Tales of a Halflete

A Love Letter to Cycling + Sport

I am a former athlete.

I was supposed to have my first bike race in 1992 at the age of seven, but due to an unfortunate mix up on the part of my father's planning, we missed my start time. I had dressed up as a professional cyclist that year for career day in second grade, after watching Greg LeMond in the Tour de Suisse in person (!) while visiting my Air Force family abroad, and touching on my grandfather's nearby homeland of Italy. My great goal would be to go back to Italy to stay forever, and to make the strade bianche (the actual roads) my own. My dad was a bike nerd, unlike anyone in our family to my knowledge, and as much as one as I would become, if not more. He was also a sponsored athlete, a dedicated runner, and a man who didn't know pain. At seven, I had never seen a velodrome before, as I did at the end of that stage of the Tour de Suisse, watching wide-eyed and impressed at all the bikes pouring into the big bowl like ants. They were my superheroes, these "surhumains." I would wear neon Greg LeMonde t-shirts or my blue jersey while zipping around on my splatter painted hybrid Jazz Rocket in the streets of my neighborhood. I would then hit a car with my face and lose my two front teeth for good before I even turned nine. This would not be my first confrontation with cars, nor my father's, and I am lucky to say we are both still on two legs and two wheels.

Though teeth don't really heal, time certainly does. A student of language and culture, I studied art and history in Rome on a scholarship during a two-week intensive course, and watched the time trials of the Giro D'Italia in 2009. Later, after a jaunt in Paris and Amsterdam with some classmates during my internship in 2010, I reopened the pandora's box that was cycling. Yes, bikes are indeed monsters. I rode a shoddily patched together friend-assembled Raliegh around Iowa City before eventually investing on my first real bike: A 2010 Women's Giant Avail in blood red, purchased with student loans. As an agreement, or dare, or even bet between myself and a fast-food addicted roadie, I woefully agreed would do a road race for the first time if he would only stop eating McDonald's.

Many leg speed, lactic threshold, and wattage exercises later, I walked the earth as a giant, a hulk of quads, and a with whole lot more self esteem. I went all in, for a person who had never been an athlete, I dedicated myself to cycling, running, and derby, and had free to access to a state of the art training facility. A couple of years later said roadie wasn't keeping up with his part of the deal, so I focused instead on graduate school, running a marathon with this newfound fitness, and later, some XC basics at our trusty Sugar Bottom bike park. While doing a research project in France, I even got to ride the time trial course for the final stage of the Tour de France in Nice, 2013... and on a vélo bleu! I become a winter commuter, riding through the snow in temperatures as low as -5F, mastering the art of layering and unlayering, and at times even fighting five miles uphill through a blizzard to get home on my mere 80's Schwinn World Sport. Financially, biking is demanding and I know none of this would have been possible without privilege and a supportive family, and I luckily had the cushion of student loans to feed me.

My heart stayed with the community as I moved away from road cycling and running and began riding gravel solo in 2015, and started to focus more on volunteering efforts and self-education. I became more interested in the practicality of daily riding for transportation, honing that midwestern "farm girl strength", and loitered around one bike shop almost every day. I began learning from Audrey Weidemeier on the RadTour Culinary Ride, and volunteering more with NCJC and The Bike Library. Tony Branch, founder of the NCJC Off-Road Riders was a huge inspiration in seeing what could be accomplished in a youth program.

My professional work as a public school ELL teacher had also become more closely aligned with our school social worker at this point, which only motivated me further. In 2017, I started riding with the Gravel Scouts under the wing of the talented athlete Andrea Cohen and began training for distance and bikepacking regularly. In May 2018, I completed my gravel century, the Almanzo 100 through the beautiful countryside of Minnesota. That fall, I rebuilt my first vintage Schwinn for a student's family, then moved shortly thereafter to Seattle. Here, I founded Girl Bike Gang in March 2019, a north Seattle based club meant to bring femmes and queers together for rides and training. I began to follow and donate more to CyclistaZine, Radical Adventure Riders, and North Star Cycling Club to name a few.

Inspired by the #AmplifyMelanatedVoices Challenge, Girl Bike Gang Seattle (which should have been Person Bike Gang Duwamish Land) disbanded after reasoning that we need more leadership of color in the bike community. I believe we really need to be more conscientious about organization and who we choose as leaders from now on to support BIPOC and queer folk. As a goodbye to organizing for the time being, I hosted Bikes for Books 206, a drive and scavenger hunt bringing quality BIPOC books to Lowell Elementary in Capitol Hill.

I am at odds with the dramatic swoops of the hills of occuped Duwamish land, and sadder everyday that I no longer can ride so easily out into the golden slopes of Iowa and its gravel, and instead shake my fist at the Burke Gilman and its tedious length and traffic. I am not a social rider, I am an activist, and I do not think riding bikes is enough. I continue to be a cycling nerd of my own, independent variety, and firmly believe we can shred the patriarchy.

Ride whatever pace you'd like and/but be humble.

"The older I get, the faster I was." - Dad

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” - The Champ

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." - Pre

Teams / Affiliations

Old Capitol City Roller Derby, Iowa - 2010-2015 (volunteer, athlete)

University of Iowa Cycling Club - Road cycling - 2011-2015

Thrive aka Sakari Racing Team, Iowa - Road cycling - 2012

Girls on the Run, Coralville Central Elementary, 2016, 2017

The Gravel Scouts 2017-2018

Girl Bike Gang Seattle aka Geebees, 2019-2020

Emerald City Karate, 2020-2021 - Yellow Belt (returning to training 2022)

Cat 4Ever Team - 2021

Tryhard.cc - 2021

Notable Cycling Events

Road:
2012 Clear Lake Road Race, Women's B, 8th place Field Sprint
2012 Chamois Time Road Race, Iowa City, Women's A, 4th place Field Sprint

Cyclocross:
2015 Chamois Time Cyclocross, Women's B, 3rd place.

Gravel:
2018 Almanzo 100 (Century), 11:31:04

XC MTB:
2015 Chamois Time Women's MTB race time trial, Women's B, 4th Place, ~5 miles, 27:08.7

Tour:

RAGBRAI 2016 - Shenendoah to Washington. Total: 320.5 miles / 5 days / 14,560 feet of elevation.


Recommended training techniques:

  • Focus on Form

  • Wattage Threshold Excercises -
    300 for 5 minutes, 250 for 10 minutes, 200 hundred for 20 minutes.

  • Hill Sprints / Hill Repeats

  • Lactic Threshold Exercises - Wallsits/Planks

  • HIIT / Tabata / Spin

  • Fartlek / Interval Training

Notable Running PRs

Marathon - Net Time 05:03:50 Walt Disney World Marathon 2015

10K - 00:48:48 37th Iowa River Run, 2014

3.17K (under 2 miles) - 00:14:24 Iowa City Shamrock Shuffle 2014 - 2nd Place Women's 20-29

3K - 13:30 Marketplace Stampede 2013 - 2nd Place Women's 20-29

2K - 00:08:25 Iowa Avenue 2K 2013 - 1st Place Women's 20-29

Mile - 00:06:29 President's Mile 2014 - 2nd Place Women's 20-29

Iowa City Downtown Race Series 2013-2014 Women's 20-29 1st Place Overall

Training/Coaching

Experience
Girl Bike Gang Seattle 2019
Host of the Cyclocroissants off-road clinic

Coralville Central Elementary
2015 PEP Grant Coach - May Soccer
"
Bicycle Rodeo" 2015-2018 Child Safety and Handling Clinic
Bike to School Week Host 2015

Iowa City Recreation Division 2012-2016
Skate night host and coach

Iowa City Bike Club 2015-2017
Volunteering to teach kids how to ride bikes that they can keep upon program completion

IC Bruisers - Junior Derby 2012, 2014
Volunteering with junior skaters learning the agility basics

Iowa Coaching Certification 2012
West High School, Assistant Girls Soccer Coach, 2012.
8 shut outs, 1 tie, 1 loss. This role was crucial in my growth as an educator and athlete, as the West High School Girls team is a persistent state champion, and I worked under incredible and experienced leadership and alongside a high quality coaching/support staff.

Referee - US Soccer Federation - 1999, 2000, 2012
Running around and blowing a whistle, sometimes preventing children from kicking each other

Former bikes, BIKES, ALSO BIKES, AND MORE BIKES

No specs here folks, just poorly shot photos of my favorite bikes upon which I ride and have ridden.

I present to you: The Dreamgirl

I am pleased to present my hand-painted 2000 Raleigh C-500 bike frame, using Spray Bike paints. The Dreamgirl features panels with holographic vinyl and tiny star cutouts on the tubes, placed in a random celestial fashion, with a powder blue fade on the fork that transitions into irredescent cloud decals. Fun highlights are Gravel King pink limited edition tires, Salsa Cowbells, and Fulcrum rims, seen poised here with some donut gloves. This bike currently boasts a front rack appropriate for transporting pizza, and a rose gold bird-shaped bottle cage.

Painted my frame!

Frame from Recycled Cycles...

Paint from Spray.Bike

Past bikes below! Oldies but goodies, former favorites.

Lovely lady Schwinn World Sport from the 80's with updated gruppo.
My steed from 2011-2019. Proper handlebars here...
Wonky bars (don't worry, I fixed them and then sold the bike)
An Opus from I Heart Bikes in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that I toured on to the Bay of Fundy through the town of Windsor during the summer of 2017.
A mountain bike I rented for a week in the winter in Montréal from Ma Bicyclette which I rode to all of the museums and restaurants for poutine. 2015.
2015. RIP to the World's Worst Mountain Bike.
Yes, I did take a 1999 Schwinn Moab and put a Project 2 fork on it. Max says this was cool 20 years ago.
The Gravel Scouts Year 2 (2018), Chad, Blake, Andrea, Aaron, Jill
Me + my bike mechanic, Duthie (2022)