21 2 / 2014

rawrbikes:

Women’s professional cycling has seen progress in leaps and bounds so far this year, from announcements of new or expanded women’s programs running alongside some of the biggest men’s road races in the world to a promising new turn in culture at the UCI. Today’s news that Twenty20 Cycling will sponsor equal payout for women at the prominent Belgian Koppenberg Cross race this fall was met with cheers resounding from every corner of the cycling internet.

The first equal payout in European cyclocross resulted from a partnership between superstar cyclocrosser and all-around amazing woman Helen Wyman, and American cycling company Twenty20. Wyman has seen this sponsor-backed equality model at work during her visits to New England to race cyclocross, where Vermont company ENGVT backed women’s podium payouts in many of the biggest races.

This recent step by Kris Auer and his shop, Twenty20, is cause to celebrate, no doubt, but let’s take a step back. From the amateur ranks to the most talented elite racers, we are forced to prove that we’re worth equal and fair treatment - and then are expected to applaud enthusiastically when even a fraction of what we deserve is bestowed upon us. Twenty20’s own elite female racer was selected to represent Team USA at the cyclocross world championships; however, she received no financial support from the shop. The world-class athlete instead successfully crowdsourced her own trip, relying on her fans, friends, and family. In this situation, similar to many others in the US, equal payouts depend on rallying willing sponsors rather than coming from the budgets of the races themselves. In the world of road racing, women cyclists won a bid for a women’s race at the Tour de France - but this was only after the movement became a tidal wave too large to possibly ignore. In the local scene, women are tasked with drawing larger numbers to our races, frequently threatened with the cancellation of the women’s field if we can’t prove we deserve to race.

We’ll celebrate this announcement as it should be celebrated: as a step, of which there have been many, at the start of a very long journey.

28 1 / 2014

rawrbikes:

If you didn’t know who Arley Kemmerer was before, her selection to the US Cyclocross World Championship team has undoubtedly piqued your curiosity. For the uninitiated: Arley’s been tearing up the East Coast for a few years now, working double duty as a lawyer by day and a CX powerhouse by night. We caught up with her to ask the important pre-worlds questions.

OMG, how do you prepare to race in the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS with only 3 weeks notice?!*

Ideally, I would have been training and cramming a bunch of work in so that leaving for a week would be okay.  But, I’ve actually spent the last week recovering from the flu. Glamorous.

Rumor has it you’re looking for a new team next year. Do you think this Worlds team selection will help with that?

I am looking for a new team for next year. C3 was a great program to get me to where I am now, but I’ve outgrown the team’s capacity, and am ready to make the next step in the progression of being a professional cyclocross athlete. My hope is that the Worlds team selection will boost my resume enough to land me on a team, but you never know!

What was your first reaction to finding out you were selected to the worlds team? What are you most excited about?

I was flying home from Nationals, and was still in the air when the team was selected. I raced with an illness at Nationals, and didn’t have a great result, which I figured sealed my fate for not making the Worlds team this year. But as soon as I landed, I turned my phone on to look for the press release, and my phone practically blew up with messages, Twitter notifications, etc., so I figured something had to be up. I saw a Tweet about it, and was so happy I actually cried. I was still sitting on the plane (we were still taxiing), so the guy next to me must have thought somebody died or something. I didn’t even care!  

Was there a particular turning point in your cyclocross career? At what point did you start to think making the Worlds team was a possibility?

My two top-15 finishes at Valkenburg and Tabor were probably the most definitive results in my career thus far. It made me feel like I could legitimately hang in the World Cup field, and that I could actually be a force in the international competition. The Worlds team was always a long-term goal, but not one I took especially seriously until the October World Cups.

Who has been the most influential person in your cycling career?

Laura Van Gilder has been a great friend and mentor to me, both on and off the bike. We train together, walk our dogs together, and hit up the occasional “wing night” together at the Van Gilder Jubilee. She has so much experience—she is a wealth of knowledge to tap into.

Favorite pre-race rap tune?

No rap tunes, all EDM!

You’ve been pretty outspoken about CrossFit. How do you think that’s benefited your bike racing? Do you adhere to their Paleo diet as well?

I’m a huge proponent of CrossFit-style workouts in the off-season.  I find it helps most running up hills, stairs, etc.  I also think it is really important to be fit in a multi-dimensional way, rather than just being cycling fit.  I don’t do the Paleo thing, it is a little too over the top for me.

What are the best and worst aspects of traveling long distances for giant races?

BIKE FEES are the worst! The second worst part is dragging all that stuff through the airport.

Best part is lying to people when they ask what is inside my bike bag.  I usually say it is some weird musical instrument (think tuba, bassoon), and always want to say “a body,” but realize that would get me apprehended pretty quickly in an airport.

You’re one of a bunch of pros that comes from a ski-racing background. If you were all to put skis back on again, who do you think would win?

So, the former racers I know of are Lea Davison, Elle Anderson, and myself.  My bet would be on Elle.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

After all, bike racing is just a hobby. - Stefan Wyman

What’s your absolute favorite workout?

The kind where I get to not look at my power output.

*Ed. note: Our original question was: “OMG WHAT IS IT LIKE HOW DO YOU EVEN PREPARE ISN’T THIS THE AWESOMEST EVER AREN’T YOU THE AWESOMEST EVERRRR?” As you can tell, we’re pumped about Cyclocross World Championships!

Photo of Arley Kemmerer at Zolder by Erin Faccone.

10 12 / 2013

rawrbikes:

In Part 1 of our interview with her, Liz Allen told us a little about her standout summer of pro mountain bike racing.she told us a little about her standout summer of pro mountain bike racing. This week, she gives RAWRbikes the inside scoop on DAS BEavER ‘Cross, a cycling event that she’s promoting. The race takes place on Sunday, December 15, and competitors can register here. (Side note:Cindy and I both raced DAS BEavER last year, and it was a blast!)

Tell us a bit about the upcoming ‘cross race that you’re promoting. What can riders look forward to on race day?

There’s going to be a little bit of everything at DAS BEavER ‘Cross…we’ve got a fun course that’s changed a lot over the years. We’re lucky because the park has a cool wooded area with wide trails that wind up and down hills, so there’s a lot we can utilize.  Plus, we have a really fantastic run-up with a sweet little singletrack descent. For anyone who came last year, it won’t be too different, and hopefully the sand won’t be a deterrent (we like uphill sand).  

By popular demand, we’re bringing back the toasty fire and Zach the DJ. And I know racing is about more than prizes and schwag, but who doesn’t love taking home a pair of socks or an envelope of cash after spending many months and many dollars training and racing?  So we’ve got merchandise for the top 3 of each category, but we’re really proud to show our appreciation to the ladies of the NECX scene with some sizeable cash prizes. As of right now, we’re up to a total of $700 for the women’s 1/2/3 and $250 for the 3/4. With donations in merchandise from Janeware Micro and Beaver Brook Saw Shop, we’re going ten deep with prizes for both of the women’s categories.  So now, I’d really like to see a big turnout.

How long have you been involved in promoting DAS BEavER ‘Cross?

Donnie D. of Danielson Adventure Sports (DAS) has been putting on at least one cyclocross race per year since shortly after he opened the shop. It’s been called Beer Cross and DAS Cross in the past, but we’ve had to tone down the beer a bit since we’re using a town park. I’ve helped out with some of the DAS ‘cross events over the years, but last year, I took on a lot of the promotion duties.  Of course, when I started to get grand ideas for the race (like making it a special event for the ladies), Donnie was all for it and gave me free rein to make things happen.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out as a promoter?

As for advice for someone just starting out as a promoter (like me), I recommend talking to experienced promoters, trying to stay open to constructive criticism, and getting used to shamelessly asking for help.

You were really successful in getting sponsors for the 2012 D.A.S. Beaver ‘cross race, especially for the women’s payout! Could you pass along some tips for other race promoters?

How to Get Sponsors 101:  1) Explain exactly what it is you’re doing.  2) Tell them why it matters to them (and why it matters to you).  3) Don’t be afraid to tell them you’d like a handout.  4) Thank them endlessly for anything they give you because they make what you do possible.  5) Thank them some more…all over the Internet. And comp their entry fee.

And before I sign out, I’d like to give another big thank you to all of the racers who came out last year or are coming out this year to race at DAS BEavER ‘Cross!  You folks are as important as any of our sponsors, and we take pride in giving you a kickass event.  

Ed. note: The photos of the elite women’s podium and elite men’s runup from last year’s DAS BEavER race were taken by Liz Allen.

To sign up for the race, you can register on BikeReg. Registration closes Friday December 13 at 11:45 p.m. Day-of event registration is also available.

06 12 / 2013

rawrbikes:

RAWRBikes recently got a chance to catch up with Liz Allen, Connecticut-based pro mountain bike racer and cyclocross race promoter! In Part 1 of the interview, Liz talks to us about her love of mountain bike racing.

First of all, congrats on winning the Pro Women’s overall title for the Root 66 series over the summer! In order to win the title, you raced against some solid local pros, including Crystal Anthony, Ellen Noble, and Mo Bruno Roy.

Thank you! The 2013 season was a blast, and it was an honor to mix it up with some of the fastest ladies in New England (actually, they’re some of the fastest in and out of the US).  We have no shortage of good local racing here in the northeast between the Root 66 series, the EFTA series, and the endurance scene. I’m super stoked to have taken the points lead for the Root 66 series (shout out to Chris and Jill [Logan] for all of their work keeping this series going).

Can you tell us a little bit about what mountain bike season was like, and give us some of the highlights?

I did a handful of EFTA races and a couple of endurance races as well; I’m a bit of a junkie when it comes to racing so I tend to erratically cram a lot of races into the season. I’ll give you a good example of this impulsiveness. In June, I noticed there was a free weekend in my schedule, so I signed up for the Patapsco 100 on a whim. The race fell the weekend after July 4th (during a heat wave) and just a couple of weeks before XC nationals. Also, the promoters basically advertised their race as the hardest 100-miler on the planet. How could I not do it?  Out of the 90 or so people to start the race, only 13 finished, and I was one of them—definitely the number one highlight of the season.

Number two would probably be the Domnarski Farm race where Ellen Noble and I were back and forth most of the race, and I burped my tire in the last couple of miles. Rather than stopping to add air, I just kept racing. I hung with her through the end, but the semi-flat proved to be useless for a sprint finish. Regardless, it was an epic race.  

Highlight number three would have to be finishing second in the Hampshire 100. Oh, and then there’s Singlespeed-A-Palooza…fun course and really fun times.

Tell us about what you’ve been up to in the meantime. We know that you’re particularly busy—you’re in school, you ride, and you parent! How do you balance it all out?

Balance?  Oh boy.  I don’t know that I’m all that successful at actually balancing it all out. Yeah—I’m a mom, a full-time undergrad (studying biology and English), and I work part-time. I fit the riding in wherever I can, although I have to admit, this fall has been brutal, and good rides have been few and far between. When I look back at the summer, part of my problem was trying to balance two jobs with racing, parenting, and a summer class.  I was racing regularly, but I wasn’t really training.  I won’t do that again.

Luckily, I knew better than to keep racing through the fall. I’ll be honest; it’s tough to stay focused on schoolwork while ‘cross season is in full swing and everyone else is off racing. But this semester I overloaded my schedule so that I’d have more time in the spring to train, and next fall I’ll be finishing up with only a few classes.  That means 2014 might be the year I race ‘cross and actually train for it.

We heard a rumor that you’re racing enduro! Could you tell us a bit about what’s on tap for you with regard to mountain bike racing next year?

While I am flattered that someone thinks I have the downhill skills for an enduro race, I must be honest, I would thoroughly suck at it.  However, I do intend to race more of the endurance races this summer.  In fact, I’m all signed up for the Trans-sylvania Epic stage race, running the last week of May (yes, a whole week of racing). There will be more 100-milers too; I’ll be revisiting Patapsco and the Hampshire 1000.  But I’m not going to do a whole bunch of XC races this year—just the local ones (no more than an hour from home) and Singlespeed-A-Palooza (it’s pretty much the best thing ever). By the end of August, I hope to be winding down so I can switch over to cyclocross—I’m looking forward to giving it a real go next year.   

Ed. notes: Photo for this article by Benjamin Stephens.

And speaking of ‘cross, stay tuned for Part 2 of our interview with Liz, in which we talk with her about the race she’s promoting on Sunday, December 15th!

10 9 / 2013

rawrbikes:

14 5 / 2013

rawrbikes:

The first week of the 2013 Giro has passed. After heading into the race as a favorite, Bradley Wiggins hasn’t had the most stellar performance, sitting a little over a minute behind the leaders. He has had his share of difficulties this year, but that leaves no excuse for his comments after Friday’s rainy stage, where he crashed on the descent with about 7km to go.

“Let’s be honest,” he said, “I descended like bit of a girl really after the crash.” He quickly attempted to hide his faux pas, throwing in, “not to disrespect girls, I have one at home.”

That’s your excuse, Wiggo? You have a daughter, therefore… it’s ok. Whether or not his comments were genuinely intended as an insult (to be honest, I doubt that he was purposefully being demeaning… let’s not overlook that he is backing the Wiggle Honda women’s team), but that is far removed from the problem. It is the attitude towards women in sport that is the issue at hand here, and how female athletes are viewed. The view of women being the weaker, fairer sex is damaging to what women can achieve in sport, and to the further development of women’s cycling.  

Let’s face it, women have more obstacles than men to deal with if they want to be successful athletes in any sport. Why drag women into your lack of confidence, Wiggins? How is that anyone’s problem but your own? Five-time Giro winner Eddy Merckx puts it correctly, “He’s ridden the past few days like a novice on the downhills. I think there is something wrong with his material, he has no confidence.”  A novice, he says. Not a girl, not a woman. A novice. He leaves gender out of the equation.

Let me reiterate, I don’t believe that Wiggins necessarily meant to be insulting. The bigger issue is here the way in which we talk about women in sport, the comparisons drawn and the language used. It’s a shame that comments such as these are commonplace, however it has far more to do with male insecurity than female inability. Anyone can have an off period on the bike, or a time where they are lacking confidence, but please, leave gender out of it.

Sources

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/cycling/10053670/Giro-dItal…

http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/giro-ditalia-shorts-merckx-calls-wiggins…

05 4 / 2013

So once again I have drifted off and neglected my blog, but it’s mostly due to the fact that I have been working with fellow female cyclists to create a new women’s cycling organization called RAWR Bikes (really awesome women riding bikes).  We’ve launched a website, for women, powered by women, based around the idea of connecting the different pockets and initiatives within the women’s cycling community and further educating and empowering the group.  

It has been a lot of hard work, but I have had the pleasure of working with some amazing, wonderful, and talented women.  Today, we launch the website, and celebrate with an event this evening at Headquarters Boston/Geekhouse Bikes.  I feel so lucky to be a part of what is going on in New England Women’s cycling, and couldn’t be happier about how this project has turned out.  I can’t wait to see what it develops into in the future.

So please, check out the site, come to the event if you’re in town.  And continue to support the progression of women in cycling!

08 3 / 2013

rawrbikes:

About RAWR Bikes!

What is RAWR Bikes? Really Awesome Women Riding Bikes.

New England is a hub of cycling. Racers competing nationally and internationally call this area home. Boston is well on its way to becoming one of the premier cycling cities in the US, boasting improved cycling…

08 3 / 2013

rawrbikes:

RAWRbikes (really awesome women riding bikes) is a new women’s cycling organization.  Our website will launch on April 5th in style, with a dance party/launch event at Headquarters Boston.  RAWR is going to serve as a central hub for women’s cycling, providing news and insight to female cyclists, as well as creating and support women’s cycling events.

In the mean time, like our facebook page, follow our twitter @rawrbikes and find out how you can get involved!

11 2 / 2013

Great interview with Kristy Scrymgeour!  It’s so amazing to see strong women supporting women’s organizations and teams.  Go read this.