Why Do We Race? Because. It’s. Really. Damn. Fun.

MiddleEarth

Bike racing in Middle Earth.

 

PostRaceFeast

Fuel to keep us going. Top fuel too, none of that 87 octane stuff.

 

 

EarlyStart

Hidden Heroes: the staff who are up at all hours making our job easier.

 

Tête de la Course Cycling athlete Heidi Franz was back in California this past week – racing at the Chico Stage Race and then taking part in another training camp as the #RallyCats honed their preparation for the big goals of 2018. She filed this report on her way back to Seattle:

 

I’m writing this little race report a bit differently this time, and a bit late from Chico, California while we finish up a post-race team camp. The legs…they are tired! If you followed along with the race on social media you probably saw some pretty pictures of a few very epic stage wins by the Rally Cats, three to be exact. In short, we held the race lead with Summer Moak for two stages, lost it in the time trial, and fired off everything we had to make up 15 seconds for Sara Bergen in the criterium. It was an all-in, 100% team effort with everyone shelling themselves for the cause. Though we couldn’t make up the time to take the overall, we still had teammates Sara Bergen and Summer Moak take 2nd and 3rd in the general classification, respectively. Shamelessly borrowing these stats from Rally Cycling’s report, I’ll brag that between the seven of us racing, we accounted for 16 top-ten finishes and eight podiums. All said and done, it was a pretty successful weekend and the North American women’s peloton knows that the Rally Cats have shown up strong and stoked to take on the year. Races like this and Valley of the Sun are just the appetizers for the main course of the season to come.

 

This past week of racing and camp was all-hands-on-deck to run the first big team showing of the season. With usual suspects Zach, Zane, and Kelly, we also had Ina Yoko-Teutenberg joining the Rally Cycling crew as a new women’s director for a few races this year. We also had our team nutritionist, Dana Lis, come and work with each of us to figure out what in the world we should be eating for the four days of racing and beyond. Her expertise, “science in spandex” fueling tricks, and motherly encouragement basically kept us upright and on our bikes.

 

For those of you who don’t know of Ina, her palmarès include over 200 wins in her 12-year career and two trips to the Olympics. I really could – and should – go on and on, about how amazing she is, but to keep this report semi-short, you just need to know that we are incredibly lucky to have her with us. And that she is my new favorite German.

 

I had never been to Chico before, and what I didn’t expect was the feeling that I was riding on some European country roads (and yes, I have ridden a bike on European country roads). Flat farm land and pastures everywhere brought all kinds of wind conditions and some potential Strade Bianche-like weather, especially with the eight miles of gravel we’d race during Stage 2. Imagine that.

 

Throughout the race and especially in the last couple of days of this team camp, Ina absolutely schooled us (simultaneously destroyed and educated us) on how to work with cross, head, and tail winds, and how to improve our sprinting- her specialty. After a debrief of some drills, she would attack and out-sprint us as naturally as breathing. I can’t wait to keep learning from her.

 

With the race plus a team camp, fueling and recovery became super important for us. While putting out so much work over 10 days, staying healthy can be a big challenge if you don’t have a system figured out, and that’s exactly what Dana was brought in to help us with. If we’re not on bikes, we’re either eating, sleeping, stretching, making more food, vegged out reading a book, or just watching The West Wing mindlessly if you were like me this week. During this race I very quickly realized that I would probably spend more time making and eating food than actually racing my bike. I’m also starting to think that something’s wrong with me because I can’t jump on the nap train, and I’ll stay up past 10pm- mostly because I just won’t be able to fall asleep any earlier.  Solution: Just pedal harder?  I suppose…..

 

At this point in my life, every day that I sit on a bike I learn something new, so I’ll finish with a lesson I learned this week.

 

It’s a big shocker: Mistakes!  They. Will. Happen.

 

And as the “greenest” and newest bike racer on the team, I will inevitably make a mistake every now and then. Chalk it up to inexperience, bad judgement, or just not being aware; at some point I might cost the team a result, cause a crash, or make my teammate’s jobs harder.

 

During the race, I made a silly mistake.

 

I’m lucky to have such genuinely good human beings for teammates who don’t hesitate to make it a learning opportunity for me, but also bring it to my attention in a way that benefits the team as a whole. As someone who habitually carries around my own backpack of pressure, any mistake that I make is followed by some self-deprecation. Being able to come away from that with a lighter backpack this week was a real testament to the people on this team and the respect in it.

 

Because why do we race in the first place? It’s just really damn fun. And it always should be.

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