This past weekend marked the start of the AZ Cyclocross season so Danielle and I made the trek to the small town of Globe, AZ for the Flat Tire Cross Race presented by the “World Famous” Flat Tire Bike Shop. While we entered the CX scene late in the season last year, we were immediately hooked, especially Danielle. She couldn’t get enough and we even made a trip to Sea Otter Classic in April so she could race in the off-season. So needless to say the first race of the season was circled in red ink on her calendar. (more…)
Ryan and I recently got back from our first trip to Sea Otter Classic, a cycling festival, expo and race put on each year in Monterey, California. We had a blast and look forward to returning in the future, here are the top 5 reasons you should consider attending next year!
- Monterey, California
The location of Sea Otter classic is reason enough to make the trip. Monterey is on a beautiful peninsula on California’s rugged central coast. There are endless activities and attractions in the area and the landscape is unreal. Even the views from the Laguna Seca Raceway parking lot were beautiful and calming. Not to mention the weather in April is typically 62 degrees and partly cloudy with a slight chance of rain, ideal racing conditions!
- Racing, racing and more racing
Sea Otter puts on a race for every type of cycling discipline you can imagine. From downhill, to road and cross country mountain biking, there is a race for everyone. The races are well organized and have great courses. The caliber of competition is also a notch up from most local races, participating in a race at Sea Otter gives you a chance to see how you stack up against cyclists from all over the country. Here are some of my favorite photos Ryan snapped during my race.
- Free Swag
I am normally not a big expo fan, at most expos I end up coming home with useless wristbands and cheap pens. Sea Otter, however, has what should be considered the gold standard for all expos. We got a ton of awesome swag (Pactimo t-shirts, a Pactimo bag, a Liv Giant trucker hat, Thule socks, Salsa coozies, a Subaru buff, Hand Up gloves, beer, tons of stickers…) and it was all free! We also got to talk with reps from some of our favorite companies. The awesome folks at Pactimo chatted with us about our team’s custom kits, which they have been making for years, and I got to introduce Ryan to Pep (Cori), the amazing Salsa rep, that recently helped me get my new Salsa Cutthroat.
- Trials Demos
Throughout the weekend, trials demos are put on by some of the best known names in sport, such as Danny MacAskil and Ryan Leech. I’m sure you have seen their videos on social media, I I have never really understood why people spend so much time watching these videos, but after watching the demo in person I was blown away. I was in awe the entire time we were watching Ryan Leech and inspired to work harder at improving my bike handling.
- The Pro Cyclocross Race
This race, will by far, be the most entertaining cycling race you have ever witnessed. Heck, it may be the most entertaining 45 minutes of your year. Watching a peleton of cyclists barrel into gravel pits like a freight train and hearing the outrageous one liners from the announcers, ‘she’s knocking on his door like a bill collector!’, will have you smiling for the entire race.
So mark your calendars, Sea Otter 2017 is April 20 – 23!
Recently, I decided to spontaneously take up Cyclocross, it has been a blast and I plan to write more about it in a future post. I got involved in cross very quickly, I went from watching my first race, to buying a State single speed cross bike and competing in three races in a matter of two weeks. If that sounds crazy, it’s because it is. It should also be noted that my cycling experience has been limited to the road & long distance triathlons. So I’m pretty decent at riding in a straight line for a very, very long time, but riding for thirty minutes with my heart rate pegged on varying terrain, all while dodging obstacles and other riders is a tad bit outside of my comfort zone. Nevertheless, it looked fun and I dove in head first.
Preparing for my first race I was a bit nervous. I quickly realized there aren’t many females that participate in this sport and there are even fewer females racing on single speeds. I was excited at the opportunity to get on the podium as long as I was able to finish in one piece. I used this as motivation to stay the course and show up at my first race in early December. The race was fun, and even though I finished dead last and got lapped multiple times I was still the second female finisher for single speeders! After the race, I happily thought a call up to the podium awaited me. Well, it turns out there were no awards for women’s single speed, since single speed was a mixed category for the AZCross series. Due to this technicality I decided to sign up for the Women’s CAT 4 division for the following race, but I would be racing on my single speed so the odds were stacked against me. The race was fun and I managed not to finish last, but still didn’t make it to the podium.
On the last race of the season, only two short weeks after my first weekend of racing, I was happy that I had actually made some improvements. I worked on some of my skills, did a few crazy workouts and faced my fear of technical descents (I repeatedly attempted to ride down a loose steep hill until I got down the stupid thing without dismounting). All of this paid off and I placed 3rd in the Women’s CAT 4 State Championship race, and wasn’t last in the women’s single speed division (there were 3 females and I took 2nd). By this time I knew that there would not be awards for female single speeders, so before the race myself and the other single speed ladies agreed to take our own podium photos. All of this might make me sound a little podium obsessed, but there is something to be said about celebrating achievements amongst the other competitors, after all this is a race we signed up for!
Cross season ended as quickly as it came and I am excited to actually train and improve next year. However, my observation on the lack of female representation really got me curious on women’s participation in cycling. After doing triathlons for several years I am used to training and racing in a male dominated sport, but there is still a substantial female presence in the triathlon community. Why were there so few women at the cyclocross races? I wondered if it was just cyclocross or cycling in general. Cycling is the weakest link in my triathlon, but is this how all women felt? I started to do some research and I was more and more intrigued and fascinated with each article that I read.
I learned that my perception was true; very few women compete in cycling events in Arizona, especially when compared to running, swimming and triathlon. Additionally, the low participation rates are not unique to the Grand Canyon State, but similar to the United States as a whole. While females are biking more in places like Denmark and Germany, the fact is that women in the US are underrepresented in the cycling industry and less likely to ride bikes for recreation or cycle competitively than their male peers.
I’m not sure I believe that women need to represent 50% of the cycling community or that more girls should dream of becoming bike mechanics when they grow up, that’s certainly not something I ever aspired to, but I do think there is room for improvement. I’ve often heard men complaining about women specific runs or triathlons, but there’s a reason for those races and the numbers speak for themselves. Not to mention that the race organizers and governing bodies of sports will only profit from increasing female participation. It is nice to see companies (Giant) and athletes (Marianne Vos & Helen Wyman) taking action to promote women’s cycling. With brands such as Liv, social initiatives like Strongher and equal pay outs for pro women we are starting to see progress in women’s cycling and I hope it continues. Perhaps a few years from now the AZCross series will have a Women’s Single Speed division!