22 Aug
2015

0 Comments

Greenway Soigneur for Powderhorn 24

by

on August 22, 2015   comments 0

Being a soigneur is so delightfully satisfying. What does that strange-cool-sounding term mean? Soigneuring is taking care of others, primarily in a cycling race. Ya know, it’s a French word.  In the professional scene, you'll find a soigneur driving you to the start, handing off a musette (=cool bag with a long strap) with a bottle & bar in the feed zone, or flushing your calves after a hard race day. Some of the best soigneurs are birthed out of Europe.  But for lil’ old midwestern me, cycling grew from watching out of the window in the back of grandma's hot ass station wagon to see grandpa wearing numbers in a pack of bikes as we toted along the race course and >>>>fastforward 20 years of being a rad lil' commuter>>>> to 24 hour bike races.  My first true 24-hour bike race where I pitched a massage tent up was Riverwest 24.  I made a bunch of good friends while falling in love with the giant mash of a midwestern cycling scene…and fawned over the Riverwest co-op.

(Note to self: visit Milwaukee again, “the good land.”)

But something was missing, this wasn’t my home, these weren’t my everyday people, these were not my regular streets. Regardless, I returned to Minneapolis inspired and closer to understanding why cycling is such an important part of my life.


WHAT A DELIGHT when I discovered Minneapolis would be holding a race similar to Riverwest 24 in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood. I mean, who doesn’t want to see how much of a bicycling monster they can be!?!  

“I HAVE LIQUID MONSTER IN MY VEINS AND I WILL RACE UNTIL MY DEATH.”

An unearthly, supernatural passion drives these racers, most especially cyclists who complete alone.  Racers on teams get one of the best opportunities, both to ride and to play, but most especially being able to hold a torch and build team momentum having a shared sense of accomplishment no matter the results.  Being the proud caregiver I am, it warms my heart to hear from racers on my table explaining what they’ve learned in their ability to work and push past physical barriers while still being able to listen to their body’s needs throughout the race or years of racing.


Personally, I’ve never fully finished a Powderhorn 24 race route. I’ve never raced it period. Maybe someday I will if I'm feeling monster enough & yes, my glory days are yet to come.  But luckily, I have found complete satisfaction playing Buddha by planting my bottom somewhere along the route each year to watch the deteriorating states of the racer’s bodies.  It’s beautifully insane. In the end, once there’s only delirium and swollen quads with seven o’clock falling sun, there’s a serious sense of peace in the late summer air.


Every year, I make a commitment to attend the annual Fourth of July Freedom from Pants bike ride and I always have managed my hairbrain schedule to try to help the Powderhorn 24 massage tent live on. These are my two commitments to the Minneapolis cycling scene. Having a massage tent present at the race helps riders have an awareness and reminder of alternative methods of self-care as an important part of recovery in training and racing. (SHOUTOUT to the lovely Sarah Bonneville with Villa Bee Healing Arts for holding the tent down the past couple years as I have succumbed to grad school.) I'm always so amazed by the turnout. It begins to feel like a nostalgic family reunion that brings excitement to my heart - and not the kind of excitement where you're about fail at the egg toss against your auntie.

To the riders and teams, I salute you for another great year under your belt.

We'll see you in the streets.


Powderhorn24, 2013 - Photo by: Sarah Bonneville

Powderhorn24, 2012 - Photo by: Jose Carlos

Riverwest24, 2011 - Photo by: 2F4

06 Feb
2015

2 Comments

Day 6 of Loving Winter 2015

by

on February 6, 2015   comments 2

I #lovemnwinter!

Today I love falling in bikelove,

Shakespeare style.

 

Shall I compare thee to a Minnesota Winter’s Day?

You are more rigid & fitful than my ribless steed

Yet the warm breeze has taken our sweet December snow

For the winter is too long:

At times our moon too cold,

or is threatened by the climbing sun;

And everything will rust in the salt and ice,

by gamble & prediction we weather the bars.

With age our minds grow sharper and legs grow thinner,

and surely we’ll die together tangled in stems and spokes.

Our legend will blow down the Greenway like trash in the wind.

So as long as people move fast with music while rolling without hate in the streets,

we shall dance freely, deeply, darkly, infinitely like Freewheelers of the night.


 -S

Read about this collaborative challenge to love one thing about winter everyday in February, and post about it on this blog. Tweet your own loves: #lovemnwinter @greaseragmpls, or check out last year's #lovemnwinter posts.

15 Aug
2014

0 Comments

Interview with Leah Kirchman of Optum Pro Cycling

by

on August 15, 2014   comments 0

“Bicycling is a symbol of freedom” for Marjan Siddiki, a female cyclist riding with Afghanistan's Women’s National Professional Cycling Team.  She reports to the Raykat Post in a heart wrenching interview on her team’s persistence through severe cultural gender inequality and cycle-shaming in a post-Taliban era.

The momentum of women in sports continues to climb upward.  We continue to see opportunities opening up for female cyclists. UCI regulations account for the natural differences in exertion between men and women, generally resulting in shorter races designed to facilitate faster, more competitive racing. Women’s races are limited to 6 stages and have a limit set at around half of the mileage of the men’s.  Nonetheless, as characters with exceptional talent lead the field - race after race & season after season - a relationship unfolds spectating the abilities within an individual and their team development.  It becomes a challenge to peel your eyes away from the intensity of this fascinating, grueling sport.

Women’s professional cycling recently took a sharp turn with Le Tour de France’s premier of La Course, a resurgent race for women at the tour running across the final circuit on the Champs-Élysées, taking place hours before the men’s Le Tour finishing stage in Paris.  It is not the first time women have raced Le Tour de France - Beginning in the 80s, a women’s “Tour de Feminin” was initiated, a stage race with courses resembling those from Le Tour.  The organizational efforts and support of the Women’s Tour slowly dwindled and lost steam over the span of 25 years, mostly due to lack of dough and lack of media coverage.  Nothing hurts the credibility of races more than the controversy of unpaid prize money.

Yet, as the cool breeze rounds one’s neck on the descent after a hard climb, the equality gap in cycling is slowing shrinking, thanks to the support of all those who know and understand the stimulating subtleties and ferociousness of female athletes.  

This is merely a battle cry for women to start competing, now. Interest is growing in the sport, but to keep things going, the key will be to introduce more women to bike racing when they're young. But for any female approaching the field: better late than never. There are countless stories of courageous women leaving the desk at the office to dash for the streets to saddle up and crush it in the professional field. Do not let your spirit be discouraged in the first several years of training, as it takes time to reach your full potential. The method of operation for cyclists tends to fall on the side of the lone wolf but don’t be shy! Try to join a community of other cyclists with the same goals as yours.

It is impossible to dismiss the significant gender gap in prize payout with the classic argument ruling, “it’s about the money.” Women in pro cycling are taking action in response to the inequality by speaking up and campaigning for more inclusive racing. La Course would not have been as successful without Dutch cyclist Marianne Vos, current Olympic Road and World Cyclocross Champion, driving the boat on the La Course campaign. As more gals arrive to the start line, prize money available to those who are willing to show up and work for it will grow. Opportunities will continue to open as women’s races merge with established men’s events.

I’ve asked our our neighbor to the North, current triple Canadian national champion and podium finisher at La Course, Leah Kirchman of Optum Pro Cycling, about her experience racing against world’s best female riders at La Course and her gorgeous third place finish.

Photo by Sam Wiebe

You have made history at La Course.  What’s one word that describes what was going through your head and what your soul was saying on the final sprint?

Astonishment.

Working with teammates is what makes the win. Strength within a team comes from practice, trust, and familiarity of techniques. Was there an ah-ha moment of clicking with your team during the season or did it come naturally? Is there even a "naturally" when it comes to knowing how to read your teammates or has it always required work?

One of Optum's biggest strength as a team comes from our commitment and trust in each other as teammates. I have been teammates with a few riders for three to four years now so we know each other quite well and are good at reading and responding to each other while racing.  

Rio is in your field of vision as a goal for 2016. What steps does a professional athlete as an individual and within a team need to take to get to the top, to the freakin' OLYMPICS!?!

Getting to the Olympics in any sport is tough and takes a ton of hard work and dedication! In cycling, you need to show your country that you are strong and deserve a spot as an individual, while also showing that you are a great teammate by contributing to the team's overall success.

Cycling can be dangerous.  How do you respond to the natural worry of family, friends, and fans when you hop on a bike to become a human torpedo?

I find the risk is worth the reward, and have just accepted the danger as part of racing. If fear enters my head in a race, I just focus on the things I can control, like my own bike handling and positioning in the peloton.

Racing is all about ballin’ on a budget. Could you spare a few tips for other cyclist looking to conserve?

It is easy to get excited at the start of a race and burn all your matches right away, then proceed get dropped. Be patient, hide in the draft, pay attention and wait for those key moments to use your energy stores.

Read More
Rendered archive in 0.2224280834198 seconds