Lilah- Team Koochella

By : Lowrah · May 29, 2014

Grease Rag friend Lilah wrote about her experience falling in love with track racing.  Follow Team Koochella on Facebook, or watch them race any Thursday at 7pm.  Details about how to reach Koochella, and about the Women’s Intro Track Clinic starting next Wednesday are at the end of the post.  Read on!

Last season in August I was approached by an outspoken woman in the cycling community. "Girl, I've seen you ride. Have you ever considered track racing?" With these words I began to study and research track racing. Not knowing what I was getting into I said yes. My friend and captain Anna Schwinn signed me into a track clinic at the end of the summer. 

The first night of track I was accompanied by my friends Ben and Beth. Placing my pedals on the rental bike and adjusting my seat positioning I thought to myself, "Guess I am going to ride a wall today." My first sight of the track was daunting and yet, inspiring. Will you ride it? Can you ride it? We get on the apron, which is a neutral place on the track where you enter and exit, clip in to our pedals and take off. My first lap around on the apron I froze. Went down onto the in field and decided to quit. Ben came up to me and encouraged me to get back on. We continued with some of the best drills you could start out with. After understanding my fear was appropriate I let go and listened to the instructors. Within an hour I was hooked on riding the track. 
Later that fall Anna and I had multiple conversations about a track specific team. Fundraising. who we are, goals, ideas, riders, bikes, and how we could put this together. Good thing there were a few hand fulls of other ladies ready to throw down ideas, advice and professional backgrounds to make this happen.  Team Koochella was born.
This winter was hard. Training was only my second priority with just surviving and staying warm as a cyclist. We did our best to figure out who we are and what we wanted as a team and as advocates for women. 

Track racing started in the late 1800's. UK's Preston Park, Brighton was built in  1877 is the oldest velodrome. Women's track racing was initially featured in the modern Olympics in 1988 just as I was the ripe age of 2.  That is 109 years till women started racing competitively. Typically most women's race fields are only large during track nationals, Olympic trials or series. Last season, in Minnesota, track races were cancelled due to lack of female presence. This season in 2014 we have the largest women's field. This not only makes me proud as a cyclist, but gives me strength as a racer. 

Last week on May 22nd we began the 25th anniversary of NSC velodrome racing in Minnesota. The women's field is huge and racing has been more fun than ever. There is competition and fun all together. Racing can be intense, but all racers are trained in specific and strict etiquette. Because we ride fixed gear without brakes it is imperative to utilize safety and good judgment while racing. No brakes? No problem. Actually due to the banked 43 degree track it is much safer to ride without brakes in a large field of 24 riders at a time.
As far as my experience, racing has been the sole reason to keep going. This spring I was enchanted by the great Adam Duvendeck world champion and medalist at the velodrome in Los Angelos, California and rode in a clinic with him. Learning and riding along with some great athletes helps me pursue this goal in cycling. I have met the most amazing people at the track and racing road. I've been given knowledge to grow and push myself and become something more than just another person. Riding the track gives me structure. and freedom at the same time. There is nothing better than coming down from the top of the track into a turn and flying past another. Say it's my competitive nature, or my eagerness to fly like a bird, but you will too experience the thrill and learn to be diligent in training to succeed. 
Want to see what track racing is all about?  Start from the beginning!

June Women’s Intro Track Clinic

Registration is now open, and begins next Wednesday!

$80 for the clinic 
Wednesday sessions: June 4th, 11th, 18th, and 25th
Starts at 6:30pm
Rental bikes included

Register here (Click "Women's + Introductory" under the drop down menu at the top)
The trainers and coaches at the track are the most experienced and well deserved of their titles. I hope you inquire about track racing. Come up to watch before you decide any Thursday at the NSC Velodrome at 7p. 
Any questions/discussion can be directed to myself or any Koochella 2014 racers. 
Roll on, 
Lilah Guertin
612-559-2719 cell

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