Cranksgiving 2K15!

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The food drive on two wheels – Koochella style. It all started a few months ago when Sunrise Cyclery owner & all around knight in shining armor Jamie McDonald was on the lookout for a 2015 Cranksgiving organizer. In the shadow of a successful 2014 event hosted by Lilah “Fratboy” Guertin, the Koochella babes were first on Jamie’s list. Keen on food, bikes, and friendship, Crisi “The Fox” Lee and Sarah “Beezy” Bonneville jumped into action.

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With a venue squared away, the pair started with stops and sponsorship. Together Crisi and Sarah put together a diverse manifest including an Aldi, Seward Co-op, the Wedge Co-op, two Cub Foods locations, and a bonus stop at “That damn Kmart.” They also rounded up a slew of all-star sponsors who showered them in rad gear and treats for the speediest and most generous Cranksgiving riders.

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Crisi and Sarah collected All-City chainrings, coveted Hub Co-op caps, free beer from Eastlake Craft Brewery, lube from the Smitten Kitten, technical tees from Venture North, 10 bags of beans from Peace Coffee, merch & service gift cards from Cherry Cycles, a massage from VillaBee Healing Arts (THAT’S SARAH!), and $300 in services from local acupuncture goddess Amy K. Oh, and there were a few pairs of socks, too.

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On the day of the race-food drive-fundraiser the entire crew of first-year Koochella babes (Baby Ducks for short) came together for the first time since the Team Retreat more than a month earlier. The team greeted tandems, trailers, track bikes, and commuter teams as 70 riders prepared to empty their hearts and wallets in grocery aisles across Minneapolis.

At 3:00 it was time to roll out. Sarah gathered everyone in the parking lot outside Sunrise, threw her hands in the air, and yelled “Go!” at the top of her lungs.

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56 minutes later Lee Penn rolled back to the shop with a backpack full of holiday goodies.

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Lee credited her first place finish in part to her decision to purchase the same item at every store. In addition to leading the pack in speed, Lee also won most generous individual rider, spending $96.91 on Tampon Tower.

Yet the grandest receipt total came from the incredible folks at Mr. Michael Recycles Bicycles. In addition to running one of the raddest community shops around Mike and Benita designate 10% of their income to charity. The couple said they dog-eared a good chunk for Cranksgiving. $527.79 – a good chunk, indeed.

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All told the riders donated 1,140 pounds of food and care products to Second Harvest Heartland. The total value of these donations landed at $2,902.02. Sarah and Crisi could not have been more humbled.

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As the Koochella babes tallied receipts riders enjoyed a surprise keg biked in by two racers after they completed their manifests. Rather than leave right after awards, may of the riders stuck around to help load Crisi’s truck with the bounty they collected. Laughter and singing rippled up and down the assembly line, lit with bike lights from Sunrise to the pickup bed.

Shenanigans followed the friends back into Sunrise where the group of cyclists basked in their glory one last time before packing up. At least until next year.

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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. 

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.