Thursday, November 13, 2014

SoCal & #womenscycling

Racing LoCal in SoCal & Thoughts on #womenscycling


Local Racing Recap:
          #socalcross O’Melveny Park Weekend ~Recap
          #socalcross Cross at the Beach – Long Beach ~Recap
          #SPYclocross Chino ~Recap
          #socalcross #SPOOKYcross Weeekend ~Recap
          #SPYclocross #UdoCross
                  & USAC SCNCA District Championships ~Recap




          After racing the Trek CXC Cup, I was sidelined on the West Coast and stuck racing at home. Stuck? Unfortunately, yes.

          Don’t get me wrong… I absolutely love racing at home. The O’Melveny Park weekend felt like homecoming and it was so good to see everyone in the SoCal ‘cross scene back together again, racing their bikes around a taped off park on the side of some hill.

          But as awesome as it was to see friends and familiar faces on bikes again, I really really wanted to be racing my bike on the pro CX tour with the best in the country. I had quite a few people ask me why I was home and not on the east coast when the New England Holy Week of Cyclocross kicked off and it was hard to explain to people that I simply can’t afford it.

          So I wasn’t “stuck” in the sense that I wasn’t able or not allowed to go race with the big dogs… I was stuck financially because I didn’t want to go in the red in my own bank account from racing. I don’t have the team support that some have and I want so badly to have the opportunity to race my bike and not worry about the stress that comes along with the rest of the logistics. David has been an amazing help and when it comes down to it, I would be absolutely nowhere without him. It would be impossible to try and be a one-man show cyclocross racer. Cyclocross is a team sport on so many levels and I appreciate everything David does to help and push me to be the best I can. Racing bikes isn’t cheap and cyclocross especially requires so much support to tackle appropriately

          I think aspiring professional female racers are in an interesting place in the cycling world right now.  We are here. We exist. We want to race. We want the opportunity to be the absolute best we can be and race against the best in the country and rest of the world. And we want to do it without taking money from our savings accounts to do it.

          Let’s take Erica Zaveta as a shining example of this scenario. Last year she had some support but not a full team support like she has this year. She raced decently, traveled when she could, and had a pretty good year. But there was nothing unbelievable/astonishing about her year… she didn’t win a race or get on the cover of Cyclocross Magazine. But look at her now! She was given an opportunity to race with one of the best teams in the country, represent the Amy D Foundation, and worry about one thing only: racing fast and throwing down everything she’s got on the cx track. She’s since won a UCI race, had an amazing display of finishes in the Pro CX tour so far, and has completely proven that if you give a strong woman the support and tools she needs to excel, she will! Courtenay McFadden is another example of how to take the bull by the horns, create your own opportunities, and do your own damn thing. Read more on her blog.

          I’ve had a handful of great finishes at UCI races, I’m well-known and I do well in my local ‘cross scene. I’d like to consider myself a good ambassador for anyone who sponsors my team or me personally. I’m so proud of all of those things and I’m extremely happy with where I’m at right now. But I guess the question comes down to wondering at what point it no longer becomes worth chasing points and looking for a good overall finish in the Pro CX standings. When does the scale tip from more money going out than in to actually making money or even netting zero?

          There are more people talking about Equal Pay for men and women, there are more opportunities for women to race (i.e. AmyD Foundation!), the bike industry realizes the potential market growth from the female customer… and the fact that women are being talked about in every cycling discipline is awesome. The discussion is far from over, but it’s happening and we’re in a good place to see potential change. Yeah, there are going to be bumps in the road like the flesh-colored kits, but if they lead to more thoughtful discussions like that article, then we'll head in a more positive direction.

          If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for taking the time to read my rambling thoughts on the real struggle of racing cyclocross and raising awareness for the aspiring professional female racers who just want a chance to race fast and not worry.


Check out the Notes section of our #SDGteam Facebook page for more individual race recaps from the past couple months... Click here >> NOTES


Monday, November 10, 2014

Flyover Practice

PB sent in this video of me practicing my flyover skills...

Enjoy!




#SPYclocross

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

2014 #Cincy3CX

2014 Cincy3 CX

Travel Recap:
          Wed FlyFrontier LAX-CVG
          Thurs Ride around Ohio
          Fri #Cincy3CX Day 1 Harbin
          Sat #Cincy3CX Day 2 Kings
          Sun #Cincy3CX Day 3 Devou
          Mon FlyFrontier CVG-LAX

Hotel & Food:
          Super 8
          Kroger
          Remke Market
          Field & Stream



Friday C2:

          MUD!

          We woke up on Friday morning to a damp Ohio scene outside our lovely Super8. This meant one thing for sure: Harbin Park would be muddy. Sure enough, we arrived at the race to see everyone in rain gear, umbrellas on the sidelines, and rain boots galore. The routine for the day of a muddy race is something I need to plan and think about more. It’s difficult to juggle appropriate clothing with pre-riding laps, finding space in the van to change a few times, staying as warm as possible,
          Luckily David spotted Cody Phillips a couple hours before his race and he graciously agreed to help him out in the pits. That was a blessing because I wouldn’t have to stand there and help David switch bikes in the race directly before mine any longer. Thank you, Cody!
          I had a decent third row start on a slightly uphill cement starting shoot. I didn’t end up where I wanted to be after the first few turns, but throughout the first lap I watched a handful or girls slip-n-slide in front of me while I narrowly escaped running people over and snaked my way around the mishaps. I eventually rode my way to 11th place behind Duke and was so stoked about being there in muddy conditions that I have zero experience with. Highlight of the day was when Compton rode by me and I was able to ride with her for a bit before she completely gapped me out by riding the logs at the top of the hill. Second to last lap I dropped my chain TWICE and lost 6 places from the full minute of fumbling with my chain. Mud/shit happens during racing and that’s that, but I was extremely happy with playing in the mud and racing my Daily bike with the best of the best!



Saturday C1:

          NIGHT RACE!
          The curse of dry eyes: Part 1. I had been sick the week prior to Spookycross and it was one of those sicknesses that never gets extreme, but lingers for too long because I never let myself fully recover due to riding/racing. After the Fri race I woke up on Saturday and could tell my eyes felt drier than usual but didn’t think anything of it. During the preride when the sun was still shining, the course was really fun and the “Camel” mounds were a real kicker. We lined up just as the sun disappeared and I quickly realized that starting on the inside of the first righthand turn was a bad idea. Immediately I was in the back third of the field and trying hard to make up for it.
          I remember thinking to myself to just keep blinking during the first lap when they started to get dry. I’ve had a few instances in the past on hard interval days where I’m so focused on pedaling that I literally forget to blink and start to dry out my contacts. But never have I ever just blinked one of them out before! I’m quite blind, -5.25 in both eyes, so I immediately went half blind in a dark and not-so-well lit course. I couldn’t believe it was happening and I was so angry. Corners that I shouldn’t have been braking through I was losing seconds on because I had to baby myself around them hoping I wasn’t going to hit an unseen bump/ditch/rut and hurt myself. All I could do was go hard on the power sections and keep losing time on the technical stuff; therefore I was going nowhere but backwards. I did my best given the conditions and I was extremely proud of riding the steep climbs on the Camel every single lap. It was the cheers of the spectators up there that kept me going. I mean you can’t possibly let them down while they’re screaming their lungs out for you to get to the top!



Sunday CC:

          Pan-Am Champs!

          The curse of dry eyes strikes again. This time it wasn’t dark so it wasn’t quite as bad as the night before.. but the technicality of the course definitely required two eyeballs and I suffered tremendously when it happened. On the first lap I came close to blinking out the right one and thought I was in the clear. On the second lap I blinked it out. I rode by the pit and yelled to David that I lost a contact and immediately was riding timid and braking like crazy. On the second to last lap I probably grabbed too much brake on the Pan Am Plunge and slid out on to my left quad and scratched myself up pretty good.  Luckily no one was directly behind me or else I would’ve been run over. After that I just got through the next two steep sections and decided to just pull out at the pits. My motivation plummeted, my leg and finger were bleeding, and I was in disbelief that I lost a contact AGAIN.
          I guess there are firsts for everything and this weekend I learned that after being sick, my eyes are more prone to dryness in 40-50 degree temps, and I’m really good at blinking them out when I’m racing. I’ll remedy this at Jinglecross with some eye drops. Hopefully that will help!


Takeaways:

         I’m not too shabby at racing in the mud
         Practice hopping smaller logs
         Hotel showers don’t have the best drains for mud/grass
         The ORV racing scene is quite stellar
         Buy dry-eye relief eye drops
         Consider lasic surgery


Around the ORV:





Sidenote:
We were excited to see our favorite Krema Peanut Butter in both the Kroger and Remke Market. Kroger is one of the original market homes for Krema.
If you have any suggested markets or grocery stores where you'd like to see Krema Peanut Butter, please let me know and I'll get you a product suggestion form to send their way!




Thursday, September 25, 2014

2014 #TrekCXCCup


2014 Trek CXC Cup 

Travel Recap:
          Wed FlyFrontier SNA-MKE
          Thurs Ride to Trek
          Fri Preride the course
          Sat Day 1 C1 #trekcxccup
          Sun Day 2 C2 #trekcxccup
          Mon FlyFrontier MKE-SNA

Hotel & Food:
          Super8 Watertown
          El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant
          Super Walmart in Watertown
          Trader Joes in Brookfield


This way to Trek HQ!

Cornfields of Wisco

Working the pits for David

Saturday C1:

          15th place call-up for the day. I really need to work on my starts, that's all I have to say about the beginning of the race. I was immediately back in the teens as the field strung out in the first twisty grass section. I slid out coming around a fast 180-degree turn halfway through lap one and had to pit for the pink B bike. I was a little flustered after this, but gathered my composure and was able to get my head back in the game. I made my way back through the field and eventually passed Katie Antonneau (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) into 10th position. The last two laps came down to a tradeoff with Nicole Duke (Marin-SPY) and Erica Zaveta (Amy D Foundation). Zaveta had been riding solo in the wind and slowed up for me to catch up and pull for the second to last lap. I didn't realize this during the race and in hindsight I realize I did way too much work there. After we caught up to Duke, Zaveta attacked on the final off-camber section, stringing it out and putting myself solidly in 10th position coming into the finish. Given this day was a C1 event, I was super stoked to know I was able to hang on with the top 10 riders and finish up in 10th. More UCI points and some cash in hand as we got ready for Day 2.


Sunday C2:

         My finishing place on Sunday echoed Saturday, but the races were so very different. I kept telling myself all day that I needed a good start, even practiced a bunch during warmup. But alas, a less than stellar start put me in a tricky position coming into the steep switchbacks. A second of hesitation cost me 3-4 positions as riders jumped off their bikes to run around the turns due to traffic while I tried to stay on the bike. I quickly learned that during bottleneck sections of the course on lap 1, getting off and running around riders/obstacles is much faster than assuming riding through it. At the time, it made sense for me to stay on the bike as much as possible, but after reviewing photos from the race and even seeing Tim Johnson running it when he was only 4th wheel, I now understand that getting through as quickly as possible is best in those situations.
          After that hiccup I had to work my way through the field again once I was back in the teens. With 4 to go I made my way up to 10th position and on the wheel of Crystal Anthony (Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies). With 3 to go, Sunny Gilbert attacked into 9th position, putting me and Anthony in a battle for the remaining UCI point and 10th place. I really couldn't believe that I was on the heels of Anthony for those few laps, it was quite surreal and she was seriously throwing down the watts on the straightaway. I held on as best I could and tried to make some moves, but we were matched, watts-for-watts and I was unable to make any passes. Coming into the final steep climb, I knew I was going to run it, but Anthony had been riding it the whole race and attempted to ride it on the last lap. However, she was unable to push the first few pedal strokes and was forced to unclip. This split second mistake allowed me to run up and over the top of the climb first and push all out to the finish, securing 10th place. I ended up having my best lap time of the day on that final lap.. must have been quite a rush to the finish line!


The bikes around Wisco:



Sidenote:

We also submitted our team's product suggestion form to the Walmart in Watertown because they did not carry Krema Peanut Butter.
#poweredbypeanutbutter
If you have any suggested markets or grocery stores where you'd like to see Krema Peanut Butter, please let me know and I'll get you a product suggestion form to send their way!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Wandering Panda

Reflecting
I've recently had a lot of people asking me what's going on with my life right now and to be honest, I'm just as dazed/confused as all of you.

I'm the type of person who always finds a way to keep myself busy, whether good or bad, and my life is a constant whirlwind of events.

I took a break following Crusher in the Tushar on my birthday, July 12th, 2014. This 'break' involved some time off the bike, eating cake & ice cream, going to the movies, and other normal people things.
"off season"
It was nice, but I was so ready to get training for 'cross season. There was a hunger that started the second I crossed the line in Boulder at CX Nats in January. I demanded nothing less than my absolute best for the next season

I made a quick trip to the doctor's for a blood test a couple weeks into my first training block as my energy levels were feeling low. At that time it was just about 4 full months since my Sea Otter accident and the doctor said I was most likely just finishing the healing/recovery process. Sure enough, after that first block of training, my numbers were back to where they needed to be.

Around the end of July / beginning of August, I made the decision to leave Felt Bicycles. I had just finished up 3 full years of employment with the big bicycle brand and it was time for me to step away. I truly believe that you need to surround yourself with people who support you. If you surround yourself with negativity, that negativity will seep into your life. Let's just say that the negativity and lack of support eventually drove me away. I reached out in March, prior to Sea Otter, to try and get the ball rolling on a marketing discussion of cyclocross season. Felt was working on some new products for CX that I wanted so badly to endorse and help push. I planned it all out, I pitched my idea, I created a timeline of how it would all come together with proper lead times.. all to no avail. I wanted to blame it on the lack of time they have to even think twice about it, I wanted to hold on and keep pretending that something would eventually turn around, I wanted so dearly for it to work out.. but in the end I knew nothing would happen and I'm not the type of person to just sit around and complain. I couldn't wait around any longer and I needed to make a difference. If I wanted support, I was going to have to search for it elsewhere.

It's hard to work for a company that builds race bikes for some of the best athletes in the world and yet doesn't support an environment for me to pursue my own athletic endeavors. There are a lot of happy people at that company because Felt provides an incredible working environment that I was more than appreciative to be a part of, but I had higher expectations. I still absolutely love the company and most of the people who have worked there throughout the years. I honestly believe that their carbon fiber technology and Jeff Soucek's genius absolutely drives the company's advancements and I've been so proud to work there. I'll always be a Felt fan girl.. always.

It was a tough decision, but ultimately it was for the better.
When I finally admitted to myself that I wasn't going to receive any support from Felt, I began making plans to find companies who wanted to support me and the SDG team for the season. Ultimately I wanted to endorse brands who saw potential in our little team.

David and I put a lot of love and hard work into developing the SDG Team for this season. This thing was his baby from the beginning and I've come along to help support his dream of growing the program and getting it the recognition it deserves.


Moving Forward:

Anyone who truly knows me well knows that I'm not living my life as a pro bike racer. I don't have the results nor the money/support to live that kind of lifestyle.
I'm keeping busy. I have an income from a new project I'm working on. Life is a little rough around the edges, but it is good.

So there you have it, I'm going to live like a pretend bike racer for a few months as I commit myself to racing at my absolute best level, supporting the growth of cyclocross, and pushing the new brand of Daily Bikes. I mean, come on, I'm 25 and I don't want to look back with any regrets, right?! Here's to taking risks and facing fears.

If you're still reading up to this point, thank you, and I have just one request.. I've gotten a lot of comments about how there's no future for women in professional cycling. If you all could do me one favor and help me prove them wrong I would sincerely appreciate it : )

Wish me luck and please support me by supporting our Team's sponsors for the season: SDG Components, Daily Bikes, Bellwether, CCN Sport, Krema Peanut Butter, SPY Optics, Kali Protectives, Rip van Wafels, & Carmichael Training Systems

Here is a quick link to follow them all on twitter 

#SDGdazzle


If you see me hanging around the races, come say hi!

Friday, September 12, 2014

The 2014-2015 CX Season Kicks off with CrossVegas!


Hey everyone, I'm back!

A lot has happened in the past few months, so I figured I'd at least write up a Cross Vegas recap and post it on the ol' dusty blog.

Not very many people use blogs anymore, huh? I guess Facebook has become the venue for announcements in peoples' lives, whether good or bad. I've been thinking that I'd like to keep a nice log of 'cross season here this year for everyone to have access to and as a record of events to read back on as I head into the next season.

#crossvegas!
Quick recap of the night race in the desert:

4th row call-up. Bobble at the start trying to get by someone who had issues clipping in. Took the inside line around the Showcase lap which was a bad idea.. I ended up slamming my bicep and shoulder into the fence as we turned back into the start/finish straight. You can see during the live feed, a huge gap opens up as everyone comes back through start/finish and that was totally my fault after I bounced off the fence and slowed everyone up. From then on, adrenaline was pumping through my veins and I went through the next couple laps slowly picking people off and surprising myself. I made some serious efforts on lap 2 and 3 that put me in a great position to hold on for dear life for the last two laps of the race. Being in the chase group for a majority of the race felt amazing and I was so pumped to be up there.. probably a little too amped as Rachel Lloyd told me after the race that she was surprised at how hard I was going a little too early on haha. #newb
I held on for a strong 8th place finish and couldn't have been more happy with that. Going into the race, I told myself that top 10 would have been a dream given the competition on deck.  Thus, an 8th place finish was pure victory in my book... and oh did it taste sweet. I had a lot of friends, fans, and ex-coworkers at the event, so it was even better that I was able to make everyone go nuts with each passing lap. Thanks for the cheers!!!

The Panda Death Stare - courtesy of Phil Beckman 
The new bike:

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Please support Cyclocross Magazine and go buy Issue #24
http://cyclocross-magazine.myshopify.com/collections/backcopies/products/issue-24

There's an interview with yours truly : )

Click here to get to their website


Monday, January 27, 2014

Panda, swimmer, triathlete, project manager, dark-horse, cyclo-crosser...

I have been extremely busy as of late.
Cyclocross season takes a serious amount of time on top of a full-time job... and I'm still trying to get caught up on life, the 100+ emails in my inbox, and getting in some long slow miles on the bike. I could really use a few more hours in a day.

I always tell you I'm super busy, but yet I always find a way to make a few posts at the beginning or end of a major season. I promise to TRY and keep the posts more frequent...

But for now, please see the most recent Felt Bicycles Blog post... it's about yours truly and written by a legend in the road biking industry, Neil Browne.
http://www.feltbicycles.com/blog/?p=3934

Thanks to Louie Traub for this super-hero shot of me at CX Nats!!!

I have been called many things in my life, but these are a few names I am most recently proud of: panda, swimmer, triathlete, project manager, dark-horse, cyclo-crosser...

Yes, I still owe a more thorough report on Cyclocross season.
Yes, I still owe a comment on my MTB schedule.

Here are the plans right now:

  • March: Pro XCT Round 2 Bonelli, Pro XCT Round 3 Fontana, Keyesville 
  • April: Sea Otter (XC &/or CX, same day, dumb), Whiskey 50
  • June: US Cup West races in Big Bear
  • July: USAC Marathon MTB Nats (bc Sun Valley sounds way more awesome than Pennsylvania again) and the Crusher in the Tusharrrrr
  • .... after that, it's time for 'cross!


For now, cheers to an awesome CX season and plans for an equally awesome 2014 MTB season! More in the works!