When March rolls around there’s one thing on every college student’s mind… SPRING BREAK! While most of my classmates prepared to head down to Ft. Lauderdale (or similar warm, beachy, and Instagram worthy locations) I was counting down the days until team camp. You see, for a few glorious days of the year we get to forget about reality and meet up somewhere to ride, get to know each other, and bond before racing season starts. It’s truly a magical experience that this college girl had been looking forward to for months. This year we all packed up from across the country (or in a couple cases the world) to meet in Birmingham, Alabama for our camp and first race of the season, the USA Crits Hammerfest!
For me, being a part of this team has been a truly incredible experience and camp definitely lived up to the hype. For the past couple years, I’ve traveled by myself around the country racing crits and as far as teams go I feel like I’ve seen it all. There are teams of women who look fierce and incredibly professional, other teams that are focused on development and mentoring, teams based on geographical location, and teams that are just there to have fun and go fast. One of the factors that seems to be the most important though for fostering a good team is chemistry. I’d like to think I know a lot about chemistry since I’m technically a chemistry major (I’d say more recreationally than professionally) and from the short time I had to get to know the girls I’d say we’re on fire! To give that some context I’ll introduce the girls to you.
You should know that I’m quite short, so it makes sense to first address my tall companion, Emma! As soon as we picked Emma up at the airport and I felt like I finally met my equal because she likes to talk as much as I do! She’s hilarious, a great draft, and can has some wild stories about swimming with sharks and pirates. Then there is my driving buddy and fellow Midwesterner, Ashley. I first met Ashley in a freezing cold collegiate race a few years ago and let me just say she’s got a POP! Ashley is awesome and best part is she talked to me for the entire drive from St. Louis to Birmingham and didn’t even complain once. Sarah is my fellow cat lover on the team. It seems to be a common trend that most cyclists prefer dogs (they are cute, I’m not denying that), but it’s refreshing to have someone who we can smash the crit course together and then snuggle up on the couch and looks at #catsofinstagram together. Dani is my fellow youth on the team and my team camp room/bed buddy. She’s living the life working at Specialized, has a real person job at 22, and is 100% a dog person. Then there’s Emily who hails from the Great White North! On the team Emily is affectionately known as the Hammerhead which is accurate because after one race with her it’s clear when it’s time to go HAM she’s your girl. Last but far from least is our badass director/manager/mother goose/hero is Kelli. She’s like the fairy godmother from Cinderella but imagine a punk rock version. Kelli glows confidence and best part is she gives the best pre-race hugs. So just to summarize that, we are a bunch of taco-loving, corner bombing, fun loving women who are ready for the 2019 season.
Hopefully you guys have picked up from that that we really like each other. This was made evident by the Hammerfest Crit. We went into the race with a couple goals (1) communicate with each other throughout the race (2) stay near the front (3) feel the race out and learn how each other race. Once the whistle went off we were into action! I was a bit nervous at first because living in Indiana and with the polar vortex I had hardly been able to ride outside. But once we were past the first corner muscle memory kicked in and it was like we’d been at it for months. Throughout the race we communicated (we are all chatty, so I didn’t feel like this was an issue), we went for primes, we chased breaks, attacked, and coming in with two laps to go they announced a gambler prime and coming into one to go I saw a flash of orange and Emily took off! Remember how I said Emily was really good at going HAM? Well, she kept going after winning the prime and as we rounded the last corner I saw her cross the line and take the WIN! Sarah sprinted third and the rest is history!
I truly cannot wait to head down to El Paso next weekend to be reunited with these girls. I’ve never been but I’m sure our weekend will be filled with lots of snacks, sweat, and laughs.
Written by @mountainmarta