TIFFANY PEZZULO, The Italian Stallion, SWEATS 2017

When you say the words "Anna Grace Christiansen" you may be referring to many things (which you can read about in the last post), but one thing is for certain, Tiffany Pezzulo. 

Where there is Anna Grace there is Tiffany. If Anna Grace always travels to races with books, coffee beans and an aeropress, Tiffany always travels to races with more books, coffee beans, a grinder, a pour over filter and Anna Grace, her bike-wife (sorry hubbie and kids). I'm assuming they share the grinder. This tag team, dynamic duo might quite possibly be the most joyful bunch in cycling, and all that comes without sacrificing any speed

Now a disclaimer: This story is pictureless mostly because Tiffany hates Selfies and therefore does not own a gratuitous amount of photos of herself. Even her Facebook Profile photo yields no results.  But speaking of results... 

Tiffany Pezzulo, also known as The Italian Stallion, is no stranger to the podium's favorite step. She stood on top when won the USA Crits overall in 2015 and Team Competition in 2016. She spinted away with the win at the Oklahoma City Film Row Criterium. And those are just a few. She loves Boise Twilight for the town, crowds -- and it's driving distance from her hometown of Salt Lake City. She's also a big fan of Rochester Twilight Crit for it's really fun technical course in the town where she grew up and a lot of her family still resides.

Tiffany is a class act. She is a solid human being. Honesty, we don't think it's possible not to feel grounded and self-assured in her presence. She has this way about her. Most people can remember the first time they met Tiffany. For me it was singing, at the top of my lungs, Billy Joel with her former teammate in the parking lot of a race. I'm not sure what she thought about our musical choices, Tiffany prefers Beastie Boys and Madonna pre-race, but I do know at every other race that season, I felt like I could always talk to her, before, after or during a race and feel like everything was gonna be okay. She's also tremendous at making salads, drinking wine, eating meat and quoting Parks & Recreation. Oh and did we mention she's also a killer mom?!

However, like all people, Tiffany is human, and here's how to turn this ray of sunshine into a storm cloud: Don't wave back when you're on the bike, take lots of selfies in her presence, utter the phrase, "I'm bad with names," or play 'The Wheels On The Bus Go Round and Round' on the way to a race. 

We're taking notes and vow to do our best not to do any of these things... well minus the selfies.  When it comes down to it, this Italian Stallion is (pardon my french) the crème de la crème. There's nothing much more you can ask for in a teammate.

LA Sweat is sweating Tiffany Pezzulo! 

The Sheer Grace of Anna Grace Christiansen

Is it just me or does it seem like all cyclists from PNW travel with their own aeropress and local beans? Welp, Anna Grace Christiansen does not disappoint. This Portland based, Minnesota bred, super strong cyclist is hopping on the LA Sweat train for 2017, and we can't wait to have her along for the ride. 

Anna Grace is no stranger to racing in the US of A and every aspect of it. Waaay back in 2013 she rode her way to best amateur at Nature Valley Gran Prix (now known as North Star Gran Prix) on one of the toughest courses on the calendar, Stillwater. This race holds all sorts of warm fuzzy feelings and trips down memory lane for Anna Grace. It's not only in her home state of Minnesota, but It was her first professional level race and the race that scored her some big "glamorous" gigs on big teams. You know the roles: domestique/breakaway rider/leadout pony.

photo credit: Matthew Lasala 

photo credit: Matthew Lasala 

Her "teamwork makes the dreamwork" attitude locked down the team competition at the 2015 Redlands, as well as securing one teammate the green sprint jersey and the other landing 2nd in GC. Then in 2016 her team won the team competition at USA Crits. And even when she's gunning for herself, it's all about t-e-a-m. Like last year's 1-2 punch at Arkansas' Rouge Roubaix. Anna Grace landed 2nd and her teammate 1st, so really it's like a win/win/win/win. PS, on topic Rouge Roubiax Anna Grace says, "Gotta love dat gravel jam."

photo credit: Pat Malach

photo credit: Pat Malach

We are excited to have Anna Grace with us next year and turning her from work horse to full fledge crit pony at America's true favorite races, Crits. Anna Grace describe Tulsa Tough as not just her favorite race but, "the epitome of a uniquely american style of bike racing. The courses are awesome and diverse, the crowds are off the hook, the excitement level is all the way turnt up, Tulsa is rad." 

But really what we are more excited about is the fact that Anna Grace can edit for us. Which if you've been reading these, you've noticed we sometimes need. She hates pour grammar (see what I did there?).  She also travels with an overly-optimistic amount of reading material, which is good for me and Christa - who always have a nose in a book, when it's not in our phones...and "HOUSEPANTS." WTF are housepants? We do not know, but we are excited to learn. 

Let's get sweating, Anna Grace Christiansen!

Guts, Glitter & Ghent = Christa

She goes by SkiBikeGlitter on the internet, and in our opinion that handle is not in preferential order. In fact, we suggest Christa Emily Ghent change her name to GlitterBikeSki. However when you say that fast it makes her sound Polish, and Polish, Christa is not (not that there is anything wrong with being Polish).

Christa Ghent is Coloradan through-and-through. Born and bred in the mountains, this girl can shred anything, skis, mountain bikes, cyclocross courses, hairy descents, sketchy corners, gravelly roads and paper (probably). And LA Sweat is excited to have her back in the saddle with us for 2017.

She also has the most amazing hair. 

However, you may not have even noticed her amazing hair because Christa is fast. Really fast. (Or maybe it's because she often wears it tied back in a bun or pony tail -- like Brenna the Braided Bandit and Mel -- do you see a theme here?) But really, Christa is so fast she will blaze by you and you'll be like, 'WHO WAS THAT?' 

So we will tell you. 

Christa is a fancy girl. Each morning she starts her day with perfectly steeped English Breakfast Tea and quiet contemplation and a book. She adorns her earlobes with blinged-out, post-back earrings that'll have Kate Spade herself wanting to grab hold of each lobe and yank. Her sunglasses look like something Audrey Hepburn would yearn for. Her nails are always the most understated, but perfect color, and always meticulously manicured.

But don't let any of this fool you. If you catch Christa on any Boulder infamous weekend group ride and you mess with her, expect this 5'2" powerhouse to land an elbow in your side. Basically: Do not steal her wheel unless you're going to hold the wheel.

Christa trains and races with a ferocity and determination of someone twice her size.  

She is that rare rider that shows a passion for hard work, no matter what it is. She takes conference calls from the back seat of the team car, talking big business lingo and tapping away on her laptop. If we had to guess, her favorite app would not be the Training Peaks app, it would be SLACK. What we are really trying to say is.... Christa is dialed.

This past year was Christa's first year returning to consistent national level racing and once she got the hang of it, she was on the up - which you can see as she begins her domination of the cyclocross season. She rode her way to 6th place at the legendary and big money Downer's Ave Criterium at the Tour of America's Dairyland, and tore it up at the last race of the season, Gateway Cup.

On par with her results is her choice of music. You can count on Christa to know all 40 of the Top 40 - however don't you dare play "Shake It Off" before a race. Sorry, T-Swift.

She also loves Australian Licorice. We thought this was weird, but then we tried it, and that tart, tangy and sweet combination sums up Christa perfectly.

    The Braided Bandit: Brenna Wrye-Simpson

    Now meet Mel's twin: Brenna Wrye-Simpson, hailing from Portland, Oregon. Both Mel and Brenna have the thickest blonde hair we ever did see, that's often braided into a Rapunzel like rope hanging off the side of their head. While both these ladies guest rode with LA Sweat last year, then never rode with us at the same time, which we're sure is going to provide some difficulty in telling them apart in the future. 

    They both also have an obsession with caffeine, although while Mel is all about quantity, Brenna is a stickler for quality. She enjoys a perfectly brewed cappuccino in the morning and a black coffee in the afternoon. Nothing gets Brenna worked up more than a bad cup of coffee. Which is why her coffee kit is as important as her helmet and goes with her everywhere. Oh and did we mention this coffee kit isn't just an aeropress, hand grinder and some beans, they must be hometown beans. But enough of their similarities.  

    Last year Brenna rode her way to 11th at the super tough Stillwater Crit on the last stage of the North Star Grand Prix, landing her a top-20 spot in the final GC. #colormeimpressed. She also tried track racing for the first time this year and loved it (which is good because we hope to push the whole team into some new experiences this year... fixie crits anyone?). She told us racing on the short, super steep and rather rough pavement of the Alpenrose track was like rollercoaster racing and was, "super rad." 

    When Brenna joined us at Tulsa Tough this past year, we knew she was a keeper because one, she was aggressive as hell. Two, she loves Citrus Froot Nuun. Three, she loves the way a Castelli Chamois feels on her butt.  Four, she has major bike mechanic SKILLZ. When one of us (ahem, me) basically stripped our hub and destroyed our cassette, she was on it and had it working (I can't be trusted to touch bikes). And five, while she can be quiet, (probably because Brenna hates unnecessary noise like loud gum chewing, repetitive filler words in conversations and pen clicking), she knows that any Beyonce is the best song to play on the way to a race.... and you can't argue with that. 

     So Brenna! We are so excited to have you! Welcome to 2017! 

    Mel Beale is SWEATING CAFFEINE!

    We're excited to announce the signing of the ever caffeinated Mel Beale to LA Sweat in 2017. 

    Mel Beale or Melanie Nichole Beale if we're being all proper, started sweating with LA Sweat towards the end of 2016 and we just couldn't get enough of her blonde braid and sassy remarks. Or maybe it was when we brought her with us to Intelligentsia Cup and she solo lapped he 2/3 field in her first race ever riding with us.

    Eh-hem.... We were happy for her, and then let her know she won't be doing the 2/3 race again. Especially since early that year she took fifth at the Tour de Murrieta behind some big women's teams like Colavita, Twenty16 and Hagen Berman.

    Oh mel... We're shaking our heads, Mel (and clapping our hands...Y-E-S!)

    Often times we lose Mel when we're trying to do a team meeting or warm-up, but now we know where to find her ----> The coffee shop.

    This girl can drink more caffeine than anyone we have ever met. From wake-up to race time she averages about 3+ iced coffees, and still somehow manages to be the first person to fall asleep. That's talent.

    IN HER OWN WORDS: "Racing for LA Sweat is fantastic. In women's sports there is this stereotype that women have to be Tom Boys. LA Sweat completely destroys that stereotype! We can crush a bike race and then put on our rompers and look fabulous." 

    Follow Mel on Instagram: @mel_beale5