Going quiet for 2018

As 2017 winds to a close, we’re stepping back to charge our batteries and tend to all those other parts of life that don’t involve two wheels. You may very well see us around town in 2018 and probably at some events too, but somewhat more casually.

Please drop a line to swscycling@gmail.com if you have any questions! The response may be a little slower than usual, but we’re here.

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2016 Sponsor Wrap Up

As we ride in 2017, we would like to take a moment to thank our 2016 sponsors. Without their support the Spokeswomen Syndicate Team would not be able to promote women’s cycling. We had eight sponsors this year that helped to keep us on the road and trails.

Berger Hardware Bikes located in Raleigh is known for their criterium and cyclocoss series. They have been a huge supporter of women’s cycling and we are proud to have partnered BHBCrit2with them. This fall SWS traveled around central North Carolina to race in the BHB Cross Central NC races. Cross Central NC is a great pre-season race series to try out cyclocross if you are new to the sport or to get in race shape for NCCX. Be sure to check out the 2017 BHB Cross Central NC races! In addition to hosting two great cycling series, BHB offers custom bike sales, bike fitting, and coaching.

PARcycles has been a long time sponsor of SWS. PARcycles has supported team members 20c9e0_9a578679c90d41eea7f2440191ef3db5.gif_srz_584_212_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_gif_srzwith new bikes, clothing, and all the needed cycling accessories. In addition to cycling goods the shop has top notch bike mechanics to insure that our bikes are in the best riding condition. Located in Carrboro NC, PARcycles is close to Wilson Park so if you are ever on one of the Wilson Park rides be sure to stop by the shop and say hi!

12814726_1585802768408751_8471380591680478302_nCrawford Service Course is a new bike mechanics service started by Jonathan Crawford. Jonathan provides bike pick-up and delivery for his customers with his mobile mechanics van and has provided service at local races. A few of our team members have had to call Jonathan from the side of the road because of a mechanical problem. Jonathan has been more than happy to drive out to help us out! He also provides bike fits. If you see the Crawford Service Course van out on the road be sure to give a wave!

CEPGoodiesCEP Compression came on board and provided the SWS ladies with much needed recovery and performance wear. The CEP Compression pants were unanimously the number one race weekend essential, and the wool socks kept our crazy cyclocross feet warm and happy in the muddiest of conditions.

Sportique was a new sponsor for us and we were excited to finally have a chamois cream IMG_0991sponsor!! In addition to chamois cream Sportique make other skin care products to protect athlete’s skin and to help sooth road rash should we go down in a crash. They have everything from sport related skin care products to everyday wellness products. The best part about their products is that they are all natural so there are no irritating fragrances or synthetic oils.

535131_10154009605877806_5199807309896645098_nBaker’s Cakes was a tasty addition to our sponsors this year. Team member Danielle Baker is the master baker behind this local business. She make amazing edible works of arts and we are so happy to get a sweet treat every now and then after a ride. She makes everything from birthday cakes, wedding cakes, and graduation cakes. If you can think of an occasion that needs a cake or cupcakes Danielle and her creative mind will make magic happen! Be sure to follow her on facebook, Instagram, and twitter to see all her delicious works of arts!

Evie Edwards Photography has been a huge supporter of women’s cycling. Evie is the founder of Spokeswomen Syndicate and is located in Ashville NC. She offers a wide variety of photography skills from photographing cycling events, to parties and weddings, and individual shots. If you are in the Asheville area and need family pictures be sure to check out Evie Edwards Photography.

Psycletherapy is another great sponsor located in Atlanta, GA. This business combines exercise and psychotherapy to treat psychological conditions. Team member Nancy Garfield started this business. We are happy to see that cycling and other forms of exercise is good for both the mind and body!

Thanks again to all of our sponsors for the 2016 season! We are so grateful for their support!


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Race Report: The North Carolina Grand Prix

by Christy Q

The Hendersonville cross race is just great all around, and dear to my heart. My first race there was an absolutely hellacious, cold mud fest that was yet made awesome by jet heaters, hot crock pots of chili and lots of cookies <I really have some crazy friends>. Even having a young infant in tow the next fall couldn’t keep me away, making the trip as a little family just to heckle and get a few hot laps between races. It was last year however that I got my first DNF, as well as a little trip into town via ambulance. All because I got antsy on the LAST turn of the LAST lap.

Determined to redeem myself this year, I set out for a FREEZING cold weekend of racing in Jackson Park. Temps were a lovely 23 degrees for the warmup laps, and rose to a balmy 31 degrees for the 10am races. Course conditions weren’t half bad though, getting only a little greasy in the turns on Sunday morning. It was the later races when punchy little hills became vertical slip n slides. The course has all the features one could hope for with the wall, a flyover, some fantastic off-cambers and even some time in the woods. I didn’t quite break into the top ten as I had hoped, but did two great races regardless, and without EMS involvement.

The first shout-out goes to my husband for putting up with these shenanigans year after year. Next is to Sportique, whose products I’ve used increasingly as the cyclocross season charges into winter. They’ve got it all covered from face to legs and everything in-between. And finally to CEP Compression, for making some kick-ass socks and tights that make multiple race days a little easier.

All this fun wouldn’t be possible without Tim Hopkin and the NCCX crew who have made this series happen for 20 years now. Happy anniversary!

Thanks to Weldon Weaver with his mad camera skills!

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Race Report: BHB CX Series Part 1

Cross is here! Cross is here! Cross is here!

With that said, we’re two weekends into the pre-season now and eagerly anticipating a first muddy race at the Spring Hill Course this Saturday. The first weekend at Spring Hill was ridiculously hot by most standards, and especially so for cyclocross (note that two 14368733_868481666585162_6332631391922094610_nraces ago conditions were frozen!). It was two days of dry, dusty racing, with lots of off-camber turns. It was Danielle who put her road fitness to work and made the podium.

Weekend two was two glorious days of Goldsboro. Say what you will about the city, Stoney Creek Park is quite beautiful with everything from single track to deep volleyball sand to big grassy turns. Throw in a token vuvuzela and megaphone sound system, some animal cookie hand-ups and it was a party. There was some unfortunate early attrition in the muddy ditch, but no injuries and it was Christy who charged on to a second place finish.

As always, a huge shout out to Berger Hardware Bikes for their support and for presenting the CX Central series! To Crawford Service Course for replacing bottom brackets overnight, and to CEP compre

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Ride Report: Double Down to the Beach

Double Down to the Beach

June 11, 2016

sarahsddtbDouble down to the beach is a 200 mile one day bike ride from Burlington, NC to New Bern, NC.  I signed up for this ride 5 years ago and trained for months only to end up in the hospital the day of the event for emergency surgery.  Every year I would debate signing up again.  I finally convinced two of my friends to join me in attempting to complete this grueling task.   I rode over 4,000 training miles to prepare me for the event. The ride began at 5:00 AM which required me to be awake by 3:00am.   Who gets up in the middle of the night for a bike ride?  The first hour was ridden in the dark with lots of headlights leading the way.  The sunrise was beautiful and a welcome sight.   The first part of the ride was gentle rolling hills and we went out a bit faster than I had anticipated.   We kept our rest stops to a minimum and only stayed long enough to refill bottles and grab a snack.   The ride was well supported with dedicated sag for each group.  My husband volunteered to drive sag also and was never far away for whatever needs we may have had.  The first 100 miles seemed to fly by and the roads began to get flatter and the temperature hotter.   Shortly after the 100 mile mark we stopped for a lunch of sandwiches and in a school gymnasium.  It was hot and I was not looking forward to getting back on my bike for another 100 miles.    With fresh bottles of ice cold water we set off again.    The next 50 miles were brutally hot with no shade in sight.  By this point in the ride, nobody is talking and it was just a matter of turning the pedals.   We started with a group of about 20 people and were now down to 8.  The only scenery to speak of was soybean fields.   By the time we stopped at a fire station I was reaching my breaking point.  I never once thought of giving up and tried to smile through the suffering but all I wanted was some air condition and a nice shower.   We took a bit of a  longer break and dumped ice cold water on our heads then set back off on our bikes.   There are parts of this ride I do not remember but there are parts that I will never forget.   My friends suffering along side of me allowed me to keep pushing forward.  As we pedaled our way through eastern NC and the miles ticked by I realized that I would make it.   The last rest stop was at a church about 20 miles from the end.  The day was getting a little less hot and the volunteers were extremely helpful.  Our attitudes began to change and we started to perk up.   We set off on our bikes talking like pirates because why not?     The miles went by a little quicker and my gps was getting closer to that 200 mile mark.  As we rolled into New Bern we found ourselves a little off course and of course a bit lost.  The finish line was on the water front and we could see people cheering us on.   After 12.5 hours on the road, we had finally completed our journey and I can check this one off the bucket list.


And thanks to CEP Compression for keeping my feet happy and helping my legs recover 🙂

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Race Report: CCA Road Championships

The date was June 11, 2016. Temperature was expected to reach close to 100 degrees. Most people would stay inside to keep cool, but it was the Carolina Cycling Associate Road Race Championships. Two SWS riders, Allie Wetzel and Jill Caputi, were among the insane testing their luck with the heat to claim the Women’s 19+ CCA Championship title. There was money, a medal, and beer on the line. This was no time to mess around.

The 54mile race started at 1:00pm. The course was 17mile of flat country roads with one hill up to an overpass. During lap 2 the cramps starting to happen. There was no escaping the heat. We are not really sure what happened between lap 2 and 3. Tunnel vision kicked in. The focus was all on finishing the race alive.

About two and a half hours after the start of the race Allie crossed the finish line claiming the Women’s 19+ CCA championship title. Jill somehow crossed the finish line alive to claim second place. Both women were exhausted after the race.

We are so thankful to C4 for hosting this amazing event. The course was well marked and the volunteers were amazing! We think Jill is still alive because of a kind volunteer that handed her a cold water around mile 46.

A big thank you to all our sponsors for supporting the SWS team which helps us to achieve these results. CEP Compression tights were a leg saver after the ride and their Women’s Dynamic+ Cycle Ultralight Short Socks kept the ladies’ feet comfortable during the race. We actually think their feed were the only part of the body that was not cramping by the end of the race. The Sportique chamois cream kept the ride smooth. The muscle gel was amazing at providing much needed relief from the muscle aches and joint tension after the race.


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Race Report: North Star Grand Prix and TOAD

northstarAlways one to take advantage of the situation, Emily was able to fit in some racing while she spent two weeks in St. Paul, MN for some coursework. The first weekend she jumped in the Women’s Amateur Open Criterium as part of the North Star Grand Prix series in Mankato, MN. Fortunately her acclimation to North Carolina temperatures gave her the edge during the 85 degree heat advisory that weekend! Emily picked up a mid-race prime and placed 2nd overall.

The quite impressive Tour of America’s Dairyland race series was occurring around the TOADsame time and since Milwaukee was “on the way home” it only made sense that she stopped to catch a race. The venue for the Downer Classic was amazing and the field was packed at 63 riders. Emily got caught up behind a crash that split the field for the remainder of the race, but she was able to finish strong with the chase group sprinting for a 4th place pack finish. This race series will definitely be on the radar for next year!

Thanks to CEP recovery tights for making the drive back to North Carolina a little more bearable post-race!

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Race Report: USA Duathlon Sprint Nationals


DuNatsThe timing of Short Course/Sprint Duathlon Nationals was less than ideal for those of us returning from ITU Du Worlds in Spain just a few weeks before. I had been sick with a cold for about ten days, and racing again after winning the gold in my age group in Spain was a bit hard to get motivated so soon for. Having Nationals in Bend, Oregon I thought may also be a challenge for me, as having raced in nearby Sunriver twice, the heat, altitude, and extra dry climate had been more than uncomfortable for me. I had also experienced problems racing USAC Masters Cycling Nat’s in Utah two years ago in similar conditions: midday, altitude, dry heat. I run low hemoglobin and fight exercise-induced asthma, which these conditions always provoke and results in a struggle for me racing.

But no matter, this part of Oregon is absolutely beautiful, and even though I didn’t need to go race to claim a spot for next year’s Du Worlds (age group gold at Worlds gives automatic bid), the trip was already paid for, and I wanted to see my friends!

Four of us rented a beautiful home near the race venue. Doing so was great for staying in, not fighting the crowds, and cooking the night before. Two were racing the Standard event, which started early morning, two of us the Sprint, which started at 1:10 p.m. The early crew woke to 38* temps, the midday crew we treated to mid-80* temps.

I heard the two early racers leave, and in my drowsy, waking state, I suddenly became aware of a strong natural gas odor. I thought it strange, as my bedroom door was closed and I was farthest away from the kitchen. I disregarded it and tried to sleep more, as my race wasn’t for several more hours and my other housemate and my plan was to ride our bikes to the race around 11, hopefully to catch our friends in the early race finishing, yet to not hang out too much in the variable weather.

As I got out of bed another hour or so later, there was that strong gas smell again. I went downstairs to the kitchen, and couldn’t smell it there, and didn’t smell it by the stove. Climbing the stairs again, I smell strong gas odor by all the bedrooms. As my friend also doing the Sprint gets up, I tell her about the gas. We go downstairs and turn on the lights, and indeed find the burner knob on, but no flame. It had been on all night, gas infiltrating the house and seeping upstairs into our bedrooms!

I immediately opened all the windows in the house, but although the gas smell that I could sense upstairs finally cleared, we still stayed in that house for several more hours before leaving for the race…not thinking much of it.

Watching our friends in the Standard race on-line from the house, we could see our one friend’s pace suddenly drop back after the first mile of the 10K run. She is a fast and excellent runner, so we figured her nagging hamstring injury must be bothering her and she was playing it smart and dropping back her pace to stay in the race to finish and claim her sports for next year’s Worlds team.

Finally we ride to the venue, set up, and our race starts. It is hot and my HR is elevated before we even begin. Starting the first 5K run, I find I am winded even before the first mile marker. I look down at my watch at mile 1, and although slower but still close to my normal run pace, I am exhausted already and know I cannot hold it. I slow my pace greatly on mile 2, even more on mile 3. At the run turnaround, I see my very fast running housemate, also struggling and way behind where she normally should be. I stumble to get to my bike and am so far behind my normal competition, I wonder if my usual strong bike leg can make up such a vast difference.

The bike was a steady climb, six miles up a ~2-5% grade to the turnaround. I am passing people, but find I am getting very winded and my usual power is not there. It took me until the turnaround to catch my main competitor. I was hoping on the downhill, to regain whatever strength I was missing to pass her and then try to somehow hold her off on the last run.

But I couldn’t pass her. There was very little strength in my legs. I felt ½ the power I usually have. She took off, and I struggled. On a downhill!

The last run I felt like a suffering animal that needed to be put out of its misery. I couldn’t breathe; could barely jog. And it is only 1.5 miles.

I immediately blamed it on the geographical conditions, the heat, the cold I had just fought off. But something was nagging me. It hit us all in the house. Is it a coincidence that all three/four of us had unusually subpar performances, feeling extreme exhaustion? Our housemate in the earlier race said, “I was exhausted at mile 1 and felt like my legs wouldn’t move”….the same exact thing the two of us in the later sprint race experienced. And both of them have raced at altitude without this kind of result.

The icing on the cake to put all the pieces together for me was I finally looked up my Strava data. Per the Strava uphill segment results on the bike course, I was FASTER the day before the race, while spinning up the hill!! And I truly was going comfortably the day before, and also truly struggling race day…something I rarely do on the bike in a duathlon.

I know it’s speculative, and I know I tend to race poorly in heat and altitude, all contributing factors. Fighting a cold for ten days after Spain before didn’t help. I didn’t run the day before, so I cannot make any conclusions about running in the Bend climate/altitude. But to have my bike be slower than me spinning up the day before makes me truly wonder about that gas being on all night, and the smell so strong upstairs the morning of the race… and us all experiencing a low-level carbon monoxide poisoning. The half-life of carbon monoxide is five hours. Less obvious symptoms are fatigue and weakness. The hemoglobin binds up with CO instead of O2, and therefore muscular demand cannot be met. My hemoglobin as mentioned runs low, so much of what I did have was most likely bound up with CO. My Sprint-race housemate and I being in the house longer, even with the windows open, probably was not enough time to clear it from our bodies.

I had been trying to decide whether it would be worth me going back there next year (Nationals is held on the same course two years), if I cannot meet climate/altitude conditions in training and expect a different result. But in light of what now I think happened, I am hoping this might have been the ultimate cause of our suffering on the race course that day.

I ended up 2nd in my age group, despite the suffering and much slower pacing than in Spain a couple weeks before. I was lucky, and grateful, to be that well placed. But mostly thankful that none of us ended up with severe CO poisoning during the night!

((We are so proud of you K!!!!!))

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Race Report: Bur-Mill

A Different Kind of Race Day

Race day used to mean countless hours of training and an extended ritual of preparations.  There was the carefully planned dinner and breakfast (along with tapering and carbo-loading), plus no alcohol, arrival hours before the start and a thorough warmup on the trainer. There was always some level of familiarity with the course too. Racing is serious business for roadies (and some cx-ers) no matter the category or age. Stomach knots were not uncommon.


Fast forward a few years to now. Team Quirk is arriving at the race course with twenty minutes till the start, toddler in tears because an hour is way too long in the car seat. There’s a ready-to-brew drip cup of coffee still on the kitchen counter, and part two of breakfast is a banana crammed hastily as we roll into Greensboro. It’s a 6-hour enduro mtb race and we’ve decided en route that I should take the first 1-2 laps. Never mind that I’ve never seen the course before, and I’m generally the one who needs more time to warm up. Did I mention my mountain bike was purchased with the intention of goofing around between race seasons?


Armed with the knowledge that this course was full of ascents, descents and roots, and a quick run-down from the race promoter, we tackled the unfamiliar course like pros (still fueled no doubt by a hearty tartiflette at dinner). However, while our co-ed duo competitors were pumping each other up with “You’ve got this, babe” as they swiftly traded off laps, we were just trying to stay near the transition area around the appointed time, and keep our little one from running down to the fishing pier alone.


In the end, we had a successful day. I logged 32 miles of trails, more than I would have done outside a race scenario, and they were quicker than my usual pace. We just missed the podium (and some sweet owl prizes), but both spouses got to ride that day.  Plus, the little guy got to throw tons of sticks and say hi to a stuffed, mounted bear more times than we could count.


Special recognition to Sportique Century Cream for keeping the chamois situation controlled, and to Honey Stinger for the quick, easy and super-tasty nutrition.

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Race Report: Berger Hardware Bikes Criterium

SWS was excited to have another BHB Criterium Series this year! There is nothing better BHBCrit2than a local race series that has a local brewery- Crank Arm Brewery– putting up growlers for the top placers!

This past weekend we saw our very own Emily Graff take the podium in second, outsprinting two other riders she had been working with to catch Jamie (Constellation Cycling)- who solo’d off the front following a mid-race prime.

BHBCritEmPrior to her own race, Emily’s 10 year old son Josh jumped in the junior field and finished his very first criterium. The BHB course is family friendly and offers plenty of space for the young ones to ride and romp while their parents race.

SWS can’t wait to see the BHB CX course this fall 🙂

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