there was a massive attack. MASSIVE. I managed to work my way onto the back of the lead group and hang on until the end. Doing that and staying there was so hard that I cried during the race. I could barely walk afterward. WORTH IT.
heidi 2 by david gordon

Photo by: David Gordon

Describe your relationship with cycling in 3 words.
Love my bikes.
Go wicked fast.
heidi 1 by steven gray

Photo by: Steven Gray

 Why should women race bikes?
I love riding bikes. I love hanging out with my friends at the track and seeing them do amazing things. I love how training to race makes my body feel like a machine. I love how training hard makes me sleep better and makes me want to eat all of the food. I love to go fast. Maybe you will too.

2015 By the Numbers…

Go Fast, Turn Left

  • 7 new female track racers…
  • 2 of whom upgraded to category 3 in their first season
  • 5 women total upgraded to category 3 in track this season
  • 7 total track podiums

koochella 6

Photo by: Linsey Hamilton

We Don’t Mind the Mud…Stairs on the Other Hand…

  • 5 women total tried out a sanctioned cyclocross race for the first time this season
  • 2 second-year cyclocross racers upgraded to category 3 in cyclocross this season
  • 5 total cyclocross podiums

22110751475_db04e650b2_z

22290127089_f9d0bdc865_z

21854293114_37ea589aaa_z

Breaking into Road

  • 10 women (both new and returners) participated in Minnesota criteriums
  • 3 women tried road races for the first time
  • 27 criteriums registrations between 10 racers

road 1

10557634_1099992650013603_4626657174760667046_o

  • 45 unique days of sanctioned racing in five US cities
  • 7 riders continuing on and either forming a new team, joining an established team, or competing on an individual level
  • 1 recognition as Track Club of the Year by USAC

Thanks for the memories, 2015. Here’s to 2016 being even better.

 

 

 

 

Koochella challenges you: Be Track Club of the Year 2016

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