Some of you may not know that we've been sponsoring the Swift Racing team for the past two years. The 30 or so cyclists on the team race road and mountain, but cyclocross is what really brought them all together. Their results this season were impressive:
- 3rd place team (out of 97) at Blind Date
- 448 race starts in 96 races
- 180 top ten finishes
- 214 volunteer hours (for more on Swift’s community involvement, click here)
For Volunteer Coordinator and Elite Women's racer Katy Salinas, this past ‘cross season has been about more than just skinsuits and powermeters; it’s about people.
“It was an amazing season to see people with podium finishes and upgrade points to compete in the next hardest category. Other victories include breaking into the top half of a huge field, coming back from an injury, winning a duel with that other racer who used to always finish ahead. There’s a saying that friends multiply joy and divide suffering. After each race, in the team tent, I rehash the race highlights, so glad that I have people.
“Cyclocross is easy to get into, but the rabbit hole is deep. Sport-specific knowledge includes gear, training, technique, eating and resting strategies. Team is a cadre of people to consult on what to wear in variable weather, what tire pressure to run. I am having trouble figuring out why I struggle in corners, so one of the guys takes some time out to work with me. I will keep growing as a racer because I have stronger racers supporting me, and racers are kind of like people.
“On a team, you get two kinds of mechanical support. Our shop support is unparalleled, helping us maintain our bikes, decide on gear, and dial in bicycle fit. Race days, I found additional support in my teammates. In the tent, you see someone lubing cleats and pedals for himself and everyone else present, checking tire pressure or a glue job. When I have a mechanical problem in a race, someone meets me in the pit to get me on a working bike and back into the fray. In that moment, I feel like I approach something of pro status: I have people.
“Although the ribbing and heckling is loud, you could not find a more supportive group. Head down, trying to breathe and not vomit, I hear someone telling me I can go faster, and I get out of the saddle one more time. Some races I find myself all by myself on the course and desperate for motivation, and then I hear someone cheering me on. I’m not alone; I have people.
“This year, we went legit with a beautiful team tent to shelter us from the elements. Our sponsors made it possible for us to indulge in details like a table for the water jug, energy drinks and food, a changing tent and even a heater. With this luxury, I put all my suffering into the race instead of losing energy to heat/cold. I love that almost everyone took a turn setting up or tearing down the team tent. Water hand ups on sweltering days? Dry towels after a downpour? Care Bear costume design for Halloween? All done by these people.
“We head into winter, wrung out from the racing season. Then someone mentions beautiful winding roads by the coast, or pristine single track. I start to think about how far I’ve come as a racer and how much farther I have to go. A long ride at base mile pace allows for conversation, and I hear about plans for an upgrade, building better fitness, improving technical skills. An email thread starts about new team spinning competitions and another one about Nationals next year. How do I stay motivated when wind and rain threaten to drive me under fuzzy blankets by the fireplace? I have people.”
Thanks, Katy! Be sure and follow the Swift racers next season, and any women interested in being a part of this friendly and supportive team can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be put in touch with Katy.