Orange is the New Black: Gateway Cup Edition

Four weekends ago, I raced the four Gateway Cup crits in St. Louis, MO. Three weekends ago, I raced the Criterium National Championships in High Point, SC. Last weekend, I raced the Thompson Doylestown Criterium in Doylestown, PA. This weekend, I’m in Boston for the TD Bank Mayor’s Cup Criterium. It’s been a lot of time in the car (because why fly when you can drive and hit every Wendy’s along the way) but I have used approximately none of that time to catch up on race reports. And so now here we are, four weeks past Gateway Cup and I’m just getting caught up. And really, even that’s a lie, because I’m only posting a bunch of photos. If you want to read about the actual races, allow me to suggest a visit to CyclingNews.com, your #1 source for extremely light and intermittently factual coverage of women’s cycling.

So, brief backstory: After racing unattached at the Chris Thater Crits, Fearless Femme asked me to guest ride with them at the four Gateway Cup crits. I happily accepted, not least of all because they have the greatest bright orange Vie13 kits on the planet. Our squad for the races consisted of Tina Pic, Erin Silliman, Christina Birch, Morgan Patton, and me, and together the five of us had a great time riding together in rectangles. Tina ended up with some great sprint finishes and I ended up eating everything in St. Louis.

Andrew Driving Badly

Andrew did not seem to realize that he was driving a 2006 Madza 3 hatchback (sportiness rating = -3), and insisted on nearly drifting sideways it through curvy mountain roads while saying, “Wheeeeeeee!”

Meal on Wheels

Rolling through the McD’s drive-thu for a very late-night dinner after the first race while rocking my new Vie13 kit. I was waiting at a traffic light on the way back to the host house after picking up dinner, and a thug tried to hug me. Evidently he was very excited to see a cyclist out at 11pm. I said no.

Fearless Femme

Fearless Femme working together at the Giro della Montagna.

Fearless Femme Tina Pic Lindsay Bayer

Getting set up to lead Tina out for another fast finish.

Good Hair Day

Continuing to wear my Shimano hat everywhere, all the time. We had to take a moment to reflect on how nuts my hair was looking after six hours of driving with the windows open.

Andrew is Cranky

We had a nine-hour trip from Louisville to home, and I suggested that we do a recovery spin at some point along the drive as a nice break. That break came along a highway in West Virginia, a highway that was lovely and scenic and perfect…and apparently far busier than Andrew thought was safe. He grumbled behind me the entire time until I surrendered and went back to the car.

Victory

Once I agreed to stop riding on the highway, we ended up doing laps of the park where we’d left the car. Each lap took exactly one minute, which meant my brain was leaking out of my ear with boredom almost immediately. On the final lap, Andrew sprinted for the win and was very excited.

WV BBQ Dinner

I found a roadside BBQ place that had five stars on Yelp, so we went there for dinner and I ordered all of the meat.

Salad Hold the Dressing and Cheese

This is what you get when you are in rural West Virginia and order a salad with no dressing or cheese.

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A handy primer on critical issues in cycling today

Cycling is a small world filled with heaps of exciting news, gossip, and drama. Somebody doped! Somebody has a motor in their bike! A guy over in Europe went from one team where he was paid a lot to another team where he’ll be paid a lot! New products were released that will make you totally faster right after you pay a lot of money to replace those now-worthless parts you just bought! Hooray bicycles!

Lately it seems we’re overly preoccupied with a few key issues. I’d like to address them once and for all so we can get back to focusing on the more important things, like disc brakes versus dying of obsolescence.

CrossVegas Beergate!
Issue: Rowdy spectators sprayed beer and threw beer cans at riders during the race.
Debate: Who were the naughty spectators? Who should have intervened? What is reasonable spectator/racer behavior? Why do people drink PBR anyway?
Suggested Resolution: Have better taste in beer. If you have arm tattoos and want to behave badly, wear sleeves. Spectators and racers should stay on their respective sides of the course barriers.

Bottlegate!
Issue: Feeding was initiated from the pits during Crit Nationals despite originally being forbidden.
Debate: Should feeding be allowed from the pits? Should the team with the biggest bus get to make and/or break the rules? Should women wear high heels in the pit?
Suggested Resolution: No to all of the above.

Kitgate!
Issue: The Colombian women’s team DRD-Bogotá Humana-San Mateo-Solgar was photographed at a team presentation wearing kits that seemed to include fabric windows to their womanly regions. Oops.
Debate: Who designed the kits? Are they horribly and punishably inappropriate? Should the authorities intervene? Was it just bad lighting? Are female cyclists underpaid and under-appreciated [author's note: dude, duh]? Should this single photograph become a talking point for days? WHERE IS THE LINE BETWEEN NUDE AND GOLD?!?!?!
Suggested Resolution: For the sake of those poor riders, enough already. Go worry about something – anything – more important. Like ISIS or Ebola or how everybody is too obsessed with pumpkin spice flavored everything.

Misappropriation of the term “-gate”!
Issue: See previous three issues. I love portmanteaus as much as the next gal, but this is tacky and overused.
Debate: There isn’t one.
Suggested Resolution: Stop.

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Boom Clap The Sound Of My Heart

When I went to registration at Chris Thater yesterday to pick up my race numbers, the man at the table looked down at his registration list and said,”Oh, your team name is blank. Do you want me to fill that in?”

I teared up immediately because, duh, I cry over everything.

“No,” I squeaked. “I’m unattached.”

He didn’t flinch, but I did for what was probably the hundredth time in the past few weeks, since everything went to shit and I bought my new unattached cycling license.

It’s hard to tell the story of how things unfolded this season without saying too much. Team Colavita has been my home for the past two seasons; my friends, my family on the road, my sole concern in races. I went from being a lone mercenary rider in 2012 hunting for results to being a part of a team plan and I loved the role. But I didn’t like some things I witnessed and experienced this season within the team. There came a point where I had to choose to keep my head down and accept a reality that felt wrong, or stand up and risk the consequences.

I stood up. Results matter, but people matter more. While I’m the first to acknowledge that professional cycling is a business, this sport is too wonderful and insufficiently lucrative to justify being an asshole. So I objected to the things that felt wrong and tried to stop them. On a few occasions, I acted rashly out of hurt or anger and I regret those times, but on the whole, I would not change a damn thing.

As the season progressed, it became clear that if I wanted to race my bike and disassociate from the negativity, I was going to have to go it alone. Okay. That was hard to swallow, but I figured I’d do it and then start fresh next year when the bad had been cut away like you’d expect one would do with any flesh-eating bacteria. Then I found out that the future was not going to be what I expected and that was the end. I was done with Team Colavita and Team Colavita was done with me.

Ain’t that some shit? Two years, and to show for it I have a lot of 48th place finishes and more olive oil than Italy.

But I also got a best friend out of the team that I’ll love no matter where life takes us, as well as several other dear friends. I learned how to race my bike, how to give everything so somebody else can win, how to live on the road with a bunch of people in tight quarters, and how to love this wild career. And I also got this badass Shimano hat that I’ll probably never take off (which may become complicated when it comes time to shower).

The Greatest Hat Ever

The best hat ever from the best teammate ever. Thanks, Mary!

Yesterday was the first time I raced unattached and against my former teammates. I started to freak out a little (and yes, cry) as Andrew and I drove up to New York. The moment when I acknowledged the situation out loud at registration stung, and it was a punch in the gut to see Team Colavita rolling around the course. I felt like a sad bird that had fallen out of the nest. But everybody else at the race stepped in to fill the void; the other women were so supportive and warm that I made it to the start with minimal histrionics and raced my damn bike. Ripped of that bandaid and went on with life.

The race went well enough. It was hard to figure out what to do with myself because I’m so used to having teamwork responsibilities. Sit in? Huh? I tried a few moves but realized quickly that I wasn’t getting away with that group. It came down to a bunch sprint and I managed 8th; not what I’d wanted, but not bad considering the newness of the experience.

The Pink Kit

Sported my new off-the-rack kit from Performance for today’s race. It’s aggressively pink. I was inspired to ride faster to try to get away from myself.

Today was even better. The weather was gorgeous – perfect for another 43 laps around the same course – and the racing was active but friendly. It felt like a high-stakes version of my favorite group ride. Around 20 laps to go, I got away with six other riders and we quickly put 20-30 seconds on the field. It was a strong group with too many good sprinters, so I knew my only shot at winning was to attack at the right moment and get away. I threw it down with 2 laps remaining and came through at 1 to go with a gap, but it wasn’t enough. I got caught with less than half a lap left and was too gassed to sprint with the break, ending up 7th. SHITBALLS. But I raced my bike, had such a good time doing it, and played my hand as best as possible. Sometimes the gamble doesn’t pay off, but it’s better than not gambling at all.

Lindsay Attacking the Break

In it to win it; attacking the break at two to go.

I also realized that when you’re racing amongst friends, it’s all good-natured and everybody is happy about everybody else’s success. That camaraderie and class make racing totally worth the effort, even if you don’t get the win.

Morgan and Me

Morgan and I learned today that it’s super cool to be in a break, but even better if that break doesn’t include all of the sprinters.

Now I’m in the car heading home and so excited to get back on the road this Thursday for the Gateway Cup races. (Andrew, the designated driver, is slightly less thrilled.) This weekend was a hard step forward, but in taking it, I found that there are so many wonderful people by my side. Despite what my license says, I am anything but unattached.

Timber Video 1

The best way to celebrate a good weekend is to make another “Timber” dance video on the drive home.

Posted on in Cycling, Friends, Sadness, Travel 6 Comments

Tour of Utah Bicycle Awesome Fun Time

When it was time to fly to Utah last Saturday, I didn’t want to go. Traveling this year hasn’t been the joyfest it was in the past. I sat with my bike bag and backpack in front of the check-in counter for nearly thirty minutes, stifling tears and unable to find the motivation to get up and go. “Check in,” came the blunt text from the friend I asked for advice. So I did.

He was right. Check in. Move forward. Give things a chance to happen. I am so glad I did. This trip was wonderful.

Team Colavita had a small squad for the Utah races consisting of Olivia Dillon, Whitney Schultz, myself, and a guest rider, Anna Grace Christensen. Everything about the trip was perfect – our group dynamic was great, we stayed with incredibly cool people, the racing was hard and fun, the scenery was beautiful, and we had so many good meals, glasses of wine, and strong coffees. This kind of experience is why I love this career. It was a short trip, but enough to remind me of how amazing this life can be when you’re with the right people focusing on the right things.

Team Colavita Lindsay Bayer

What I love most about this photo is that Olivia is in black socks. We’ve spent a season debating white socks (her preference) versus black socks (my preference). When I poked fun at her choice of black socks for the day, she looked at my dingy old white ones and said, “Well, it looks like you’re wearing black ones anyway.” LOVE HER.

Descending Small Mountain

Descending a small mountain with Whitney.

Utah Skies

Utah is gorgeous. Also, behold my new cell phone wallpaper.

The Great Slide

We got to the downtown Cedar City race venue and there was this monster slide. So of course I had to take a trip down. As I climbed up the ladder into the highest part, there were two kids sitting up there looking really surprised to see me. “Just need to go down the slide and then I can race my bike,” I explained, seeming not at all creepy and weird. Then they told me not to be nervous about the slide and to keep my feet up on the way down. It was awesome.

Team Colavita Podium

Then we raced hard and worked together to win the sprint jersey and a 5th place finish for Olivia. That was awesome too.

Wild Wild West

While driving from Cedar City back to Salt Lake City, we stopped to take pictures in what Olivia thought was the Wild Wild West. That was my cue to be ‘wild’.

The Time She Threw Food

Then Anna Grace (accidentally) threw a rice cake slathered in almond butter and bananas at Olivia.

Tour of Utah Women's Edition

Our circuit race was held at the Larry H. Miller Motorsports Park where the men did their finishing laps for the day’s stage. Each women’s team was assigned a spot in a garage bay to use pre- and post-race. It was a cool venue, but the wide-open, windy course made for a challenging day. I realized that when there are no corners, I miss them.

Velociraptor Attack!

Because every front yard needs a velociraptor.

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In Which My Father Parades

2014 Knights 1

My father was in a 4th of July parade as part of his senior role in the Knights of Columbus. Somewhere around fifteen THOUSAND people came out to the event. Things I never thought I’d say: “I’m here because my dad is in the parade.”

2014 Parade

Just because he had to be serious and sword-wielding (he’s the one behind my extremely white exposed shoulder) didn’t mean I couldn’t photo-bomb the moment.

2014 Parade Family

Fun for the whole family! We’re really proud of my father for his accomplishments with the Knights and also for not passing out after standing in the sun for hours in a tux, hat, and heavy cape.

2014 Mom with Float

I told my mother I’d give her $100 to run off with one of these star floats. She was thwarted by the fact that they were firmly tied down.

2014 Lindsay with Float

Then I stood in the path of the wildly blowing float and got whacked in the head repeatedly by an enormous white star.

2014 Knights 6

When I first walked up to the group this morning where they were gathered, I tried to get my father’s attention by yelling, “Hey Dad!” 95% of the Knights turned around.

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