Category: cyclocross

Thank You Team Steve the Bike Guy

They say that if you want to be successful or happy (or both) you should surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. This is the hallmark of Team Steve the Bike Guy.

What started as a crazy idea back in the summer of 2014 has grown into a team that does an incredible job of welcoming people of all ages to the sport of cyclocross. The team has a magic energy that makes riding in the drops around a grass field fun. Team STBG helps and inspires each of us to venture out of our comfort zones, gain skills, build confidence, and laugh a lot. Team STBG is a remarkable collection of some of the most enthusiastic supporters of athletes at every level.

The team would like to say a very special thank you to Kristin and Steve for building and supporting this team! And thank you to Steve the Bike Guy Velo Studio for being the kind of bike shop anyone can walk into with a crazy wish and little cycling experience, but be treated as a cyclist with untapped potential. The investment of time that you make to welcome people to cycling and cyclocross is amazing. You guys have created space for joy and friendship even when we’re pushing ourselves hard and busting our butts to become stronger cyclists.

2016 has been a great year for the team! The roster has grown. It’s been awesome to see all the new juniors and women doing incredibly well. Most of us have had our best seasons, yet, this year.  Thank you for making this season so successful and happy. And we’re excited for next CX season and possibly to try out MTB together this spring.

~ Thank you from the team!

cx-2106-secret-squirrel-4“I decided I would check out what this Cyclocross Craze was all about this past summer when STBG had an “Intro to Cyclocross” Session at the shop. Immediately I felt welcome and excited to race with this team. The STBG crew taught me the basics gave me the push I needed to commit to my first race in the sport I would later fall in love with. They became my teammates, encouraging me whether they were at the race or not. By the end of the Season the STBG CX Team was my family. Thank you for being such an integral part of my first Cx season and for giving me some serious fun for my Triathlon off-season! “❤– Lindsey

cx-2016-minuteman“I love STBG because it opened me up to a world that I otherwise wouldn’t have experienced. CX brought balance to my tri life. The STBG crew exemplifies the fun loving spirit of CX!” -Lisa

cx-2106-minuteman“Some of my most memorable moments from CX 2016 were my many wipeouts and face plants but my favorite times were CX practice with the girls from Steve the Bike Guy and racing with my friends. I felt so proud to race in the team jersey. Kristin, thank you for making cx something that will always have a special place in my heart and I already can’t wait for next year” 😊 -Anna

cx-2016-pete-the-famous“What was life like before Steve the Bike Guy and Cyclocross? Boring that’s what it was like! Thank for allowing me to fly around on my Mares and be somebody. I love this team and sport!”- Pete

CX fever“I signed up for Gloucester weekend (two races!) without even one CX race under my wheels! I met the STBG girls at a gravel grinder in the spring, and they opened their homes & their hearts to me, so I knew GPCX would be an epic, FUN weekend! My STBG kit matched perfectly with my #cxfever socks, and STBG made sure I lived a full on NECX experience, complete with supported course preview, finish line Hi5’s, beer, heckling giggles, cheers and encouragement.   I am honoured to be the honorary international member of the STBG Crew!!! Can’t wait for GPCX 2017!!” – Jules (representing Canada)

cx-2016-minuteman-jason“I like being on a team with fun members who are so happy to be on their bikes. Our teammates are serious about racing and doing their best but not ridiculous about it.” -Jason


“Thank you so much for an awesome season and for getting me into CX in the first place! One of my favorite memories of the season was dancing at Crosstobeerfest!” #keepCXweird -Hannah

“Love this team. First season of Team STBG I was too scared to ride on the grass in my own back yard and this year I raced at Nationals. So grateful for a team where all the weirdness is all good and we just help each other become our best.” -Alex

CX Tom“Thank you for teaching me to be a cyclo cross rider and letting me be on your team.” – Tom

#yaybikes #yayfriends

Special thanks to the talented photographers who helped capture these moments:Jeff Deiffenbach, Katie Busick, Scott Ryder, Kristin Brandt, Jason Carleton

CX Nats

One warm evening in 2015, Julie Lockhart made us promise that we’d all go to Nationals and race Masters when it came to Hartford in 2017. She was insistent… I promised. we were at Midnight Ride of Cyclocross, the 1st race of my 2nd CX season. I’d come a long way in the year since my ride on the wheel of Helen Wyman, but grass, sand, and gravel still gave me the jitters. But I promised; half appeasing Julie and half hoping…

As soon as Nationals opened, I registered. I didn’t think, debate the wisdom, or question my ability. I entered my credit card, hit ‘register’, and pushed it to the back of my mind as a detail to be figured out later.

The 2016 season was great. 12 races. I met my goal of finishing more races in the top 50% than I didn’t…I met awesome people…I missed my 1st single speed race goal, but all in all a good season for me.

Then the ball dropped. 2017 arrived. It was “later” and time to figure out Nationals. Denial gave way to doubt with moments of confidence and calm. I was excited and nervous. I carefully scheduled my work to accommodate the day off in the middle of the week. I watched course preview videos. I added Hartford, CT to my weather app so I could check the forecast every 8 minutes. This was getting real.

Work commitments kept me from attending Day 1 to cheer for Jason and 545 friends. Given the weather, it turned out I was lucky. The monsoon or whatever that hit Hartford made for a slippy, sloppy, slow racing. By the time the race reports and videos of the carnage were shared, the idea of racing nationals with my current (hard earned) skills started feeling mildly insane. But this is winter in New England, the weather would change.

Wednesday was a full day on a client site, so it wasn’t until the drive home that I heard that my partner in crime had succumbed to good judgement and made the call not to race while sick and miss a day of work that she really couldn’t responsibly miss. This launched a new wave of second-guessing and doubt. Breathe. I dipped into my endurance mindset and turned my brain off. Auto pilot.

Steve (the Bike Guy) stood in for Kristin on race day. He arrived in the driveway with a planned stop at Starbucks. We were wheels up at 5:30am. The temperature dropped as we drove, but the traffic was light. As we parked at the base of the levy, I informed Steve that I still leaving open the option to not race after course preview. He nodded, wisely quiet.

Pre-ride #1. The levy run up was as draining as it looked. Riding down the steepest part I realized something was wrong with my rear disc brake. It was frozen. I tromped over frozen earth to Shimano neutral support. Steve found me as he finished his 1st pre-ride lap and looked over the bike so I could pre-ride a full lap. Thankfully, because the southern part of the levy had been opened and was added back to the course.

I’d never ridden frozen mud ruts – jarring. This was a hard course. It was do-able, but hard. I was slow, but always pedaling…this was enough to head to registration and collect my numbers – yay, arm numbers.

Pre-ride #2. After the Womens 60+ race, they closed the southern part of the levy again and racers started looking a lot muddier. Although I hadn’t originally planned to, I hopped on to the course for another lap before staging. It’s amazing how the course changed. The temperature had come up a little to 30 and the sun had warmed the frozen mud in several spots. Other spots were slippery like frozen snot. Coming down the steep levy descent I nearly endo-d. I got mad at myself momentarily, but pedaled through the course and back to the car for spikes. Somewhere along the river, riding the course back to staging  I realized that I  had no rear brake. I found Steve, finishing up another practice lap. He confirmed my assessment and that there was no time to do anything about it. So it would be.

The race. Rolling over the start line was amazing. Almost surreal.
The first 2 crashes happened less than a minute into the race. It was slippery. As a group we raced to the levy and climbed up and formed our small procession across the ridge. I ran the whole levy, so that was pretty much the end of me being with a group.  I just kept pedaling. I turned 3 laps (most of the race did 4). Each lap was a little cleaner.

cxnatsA lot of thoughts went through my head as I pedaled in my distant place. Frequently, I felt ridiculous. And then I was pumped I could do as well as I was. And in the end, I was immensely happy that I had somehow learned how to do something for love or joy or the challenge – despite a very real possibility of finishing last. (This wasn’t as easy as I made it look.)

On my last lap, I saw Julie Lockhart (National Champion. again) cheering. I yelled and thanked her sarcastically for making me promise to do this crazy race. She smiled and yelled back that I should Just keep going and then “aren’t you glad you’re here?!”

I rolled under the USA Nationals Finish not quite last it turned out. It was a great day. I was tired. I needed a beer. I raced USA Cyclocross nationals, me. Hot damn! And best beer ever.


into Cyclocross – 7 Steps, 1 Leap

Ok, I feel a need to backtrack – how the heck did I go from triathlon race reports to becoming the “Luckiest Woman in all of Cycloross”?

Cyclocross seemed like a great triathlon-off-season sport since cycling, though improving, is still my weakest leg. I’m pretty sure that any future speed lies in increasing my confidence (aka reducing my fear), handling skills, and power output. This is cyclocross – tenfold!

These are the steps I took to get started with cyclocross (CX). And it’s pretty fair to say that this may not be my best example well-thought planning.

Step 1. Procure a(nother) bike.
Welcome to the tent, StellaThe road and tri bikes won’t work for cyclocross and my mountain bike weighs about as much as I do. I “needed” a new bike. Happily, I’m married to a bike MacGyver. As soon as I shared my CX intentions, he began dismantling old bikes, gathering parts from his and our friends’ collections, and building my “Franken-bike”.  And then he surprised me with a new-to-me used Giant CX frame – which I love! Jason and our friend, Steve (the Bike Guy), procured the rest of the missing parts – and I had a CX bike, Stella Blue.

(As an aside, for someone who still “doesn’t love cycling,” I now own a lot of bikes.)

Step 2. Ride the bike (on the grass)?!
On a Friday afternoon, Jason added a saddle and wrapped the handlebars. (Perfect timing since I was signed up for a CX skills clinic, later that evening.)  Weeks earlier when I signed up, I imagined having ridden the bike a few times before going to the clinic. I seriously considered bailing after trying several times to gather the courage to hurl my body on to the bike. I started to crumble into a mentally defeated pile, so I put myself into “time-out” (not joking – I sent myself to my room until I could come out with a better attitude). In the quiet, I decided that I am what I am – an otherwise competent human, with no cyclocross skills or experience.  humble beginningsThis wasn’t going to change before the clinic. Showing up “as-is” felt marginally better than bailing and remaining skill-less, so off we went – me and Stella.

Mark McCormack did an fantastic job breaking down the dismount, the remount, and the barriers into manageable pieces for my brain and skill level. By the end of the night, I was happy, really happy and again hopeful that cyclocross might be fun. I had a pretty good CX Day 1!

Step 3. Despair.
On CX Day 3 I crashed again, emotionally. I rode the clinic high for about 48 great hours and then Jason and Steve designed a wicked pissah practice course in our yard. We invited friends over for an afternoon training session. I was psyched to practice my new skills. But that didn’t happen. The course was tight and beyond what I could manage with my current skills (and confidence).  Bummer.
Happily, the company and the beer were excellent -which to be fair was a big part of why I was drawn CX.

Step 4. Second Guess & Reconsider.
After my backyard disappointment, I spent CX Day 4 emailing event organizers to make sure it was appropriate for someone with my level of inability to attend the next clinic I was registered for. My friend, Kristin, and I had signed up for High Tea with Helen (Wyman) almost 2 months ago – back when I naively underestimated how quickly I’d transition to cyclocross. It was also when I imagined High Tea with Helen being a women’s clinic and actually including tea. (I was wrong on both counts.) Thankfully no one replied to my inquiry. By the afternoon, I changed gears (again) and registered for the 2nd day of the clinic , as well and convinced Jason to join me.

Step 5. Be scared and show up anyway.
Behind the planks
I’ve decided that showing up is probably the most important step to anything. I arrived at Kristin’s, on schedule on CX Day 5. I dropped off my 2 youngest kids for her mom to watch, piled Kristin’s bike into the car, and we were off.
It was a good sized class, everyone was incredibly nice, and I wasn’t the only brand newbie there. Helen and Stef Wyman were amazing! I can’t speak highly enough of how much they taught me or how much they contributed to my confidence level. Of the group, I clearly still had the most trepidation, even riding between elements, but I came so far from where I started.
( I felt quite badly when I nearly knocked into Helen as I crashed through the downhill, off-camber section, but CX Day 5 restored my hope.)

Step 6. Freak out. Show up. Repeat.
On CX Day 6, Jason and I showed up a little early for High Tea with Helen. We rode through the course together to warm up. Jason was registered to race the Midnight Ride of Cyclocross  which followed the clinic. I planned on waiting to see how I felt after the clinic. The 2nd day of Tea was just as great as the first.
CX Day 6 included “day of” registration for my first cyclocross race. (ack!)

Step 7. Reframe.
There was a certain amount of juggling of childcare and after school events in order to make the clinic.  A neighbor watched our kids right after school, but I needed to dash back to pick them up, while Jason raced, and bring them back to Lancaster (fed) in time for my race. Initially this felt like a huge inconvenience, but it wound up being another good time to calm my brain. On the way home I deduced that I was 1. scared, 2. certain to be last and quite possibly embarrassed, and 3.  trying to justify being a”no-show”.

One of the gifts of parenting is imagining what you’re actions teach your children.  More than I wanted to quit, I wanted them to believe that as long as they do their best, they have no reason to be embarrassed.

No more steps – time to leap!
Jason had finished his race by the time I returned to Lancaster. On the way, I had prepared the kids for what they were about to watch. I told them I was going to try my best and was probably going to be last, but my goal to not give up and enjoy the whole experience, as much as possible. At first they laughed when they heard I was going to be last, but they quickly switched to being the best cheerleaders, ever.
High Tea with Helen (Wyman)All that was left to do was pin on my number and head to the starting area with Stella. Our race started at 7:00pm. So my first race ever was also going to be in the dark. Pretty awesome.
I hung at the back with the other first-time racers from the clinic. Just before the start, I reminded myself that this would be my only first race ever and to make the best of it.

The rest is history. Best first race and DFL, ever!