When I first decided that I wanted to try out UCI XCO racing I was essentially clueless about the scene but hey, I had done a full UCI cyclocross season so how much different could it really be? SPOILER ALERT: it was pretty different!
For my first year, it was just Chris (boyfriend/mechanic/support/the list goes on), me, a rocking FS bike and a lot of camping. We put together a modest schedule and I got my first taste of what it is like to race “with” Olympic level athletes. It was quite the learning experience. The following year (also known as last year), I really felt that I could benefit from some team support; not so much gear-wise (although that would be nice) but from the standpoint of having ladies to ride with and stare at lines together without feeling slightly awkward when you cannot find THE LINE. I learned very quickly that team spots are few and far between, especially if you are not an aspiring U23 rider or don’t have a national championship (or 3) under your belt. So it was back to privateering and taking what we had learned from the previous year and improving upon it!
I made sure to update my race resume and compile a tentative schedule early so that I could reach out to sponsors and begin to build my program. With the help of BikeFettish I went into the 2017 season with a sick setup that was ready to tear it up! By the way, I am really excited that we get to rep them as a team! Even though my results were good and I had earned some UCI points I couldn’t help but look at the other teams and wonder what it must be like and whether or not I could add another rider to “my program.” Andddd cue Fairlee!
Chris and I were walking around Boston Rebellion when Fairlee came up to me and said that she and two other ladies (Nikki and Emma) were thinking about putting together an elite women’s mountain bike team and asked if I was interested (heck freaking yeah I was!!). And so it began: the planning, the hundreds of emails, and tons of learning.
I would have to say that the hardest part of creating the team was (shocker) sponsors. Since we had all been successful privateers we were lucky to have so many relationships with sponsors but that also meant losing some because now there were four riders. I would get back from a ride or take a break from lab work and have emails for daysss. Part of me really enjoyed this because I felt like we were really being productive but the other part of me was like “ahhhh we still have so much to do”!!! I found that making excel sheets helped alleviate some of the stress and behold, our master Google Drive sheet was born.
It has been an amazing experience to have three other incredibly driven and organized ladies to plan the team with. I am pretty sure that I have talked with at least one of my teammates every day since we decided to embark on this mission and I am so freaking excited to get the season rolling!!!
This year we will be repping KS Suspension, Kenda Tires, BikeFettish, Hyperthreads, GQ-6, KMC Chain, Novatec Wheels, Lazer Sport, Lake Cycling, ESI Grips, HT Pedals, Joe’s No Flats, Gu, Smanie Saddles, Tasco, Handlebar Mustache Apparel, and Pedal Power Chamois Cream, with more sponsors in the works. (Pretty baller lineup if I do say so myself).
– Jen Malik