The future is foxy!

We’ve written before about our friend Rachel’s new cycling team. See Another win for inclusive sport: Introducing Foxy Moxy Racing.

Now things are really getting under way. Rachel’s been sharing the following pitch on Facebook and Instagram and I thought I’d share it here too.

Good luck Rachel! We’re cheering for you.

 

Hi there! I’m Rachel. I race bikes. This year, I co-founded a team, Foxy Moxy Racing, with the vision of promoting radically inclusive sport for trans and gender non-conforming people (gnc). That means showing people that trans/gnc people exist, and helping build a community for current and potential trans/gnc athletes. Sport is a human right. That’s in the Olympic Charter as the very first of the Principles of Olympism. But trans and gender non-conforming people have struggled to find a home in sport. I want to change that.

I’ve chosen to race this year as an openly trans woman, at some of the highest levels of women’s cycling in the US and Canada. I’m hoping you can help, though: racing bikes across the country (and across the continent) is really expensive. So I’m reaching out for help funding my summer of racing for trans and gender non-conforming inclusive sport.

I have a full race calendar planned. It started with the Pro/1/2 stage race, the Tour of the Southern Highlands. I was thrilled to win the Stage 2 circuit race. Here’s where I’ll be:

March: Sunshine Grand Prix (FL)

April: USA Crits Speed Week (SC, NC, GA)

May: Winston-Salem Classic (NC)

June: North Star Grand Prix stage race (MN)

June: Canadian Elite Road Nationals (ON, Canada)

July: Intelligentsia Cup (IL)

August: Crossroads Classic (NC)

September: Gateway Cup (MO)

I’m seeking funding to help with travel and race fees. This schedule will cost over $1500 in race fees alone. I live in Charleston, SC, and I drive everywhere to keep costs down. Every little bit you can contribute helps! Thank you!! #thefutureisfoxy

You can find me on Instagram: @mckinnonrachel

You can find Foxy Moxy on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoxyMoxyRacing/

Donate here.

Hi everyone! Today is launched a personal fundraising campaign to help with my season of racing for trans and gender non-conforming inclusive sport. Please consider helping me with this project: https://www.generosity.com/sports-fundraising/rachel-racing-for-trans-inclusive-sport This year, I co-founded a team, Foxy Moxy Racing, with the vision of promoting radically inclusive sport for trans and gender non-conforming people (gnc). That means showing people that trans/gnc people exist, and helping build a community for current and potential trans/gnc athletes. Sport is a human right. That's in the Olympic Charter as the very first of the Principles of Olympism. But trans and gender non-conforming people have struggled to find a home in sport. I want to change that. I've chosen to race this year as an openly trans woman, at some of the highest levels of women's cycling in the US and Canada. I'm hoping you can help, though: racing bikes across the country (and across the continent) is really expensive. So I'm reaching out for help funding my summer of racing for trans and gender non-conforming inclusive sport. I have a full race calendar planned. It started with the Pro/1/2 stage race, the Tour of the Southern Highlands. I was thrilled to win the Stage 2 circuit race. Here's where I'll be: March: Sunshine Grand Prix (FL) April: USA Crits Speed Week (SC, NC, GA) May: Winston-Salem Classic (NC) June: North Star Grand Prix stage race (MN) June: Canadian Elite Road Nationals (ON, Canada) July: Intelligentsia Cup (IL) August: Crossroads Classic (NC) September: Gateway Cup (MO) I'm seeking funding to help with travel and race fees. This schedule will cost over $1500 in race fees alone. I live in Charleston, SC, and I drive everywhere to keep costs down. Every little bit you can contribute helps! Thank you!! #thefutureisfoxy You can find Foxy Moxy on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoxyMoxyRacing/ #girlslikeus #transinclusivesport #inclusivesport #lgbtq #transvisibility #socialchange #transrightsnow #allbodies #allgenders #strongertogether #cycling #strava #outsport @podiumwear @lazersportusa @everymanespresso @performancesci @madalchemy

A post shared by Rachel V McKinnon (@rachelvmckinnon) on

Riding with the Friends for Life Bike Rally Year #4! (Sponsor me please…)

“The Bike Rally originated as a 6-day, 600 km bike ride from Toronto to Montréal. In 2016, the Bike Rally introduced a 1-day, 110 km bike ride from Toronto to Port Hope. Now in its 19th year, the Bike Rally has engaged over 3400 participant as cyclists and crew and has raised over $15 million dollars for the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation (PWA). The Bike Rally is the sustaining fundraiser for PWA supporting its ability to provide critical services and support to individuals living with HIV/AIDS in Toronto.”

I did for the first time in 2014 with my friend David.

I did it again in 2015 with Susan.

And in 2016, Susan and I were team leads.

Now I’m back for round 4. David and I are riding again.

We are hoping to get friends to join us at least for the one day version. You can find out more about the 6 day ride here. And the one day version here.

You can sponsor me here!

Please….

Kim steals Sam’s QOM and you’ll never guess what happens next…

(Nothing too dramatic. Sorry. I’ve just always wanted to write one of those headlines.)

As you might have read yesterday morning Kim kicked off the cycling season by stealing another of my QOMs!

Of all the comments on Facebook when I shared this news, as one does, I liked my partner Jeff’s response best, “it’s early days.” It’s the start of the cycling season and time to rebuild fitness  I’m not going to worry about QOMs just yet 

Later, I’ll worry. Here’s my post about end of season QOM hunting.

There are two ways to be best on a particular segment of a ride on Strava, all time best and best so far this year. I laughed yesterday because I’m currently the fastest woman riding up the hill to campus in 2017. That’s because so far this year I’m the only woman who’s ridden up the hill and who uses Strava. My time is 1:14, not even close to my own personal best of 44 seconds. That was in October 2015 

It’s not bad overall, 7th, but I plan to move up the list this summer. Kim currently holds the all time QOM at 29 seconds. I think that one is safe in her hands 

You need to get a good run at it, have the traffic light timed perfectly, and not have any students or geese walk out in front of you. I’m usually too fearful to go all out. But maybe on the weekend, or early in the morning, maybe…

Wish me luck!

Here’s how I feel end of season about Strava QOMs.

But this is more how I feel right now.

Three gorgeous days, three fabulous rides

Winter has lifted! Temporary reprieve, maybe, but Southern Ontario basked in sunshine and double-digit (celsius) temperatures this past (long) weekend, allowing previously S.A.D. friends, neighbours, and sport aficionados to come out of their dens, stretch their arms into the sky, and see light at the end of the seasonal tunnel.

20161101gr_western-182

[This photo shows a group of my students from Western University playing and jumping in the leaves. In the foreground are a young woman and a young man, arms and legs in the air, smiling in a happy, goofy way. The woman is wearing a turquoise top and a black skirt and boots; the man is wearing a striped jumper, jeans and loafers.]

As soon as I saw the forecast, I knew what was coming: a text from my riding friend Sue, copied to many of the hard-core touring members of my cycling club (the London Centennial Wheelers), to plan unofficial weekend club rides. In the end we did three: two very well attended tours Saturday and Monday mornings, and a smaller, even more hard-core, long ride north on Sunday for the keenest of the keeners. I decided to join Saturday and Monday, and Sunday I rode on my own in order to get a more controlled workout in.

Now, I’m not normally the kind of person who rides three days in a row. Unlike some of my club mates, I’m a voraciously eclectic sportsperson, and in addition to riding I row, I swim, I train, and I do yoga. I also walk a lot with my companion animal, Emma, and frequently that produces spontaneous hikes with friends in the back country around London and the GTHA. So typically I’ll do one club ride on a (spring, summer, or fall) weekend, sure – but one is enough. There’s lots of other outdoor activity to cram in!

img_1987

[This photo shows me and my cycling club friend Suzanne in a close-up; we are wearing winter riding gear and I am covered in mud. We are both smiling into the camera; our clothing is reflective neon and Suzanne wears her cycling glasses. It was taken last winter on a (messy!) unofficial club ride.]

Not this weekend, though. First of all, the weather was, put simply, a gift. We hadn’t seen sun in so long that I was starting to think the heavens were as sad as I was about recent events in the U.S. and around the world! When the sun came up and the temperature rose on Saturday morning, I just could not resist the thought of getting out on my bike over and over again. After several months of sitting in a basement on a trainer, well – what a blessed change!

Beyond the lure of spring, though, was the looming pressure of something else: in three weeks’ time I’ll be in South Carolina, at Table Rock state park, riding for six days straight with friends connected to Sam’s cycling coach, Chris. We will be doing 70-100km a day, and there will be a lot of climbing (mountains!). I’ve done multi-day cycle trips before and I know what it feels like to ride hard, eat, sleep, wake up, and ride hard again: it’s, well, HARD. It requires some preparation on the routine and endurance front, regardless of how much base fitness I’ve amassed over the winter on my trainer and rollers. So I knew getting out all three days this weekend would be essential preparation for that journey.

How were the actual rides, then? Glorious, warming, instructive – though they were not easy, I know now that I am where I need to be fitness-wise and will be fine in South Carolina.

Here’s a quick play-by-play of what we did and what I learned.

DAY ONE: Saturday 18 February. There were probably 20 of us at the regular club meet-up  point in downtown London at 9am; I saw friends I’d missed all winter, as well as a few I didn’t expect to see (including Cheryl, who will be with me at Table Rock!). Although the ride was unofficial, our tour director, Jeff, had a loose plan: the wind dictated we would go south and west. We set off as a bunch, but by the one-third point it was becoming clear who had been keeping fit over winter and who had not spent as much time on the trainer; some were struggling to keep up, and others were keen to push the pace. As we sailed south of the highway and west of the indigenous Oneida community nearby, we were starting to break up; one group member, a very keen, fast racer, was making things harder for the slowest in the group as he sought to pull beyond 30kph.

So, like, I was holding on, but still: that’s not ok. As many of us noted, it’s February! Nobody should be racing – or pushing a race pace – right now! When Jeff started to really press the rogue racer to slow down, we tacitly agreed to let him go off on his own. The rest of us regrouped and happily stopped for a snack and a coffee in Delaware, a little town just west of London. Then we did the short, sharp hill out of town, followed by “heartbreak hill”, our local long climb with the trick ending. A few punched it; Cheryl and I decided that slow and steady wins the race – and better prepares us for the climbs in Table Rock too. After all was said and done I’d logged 72km and 351 metres of climbing, and was feeling absolutely fine the rest of the day. A great start to the weekend’s riding.

DAY TWO: Sunday 19 February. Today I decided to skip the group ride and do my own thing. I got my period overnight, and was feeling crampy and groggy in the morning; I slept in rather than jumping out of bed at 7am, and when the sun reached its peak I pulled on some shorts (SHORTS! IN FEBRUARY!) and a light winter jersey and went south to the town of Belmont. The wind was brisk from the west – aka the opposite direction – but I decided not to care; again, it’s February. I’m not looking for personal bests, and I don’t so much care when I ride into the wind as long as I don’t let my heart rate spike too high when I do.

Plus, I felt the siren song of riding straight into the warm, welcoming sunshine.

834201_orig

[This image shows a water tower with the word “Belmont” in blue letters at its top, to the right of a two story yellow brick farm house. The sky is blue with a few clouds. The Belmont Strava segment is ironically – maybe? – called “city of wonder, city of light”.]

The tailwind blew me into Belmont. I worked at a low aerobic pace for most of the first half of the ride, and STILL managed to steal the QOM from Sam (sorry, Sam!); I paid for it on the way back, though, with the headwind holding me at around 24kph. I used that as an excuse to just stay aerobic; I tried to ignore my bike computer and stay low on the hoods and in the drops, enjoying the sunshine and feeling the mid-range work in my legs. At the end of it all I’d done 52km, and finally held a nice 27.5kph average, even with the headwind for the back 25km. A nice day’s work, and a welcome chance to be out in the sun, alone with my thoughts.

DAY THREE: Monday 20 February. Another big, unofficial LCW group met at 9am, and this time we rode east into the wind, to the town of Thamesford. The group was a bit more evenly matched than it had been on Saturday, and we worked pretty well together all the way to the coffee stop. After two days of riding, and 124km (a good amount for February, after a winter in the basement, I think!), I was still feeling happy, keen and strong; I took a lot of turns voluntarily at the front of the pack.

I have to stress that, usually, with my club, I’m a mid-range rider and just as happy to get off the front: I’m not the strongest and not the weakest. On today’s ride I could really tell my trainer and ergometer fitness was solid, though; I was feeling the benefits of some real endurance over the weekend and I was holding the front of the peloton longer than some of my usually stronger club-mates. I know by mid-season they will have overtaken me again, but right now I think I’m in a great place, fitness-wise, and am happy about that and looking forward to South Carolina!

2012_634816950280990000

[This image shows four Ontario alpacas in a farm field; the two on the left are white, and the two on the right are brown. One of each colour is a baby. The adult brown animal has its head down, grazing; the baby brown animal is looking into the back distance. The sun is shining although the sky is not blue.]

After today’s coffee stop I veered off course with my friend Leif, and we headed down a side road to visit one of our local alpaca farms. So wonderful to see the animals out and enjoying the sunshine! We gossiped and talked politics, gear, and cycling fashion. It was a really nice end to three glorious stolen days of riding.

Wherever you are, I hope it’s sunny and warm! Happy riding!

Kim

A letter to my bike (Guest post)

Dear Ernie,

Wow. That was awesome, so much fun and so easy. Just like I remember.

Can you believe it was almost a year that you sat gethering dust under the stairs? I guess you can hey? You were back within days after the crash, having had your check up at the bike shop and gotten the all clear (and a chain clean for good measure). I, on the other hand, was pretty busy with the surgery to fix my elbow, dental for the teeth, the rehab, the healing, then life got pretty hectic.

If I am honest though, I avoided you. Physically I probably could have ridden without too much discomfort about 4 months ago. Possibly even 6 months ago. But mentally, I just wasn’t sure I could get past the notion that we might go over again. Which at the same time feels a little silly as I don’t remember going over last time. So I just let you sit there, your tyres flat and dust accumulating on the freshly oiled chain. What if it wasn’t easy any more? What if my hand, elbow or shoulder hurt too much? The fitness we had going last summer was gone. We literally crashed back through square one.

Fortunately the square root of one, is one. So wherever we start, it’s the new beginning.

And what a perfect beginning.  A warm summers night, the crit track at Victoria Park just outside the city. A girls rugby team training in the middle, the smell of lush grass rising with the last of the day’s heat (with small children a dog and balls going every which way to keep up on our toes). Around and around we went, spinny drills, some  sprint drills and  a few tempo ‘efforts’. Acknowledgement that we really need to do more sprint drills and maybe find a hill or 5 million to climb. Your form was great, my legs were a bit light on. But the ease, it was there. After 3 laps of the circuit it was like it always was.

I missed  you Ernie. I missed our adventures. Blaney to Bathurst through the rolling countryside of central New South Wales. Fitz’s 105km out the back of Canberra and the slowest ascent in the history of cycling, no – I didn’t think it was possible to ride at under 8km per hour and not fall over either, but there we were.  Beach weekends to “race” in triathons. Early mornings in the dead of winter with the development squad girls cutting laps of Old Parliament House in the dark. Sunday rides with Linda and the Piglet.

We’re not in Canberra anymore, but there are plenty of adventures in Adelaide too. In fact, all your fancy rich cousins from all across the globe come around in January every year for the Tour Down Under. I’m sure they’d love to see you! We’re going to have to do quite a bit of  work on getting up the hills out of town to watch them. But there’s plenty of time.

In the meantime I’ve just signed us up for Criterion training again. You’ll love it. It’s with a group of beginners. Yes, I know you know about Crit racing mate, but I think it’s best we take this chance to get going slowly.  Get out confidence back and make some new friends too.

Well, I’ve got to go. I guess I just wanted to say thanks. Thanks for waiting for me. Thanks for not forgetting how we roll.


 

Catherine gets a new bike!

A brompton folding bike, in sea green and orange.

Full disclosure:  before this week, I owned 5 bikes: 1) road; 2) mountain; 3) cyclocross; 4) commuter/beater bike; and 5) extra cross bike at my mother’s house in South Carolina.  One might think this was enough.

But no.

It is a well-known fact among cyclists that the correct number of bikes to own is n+1, where n is the current number of bikes one owns.  It’s true.  It’s in fact rule #12 of The Rules, from the Velominati page:

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-8-30-13-am

For cyclists, bikes are kind of like shoes:  there are different ones for every purpose and every occasion, and one wishes to update one’s collection when new features come up.

For me, I have been wanting this bike for a long time.  Let me introduce you to it.  It’s a Brompton folding bike.  Brompton is a British company that has a cult following among road cyclists, bike commuters, touring cyclists, and (most important for me) cyclists who want to travel with their bikes.  What makes the Brompton special is how easily, quickly and compactly it folds.  In order to make that possible, Brompton did some very spiffy engineering and design on the bike.  I could rhapsodize at length about this, but instead I’ll show you.

Here’s the bike folded up (in my dining room):

The Brompton folded compactly

Note that it is stable in this mode, and even has little wheels for towing if you pull up the handle bars (I told you this bike was soooo cooool!).

To unfold it, first pull out the left pedal (it also folds very ingeniously; did I mention the superior design of this thing?) and pull up the seat post.

The Brompton with seat post pulled up

Then you give the handlebars a gentle push to extend them into place.

The Brompton with handlebars in place

Note that nothing is wobbling.  Remember the little wheels I mentioned?  You can, from this position, tow the bike behind you, and it will roll happily along on its little wheels.  If you prefer bigger wheels, Brompton will sell you some.  They have (for the right price), many modifications for their bikes.

One thing I failed to mention:  all the parts secure with little clamps that are easy to tighten and loosen.  At the bottom of the orange (isn’t the color glorious?) handlebar stem is a black thingy for tightening the stem into place where it fits perfectly.

Then you move the front wheel into place.

The Brompton almost ready-- front wheel in place

Notice that it’s still stable– no tipping over in this position.  And, the stem is a little cockeyed-looking, off to the right a bit.  That’s a feature, not a mistake.  It’s just part of the Brompton’s quirky charm.  Now we are ready for the last step:  pulling the bike up, where in one move, the rear wheel locks into place:

A brompton folding bike, in sea green and orange.

The reason I bought this bike is that I travel a fair amount for work– I go to conferences and give talks– and whenever I get where I’m going, I really really wish I had a bike with me.  I’ve rented bikes often (easier in cities with bike share programs– every city should do this), and occasionally brought a bike with me.  But it’s expensive and kind of a hassle to break down a bike, box it up, haul it (paying often $100–180 each way to fly with it), set it up, and THEN finally get to ride it.  If I’m going to a conference for 3–4 days, I’m never going to do this.  But Bromptons pack into either a soft or a hard case that can be checked as luggage without incurring those awful fees.  Yay– Brompton for the win!

But now I don’t have to.  I’ve got my new Brompton!  Also, I got a 6-speed model with flat handlebars to make it the closest thing to having a road bike that I can get with an easy-to-use travel bike.  So Samantha and Natalie– expect to see me at your doorsteps sometime this spring or summer, with my beautiful two-tone Brompton, ready to ride!

Getting the Brompton is actually encouraging me to do some far-away conference travel, too, so I am going to the Netherlands for a conference, and will fit in some easy touring with it.

I can also ride the Brompton around town, and even take it on buses or subway.  It has what I call a modesty cover that you can pull over it, and unzip a bit to carry it (mine weighs around 25 lbs– not bad for a little carrying).

The Brompton with a black fabric cover, with the saddle poking out

Oh, you might wonder:  how does it ride with those little wheels?  The answer is:  very smoothly.  The steering takes a little time (maybe a few minutes) to get used to, but then it moves very well.  Since I got it (4 days ago), the weather has been incredibly cold, then snowy, and now rainy.  ARGH!  But hopefully tomorrow I can take it out and see what it can do.  Will report back on progress.

There’s nothing like a new bike.  Readers, are any of you getting any new gear that you are in raptures over?  Please share your joy or wishes here.

No more podium girls (in the Tour Down Under, at least)!

I waved goodbye to them a awhile ago in this blog post. In “Kissing the Podium Girls Goodbye” I wrote, “Where do women belong in cycling? On bikes and in races!”

So I was super happy, big smile happy, to read this headline in my morning social media newsfeed, TDU podium girls to go.

The South Australian Sports Minister, Leo Bignell, today announced that it would replace the Santos Tour Down Under podium girls with junior cyclists.

Here at Cycling Central we’ve long argued for a change of attitude in cycling, as far back as 2013 in fact, preferring to see podium girls as incompatible with a sport striving for genuine gender equity, and preferring to see women deserving of a podium place as athletes not ornaments.

“The Government’s paying for grid girls at the same time we’re putting money into mental health areas to help young women who have body image problems,” Bignell told the ABC.

Some happy news for a December day. Change in the right direction does happen once in a awhile. I love the idea that it will be junior cyclists who now get to play this role.

See more about this here:

female cyclist being kissed by podium boys

“Some women’s races have opted to use podium boys in recent years in an attempt to equalize the practice. La Course by Le Tour de France, Gent-Wevelgem and the Ladies Tour of Norway have all employed podium boys but the practice has continued to be questioned.” http://cyclingmagazine.ca/sections/news/junior-cyclists-replace-podium-girls-tour/

And for the record, I’m not a big fan of podium boys either! See