New Orleans Women’s 100K

On July 20th, I was lucky to tag along with the New Orleans chapter of the Rapha Women’s 100K. Steamy mid-summer temps and epic downpours, these women were truly badass! Thanks to Murat Celebi for letting me stand all over his front seat and commandeer his vehicle as the official “media wagon”.

Note: I don’t have Vimeo plus, so to watch it in full HD, go the Vimeo page.

Check out last year’s write up here.

NOLA to Angola: 170 Miles Is Not That Far To Ride

Our good friend and cycling pal, KDHL, generously wrote about her experience doing the NOLA to Angola Ride. We think she is really cool for organizing and doing this ride, and extra cool for writing us an article about it and sharing these great photos. 

From October 19-21st, 40 riders and support drivers traveled from New Orleans to Louisiana State Penitentiary on the Nola to Angola ride. The point was first and foremost to raise money for Cornerstone Bus Builders Project which provides free buses for friends and family to visit their loved ones at prisons around the state of Louisiana. Each bus costs about $1,000.00 and the more money we raise, the more buses they can send. This was the third year of the ride and we destroyed our original fundraising goal [about $12,000], raising $23,000.00 for Cornerstone. Our secondary goal is to raise awareness around the Prison Industrial Complex, especially by travelling to a place that was so easily converted from plantation to prison. Riders are covering a distance on bicycles that for some people would never be crossable without free transportation. Reading and movie nights were held throughout the year for educational outreach and some riders were linked up with pen pals in Angola to emphasize these points.

This was my second year on the ride and my first year as an organizer. Everything for NtA is straight ground up. Our spoke cards were made on lunch break and riders brought clothing to the pre-ride potluck to screen print themselves. Food committee and volunteers were baking bread and blending hummus in a Mid-City kitchen the night before we left. For navigation, everyone got a copy of the hand-drawn map booklet that they knew to keep in a safe place. Support cars along the way were driven by gracious friends with excellent bike mechanic and/or motivational skills. Additionally, we met multiple times with the West Feliciana Sheriff Department to address their multitude of concerns about having cyclists on the road. At some points new routes had to be planned. FINALLY the weekend of the ride came.

Our route started at Orleans Parish Prison where many of the men in Angola begin their incarceration. Once upstate, about 90% of the prison population of Louisiana State Penitentiary will die there. From OPP, we took the uptown levee all morning until we stopped for lunch at Destrehan Plantation. Here we learned about the case of Gary Tyler, who was convicted in 1975 of murder at age 17 and has been fighting with the help of numerous human rights groups to prove his innocence ever since. Where the levee path ends is one of the strangest stretches of landscape for me, the Bonnet Carre Spillway. One of the organizers, Scott Eustis, educated us along the route about the environmental aspects of what we’d pass and the spillway is one of the most interesting stories. We got to shred through this area where fields that are sometimes purposefully flooded stretch out with a backdrop of oil refineries and distant farm houses. From there, past the lil Zapp’s chippery in Grammercy and on to the St. James Boat Club where we camped for the first night. Our bike mechanics spent most of the night handling anyone’s adjustments and I caught Liz, co-founder of RUBARB, sneaking around checking and filling people’s tires for them.

We woke to a very cold and rainy morning on Saturday and decided a rolling enclosure to take a lane down Highway 61 would be the safest bet. Everyone maintained a really great attitude considering we had three flats in the first ten miles and did a bit of standing around in the pouring rain, all waiting together. At one point a truck pulled up next to us and a little kid leaned out the window to ask me, “Are y’all riding for cancer?” I said, “No! We ride to Angola prison to raise money for folks to visit their incarcerated loved ones!” Lil’ guy looked super confused but gave an encouraging “Ohh!?” Once the rain finished at the first pit stop we split off into small groups to cover the remaining 45 miles to Baton Rouge. This is where you do your best friendship makin’ or deep thinkin’. It’s necessary to ride single file most of the way and there’s not a whole lot to look at. One of the veteran riders became a living PSA when she caught her knee on her handlebars and just toppled into Highway 61, cracking her helmet. After lunch and with everyone thankfully alive we started the last leg. By this point on the second day everyone was way tired but super determined. A nine year old and his mother did the ride and during one of the gas station stops at this point she caved on something he never gets at home: a Red Bull. He was soo happy. It’s a mix of uplifting and bizarre for most folks to realize how far from home they’ve gotten on a bike and I’m always trying to grasp the Louisiana around me that I so rarely travel through. The roadkill is much different than New Orleans too. That night, Baton Rouge activist Dawn Collins came to speak to us about her work there, especially around education. She read us a poem that she had written after Trayvon Martin’s death when she was left wondering what to tell her own young, black sons about how they can strongly but safely exist in this world.

Up before dawn on Sunday, we shredded through the first fifteen miles of hills and trees, a dream ride. The sun was just rising and some of us remembered the way from our scouting ride months before so we took off and had a lot of fun in the front mashing it out. Unfortunately, the second half of the day down Highway 66 is more like a nightmare. Barely any shoulder, trucks headed for the rodeo barrel past, until they get to the absolute gridlock of cars that greets you for miles outside the gates of the penitentiary. Once inside, I avoided the rodeo and headed straight to the area of the craft fair where I knew my pen pal would be.

Mchawi and I have been writing for years and only just met for the first time when I arrived at Angola on 2012’s ride. He has no surviving family and this summer when (as a person without a car) I had the privilege to take a Cornerstone Bus to see him was only the second time in his decades at Angola that he had someone come for him during visiting hours. He and many of the other guys always thank us and Leo Jackson (the founder of Cornerstone) profusely for the service the buses provide. We were able to chat through a fence for a few hours before we had to head back to load all those bikes and humans into the vans back to New Orleans. The debrief was intense, as being inside a maximum security prison should be intense for anyone. Many folks shared how the ride strengthened their already developed ideas and others said they hadn’t really ever thought about the PIC before this and felt that now their eyes were open. I mostly just thought what I think everytime I go to Angola, that I can leave of my own free will whenever I want and Mchawi has to stay.

And that is at the heart of the ride for me. The ability to visit someone you care about that may never return from prison is such a small but important way that families can try to stay intact. Our posters this year had a tiny tribute to Herman Wallace, who died a free man after 40 years in solitary confinement, ordered released by a judge for a trial containing 14th Amendment violations just days before his death. I think of Mchawi and Herman and I think of Albert Woodfox, the remaining incarcerated member of the Angola 3, when I think of why this fundraiser and trip is important. When you think of how much further we have to go against a reality where racism, corrupt policing, a war on poverty disguised as a war on drugs and over-incarceration are actively destroying communities, 170 miles doesn’t seem like that far to ride.

– KDHL

Nola to Angola: A Ride to The Farm

On Friday morning, October 18, our friend Katie (KDHL), recent alleycat winner and leader of Loose Bloomers Cycling Club, will be among 40 cyclists embarking on a three-day, 170 mile ride to Angola Prison. Katie has been crucial in getting this off the ground, but isn’t just doing it because she loves to ride. The tour will be a fundraiser for the Cornerstone Bus Builders’ Project, an initiative that provides transportations for those trying to visit loved-ones incarcerated at Angola.

Last year the ride raised over $14,000, surpassing the goal of 10 grand in a major way. This year Katie and the other NTA riders are aiming to top that figure. If they succeed, they will be able to completely underwrite a year’s worth of monthly bus trips to The Farm, each of which has an operating budget of about $1000. (Update: As of this morning they had raised $21,000!) Given that we live in the world capital of incarceration, this is a seriously meaningful social service. Best of all, it’s not too late to donate! If you feel like lending a hand, check out the Nola To Angola website.

Godspeed and good luck to all of you, y’all are awesome!

Yeah You Ride

Get In The Loop: Tuesday Night Training

What: Fast training ride, 8 miles x however many laps you can handle
Where: NOMA front steps
When: Tuesday night – First lap leaves at 6 sharp, catch later laps on a roughly 30 minute interval

A ways back, Zach Thomas and Robert Driskell, of Bayou Bikes, started doing a training ride that consisted of laps around an 8 mile circuit. The course consisted of a loop around City Park, plus Lakeshore Drive from Marconi to Wisner, including a spur that encompasses the Bayou St. John bridge. Several obvious sprint segments emerged, along with a neutral zone through the park for much-needed recovery. Like all things rad, the ride became wildly popular with people who know what’s good.

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Now hosted by Semi-Tough Cyling Club OG, Townsend Myers, the ride has developed a strong following. As of late, attendance has been at a dozen or more. Search Facebook events to “RSVP” and check out your competition.

Boedi and I started riding with the group last spring and have had a consistent reason to step up our game. This crew is fast. Really fast. The course has a couple really nice turns, a challenging bridge climb section, and long straightaways for sprinting. The multi-lap format is a lot of fun because it offers many opportunities to duke it out on popular Strava Segments, plus the visceral thrill of repeatedly pushing each other to ride faster through the sprints.

This ride can be hard and can teach you a lot of things. It is essentially an extended interval workout, as  there is really no full rest opportunity except between loops. You must maintain a decent pace at all times, and dial it up at sections to avoid getting dropped in a sprint. So, you will learn when and where to conserve energy, as well as when to burn it. If you are not familiar with group riding, this ride will teach you what you need to know; single paceline, double paceline, how long and fast to pull, how close to follow a wheel, how to cross tires or bump elbows without getting shook. This ride was my first introduction to what racing would feel like, a few weeks before my first road race, and it really did a lot for me. You get a feel for what types of things will happen, such as breakaways or jam-ups, and how to respond.

This ride will get  you fast. And if you’re fast, it will get you much faster. Regardless of your skill level, it will get you stoked on riding, connected with some really cool and talented people, and glad to be alive. Come find us in the park.

Cheers,
Rich
Yeah You Ride

Rapha Women’s 100K

Yeah You Ride wasn’t able to make it the local version of Rapha Women’s 100K, but lucky for us (and you!), our good friend Katie Hunter-Lowrey agreed to guest blog for us. Thanks, Katie!  Enjoy!

Thanks to Rob Sudan (@robsudan), @roulernola and @semitoughcycling for the photos. 

I had been excited about this event for weeks, nay, MONTHS and Sunday’s Women’s 100K did not disappoint. It was an international event by Rapha to bring women together in cycling and honor an amateur stage of “Le Tour.” Rouler put on the New Orleans ride with a route bringing us from coffee shop to swamp and through three parishes. My only previous experience with this long of a distance was while on a bike tour, so I was a bit nervous the night before. Morning of, dying of cramps and chugging caffeine (it wouldn’t be a women’s event if I wasn’t talking about my period/diva cup) I met a fellow downtowner at 6 am and we headed to Manhattanjack’s together. After lots of weather radar analysis, 13 women-identified riders were on the road. A couple Semi-Tough dudes were taking photos and providing support, though despite my request I was given no slow claps or bacon.

The morning totally flew by. We all chatted, shared bananas and got to know one another. For some women it was their biggest ride yet and for others it was clearly no problem to lead us at 20 mph for a good stretch. After one flat very early on, we hit the lakefront, headed down towards the Ninth Ward, into St. Bernard Parish and then took the ferry across to the West Bank. From there we went through Algiers and then out to Jean Lafitte State Park. Being in a pace line along the levee trail and then mashing through swampland was the highlight for me. As a person who has biked fast during their commutes for a long time, I’ve only recently come to love being in packs and it’s been a struggle to find groups of women and queers to shred with. To have 100 whole K’s of road with ladies who were all there to bike hard and have fun was incredibly empowering.

Coming back towards our second ferry crossing the hunger and heat were starting to set in but we made it to Jackson Square still in high spirits. After a final photo-op we went our separate ways to eat all the food and drink all the beers. Mega high-five’s to Wes, Townsend, Rouler and the Semi-Tough Cycling Club for putting the ride together and all the riders for a really positive experience. I could have biked 66 more miles later that day just on the high of it all.

My hope is that events like this become the norm around town and that more women can be involved in the planning of them. I very much appreciate the effort put into organizing the day, but did still feel like it was being led by men. Things I’m sure were meant to be helpful came off as commands on safety and were suggestions that I’ve never seen made in group rides that are majority male. None of us were there because it was our first time on a bike. Hopefully this criticism can be taken as a call to collaborate. Emerging organizations such as NOLA Women on Bikes or the Loose Bloomers training rides are great places for cis-male cyclists to act as allies and learn what kind of support we would prefer. Everyone will get further faster by working together and I KNOW we all want to go faster.

-KDHL

2 Broke 4 The Worlds – New Orleans Messenger Summit

2Brizzoke

One time, we were messengers. The pay was bad. After adjusting for on-shift burrito consumption, average net was ~$0 USD. Working with that kind of budget, it’s easy to rule out international travel. So for all the messenger community that can’t scrape together a measly $500,000 to go to Switzerland, pack up your bike and take a vacation/bender in New Orleans, August 2-4, the coldest week of the year.

Continue reading “2 Broke 4 The Worlds – New Orleans Messenger Summit”

Cyclocross Practice

There Will Be Mud…

CX is coming, like, for real. As the wet blanket that is NOLA summer is tucked in tightly around us, it’s not just a great escape, but a good idea to start dreaming about your favorite fall cycling activity. Skip Town put together a little skillshare/practice session yesterday at City Park using some of the path that was mowed for the recent duathalon. After giving a few pointers on some CX basics like dismounting/remounting, barrier hopping and shouldering, a few wet and muddy (YES!) laps of the course were taken by all. Because why not, a four lap “race” for cold PBRs was declared. After much rotation of position and a fantastic wipeout into the reeds by Chris Snider, the gold was brought home by #localhardman Rich. Like finding the baby in the King Cake, he gets to bring beer to the next practice.

If anyone is interested in learning about cyclocross, riding your bike in the weeds or just talking bikes, you should come out. We had CX bikes and MTB, so all are welcome. While we will be taking next Thursday off to drink lots of French wine and watch le Tour at Fauborg Wines (Join us for the Tour du Vin!) we’re hoping this will become a weekly Thursday ride. If you’ve never ridden CX before, don’t sweat; neither have we. The ride can be as intense or relaxed as you want, with plenty of cold beer and camaraderie. More info on the next one will be posted here and all over the Facebook land.

Get Spinnin’

-Boedi

Cyclocross Skillshare in City Park

Cyclocross Practice

The rumors are true. Cyclocross racing is coming to Louisiana, and we’re getting a leg up on training. Our good friend Skip is working hard to organize CX practice rides on the duathalon course in City Park. They are slated to be EVERY THURSDAY, 6PM AT PAN-AM STADIUM IN CITY PARK. We will start out covering basics like dismounts and remounts, carrying, clearing barriers, and basic off-road riding.

Bring:
Bike suitable for offroad riding. A CX bike is best, but a MTB will work. Fat tires on a road bike would even cut it for this grassy riding.

Water – It’s really hot out there. There will be cold beer provided for the express purpose of fueling friendly competition. Be sure to bring a couple bidons of cold H2O, though, or you might not last to beer’o’clock.

Helmet – Duh.

CX Skills – Bring any experience you have riding CX or off-road in general. This can range from absolutely none all the way to pretty much everything. Although those with more experience should be prepared to open their mouths, and those with less to open their ears.

We are going to get rad on the old golf course. Come mash in the grass with us and put away a couple cold ones.

Cheers,
Yeah You Ride

Local Hardmen of the 512: Beat The Clock and Cycleast

Riding new roads is great, but at the end of the day, asphalt makes for a poor companion. A major highlight of our recent trip to Austin was the opportunity to link up with local riders who were not just solid in the saddle but genuinely cool people as well.

Beat The Clock is an Austin cycling club with its roots in the messenger community. Founder and owner of Beat The Clock messenger service John Trujillo decided to form his own cycling club under the same banner.  He clearly had no shortage of hard riders with good personalities to recruit from. And it showed when we went up to Austin to ride with BTC. These guys were definitely strong, but more importantly, they were really fun to ride with. No drama or yelling about the paceline, no pressure, no hammerhead douchery. Positive attitudes and healthy sense of humor all around. What puts them a cut above other cycling clubs and race teams is that they do not ride together because they’re all fast, they ride together because they are all rad doods. Being fast is just a coincidence, and a nice one at that. You can tell with certainty that even if sponsorship dissolved and the team disbanded, these guys would still be out there mashing together.

PHOTOS ABOVE YOINKED FROM BTC FACEBOOK (SOME BY JOHN WATSON)

Not being self-absorbed pricks, BTC keeps it legit in the bicycle community, hosting events from yoga-infused social rides to challenging alleycats. Let’s face it. Being the tits as an amateur bike racer might get you laid on a rare occasion (more likely its the booze) but it’s not going to make you a hometown hero anymore than winning a POGs tournament. What matters is remembering where you came from and how you got into this game. Less than a year ago, YYR was working briefly as couriers and mashing out training rides on fixed gears, the only bikes in our stables. BTC has similar roots, and that makes it easy to see why they understand the importance of engaging the bike community on every level. People aren’t going to know your race team’s record for the season, but they are going to know who is providing the entertainment, organizing events to pass on the enthusiasm.

Cycleast bike shop in East Austin is the baby of Russell Pickavance, a really rad guy and by far the tallest rider in Beat The Clock. We had the pleasure of riding with him for a bit on Saturday, and decided to check out his shop after our ride and some face-stuffing at Torchy’s Tacos. He revealed that he had lived in New Orleans for some time in the past, and regaled us with his own tales of gators in the road and shenanigans of the sort that can only exist where open container laws do not.

The shop, at 501 Perdenales Bldg 2B, is adorned on the outside with some pretty dope graffiti and artwork. Inside is a studio as well, where Russell does repairs, restoration, and custom building. While he works on all sorts of bikes, he seems to have a soft spot for building cross bikes and city-practical fat-tire commuters (again, pretty much a cross bike). Be sure to check this place out if you find yourself in the 512.

Cheers,
Rich
Yeah You Ride

YYR On The Road: Austin, TX

This past weekend, Yeah You Ride went on a desert retreat with good friends from Semi-Tough Cycling Club. We rolled out of New Orleans, a caravan of hatchbacks, four men, five bikes, one chihuahua, all united in a quest for answers, thirsting for knowledge, and also Topo Chico mineral water.

Saturday began earlier than any day in my recent, albeit generally hazy, memory. While I can’t say with certainty what time we woke up, I do know that around 7:15 my brain turned on and I found myself in our new friend Jennine’s kitchen, wearing a Rouler kit and eating fried eggs with rice and quinoa on tortillas. One good cup of coffee and several trips to the bathroom later, we were clipping in cruising down South Congress towards downtown Austin.

More after the jump…

Continue reading “YYR On The Road: Austin, TX”